Welcome to the CCCGS blog.

The purpose of this blog is to promote the Contra Costa County Genealogical Society by announcing upcoming events and reporting on past events. In doing so, I hope it will encourage all who are interested to attend any of our events and meetings, and share in our enthusiasm of genealogical research.


September 12, 2014

Follow Friday: "17 Genealogy Things To Do If You Only A Few Minutes" by Genealogy Insider


Don't have much time but you want to get some genealogy done? Or maybe you like to do some research while you watch television.

Diane Haddad from Family Tree Magazine has some wonderful suggestions of small projects you can do in a short time period.

If I have just a few minutes, I might spend time organizing my digital files. I tend to save items I find onto my desktop and they then need to be processed: entered into RootsMagic, then renamed and filed in that family folder on my computer.

Diane also has some links to other author's blog posts for more ideas.  Check out her post here.


Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

August 29, 2014

Follow Friday: Ancestoring blog on FamilySearch.org's Help Menu

Michele Simmons Lewis has a wonderful blog at Ancestoring. She writes about her research but also writes about the many sources you can use in your own research.  Today's Follow Friday post is featuring her blog post "Getting the Most Out of FamilySearch--The Help Menu."

FamilySearch help drop down menu
FamilySearch Help Menu

The FamilySearch.org website is wonderful and full of really amazing and helpful things for your own genealogical research. From actual databases with images to videos on how to use the site. The Wiki has a wealth of useful tools.

So check out Michele's blog post and then explore FamilySearch.org.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

August 9, 2014

Happy Blogiversary to Us!

This is our 4th anniversary!

We started the blog for our society 4 years ago in order to give our members more information about online sources and to let prospective members know more about our society.

Now that the author of these blog posts is no longer on the board of directors, posts will be more frequent.

We're on the summer break and our next meeting will be September 11. More about that soon!

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

August 1, 2014

Follow Friday: The Armchair Genealogist--"10 Free Genealogy Downloads"

The Armchair Genealogist blog has great articles about writing and researching your genealogy. This week, they put together a wonderful list of genealogy downloads from such websites as Family Tree Magazine, Legacy Family Tree, My Heritage, Family Chartmasters, Rootsmagic, and more.

Click here to read their post and see the downloads.

I am very anxious to try out "Family Tree tips, 23 Secrets to Organize Your Genealogy" by Family Tree Magazine and "48 Ancestry.com Tips" as well.  I'm sure to find good hints to doing searches at Ancestry.com.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

June 6, 2014

Follow Friday: Using Search Wildcards on Genealogy Websites from Genealogy Insider

Do you get frustrated when you can't find your ancestor in the various website search engines? Want to know which wildcards a website search engine will take? You know, those special characters like * or ? that help you search for variant spellings of your ancestor's surname.

Diane Haddad at Genealogy Insider has a great blog post called "Using Search Wildcards on Genealogy Websites," describing just what it takes to use wildcards at such sites as Ancestry.com, Mocavo, FamilySearch and others.

Yes, she's describing a genealogy class you can take through Family Tree Magazine University, but she has some great tips you can use now even if you don't plan to sign up for the class.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

May 30, 2014

Follow Friday - Sanborn Maps

I love maps and I think that maps are extremely helpful in your genealogy research. They help you see your ancestor in relationship to others. They help you see their community. They might help you discover the neighboring counties or states.

So when I saw the Kimberly Powell article on about.com on Sanborn maps, I was very excited.  You can read about it here.

Here is an example of the 1886 map I found of Jeffersonville, Indiana in Clark County. These are in full color!

1886 Sanborn Map of Jeffersonville, Indiana, sheet 3. This is from Indiana University Herman B Wells Library Map Collections

The maps do not have resident's names on the buildings, but there are addresses, so if you know their address, you might find the outline of their house. Also you can look for their church or place of business. These are usually in the index on the first sheet.

So check out these maps. On Kimberly's blog there is a list of states with available Sanborn maps.


Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

April 18, 2014

Follow Friday: 3 Tips for Overcoming Spelling Variations from Mocavo.com

Michael J. Leclerc at Mocavo.com has written a wonderful blog post, "3 Tips for Overcoming Spelling Variations" about spelling and spelling variations. His third tip is the best: ask a friend to write out the family name that you give to them orally. Don't tell them how to spell it but see all the variations they come up with from just hearing it. This is exactly how the town or county clerk or the census taker recorded our families' names--they never asked "how is that spelled?"

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

March 28, 2014

Follow Friday: "Create a Legacy Plan"

As we age, we begin to worry about what will become of our genealogical research, especially if we have no children who want to take it over.

FlipPal, the company who makes a portable scanner, has blog articles and this week there is a wonderful one written by Mary V. Danielsen about how to create a legacy plan.  I hope you will find this useful!

Read "Week 10: Create a Legacy Plan" here.




Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

March 7, 2014

Follow Friday - NGS To Have Live Streaming


This week there has been exciting news in the genealogy world.  The National Genealogical Society (NGS) is having their conference in Richmond, Virginia this May. If you think that is too far to attend, you can attend right from your home.

