8th Annual SLC Trip: April 13-20, 2008

by Kathryn Doyle (1/28/2008)

It’s not too early to sign up for the 8th annual CGS Salt Lake City Research Tour, April 13-20, 2008. CGS President, Jane Lindsey and CGS Research Director, Nancy Peterson return again as volunteer leaders of this very popular trip to the Family History Library.

Accommodations are at the Shilo Inn, located three blocks from the Family History Library. The Shilo provides free high-speed internet access in every room.

Annette and Sandy at the Family History Library in 2007.

The Tour Package includes:
* Hotel room (7 nights, double occupancy)
* Shuttle service to and from the airport
* Three group dinners (Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday)
* Orientation meeting and several lectures
* Optional assistance at CGS prior to the trip
* Computer assistance
* Hotel shuttle to library, if needed
* Continental breakfast included

The cost is $625 (airfare not included.) A deposit of $200 holds one space. The trip registration form gives the full details and a description of the cancellation and refund policy.

Photograph courtesy of Jane Knowles Lindsey.

Chinese-American Research

by Kathryn Doyle (1/28/2008)

The January/Februay 2008 issue of Ancestry Magazine is a “special research edition” featuring twelve genealogy “superheroes” who have expertise in ethnic research including: German, French-Canadian, African-American, Italian, Chinese, Polish, Scots-Irish, Native-American, Mexican, Slovak, Scandinavian and Dutch. Each of the specialists had 600 words to answer a case-study research question pertinent to their area. CGS member, Jeanie W. Chooey Low, is the featured author of “From East to West: Researching Chinese Ancestry” on pages 28-29 of the magazine.

Low, a second generation Chinese-American and a native San Franciscan, wrote China Connection: Finding Ancestral Roots for Chinese in America, a compact guide for those interested in doing Chinese family research in the United States. She is bilingual and holds degrees in Library Technology and Chinese Studies and has presented workshops at conferences for the National Archives and Records Administration, the National Genealogical Society, the Federation of Genealogical Societies, the Chinese Historical Society of America and San Francisco State University’s Asian American Studies Department.

Ms. Low has been an active member of “Save Our National Archives” SONA, an ad hoc group formed in 1998 when the Regional NARA were threatened with closure. The group has spent ten years advocating for the preservation of the California Alien Files (A-Files) and Jeanie reports that their efforts were successful thanks to the support of Congressman Tom Lantos. Approximately one million Alien case files, which can each contain up to 100 pages of precious family documents, will be preserved and become available for research.

In addition to advocacy work, lecturing and research, Jeanie is also an award-winning quilt artist. She has developed her own techniques and finds that quilting allows for another avenue to express her love of family history. Pictured is one of her quilts which contains four generations of family photographs.

Jeanie accepts clients interested in her expertise in Chinese-American genealogy or in 20th century immigration research for any ethnicity. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or by snail mail to: J.W.C. Low Company, Post Office Box 472012, San Francisco, California 94147.

Research director, Nancy S. Peterson, CG

by Kathryn Doyle (1/26/2008)

Members of the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) have been debating the definition of “genealogist” this month on their mail list and Randy Seaver of the Genea-Musings Blog weighed in with “Why does it matter? The fact is that those in the profession of genealogy research need to act like and be treated like professionals in other disciplines – they need to be educated, be unbiased, be thorough, be honest and truthful, and be respected.” Randy didn’t know it but he was describing CGS Research Director, Nancy Simons Peterson.

Nancy was a researcher long before she became a genealogist. After earning her baccalaureate and master’s degrees in physiology at Stanford University, she was employed as a research physiologist at the university medical school for many years. Peterson later obtained a second master’s in teaching before her interest turned to family history. While living in Washington state, Nancy taught beginning and intermediate genealogy classes. For six years she was the editor of the Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society quarterly publication, The Researcher.

A fifth generation Californian, Nancy is a relative newcomer to CGS. She joined the society in 2004 when she moved back to the Bay Area and has been an active member ever since. Nancy’s search for her maternal San Francisco ancestors led ultimately to the publication of Raking the Ashes: Genealogical Strategies for Pre-1906 San Francisco Research, published by CGS in 2006 to coincide with the centennial of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire. Nancy explains: “I personally looked at and then included all useful FHL film numbers and tried to nail down exactly the years and record types of the surviving early SF church records. Since all records archived outside the city survived, I went quite deeply into military records — doesn’t matter that they aren’t SF records, for they hold information on SF residents. I also went into a great deal of detail on exactly which land records survived and which did not. All of part 3 is devoted to what strategies work best and what pitfalls to avoid. “


About a year ago, Nancy inherited the CGS research position from past-president, Rick Sherman, who acted as primary researcher for many years and who continues to serve a couple of long-standing clients. Tuesday (when the library is closed) is Peterson’s regular day at the CGS Library. But her day usually starts in San Francisco, where she travels to one of the following records repositories: Department of Health (for birth and death certificates), Hall of Records in City Hall (for marriage records and land indexes), Public Main Library (obituaries) or Superior Court (probate). Of course, she also spends time in the East Bay at the Oakland Public Library or at the nearby Recorder’s Office and Courthouse. I’m exhausted just listing them all.

Nancy is a certified genealogist and author of numerous articles. She won the Society of Genealogists Scholar Award in 2003. Her narrative genealogy Guarded Pasts: The Lives and Offspring of Colonel George and Clara (Baldwin) Bomford was the winning entry in the 1998 National Genealogical Society Family History Writing Contest and is used as an example of quality work in the NGS Quarterly style on the Board for Certification of Genealogists Web site.

As Research Director, Nancy provides expert assistance for members and non-members alike. The charge is $20 per hour ($15 for members) which covers research time, analysis, documentation and a report. Rarely can one obtain the services of a certified genealogist at such bargain prices, and, as with the proceeds from her book, all monies collected benefit the society. No matter how you define it, CGS is fortunate to have such a talented and generous genealogist.