A Tribute to Anne Robinson

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Jasia of Creative Gene reminds us that March is National Women’s History Month and encourages genea-bloggers to write a tribute to a woman. It is the perfect opportunity to honor long-time CGS volunteer, Anne A. Robinson.

The number one strength of the California Genealogical Society and Library is our active and generous membership but few have been as dedicated and steadfast as Anne. She is a San Francisco native and comes from a long line of folks interested in their family history. Anne’s husband died when her children were young and she turned to friends for support and company. She developed a close bond with a group of seven who took a genealogy class together at Sequoia High School. After the class was over, she missed the contact so she started spending her Wednesdays volunteering at libraries — at CGS, or Sutro, in Santa Clara or Sacramento. Anne volunteered for many years at the Pacific Regional National Archives in San Bruno, working on the preservation of Chinese immigration records.

Anne was the youngest of nine children (including a twin sister) with Dutch heritage from their mother and British from their father. The teaching profession called to her and she taught fourth grade for a time in Santa Barbara. During World War II, Anne joined the army to help with the war effort. She was stationed at Fort Collins, Colorado, where she trained in occupational therapy and was assigned to a military hospital working with servicemen who were on the mend. She did her basic training in Des Moines in motor transport which led to her first assignment as a driver for the base Colonel. These days Anne leaves the driving to the public transportation systems, of which she is also a veteran. Anne spends 3 1/2 to 4 hours every week commuting to CGS. She leaves home at 7:00 a.m. to insure her arrival at the library for the 9:30 start time of the book repair group and more often than not, she is the first to arrive. Anne spends her commute time doing recreational reading and puzzles. Anne is a big fan of sudoku and jumbles and she will do a crossword or two. She’s noticed that genealogists like puzzles and several she knows do the jigsaw variety.

Anne began volunteering at CGS when the society was joined with the California Historical Society in San Francisco. She has been a member of CGS since 1980 and has logged thousands of volunteer hours, working on many major projects over the years.

In the 1990s, Anne was a member of the library committee which spent several years creating a shelf list of the CGS holdings. That inventory was completed in 1995. She and Anna Scott spent several more years going through all of the ancestral charts that were donated to CGS and indexing them by surname and typing up catalog cards for each chart. Anne also worked on the Great Register of 1890 indexing project with Jane Steiner’s group.

One of Anne’s ongoing projects is readily visible on most of the library shelves. She is responsible for the spine labels and bindings for pamphlets and other non-bound materials. Her careful, legible script helps our patrons easily find things hidden from view in most libraries.

Anne has volunteered at several archives and societies over the years but she says that she especially likes the people at CGS because they take the time to “get to know each other a little bit.” We are all honored to have gotten to know her.

In my notes I found that Anne wrote her own six word memoir:
Did what needed to be done.”

Photographs by Kathryn M. Doyle, 11 Dec 2007.



  1. Virginia Hill  March 16, 2008

    What a fascinating and dedicated woman! Thank you for introducing us to Anne Robinson!

  2. Anonymous  March 16, 2008

    I have known Anne since becoming involved at the California Genealogical Society in 1999. She has quietly given so much of her time to CGS along with Gene Peck and Dorothy Fowler (who wrote A most Dreadful Earthquake for our society) They have been volunteering weekly for over 25 years! Truly amazing! …jane

  3. Kathryn Doyle  March 19, 2008


    Thanks for stopping by to read the post and learn about Anne. It’s only fitting that the rest of the world know what a special person she is.


  4. Kathryn Doyle  March 19, 2008


    Thanks to you and many others in the CGS family who suggested that I write about Anne and told me of her many contributions to the society.