There will be live-streaming of some of the sessions. The cost isn't too bad. $65 for four sessions if you are a member or $80 if you are not.

There are two tracks to choose from and you can sign up for both tracks at another discount.  And if you can't watch it live, you will have the ability to watch it as many times as you want for 90 days.

More details about the deal here:


It's a great deal and I plan to sign up to listen to Elizabeth Shown Mills, Thomas Jones, Pamela Boyer Sayer, Sharon Tate Moody, and Michael Hait in track 1.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

February 28, 2014

Follow Friday: Ancestry.com Blog "4 Things to Do Before You Donate Your Genealogy"

It is tough to decide what you will do with all of your wonderful research.  Sometimes no one in your family is interested. Are you afraid they will just toss it out?

Well, there are steps you can take to ensure your research will not be tossed out by your family or executors. Amy Johnson Crow at the Ancestry.com blog has some good ideas here.

I think one of the best ways to ensure your ancestor's story continues for your family is to create something that is lasting--something your children will WANT to keep.  This can be as simple as writing short vignettes and saving photos and documents in sheet protectors which you then put into well-labeled binders. Family is less likely to toss binders with stories and pictures than file drawers full of file folders.  Also you could photocopy the pages and have a printer/copy place spiral bind them.  Create an attractive cover that is enticing.

Hope the article gives you some food for thought!

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

February 21, 2014

Follow Friday: Genealogy Problem Solving: 6 Strategies That Helped Me

I have a presentation on tips to break down brick walls and love reading articles with hints to solve all kinds of problems.  Here's one by Diane Haddad who writes as the "Genealogy Insider" for Family Tree Magazine. Her article "Genealogy Problem Solving: 6 Strategies That Helped Me" is a great resource for finding tough problems.

The article is primarily promoting one of their webinars to be given by Gena Philibert Ortega on Feb. 27 and information is given on the blog post if you are interested in learning more. However, her 6 tips are great ones and you can read all about them here.

Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

February 15, 2014

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun!

I really enjoy reading Randy Seaver's blog, Genea-Musings. He writes about a lot of different subjects from what's news in genealogy, how to use Ancestry.com or one of the genealogy software products such as Legacy or Rootsmagic, to writing about his own family research.

On Saturdays, he has a special meme called "Saturday Night Genealogy Fun" and today's question to write about is:
a) What was your first illness as a child?
b) What was the first funeral you attended?
c) What was your favorite book as a child?
d) What was your favorite class in elementary school?
e) What was your favorite toy as a child?
f) Did you learn how to swim, and where did you learn?
These were the questions asked by Judy G. Russell during her key-note speech at RootsTech last week. You can hear her presentation here.

I have decided to answer the questions here and challenge you to record your answers either in the comments below, in your genealogy database, or in a Word document.  This way you'll have something for your future descendants to find about you!

Lisa Hork Gorrell's Memories
A. My first illness that I know about was having scarlet fever. Our house was quarantined and I remember the doctor making a house call.  I hated the tongue depressor he used to look in my throat. I always thought I was going to choke.
B.  The first funeral I attended was my grandfather, Tom J. Johnston's funeral in 1973.  I was 19 years old and we rode from the funeral home after the service to the cemetery in a limousine.  The coffin was open at the funeral home and my grandmother was not too happy about it.  But he looked pretty good--just looked like he was happily asleep. My youngest sisters were not allowed to go to the funeral. I didn't agree about that and took my daughters to funerals at all ages.
C. My favorite book as a young child was Little Bear with the beautiful drawings of Maurice Sendak.  Later my favorite books were the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was also very fond of mysteries: Happy Hollisters, Trixie Beldon, and Nancy Drew.
 D. My favorite class in elementary school was Spelling.  I often got 100's by writing over and over the spelling words. I also liked making up stories using the spelling words.
E.  My favorite toy was anything to do with cowboys. I had a cowboy hat, vest, and pistol in a holster.
F.  I didn't learn how to swim until I was in the 6th grade. I could get around okay in the pool using some sort of dog paddle.  My mother put me into real lessons one summer and I learned how to swim really fast--my class was full of six-year-olds. I quickly got moved up to a class with older kids (though none my age). Funny how embarrassment can help you learn something fast!
So what are your memories!


Copyright © 2014 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

September 8, 2013

General Membership Meeting - September 12, 2013

Ralph Severson
Hope everyone had a great summer! It's time to start our meetings again.

This month we have Ralph Severson returning to add to our knowledge of the FamilySearch.org website. It is ever changing and he will have the up-to-date scoop on those changes.

Meeting starts at 7 pm. LDS Church building on 1360 Alberta Way in Concord, California.  We hope to see you there. ,

Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

September 1, 2013

Update - NARA Virtual Genealogy Fair 2013

Here is more information on the Virtual Genealogy Fair 2013 being given by the National Archives on Sept 3 & 4, 2013.

Here you'll find the list of classes for both days and they have posted the handouts so you can download them ahead of time. In fact, this is a great way to decide which classes you would like to take.

