Library Committee Survey Part 6: The Final Chapter

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Busy Day at the Library

July 14th was a busy day at the library. There was a library committee meeting, Kate Black on Desk Duty, 3 researchers using comupters and Kathleen Beitiks dropped by. Here are Gibran Roth, Kristi Wessenberg and Shirley Hoye hard at work processing donated books.

This is the sixth and final post in a series of blogs that responds to some of the suggestions made in response to the recently conducted Library Committee survey.

Comment: I have not visited the library yet but generally, I look for compiled genealogies, town and other local histories and periodicals. Manuscripts and similar materials are also important.

Response: First, I hope you will make a reservation to visit the library soon because I am confident that you will be pleased by what you find. Everything you mention in your comment can be found at the CGS library. But before you come, make a point of reviewing the index to our Manuscripts Collection. You’ll find it under the Research Tab, clicking on Online Resources > Searchable Finding Aids > CGS Manuscripts Collection Index. We have 108 linear feet of manuscripts. The Manuscripts index is 64 pages long and provides details about every item in the collection. (See the image below.)

Manuscripts Index

This is an example of one listing from our Manuscripts Collection Index. You can see that it provides a lot of information that is available on our website. 

Comment: I’d like to have Ancestry, Fold3 and Heritage websites that I can use from home.

Response: Yes, that would be nice. Unfortunately our licenses with these companies do not allow us to enable home access. We hope to see you in the library where we offer library editions of Ancestry, Fold3, HistoryGeo, VitalSearch, and American Ancestors, among many other databases.

Comment: Someone to help with Chinese zupu – book of family names in Chinese. [For our readers: a zupu is a Chinese kin register or genealogy book, which contains stories of the kin’s origins, male lineage and illustrious members.]

Response: I have a suggestion for you. Try going to our Member Connections page on our website, enter your profile, and pose a question asking if anyone can help you with this. We have a number of CGS members who work in Chinese genealogy. You might find a member willing to help.

Comment: California Native American Resources Early Plate Maps

Response: I checked with our Research Committee for this and for the next question (below). We are not are aware of any such records held by our library but Research suggested that you look into the state repositories that deal with rancheria properties. The California State Archives, the California State Library, the Sutro Library, and the Sacramento Public Library’s Special Collections all are excellent resources.

Comment: School and organization applications

Response: The only school-related materials CGS holds are the UC Berkeley Blue and Gold yearbooks. Ancestry has a collection of digitized school yearbooks and some materials pertaining to society applications, but for this type of information your best bet is to contact the school your ancestor attended. Some do retain application and grade records that go way back. Similarly, for applications to organizations like Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Mayflower Society, or the Masons, you’ll be most successful contacting the organization directly.

Comment: Genealogical research translation guides for Scandinavian Germanic or Latin-based (French, Italian, Spanish) languages. Ideally that would encompass the most likely terms to encounter in genealogical research, and would be easily accessible online for members.

Response: You can find these at FamilySearch for free. Just look up the geographical area or language you’re interested in, and you will often find a “Genealogical Word List” among the resources. I use Google Translate regularly to communicate with a third cousin once removed in Germany – he lives in the same town that my maternal great grandmother lived in. It is free and works well for both of us.

Comment: Regional histories and local genealogical society article/periodicals from states listed. Compiled land records. I have used abstracts of wills in the past and city directories but it would only be reasonable to keep very local directories on hand as they take so much space.

Response: CGS holds many books that match what you are asking for, includng a very large collection of California city directories and a few for other states. Use our online catalog to search for such books in the states you are interested in.

Comments: Books and periodicals containing published records, particularly the sort that either won’t show up or are extracted to databases that destroys the context in Ancestry or that are at best unindexed image sets on FamilySearch. The “Abstracts of Wills in some County, 1820-1873” kind of book.

Response: This is a broad category. I suggest that you enter the specific counties that you are interested in our WorldCat catalog to see what we have.

Comment: I live out of state and have not been to your library but I am impressed with the number of SIGs you have. I joined so I could attend the FTM SIG.

Response: I am glad to know that even though you live out of state CGS has something to offer you! When you take a vacation be sure to some see us in person. You might also enjoy some of our online classes!

Comment: Online historic newspaper collections such as and, etc.

Response: The price of these subscriptions has increased substantially. For example, in 2019 we paid $838 for To renew in 2022 the cost would be $1,979, more than double the previous price. Given how few members have been coming into the library during the COVID-19 pandemic, the decision was made to not renew at this time. Hopefully, when members feel comfortable coming back to the library, we will feel justified in spending the money.

Comment: US Census records

Response: US census records are readily available online and searchable for free at the National Archives and FamilySearch websites. At the library we do have books with census alternatives for states whose original census records were destroyed.

Comment: More computer space following FamilySearch trends.

Response: It is rare that we have insufficient computers available when our members need them. If this becomes a problem, we will add more stations.