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.

December 20, 2012

Follow Friday - U.S. Census Pathfinder

   Michael Hait, of Hait Family Research Services, and author of the blog, Planting the Seeds, has written a new blog post called "U.S. Census Pathfinder Is Now Available."  This is a wonderful resource for learning as much as you can on any census.  Here is a shot of the first page:

First page of US Census Pathfinder

This wonderful resource contains 23 pages full of hyperlinks to the direct websites.  This gives you a complete reference to everything you would like to know about the United States census: enumerator instructions, NARA census catalog, FHL microfilm list, blank census forms, among many other sources.

The best part of this resource is it is free!  It opens as a pdf in your browser and you can then save it to your computer so view at any time.  This can be a valuable resource for your genealogical research.

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

December 14, 2012

Annual Christmas Party - 2012

Nice buffet!
     Our joint annual Christmas Party with the Concord Family History Center was very successful last night.  The evening started off with meet & greet during which time appetizers were served.  Dinner was potluck and everyone brought delicious food.

    After dinner we had wonderful entertainment and games.  We sang five favorite Christmas Carols.  The game included guessing the name of the carol (that had been renamed) and then we sang that carol.  Jim Gillespie from FHC led the singing and he has a wonderful booming voice.

    Between songs, we had two readings: "The Elusive Ancestor" and "Grandma Climbed the Family Tree."  They were very humorous!  The closing song was "A Dozen Intervals of Light Between Sunlight and Dark Commemorating the Annual Festival of the Birth of Jesus" which was really "The 12 Days of Christmas" that was sang by tables. All were having a great time participating.

   Besides the great food and entertainment, members brought toys for the Toys For Tots program and food for the Contra Costa Solano County Food Bank.

   The Christmas Party committee did a fantastic job.  Thank you very much.  Next year the party will be hosted by the Concord Family History Center.

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

November 16, 2012

Follow Friday - Up Front With NGS

The National Genealogical Society has a blog called "Up Front With NGS" that I receive via email.  Today's post is entitled "Food and Holidays -- Always a Great Combination -- How to Preserve That "Slice" of Life."  It is a great story about sisters who upon reminiscing about their mother's great cooking came up with an idea of creating a family cookbook of her recipes.  They used photos of their mother and family to accompany the wonderful dishes she always prepared.

It would be a great Christmas or Hanukkah gift to give to your family.  Just collect favorite family recipes and add photos and antidotes about the food.  Ways to "publish" could be:

  • You could do this simply by scanning them into a word processing program and printing them from your computer.  Then place in sheet protector sheets and into a binder with a nice cover.  
  • Have a copy center print out the pages and use a nice binding system.
  • Upload to a photo service place (like Costco, Shutterfly, etc) and have the book printed with a soft or hard cover.

My mother did something like this for each of her children when they married.  This was all before computers and she typed the recipes onto pretty colored paper.  Then using a store-bought photo album, added photos of each of us as children along with the recipes.  It is such a nice treasure.  Here is an example of a recipe:

Check out the NGS blog for photos of the author's recipe book.

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

November 6, 2012

General Meeting - Nov. 8, 2012 - Steve Morse

We have a wonderful treat this month.  Steve Morse will give a presentation on DNA, titled "From DNA to Genetic Genealogy: Everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask."  From his speaker's website, he says:
"This talk introduces genes, chromosomes, and
DNA, and goes on to show how DNA is
inherited. That knowledge of inheritance can be
used for finding relatives you didn't know you
had, learning about your very distant ancestors
and the route they traveled, and determining if
you are a Jewish high priest (Kohan). Examples
presented include Genghis Khan's legacy, the
Thomas Jefferson affair, and the Anastasia
Come learn a little about DNA and how it might help you with your genealogy research!
LDS Church, 1360 Alberta Way, Concord, California.  Meeting begins at 7 pm.  All are welcome.  No charge.

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

October 26, 2012

Follow Friday - The Basics of Citing Your Sources

  Most genealogists who have been researching their families at least a year or more have heard the mantra "Cite your sources!" more than once.  It is very important to record where you found each of the facts you have collected.  One, so you or someone else can find it again, and two, to help with your analysis of the record and the information you have gleamed from the record.

