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 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


   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.

March 15, 2013

Follow Friday - Best Records for Female Ancestors

Agnes (Lundquist) Nilsen
   Diane Haddad at the Genealogy Insider blog has a blog post about researching female ancestors.  This is also a perfect subject for the fact that March is Women's History Month.

   Her blog post gives many ideas where you can find your women ancestors, from cemetery records and the nearby plots to newspapers or military pension records.

   The site also gives links to various classes you can sign up for to learn more.

Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

March 9, 2013

General Membership Meeting - March 14, 2013 - Susan Swindell

     Our next general meeting will be March 14, 2013.  Susan Swindell, our Diablo Descendants newsletter editor, will be presenting "Women Spies of the Civil War."  It is a perfect lecture for Women's History Month and it sounds so intriguing.

   The meeting is held at the LDS church building on 1360 Alberta Way in Concord, California.  Meeting begins at 7:00 pm. We hope to see you there.  

Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

March 1, 2013

Follow Friday - Ask Ancestry Anne

   One of the many blogs that I read daily is the blog from Ancestry.com called "Sticky Notes."  There are several categories of types of blog posting at this site.

  • "Your Stories" are blog posts written by researchers who have found great finds and explain how their find fits into the life of an ancestor.  
  • "Ask Ancestry Anne" is written by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, the Senior Project Manager at Ancestry.com.  She answers questions sent in by readers.
  • "Interesting Finds" is miscellaneous items that can be found on Ancestry.com.
  • "Juliana's Corner" is written by Juliana Smith, another Ancestry.com employee, who writes about research and finds, and presents webinars that can be found on the Ancestry Livestream channel.
   Today, I want to point out the blog article written by Anne in "Ask Ancestry Anne" called "Where is the Source Citation?"  She points out how you can find the details of the source you are looking at when you are viewing the image itself.  To the right of the image, you click on the gray arrow to the right of the image and the citation detail will pop up.

  Check out her blog post to see images of what I'm talking about!

Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

February 15, 2013

Follow Friday -- Saving Water Damaged Photos

   A great new article has been posted at the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner blog, entitled, "Saving Water Damaged Photos."  It was posted by Thomas MacEntee.  Flip-Pal scanners have been used to rescue lost, water-damaged photos from Hurricane Sandy on the east coast.  These photos are then posted online so the owners can be reunited with the lost photos.

   Flip-Pal has also created a free "Rescuing Water Damaged Photos" guide that you can download for your own use.  It has lots of great advice on caring for the water damaged photos and bringing them back for you to use. It is a 5 page pdf file that covers: Prioritizing and Organizing, Practice Safety, General Cleaning, Freezing, and Drying Washed Photos.  On the last page are resources with many website links.

Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

February 6, 2013

Getting Photocopies from the Family History Library

   You can request records from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.  If you know the exact book, film, microfiche, etc., you can email the request and the copy of the image will be sent to you via email.    You will have to know the answer to specific questions before they can find the record. They will not do research for you.

   So how can you use this? Let's say you find an index of a birth record on FamilySearch.org.  In the summation of the record, the film number is noted. Now you know the film number, the name of the person, the date of the event, the place of the event, and other information.  You will be able to answer the appropriate questions.  The look-up volunteer will search through the film/fiche and find the record for you. The image of the record is then sent to an email address.

   Isn't that great? Now you will not have to order a film from Salt Lake City or put it on a research to do list for the next time you visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City just to see the one image!

   Check out the complete details here.

Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

General Meeting - Feb 14, 2013 - Janice Sellers

Janice Sellers
   Our next general meeting will be February 14, 2013.  Professional genealogist, Janice Sellers, will be speaking about Vital Records. Come hear about what is new about researching Vital Records.

   The meeting is held at the LDS church building on 1360 Alberta Way in Concord, California.  Meeting begins at 7:00 pm. We hope to see you there.

Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

February 1, 2013

Family History Writing Challenge - Day 1

   Even though I have a full plate of responsibilities, I signed up for the 2013 Family History Writing Challenge.  It's not too late for you to sign up, too.  All you have to do to participate is to agree to write for 28 days, some on each day of the month of February.  Here's how to get started:

Family History Writing Challenge Day 1

   There is no minimum of words per day.  Just write.  Start by writing a quick summary about one ancestor. Then from there, you can work on an outline.  Add color and humorous stories.  Add photos and captions.  Soon, if you write a bit each day, you will have a nice little essay about your one ancestor.  If you finish before the end of the month, start on another ancestor.  You don't have to stop at the end of the month.  March has 31 days of writing you can do.

   I am writing about my husband's great-grandfather, Amos Gorrell Jr.  I want my focus to be about his courtship and marriage to his wife.  I have his journal to use as a source.  My goal is to write between 800 and 1000 words and if I get this done well, I'll enter the essay in a contest.  Wish me luck!

Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.

January 14, 2013

General Meeting - Family History Center Workshop

Our general meeting for January had us meet at the Concord Family History Center for a chance to do research on the computers or in books.  Nearly two dozen researchers had a great time.  There was lots of buzzing among those at the computers and great finds were found!

Copyright © 2013 by Contra Costa County Genealogical Society.