Recent Posts

25 March 2021

Reclaim the Records: advocates for genealogy and more

 If you don't yet know about Reclaim the Records, you should.  Founded in 2015 by CGS member Brooke Scheier Ganz, it's a not-for-profit group of activist genealogists, historians, researchers, and open government advocates. They sum up their mission like this: "We identify important genealogical records sets that ought to be in the public domain but which are being wrongly restricted by government archives, libraries, and agencies." 


When they find such records, the group files a Freedom of Information request, asking that the data be released to the public. If the FOIA request is denied, they sue the agency in question. So far, Reclaim the Records has succeeded in opening up public records in multiple states, including Mississippi, Nebraska, and Wyoming, and even at federal institutions such as the National Archives.


The group was born when Ganz became frustrated doing New York City genealogy research. She found that most vital records in New York were either inaccessible or available only at great expense. Reasoning that these were public records, paid for by taxpayers, Ganz filed a Freedom of Information request with the New York City Municipal Archives, which was ignored. She then sued, and became the first genealogist to successfully sue a government archive for the return of records to the public.


The group is celebrated among researchers and open-government activists. They've gained quite a following on social media, too, with a Twitter account full of cheeky comments ("RELEASE THE KRAKEN! We're taking on @nycrecords! Again!" reads one post.)
 
That cheekiness is characteristic of all Reclaim the Records communications; fed, no doubt, by exasperation and outrage. A press release about a recent court action read: "Did you ever wonder what would happen if you caught a major American city's Department of Health in an 'astroturf' campaign where they created fake support for a government policy that actually came entirely from city officials?” That refers to a two-year battle over access to New York City death certificates. The case recently moved forward when a State Supreme Court judge ruled against the city's Motion to Dismiss and ordered the municipality to prepare a verified response. It is hoped that this will go before a judge in the next few months and that the result will be an order to make the records public. 


You can read the saga here. Or visit the Reclaim the Records website for much more!

Copyright © 2021 by California Genealogical Society 

 

 

 

21 March 2021

Update on Reopening of the CGS Library

 

President James Sorenson

On March 10, 2021, Alameda County returned to the red tier for COVID-19 restrictions.  That change does not allow for the reopening of office spaces, which includes the CGS library. Offices can reopen at 25% capacity in the orange tier if required safety protocols are in place. CGS is following Alameda County announcements and comparing reopening plans with similar organizations.  Due to the steps CGS will have to take to comply with safety protocols, our reopening will not occur immediately after the County returns to the orange tier. We will continue to work towards reopening and will keep you updated as to our progress.

 

As more people are completing their vaccination cycle, it is logical to ask if one’s vaccination status will impact your ability to return to the library. At this point, it is highly unlikely that the County will adjust their restrictions to reflect individual vaccination status in the near term. One reason is that it is unknown if vaccinated individuals can still spread the virus to others. It would also be difficult to administer a system which reflects the haves and have-nots of vaccination.

 

We know many of you are eager to return to your research at the CGS library. We will do all we can to make sure that happens in an efficient and safe way and look forward to having you visit again.

 

James Sorenson, CGS President

20 March 2021

Online genealogy, March 22-28

Our weekly roundup of upcoming genealogy events. Numerous associations offer online genealogy classes every week. Many are free. To register for one of the events below, click on the name of the host organization.

Conferences & Workshops 

March 27-April 3: "Virtual Open House" (Genealogical Forum of Oregon) Multiple free classes over the week. Special events: Sunday, March 28: Irish Day. Monday, March 29: Online Sources Day. Tuesday, March 30: DNA Day

American Ancestors

March 23: "A Worse Place Than Hell: How the Civil War Battle of Fredericksburg Changed a Nation" by John Matteson
March 26
: Tissington Hall Virtual Tour with
Oliver Gerrish and Sir Richard FitzHerbert

BYU Family History Library

March 24: “Beginning Research in The Netherlands (Holland)” by James Tanner

March 28: "Lighting a Fire: Getting Started with Family History" by Michelle Karren

March 28: "Discovering Your Ancestors in Norway" by James Tanner

FamilySearch Family History Library

March 23: "Tips and Tricks for Finding Elusive Records in FamilySearch"
March 25
:
"Ask Your United States and Canada Research Questions"

Legacy Family Tree

March 24
:
"
20th Century Immigrants to the West Coast" by Linda Harms Okazaki

New York Genealogical & Biographical Society

March 22
:
"Genealogy Resources at the Center for Jewish History" by J.D. Arden


Other Listings

Sutro Library's Bay Area Genealogy Calendar lists a wealth of Bay Area events and exhibits, including regular genealogical group meetings. This week's highlights:

March 24: "The Making of Asian America: A History" (Cupertino Historical Society and Racial Justice Reading Group)

