I wrote a few weeks ago about “boutique” websites in genealogy (http://www.mkrgenealogy.com/searching-for-stories-blog/big-box-stores-versus-boutiques) Today I just discovered a new one for California researchers that I just have to share.
I am a current participant in ProGen, a study group “organized to encourage professional and aspiring genealogists.” (http://progenstudy.org/). Each month we have an assignment to write up and share with members in our groups. Our task for July is to create a Locality Guide for a geographic area where we are specializing or doing research. I am hoping to take a research trip next month to California and spend some time in Amador County. My Irish great-great grandfather, John Fields, settled there in the late 1850s and remained there until his death (at age 99!!!) in 1901. His daughter grew up there, married, and raised her family there as well.
Amador, one of the major gold-mining areas in the latter part of the 19th century, is a bit off the beaten track. It never was a particularly populous county, and genealogical archives and repositories are a bit sparse. I had to look under a few rocks to come up with sources for research. But I’m sure glad I turned over one rock! Under it, I discovered a gold mine, not only for Amador but for all of California. It’s the website of the California State Genealogical Alliance.
On the site is a map of California. Click on any county and you will be taken to a county research page with links to websites, indexes, digital copies of books and more, including photography collections. Topic areas include church records, death records, maps, newspapers, and land records, among others.
What I find particularly great are the links on each county to photographs. CSGA has put a link on each county resource page for photographs, but done all the heavy lifting of narrowing it to images for just that county. Websites included are Calisphere, a service of the University of California Libraries, the Library of Congress digital Photograph Collection, and the USGenWeb Archives links to Penny Postcards. I just have to think of a county, and the smorgasbord of images is laid out for me. I love it!
Don’t just look at the county pages, however. The statewide page has research aids in the form of articles. In the history category alone there are nearly three dozen links, and some of those are to websites with dozens more links.
One caveat – don’t assume that every list is complete. Under statewide resources for Church Records is a link to Roman Catholic parishes. I clicked on the list, and did not find many parishes I was looking for. So the website might provide you a quick link to something like a church website, but if that church is not listed, be willing to do your own search.
I was so excited about this website, I posted to a couple of California interest groups on Facebook and I received some feedback from "management." If you are interested in helping maintain this website and adding content, check the "About Us" section of their website for contact information and how to volunteer.
Check out the California State Genealogical Alliance. You’ll be glad you did!
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.