CGS News – September 2008

by Kathryn Doyle (8/18/2008)

The September 2008 issue of the CGS News, Volume XXXIX, No. 5, should be arriving in members’ mailboxes this week and its eight pages are full of news and information:

• Membership Meeting – Best Bet Web Sites – page 1
• Beyond the CGS Electronic Catalog – page 2
• New Digital Publications & Resources – page 3
• Family History Month Classes – page 4
• Lots and Lots of New Books! – page 5-6
• New Members Welcome – page 7
• Calendar of Events – page 8

The CGS News, edited by Jane Hufft and produced by Lois Elling, is published six times a year by the California Genealogical Society. An annual subscription to the bimonthly newsletter is included in a society membership ($35 per year). For membership information, visit the CGS Web site.

Feedback From “Hints on Publishing Your Family History”

by Kathryn Doyle (8/15/2008)

Altogether, twenty-one potential authors attended last Saturday’s “Hints on Publishing Your Family History” workshop presented by Shirley Pugh Thomson and Matthew Berry. Past-president, Rick Sherman, shared these comments, “I thought the publishing workshop was outstanding. I bought myself a Chicago Manual of Style that very afternoon! I was especially impressed by the good “cast chemistry” among the speakers, and by the good behavior of the audience. There were lots of valuable contributions from the audience, but no one tried to take over the session.”

Shirley sent this: “”For my part, Saturday was quite a surprising day. First, I found it very hard to believe that such a large number of interested people wanted to come out for our workshop on a fine weekend day. Then, there was the high level of interest! Those writers and researchers were interested in all aspects of the process to convert good research and writing to printed and bound pages of a book. The participants, it seems, were all historians and genealogists determined to see their research, their families’ histories, their loved ones’ memoirs and papers or other writings preserved in publications to be made available to a wider family circle or to the public. The many wide-ranging questions indicated serious plans were already being considered.”

Matt said “For me, Saturday’s event was my first time participating in a CGS event and I had a wonderful time meeting and talking to people. I was happy to see so many people attending and asking great questions. I am now looking forward to participating in other CGS events.”

Yellow Fever in New Orleans

by Kathryn Doyle (8/14/2008)

So what does a jaundice-producing, tropical viral illness have to do with California genealogy? Nothing, unless you happen to be an industrious Bay Area genealogist who just published her first article in the The Louisiana Genealogical Register.

CGS member Jennifer J. Regan got interested in yellow fever while researching her husband’s Louisiana roots. As Regan put it, “I realized I knew little to nothing about the disease, and knowing something about it, and how it affected society, seemed interesting to me.”

“Yellow Fever in New Orleans,” is a thorough analysis of the social implications of the dreaded “Yellow Jack.” Regan doesn’t spare her readers any of the gruesome details of “life under yellow fever” and she doesn’t shy away from a discussion of the role that racism and classism played in nineteenth century perceptions of the disease.

Jennifer Jones Regan, who admits to being “hooked on the Internet and the vastness of its potential,” is the owner of Rainy Day Research, “a family history and genealogy service located in the San Francisco Bay Area” and the accompanying blog, Rainy Day Genealogy Readings. She is married and the mother of a toddler.

The Summer 2008 issue of the Louisiana Genealogical Register, published by the Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Society, is currently on display in the reading room at the California Genealogical Society Library. I hope you will stop by and have a good read.


Any genealogist researching in the delta area of Louisiana, particularly in New Orleans and its outlying communities, will benefit from a greater understanding of yellow fever. Summertime outbreaks of the pernicious “Yellow Jack” were a fact of life for early Louisiana inhabitants, and spates of the disease, when they occurred, often had monumental consequences for our ancestors. Consideration of the disease also brings to light particular social and economic realities of urban life in the South before and after the Civil War, further illuminating our understanding of the past. This article outlines a brief history of the disease, explores what an outbreak of yellow fever was really like for those who experienced it, then goes on to discuss some social dimensions of this disease, noting some specific implications for genealogical researchers.

Jennifer J. Regan, “Yellow Fever in New Orleans,” Louisiana Genealogical Register, volume LV, number 1, Summer 2008, pages 87-93.