  Michelle Lewis of the blog Ancestoring, has written a wonderful post, "The Basics of Citing Your Sources".  She writes well and explains it very nicely.  Some of her points:

  • Every fact not common knowledge must have a citation
  • Only cite sources you have personally checked
  • Your citation must have enough information so that anyone coming behind you could easily find the source
  • Your citations must be consistent  

  I hope you will read Michelle's blog post for more details.  We can all improve our citations.

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

September 16, 2012

Copyright issues about newspaper obituaries

28 May 1920 - Portland Oregonian

Judy G. Russell, who is a certified genealogist, an attorney, and the author of the blog called “The Legal Genealogist,” has written two wonder blog posts about copyright.  She began answering a question from a reader raised about a society who had transcribed lots of newspaper obituaries and posted them on their website for all to use.

Her first post called “Copyright and the obit” talked about the copyright laws up to the end of 1963.  She gave some very good reasons why you can use an obituary that had been printed in a newspaper up to the end of 1963.
  • Any publications before 1923 are free of copyright and can be used freely
  • Between 1923 and 1963, if the publication had a copyright notice, the copyright lasted 28 years from publication date.  It was possible to extend the copyright, but she stated the newspaper would have to file for the extension for each date and pay a filing fee.  It is doubtful that newspapers did this for archive newspapers.
  • She also spoke about fair use, and the use of an image or transcription of an obituary for educational uses would fall under fair use. 

Her second post, called "Copyright and the post-1963 obit," continued the discussion for works created 1964 and later.  For works between 1964 and 1977, the copyright expires 95 years after it was published.  For works published between 1978 and March 1, 1989 the copyright laws are more complicated depending on who authored the work.  The laws changed again after March 1, 1989, and the copyright expires 70 years after the death of the author.   See her post for more details. It gets really complicated.

So you are probably safe using newspaper articles and obituaries published before 1964 in your work or blog.  For works after that, ask permission.

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

August 18, 2012

Follow Friday: Finding Woman's Maiden Name

Finding the maiden name of your women ancestors can be challenging at times.  You look in the usual places such as a death certificate, obituary, or marriage index.  Maybe even the tombstone will list the maiden name.  
But sometimes that maiden name is just hard to find!  Especially the further back you go in time.

William Dollaride wrote a wonderful article about finding the maiden name for your women ancestors on the GenealogyBlog.  In the article, he has a pretty thorough list of places you might find reference to her maiden name. He broke it down into categories:  Birth Records, Marriage Records, Divorce Records, Death Records, Census Records, Cemeteries, Major Databases, Vital Records & Indexes, Bible Records, Probate Records, Church Records, Medical Records, and a long list under Miscellaneous.  Some examples include:

  • Finding a brother-in-law or mother-in-law on a census
  • Delayed birth records or Corrected birth records
  • Announcement of marriage in newspaper
  • Church marriage records
  • Deed records
  • Pension records
Check out his article here to see the complete list.  It's a keeper to have on hand while you are researching or preparing your next research plan!

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

August 10, 2012

Follow Friday - "Climbing the Spiral Staircase: Learning Genealogy"

I read a wonderful blog post written by Harold Henderson, who is a professional genealogist from Indiana.  He is a wonderful writer who has the ability to take a complicated subject and break it down into easy to understand bites.  He did this superbly with his post on Archives.com website called, "Climbing the Spiral Staircase: Learning Genealogy."

As we gain experience we learn that what we thought was true before may not actually be true afterall.  He said,
"the learning process is like climbing a spiral staircase. It is not that we learn wrong things and have to unlearn them, but our previous knowledge is refined. As we make the next turn up the staircase, we can look down and see our former vantage point and its partial truth within a larger perspective."
I love this image of the spiral staircase and how we learn.  By climbing around, we are able to still see where we've been but also where we're going.

He goes on to describe 4 practical tips to help you search and analyze what you find:

  1. Seek independent backup for every clue.
  2. Don't be a selective skeptic.
  3. Don't be an evidence snob.
  4. Don't stop learning.

Check out his article to read his great examples for each of the previous tips!

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

August 9, 2012

Happy Blogiversary - Aug 9

Two years ago, our first blog post was made by our Publicity Chair, Teri.  When she became too busy in everyday life, I have taken over most of the blog posts.  I try to promote our upcoming programs, and write about the presentations, interesting things our members have done, and interesting research resources I find on the Internet.  Since our first post in 2010, our society has gained quite a few new members.