Thomas MacEntee from Hack Genealogy has created a great two-page flyer with links to the various sources.


I am very interested in attending the following classes on Sept 3 (times are EDT, for our west coast, this first class will start at 7 AM!):

  • 10 AM, Introduction to Military Records at the National Archives 
  • 11 AM, Introduction to Genealogy: Civilian
  • 2 PM National Archives Online Resources for Genealogy
  • 3 PM, Citizenship Matters: Bureau of Naturalization Files at the National Archives
And on Sept 4:
  • 11 AM, Military and Civilian Personnel Records: The National Archives at St. Louis
  • 12 PM, Union Civil War Pension Files
  • 3 PM, Genealogy Through Navy Deck Logs
However, there are lots of other classes and if you cannot attend live, they will be available for viewing later. If you want to view them live, NARA suggests you attempt to view the ustream.tv site ahead of time. Instructions are here. The Chrome browser was recommended.

Hope to see you in class!

Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

August 24, 2013

Society Saturday -- National Archives Virtual Genealogy Fair

Now is your chance to take classes presented by the National Archives directly from your home.  They plan to present two days of classes on September 3 and 4, 2013.  You can view them live or watch them later. Remember to adjust for the time-zone difference. The presentations are in Eastern Daylight Time. What a deal and it's all free!

This is what is said on their website:
  • Lectures: This two-day program will showcase tips and techniques for using Federal records at the National Archives for genealogy research. Lectures are designed for experienced genealogy professionals and novices alike.
  • Genealogy Help Line: Call with your genealogy questions during the fair. National Archives staff in Washington, DC, will be available from 1 to 4 p.m. eastern daylight time (EDT) on September 3 and 4 on our special hotline at 202-357-5420.
  • You may also email us at inquire@nara.gov, or call our Washington, DC, Customer Service Center telephone during regular business hours at 1-866-325-7208.
Here is the schedule for the two days:



Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

July 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday - 100th Birthday for the Contra Costa County Library System

Three members manning the booth seeking new members.

Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

July 19, 2013

Follow Friday - Preparing for a Research Trip to Washington D.C.

I know everyone has dreamed of taking that trip to Washington, D.C. to do some research in the federal repositories and libraries.  I have.  I would love to research in the National Archives and the Library of Congress.  There is also the Daughters of the American Revolution Library.

But before attempting to research there, it is best to be prepared so you can make the most of your time. Blogger and genealogist, Angela Packer McGhie, has written a great blog post entitled, "Preparing for a Research Trip to Washington D.C." on her blog, Adventures in Genealogy. She is teaching at the upcoming GRIP (Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh) and her blog post is the handout with great links to these repositories.

Check out her blog post here.

Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

July 12, 2013

Follow Friday: Why Do You Do Genealogy?

Valerie Elkins wrote a great blog post in her Family Storytelling blog about the 7 top reasons for doing genealogy.

I really resonated with reason no. 2, that I'll have a beautiful brain.  Working out genealogy problems does keep my brain active as I get older and I hope it will keep Alzheimer disease or dementia away.

Take a look at her post here.  And tell me why you do genealogy.



Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

April 26, 2013

Photo Preservation Webinar from American Library Association

There is a great webinar available from the American Library Association that you can watch at any time. It's called "The Preservation of Family Photographs."

The presenter is Debra Hess Norris, Chair of the Art Conservation Department at the University of Delaware, and Professor of Photograph Conservation.

The agenda of the webinar is:
  • basic characterization and identification of albumen, silver gelatin, and chromogenic color print materials, and film base negatives
  • agents of deterioration for photographic materials
  • storage and exhibition practices
  • handling guidelines
  • prioritization for preservation
Don't let the technical aspects of the presentation scare you.  Diagrams and photos really help show you what she is talking about!

To watch the webinar, start at the website here.  Go down the page to "How to Register."  You won't have to register because there is now only the recordings.  I downloaded the .wav file and then watched it using Windows Media Player (which opened automatically).  Two other choices to view it are through YouTube or as slides via a .pdf.

Now you won't have any excuse about preserving your own photographs!

Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

April 13, 2013

FamilySearch

   We had a wonderful lecture about FamilySearch presented by Ralph Severson, the director of the
Oakland Family History Center.  He spoke about their website, familysearch.org and the nine tabs found on the main page:

  • Blog
  • Indexing
  • FamilySearch Centers
  • Books
  • Catalog
  • Genealogies
  • Learn
  • Records
  • Family Tree

He spent majority of the time focused on the last two tabs, Records and Family Tree.  When he spoke of the Records tab, which is the tab that is the main page, he spoke of "above" the line which is where you fill in the name you are searching. He advised now to put in too much information at first.  Once you have results, you can then use filters to narrow down to the person your are looking for.  "Below" the line is where you can browse records. These are not indexed records but have images.

Family Tree was very interesting and he explained how to add your family, though suggested adding only a generation at a time.  It is very important to add sources.

Thank you very much, Ralph!


Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.