History of the California Genealogical Society
In establishing an organization to bring together persons interested in family history and in the preservation of genealogical data, the founders of CGS wanted a means of sharing their relevant books with others having similar interests. Appropriately, the first group of CGS officers selected in February 1898 included a librarian. Since then, its library collection – CGS’s major asset – has mirrored the Society’s history. The growth and composition of the holdings have reflected the dedication, generosity, and the interests of the members.to read more....
In 1906, the books– which by that fateful year numbered more than 300 – were housed in the apartment of the librarian, Mrs. Walter Damon Mansfield, in the California Hotel, Bush Street, between Kearny and Grant, San Francisco. The earthquake/fire completely consumed the fledgling library. The Society emerged from the 1906 calamity determined to rebuild and to expand the library collection. By 1913, a CGS publication described it as having become one of the most valuable genealogical collections in this section of the country.
For the next five decades, the library collection was housed in a variety of different locations including the San Francisco Public Library and the War Memorial Building. As the library grew, space became critical and the board began looking for a more permanent location. In 1962 CGS reached an agreement with the California Historical Society which provided a home for the collection for the next 20 years. After that two more moves followed, until in 2007 the library moved into its present home at 2201 Broadway, Oakland, California.
Starting around the year 2000, CGS began expanding its focus from the library to a series of programs designed to enhance community involvement and to make people of different backgrounds aware of genealogy. Among the programs offered were classes, a guest speaker series featuring world class speakers, research trips and field trips, and special events. New programs were also added to the library including a look-up service, an online searchable database of materials in the CGS Archives as well as an online version of the catalog. Today, with the use of technological advances and innovative programs, CGS continues the aim of the original founders of bringing together persons interested in family history.