Happy Blogiversary to the Contra Costa County Genealogical Society!

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

August 5, 2012

Peddler's Faire - August 2012

We had a booth again at the Peddler's Faire in Martinez, California.  Several members volunteered to man the table and we were visited by many people who told us tales of their families.

Former President & current President manning the CCCGS table at the Peddler's Faire in Aug 2012

It was a cool day and the crowds were not as large as in the past.  This time we had the use of a nice canopy to keep the sun shaded but though it didn't shade our booth, it did define our booth space.  We also had a nice new foam board sign which was a hit.  Many stopped by and commented on it.

We had 47 people sign up for a complimentary issues of the newsletter.  Let's hope that some will visit us at  our meetings this fall.

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

July 13, 2012

Workshop at the Concord Family History Center A Success

Our twice-yearly meeting held at the Concord Family History Center was a success last night.  About twenty-five members showed up to use the facilities' computers, books, and microfilm machines.  There were many happy smiles as members found interesting sources for their family histories.  It was also the first time members were able to try out GenealogyBank.com, our gift to the FHC.  Three staff members from the center were on hand to help members.  Thank you, Jackie for arranging that!

Our next meeting will be September 13, 2012 at the LDS Church on Alberta Way at 7pm.  There will be no meeting in August.

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

June 29, 2012

Follow Friday: Using Ancestry.com's 'New Search"

    When searching in Ancestry.com, are you using the "New" search or "Old" search?  Are you a diehard fan of the old search and never want to change?  Do you think that the new search is a "dumbed down" search and the old search is more powerful?

    Michael Hait CG has written a great blog about how powerful the new search really is, called "Using Ancestry.com's "New Search""[1].  It's all about using the drop-down menus and using exact searches.  His blog has great instruction and wonderful images showing exactly what he is describing.

    I use the new search, mostly because my Ancestry opened up in that mode.  I rarely begin searching from the opening screen, however, but rather begin by picking the database from which I want to search, for example, the 1930 census, or the California Death Index.  But I learned quite a bit about searching now from this opening screen by focusing my search to particular databases, or types of databases, and by using the "advanced search" form instead of the default one.

   Check out Michael's blog and try some of his suggestions.  You might find you like the "new" search much better!

[1] Using Ancestry.com’s “New Search”, Michael Hait, CG(sm), posted June 19, 2012, Planting the Seeds blog, http://michaelhait.wordpress.com/2012/06/19/new-search/.

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

June 22, 2012

Follow Friday: The Legal Genealogist

     Judy G. Russell is a certified genealogist who is also a lawyer.  She writes a blog called The Legal Genealogist. She has written many blogs about laws and other legal aspects that help in genealogy research.

     But the blog I want you to read is called "Thanks for one government “boondoggle”." She writes about
the government program, Works Progress Administration (WPA), and all of the projects that were created which help genealogists today such as:

    *Historical Records Survey, which produced many inventories, lists, and surveys of government and church records.
    *Federal Writer's Project. There are copies of interviews conducted.
    *Photographs. There are many photographs available at the Library of Congress and National Archives.

 Take a look at Judy's blog post for more details and links to many state and federal sites.

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

June 18, 2012

New Online Irish Genealogy Magazine

A new online genealogy magazine has debuted.  It's called irish lives remembered.  The first issue is focused on County Cork research, from where a lot of immigrants came.

You can get the issue here.

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

June 12, 2012

A Newspaper Article about Margaret Du Bose Intrigued Me

Martinez Daily Standard,  8 Aug 1917, p 4, col 3
    I have been working on an every name index of the Martinez Daily Standard and in the process read a lot of the newspaper to find names to index.  Today an article about a woman, Mrs. Margaret Du Bose, intrigued me.  She was a seamstress from Stege who came up with an idea for adjusting the waistband of women's overalls.  A San Francisco manufacturing company awarded her a $500 bonus and an offer for $100 per month job.

    This article was in the Wednesday, August 8, 1917 issue on page four.  The original newspapers are housed at the History Center, an archive of Contra Costa County, and run by the Contra Costa County Historical Society.

