Monday, October 28, 2013

Wrapping Up Family History Month

October, which is Family History Month, is always a busy time of year for genealogists.  Along with attending a few events, I let myself be scheduled for several talks, including five in six days.  (You'd think I would have learned my lesson by now!)  It's been a great month, and I learned and shared a lot.

I started the month by going to the October 5 Angel Island Family History Day coordinated by the California Genealogical Society.  I very much enjoyed the event and the opportunity to learn about some of the different groups of immigrants who were processed at the "Ellis Island of the West."  And because it was the beginning of the month, I actually had time to write a separate post about it!

Saturday, October 12, was Family History Day at the California State Archives.  I was asked to give a talk on online newspaper resources, which went very well, with about 75 people in the class.  I also was able to attend three classes myself.  I took the opportunity to hear Lisa Lee's "Introduction to Black Genealogy" because although I've been researching black genealogy for many years, I had never taken an introductory class.  She had a lot of useful information and different perspectives from some other people I've spoken with.  I also attended sessions on Cherokee and Italian research, plus I took a tour of the archives.  Did you know the archives holds all the historical records for San Quentin and Folsom prisons?  Makes me wish I had a serious reprobate to research.

On Wednesday, October 16, I taught a class on Jewish genealogy at the Oakland FamilySearch Library for International Jewish Genealogy Month.  Instead of a general introduction to research, this class focused on what differentiates Jewish research from that of other groups.  The class had a good turnout, and someone who couldn't attend contacted me afterward to get information.  Even better, one of the people in the class is already following up by doing more in-depth research!

The Mt. Diablo Genealogical Society's October speaker canceled at the last minute, and they asked if I could step in.  Lucky me, I was able to do it because of the short BART strike.  (It kept me off the streets and out of trouble!)  So on October 18 I gave a presentation on how even if you have very, very little information to begin with, if you work methodically and thoroughly, it is possible to build on that small beginning and find documents and more information.  In the case study I discussed, I started with one person's last name, another person's first name, a third person's occupation (but no name!), and a town, and my research resulted in a seven-generation family tree with more than one hundred people.

The Concord FamilySearch Library and Contra Costa County Genealogical Society held their annual "Digging for Your Roots" seminar on Saturday, October 19.  I taught two classes there, online newspapers and finding women's maiden names, which were both well received.  I was able to attend several sessions, with the standouts being about Germans from Russia and overlooked military sources.  They both had a lot of useful information I had not seen before.

The San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society (SFBAJGS) held its final 2013 East Bay meeting on Sunday, October 20, at the Oakland FamilySearch Library.  At this all I had to do was open the library and set everything up!  Lisa Gorrell of the Contra Costa County Genealogical Society gave a talk on city (and other) directories and how they can be helpful in genealogy research.

The final 2013 SFBAJGS meeting for our peninsula location was Monday, October 21.  After several years of trying to work it out for me to give my talk about online newspapers there, I was finally able to make it down to Los Altos.  Several people who attended e-mailed me within the next couple of days to say they were already finding articles about their relatives — just what I love to hear!

The first organizational meeting for the 2014 San Francisco History Expo was Tuesday, October 22, at the Old Mint, where the Expo is held.  I went as a representative of SFBAJGS and . . . um . . . somehow ended up volunteering to be on the organizing committee.  (Oops.)  I figured it was the best way to make sure that all of the genealogy groups get to stay together in one room, which has worked well the past two years.

And last but certainly not least, this past Saturday, October 26, the California Genealogical Society held a big fundraising event, Their Roots Are Showing, its take on a Who Do You Think You Are? type of production.  Three local Bay Area celebrities — Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics, drummer Tim Alexander of Primus, and Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin — learned about their ancestors live on stage.  I did research on Beane's and Alexander's families for the event, and I was able to meet them in person, which was pretty cool.

And now I have a short break until November 2 (yikes! that's this Saturday!), when I'll be teaching two sessions at the Sacramento FamilySearch Library's genealogy seminar.

It's a good thing I love my work ....

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