San Mateo County Genealogical Society
PO Box 5569
Redwood City, CA 94063-5569

telephone: 650.306.3423

Just an old photo

Programs and Monthly Meetings

Margaret Melaney, Vice President Programs

Society meetings are held monthly. The meetings are alternately held on the 3rd Wednesday night or the 3rd Saturday morning of the month. Wednesday meetings begin at 7:30pm. Saturday meetings begin at 10:30am. Please come 30 minutes before the start of the business meeting for a half-hour of coffee and friendship. A short business meeting will be held to be followed by a program on subjects of interest to all levels of genealogists.

The meetings are held at Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgus, San Mateo, CA 94403. DIRECTIONS

Meeting Handouts

Lineage Societies [pdf]

The next meetings are:

May Meeting
Date: Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 7:30 pm
Topic: "Hispanic Heritage"
Speaker: Lucy Sweeney

Come hear about the many opportunities for research in Mexican, Central American, and South American genealogy which have recently become available. This talk will focus on basic research tools, both online and in libraries, family history centers, and cultural organizations. Lucy will cover Spanish naming systems, and help you learn how to verify family legends by using original records. If you’ve always wondered about your Hispanic ancestors, this is the place to start. If you work as a volunteer helping new genealogists, this is the place to learn. This is an expanding, important area of research. Come early to enjoy New World refreshments and celebrate a belated Cinco de Mayo.

Lucy Sweeney’s father was born in Mexico of two American citizens. His father was of Irish descent; his mother was of Mexican descent. She started with a family tree of 10 names, four of which are Irish, and has been researching this heritage for 12 years. Lucy has presented Hispanic Genealogy lectures at the San Mateo County Genealogical Society and the Mount Diablo Genealogical Society. Her outlook about ancestors is that “they can run, but they cannot hide.” Lucy will use examples from her own searches to show you that even with the slimmest of clues, you can have success.

June Meeting
Date: Saturday, June 21, 2014, 10:30 am
Topic: "Heritage Societies"
Speaker: Grant Din

Learning about Ancestors who Immigrated through Angel Island - a Personal Story. Grant Din will talk about his lifelong search to learn more about his ancestors, all of whom spent some time at the US Immigration Station on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, and how searching for Chinese American roots can be challenging yet rewarding because of discriminatory laws (which ironically created rich research materials). He will also talk about the immigrants from 80+ countries throughout the world who came to America through Angel Island from 1910 to 1940, and will describe some of the resources he has discovered about these immigrants including at the National Archives and Records Administration offices in San Bruno, Seattle, and College Park, MD. Grant's paternal grandfather was a "paper son," and he will talk about that part of American history and its implications for researchers.

Grant Din (real family name: Gong) has been interested in family history research since his mother told him about the segregated school she had to go to in the Sacramento River delta in the 1930s. He's traveled throughout the state and to his ancestral villages as part of his research. Grant has worked for nonprofit organizations for over thirty years, and is currently community relations director at the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation in San Francisco. He and his friends coordinate an informal Chinese American Family History group and the best part of his research has been all of the great people he's met and worked with to help find each other's roots! To see some of his family research, visit

June Field Trip
Date: Friday, June 27, 2014, Time TBD
Place: Visit to Angel Island Immigration Station
Leader: Docent Lead

This will be a docent led tour of the immigration station with an emphasis on the immigration experience. Sign-ups will be available online in May. Costs will include the ferry ride, admission, tram, and the tour.

July Meeting
Date: Saturday, July 19, 2014, 10:30 am
Topic: "Care and reading of old tombstones"
Speaker: Martha Wallace

Since time began, humans have used something to mark burial sites of their loved ones. What materials have been used for these markers? How do you clean a stained marker/tombstone? Or, should you? Is it a tombstone, gravestone, headstone or. . . ? Tombstone forms varied across times and regions. US military markers have evolved in style and information since originating in frontier days. Symbols and epitaphs on tombstones often reflect personal characteristics. This talk will help you use tombstones as clues in learning more about your ancestors and prepare you to recognize the meanings behind the tombstones you will see when SMCGS visits Union Cemetery in Redwood City.

Martha Wallace is a retired middle school teacher who volunteers at NARA in San Bruno and Rengstorff House in Mountain View. She enjoys history and searching for her ancestors.

July Field Trip
Date: Monday, July 21, 2014, Time TBD
Place: Docent led tour of Union Cemetery in Redwood City
Leader: Ellen Crawford, President, Historic Union Cemetery Association

When driving West on Woodside Road from El Camino, have you ever glanced over at the open space to your right and wondered what is behind the fence? Perhaps you noticed a few monuments among the shrubs, or, if you passed by on Memorial Day, wondered why they were shooting off cannons. (!) This is possibly the most overlooked (by most people) cemetery in San Mateo. Yet it contains an estimated 2.400 graves, some of which date from the mid 1800s, including about 40 Civil War graves.

You’ll hear about some of the people buried here, and learn about the significance of different gravestones, monuments, and markers. The cemetery has been significantly restored in recent years, and you’ll hear about those efforts as well.

August Meeting

September Meeting
Date: Saturday, September 20, 2014, 10:30 am
Topic: "Becoming a Professional Genealogist"
Speaker: Christine Bell Green

Who is a professional genealogist? She/he may research genealogy for hire but what separates the professional from the intermediate genealogist or hobbyist is the skill level. In 2014 there are many educational opportunities available to genealogists who wish to bring their skills up to a higher level, and the good news is that many of these opportunities are relatively low in cost and many are on-line programs. Being a professional does not mean being certified or accredited but there are two genealogical credentialing organizations should you wish to test your skills against rigorous standards.

Christine Bell Green has a professional learning certificate in Genealogical Studies from the University of Toronto. She is a graduate of the ProGen program, and an alumnus of the Salt Lake Institute and the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research where she studies advanced methodology. She is the president of San Mateo County Genealogy Society and teaches Intermediate Genealogy in Palo Alto.

October Meeting
Date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 7:30 pm
Topic: "The Great SMCGS Brick Wall Challenge Results"
Speaker: Various professional and non-professional genealogists.

SMCGS members will be given the opportunity to submit their brick wall problems to our team of experienced genealogists. The ones chosen for study will be researched, and the results presented this evening. You’ll learn how to approach a brick wall, what worked, what didn’t, and hear about successes and failures. Can the team solve YOUR brick wall?

Applications for consideration will be sent out to members in May. Start planning now.

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