    So I decided to do some research on Margaret Du Bose.  First I found that Stege was located near Richmond, on the southern end, which today is the triangle of land between Interstate 580 and 80.  I decided to check the city directories of Richmond.  I found two on Ancestry.com R. L. Polk and Co.'s Richmond, Martinez and Contra Costa County Directory 1916-1917 and 1918, but I did not find any Margaret Du Bose or any other close spelling such as Du Boise, Du Bois.

     Ancestry.com also has San Francisco city directories,  Crocker-Langley San Francisco Directory and I checked 1918, 1919, and 1920, but found no Margaret.

     I also did not find Margaret in the 1920 San Francisco Co federal census nor the 1910 Contra Costa Co federal census.  I do not know her husband's name.  Only that he has died and she was a widow.  I searched the 1905-1929 California Death Index on FamilySearch.org but did not find a man dying in Contra Costa Co before 1917.

     So why am I not finding her?  There are several things that could be impeding this search:

  1. Her name is completely wrong.  Newspapers are notorious in having spelling errors.  I did do some creative spelling searches for Du Bois, Du Boise, Dubois, etc.
  2. She lived in Contra Costa County only a short time, not long enough to be in a city directory at Richmond.  
  3. Her husband did not die in Contra Costa County.  See #2.
  4. She remarried before the 1920 census.
    So what's next?

  1. Research clothing manufacturing companies in San Francisco to see who made women's overalls.  This will help me find her new employer.
  2. Research places near Stege who might have hired Margaret.  Of course she could have been an independent worker, though she did not show up in the directory under seamstresses.
    If anyone has any other ideas, please comment.  I welcome any input!

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

June 1, 2012

How to search for an address in Ancestry City Directories

Ancestry have added a lot of city directories. To find them, open the card catalog -> Schools, Directories & Church Histories -> City & Area Directories -> U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 (Beta) .

Ancestry also allows you to search by an address. The search is not well documented by Ancestry. Below is an example on how to do it.

Who lived at the 614 Palisade Ave, Jersey City, New Jersey between 1900-1910.

1) Do not set any name!
2) Set Lived In to "Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey, USA"
3) Set Keyword to "614 Palisade Ave"
4) Set Residence Year to 1905+-5 and set exact only

Click search and you get all people who lived at that address.

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

May 12, 2012

Annual Meeting & Installation of the Board

Thursday, May 10, 2012 was the annual meeting and installation of the 2012-2013 Board of Directors.  Following the short general meeting and refreshments, several members shared some of their exciting finds in their research.

2012-2013 Board Members

Refreshments & Visiting

Refreshments & Visiting

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

May 6, 2012

Follow Friday: California Blogs

Are you interested in California genealogy? Want to learn more about local genealogy and historical societies in the state? Then check out the California State Genealogical Alliance's blog post entitled "What California Blogs Do You Follow?" They created a great list of blogs focusing on California topics. We are included, too!
To see their list, click here.  From their blog post, you can then click to other blogs about California.

Copyright © 2012 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

March 30, 2012

Follow Friday -- Organizing Family Photos in 8 Easy Steps

I follow the "The Armchair Genealogist" blog, written by Lynn Palermo.  She writes great articles about the writing process and just finish hosting the Family History Writing Challenge during the month of February.

This week she wrote an article called "Organizing Family Photos in 8 Easy Steps" about how to organize your family photos.  We're talking about those paper photos you have either thrown in a box, stored still in their original envelopes, or placed in various non-archival photo albums.

She broke it down into 8 easy steps, which basically are to gather, scan, label & sort, and then organize on the computer.  She used a FlipPal scanner, but any scanner could be used.  Her suggestion is to do this while watching T.V.  The FlipPal works well for this because it is small.  I have my flatbed scanner on the coffee table in our living room so I can scan while watching television, too.

What I loved best was what to do with the photos after being scanned.  That was my dilemma.  They usually went back into the original box and then I would not remember whether I had scanned them before.  Sorting the photos into labeled envelopes is just the solution!

Do take a look at her blog post for the complete list and great photos of how she did it!

Copyright © 2011 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

March 2, 2012

Follow Friday -- Organizing & Sharing Digital Images Webinar

2012-02-29-webcdLegacy Family Tree at their website has a wonder webinar called "Organizing & Sharing Digital Images" given by Geoff Rasmussen.  I attended the webinar live and learned a lot. Geoff demonstrated:

  • how to get the photos off your camera and organize them on the computer
  • organizing the photos on the computer using Photoshop Elements and Picassa  
  • how you can share your photos with others and put them into the Legacy program
He did all of this live.

