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Our Library Collections: Oversized Books

One in a series by CGS member Chris Pattillo, highlighting some of our holdings at the CGS Library in
Oakland. For a fuller listing of books, journals, and more, consult the CGS Library catalog in WorldCat.

books
Ormerod’s History of Cheshire

One of the sections of our library you may not think to
look at is located at the back wall of the library. It is there that we shelve
all of our oversized books–books that don’t fit on the standard sized shelves.
These would be filed in sections associated with
the topic they cover except for the fact that they are just too big.

Many of
the oversize books are quite old. Our section begins with three volumes of Ormerod’s
History of Cheshire
, a massive history of the county of Cheshire in north England compiled by George Ormerod and first published in 1819. These books are leather bound with decorative gold
detailing on the binding. They stand 19” tall and weigh about ten pounds each–so take care when lifting one down from the top shelf.

We have a very large collection of genealogical columns from the Boston Evening
Transcript
spanning the period 1894 to 1941. Remarkably, these are the original columns on newsprint, each cut out from the newspaper and carefully pasted onto the book pages. Each day’s column fits
on one page. The patient person(s) who
created these record books helpfully underlined each family name in red, making it easy
to find the genealogical information being sought. (The names are all indexed in our card files.) The columns cover a broad range of information, from wills and marriage announcements to
individual queries or comments.

books
A portion of our collection of genealogical
columns from the Boston Evening Transcript

We have two volumes of pedigree charts collected by the California Genealogical Society from the early to mid-20th century. These family pedigrees were filled in on pre-printed forms, with space for
eight generations on both the maternal and paternal sides. The first
chart, for John Hart Allen (1843-1918) and his wife, Mary
Helen Kerr Strohan, both of New York, is pretty sparse
but others are much more complete. Some include snapshots, news clips or other
memorabilia. Each chart is fascinating to look at.

The Tartans of the Clans of
Scotland,
published in 1886, caught my eye because of its elaborate
binding. The cover page says that the book is “also an introductory account of
Celtic Scotland; Clanship, Chiefs, Their Dress, Arts, etc., and with Historical
Notes of Each Clan.” The bulk of this book consists of large (10” x 7”)
high-quality color reproductions of each of the tartans followed by a one-page
description of the clan.

man in kilt
From The Tartans of the Clans of Scotland
picture of tartan
An example of one of the tartans

Ireland in Pictures (copyright
1898) is another of the many gifts from George R. Dorman. This book consists of
400 black and white photographs of places in Ireland. Each image has a lengthy
and informative caption describing what is depicted. A detailed table of
contents makes it easy to find a specific place, useful if you
were looking for a photo to augment your family’s genealogy.

book
Ireland in Pictures is just what it says, plus short narratives

The oversize section includes a lot of
geographic history books, a few genealogical dictionaries, and a number
of atlases. Two more volumes of interest are Edwin A. Sherman’s Fifty Years of Masonry in
California
(volumes II and III, published in 1893). It begins with a
chapter on the origin of Royal Arch Masonry, followed by chapters on Freemasonry in
America and in California. This book is well illustrated with photos and engravings of historic sites and portraits of notable Freemasons. My
great-grandfather and grandfather were both active in Oakland Masons, so this is
a book I’ll be coming back to.

book
A source that could augment my own family’s story

Next time you find yourself in the library, look
at the back wall and see what might waiting there for you.

Copyright © 2019 by California Genealogical Society

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