March 27: "Angel Island" by Grant Din (San Mateo County Genealogical Society)

March 27: “San Francisco Bay Area Borderlands Between Russian and Spanish Empires” (Sonoma Valley Historical Society)


Conference Keeper has a large calendar of classes (too many to list) hosted by genealogical organizations around the country and abroad. Lots to explore, and new events are added often, so be sure to browse the entire calendar. Here's a sampling of the coming week's offerings:

March 22: “Genealogical Resources at the Boston Public Library and Map Center: Copley Square and 24/7 in the Pandemic Era” (Cary Area Public Library)

March 23: “Getting Ready for the 1950 Census: Searching With and Without a Name Index” by Steve Morse

March 24: "What about the Women? Overcoming Challenges to finding Female Ancestors" (Arlington Public Library)

March 25: “An Extraordinary Irish Immigrant: Dr. Gertrude B. Kelly” with Miriam Nyhan Grey (Allen County Public Library)

March 26: "What Can You Learn From Postcards?" (GenChat on Twitter)

March 27: "Finding Women in the Newspaper" by Gena Philibert-Ortega (Sacramento Public Library)

March 28: "Immigration and Naturalization Records" (Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County)


See our post "Genealogy Learning in the Time of Coronavirus" for links to classes archived online at Ancestry, FamilySearch, RootsTech, and more. Be well, stay safe, and happy learning!

Copyright © 2021 by California Genealogical Society

13 March 2021

Online genealogy, March 15-21

Our weekly roundup of upcoming genealogy events. Numerous associations offer online genealogy classes every week. Most are free. To register for one of the events below, click on the name of the host organization.

CGS Events:

March 20: Family Tree Maker - Special Interest Group

Conferences & Workshops 

March 19 & 20: 2021 Virtual Conference (North Carolina Genealogical Society) 

March 20Researching Northern Irish Ancestors (American Ancestors) 

March 20: "Power Up Your Family Research With DNA" (Fairfax Genealogical Society) 

March 20: Arizona Genealogy Day (Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records)

March 20: "Intermediate DNA: A Four-Lecture Program with Blaine Bettinger" (Genealogical Society of Bergen County)

American Ancestors

March 16: "Recreating Place: Uncovering, Interpreting, and Presenting the Past"

March 18: " Researching Urban Ancestors in the 19th and 20th Centuries " by Danielle Cournoyer

BYU Family History Library

March 17: “Using German Reference and Research Tools” with Larry Jensen
March 21: "Discovering Your Ancestors in Sweden" by James Tanner

FamilySearch Family History Library

March 17: St. Patrick's Day Research Seminar - daylong series of webinars

Legacy Family Tree

March 16 & 17: "Reporting on Research: Standards Encourage Better Communication" by Nancy A. Peters

March 17: "FamilySearch.org - 10 Links You Have to Try" by Devin Ashby

March 19:  "Tracing Your War of 1812 British Soldier" by Paul Milner

 

Southern California Genealogical Society

March 17: "Find African American, French, Jewish & Spanish Revolutionary War Patriots" by Ellen Kowitt

Other Listings

Sutro Library's Bay Area Genealogy Calendar
lists a wealth of Bay Area events and exhibits, including regular genealogical group meetings. This week's highlights:

March 16: "How Do I Know What I Don’t Know: Fast Tracking Your Genealogy Education" by Thomas MacEntee (San Ramon Valley Genealogical Society)

March 16: "A Unique Perspective on the Historical Highlights of our Santa Clara Valley" (Santa Clara County Historical & Genealogical Society)

March 18: "Focused Research: Using Research Plans" by Lisa Gorrell (Napa County Genealogical Society)

 

Conference Keeper has a large calendar of classes (too many to list) hosted by genealogical organizations around the country and abroad. Lots to explore, and new events are added often, so be sure to browse the entire calendar. Here's a sampling of the coming week's offerings:

March 15:  "How to Research Around the Missing 1890 Census" (Broomfield Genealogical Society)

March 16: “Introduction to Irish Internet Sites” with David Rencher (Allen County Public Library)

March 17: "Find African American, French, Jewish & Spanish Revolutionary War Patriots" by Ellen Kowitt

March 18: "Making the Most of School Records in Your Family Tree" (Downers Grove Public Library)

March 19: "The Doan Gang: My Notorious Ancestors" (Ontario Ancestors Niagara Peninsula Branch)

March 20: "African American Involvement in the United States Military During World War II”  (Delaware Genealogical Society)

March 21: "Beyond the Family Tree – Sharing Your Stories" (Israel Genealogy Research Association)


See our post "Genealogy Learning in the Time of Coronavirus" for links to classes archived online at Ancestry, FamilySearch, RootsTech, and more. Be well, stay safe, and happy learning!

Copyright © 2021 by California Genealogical Society