The webinar will be free for viewing on their website for about 10 days.  Give it a try!

Copyright © 2011 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

February 12, 2012

Report on General Meeting - Feb 9, 2012

We had a very good turnout for our General Meeting on February 9, 2012.  Janice Sellers gave a wonder talk on using online newspapers.

She spoke about why newspapers are helpful to genealogists and that you can find more than birth, marriage, and death information from them.  Other types of information include school news, legal notices, business news, social news, and military news to list a few.  She described the types of newspapers one can find from national, large local, small local, and ethnic papers.

She gave us a list of the online sources that are free to use at LDS Family History Centers: NewspaperArchive.com, Fold3.com, 19th Century British Newspapers, Ancestry.com, WorldVitalRecords.com, and 19th Century US Newspapers (through Godfrey).  She gave us a nice list of other libraries in the area that have newspaper subscriptions, other subscription databases, free databases such as Library of Congress Chronicling America and the California Digital Newspaper Collection, and some portals such as Cyndi's List and Wikipedia to help you find other newspapers.

Lastly she gave us some database basics.  In describing how searches work, we saw screen shots of the actual databases and the newspaper articles that she found.

It was a wonderful talk and I heard many people say upon leaving that they couldn't wait to get home and try some of it out.

Thank you, Janice!

Copyright © 2011 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

February 4, 2012

Accomplishments in the Past Year

Some of us board members were commenting about how we don't do much business in our board meetings.  Our President, Yvonne Adams, made a list of all of the accomplishments members of our society have done in the past year.  It is a pretty impressive list and we should all be very proud of ourselves.

  1. Increased our publicity using newspapers, online sites, and a table at the Peddlar's Faire.
  2. Cleaned up our Standing Rules
  3. Created name tags for our members to wear at General Meetings
  4. Resumed research trips
  5. Changed our General Meeting format to encourage more member sharing
  6. Resumed the Teaching Moment
  7. Increased dues so we could increase the stipend for speakers
  8. Continued with donations to Toys for Tots and the Food Bank
  9. Created Inventory Sheets for Officers for a smoother transition
  10. Created Blue Books for Officers with a list of duties and a timeline
  11. Created a Refreshment Committee
  12. And lastly created a display case at the Pleasant Hill Library which will be on display the month of February 2012.  Below is a photo of the display case.

Display created by the Contra Costa County Genealogical Society at the Pleasant Hill Library

Copyright © 2011 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

February 2, 2012

General Meeting -- Feb 9, 2012

Coming up this month will be professional genealogist, Janice Sellers, who will speak about Online Newspapers.  Her summary is:

Using Online Newspapers for Genealogical Research
      Newspapers are valuable in genealogical research because you can find information about births, deaths, marriages, moves, business, naturalizations, court cases, and more. Millions of pages of the world's newspapers are now accessible online, but there is no one place to find them all. This class gives an overview of what isavailable online and techniques to help improve your chances of finding information about your relatives.

Janice M. Sellers is a professional genealogist who specializes in newspaper and Jewish research. She is the editor of two genealogy journals and a member of APG, Genealogical Speakers Guild, San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society, and CGS. She has volunteered at Oakland Regional Family History Center for eleven years.

The meeting begins at 7 pm and the location is the LDS Church at 1360 Alberta Way, Concord.  All are welcomed!

Copyright © 2011 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

January 20, 2012

Follow Friday -- 6 Steps to Writing Your Memoir or Family History Book

I have completed two family history book projects in the past ten years, most recently a 3-generation story of Swedish immigrants called The Nilsen Family: From Jönköping to America.  It was hard work but very satisfying to share the completed book with family.

I have since created a presentation on writing about your own family and presented it to Digging For Your Roots seminar in October 2011.  I am still on the look out for ways to write and create family histories.

Well today I found a blog post at Family History and Memoirs blog of Stories to Tell website that explains in six steps how one can take a writing project from inception to completion.  This is a commercial company but their website has lots of  instructional posts about writing, editing, and printing your book.  I think that the hardest thing about starting a project is thinking it will be take a long time and be hard to do.  By breaking your project into smaller steps will make your project seem less daunting and very doable.

Give their website a try and see it you can't start on your own project.

Copyright © 2011 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.