California, Collections of the California Genealogical Society (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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California, Collections of the California Genealogical Society, 1700-1942 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
California, United States
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Flag of California
Location of California
Record Description
Collection years 1700-1942
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites



What is in the Collection?

This Collection will include records from 1700 to 1942. The digital images may only be used by registered users of FamilySearch.

The records consist of genealogical collections located at the California Genealogical Society in Oakland. They include:

  • Original ledger listing burials in the San Francisco Odd Fellows (IOOF) cemetery, 1866-1905. The cemetery no longer exists.
  • Records of the San Francisco IOOF crematory and columbarium, 1865-1932. Includes records for individual cremations and inurnments as well as papers pertaining to the organization.
  • San Francisco Probate Register of Actions, 1906-1942. Ledgers listing all actions pertaining to each probate case in the period covered.
  • Surname index to vital records appearing in the Alta California and other Northern California newspapers, 1860-1861.
  • Records of the Phillips family in America, compiled by Henry Byron Phillips, former President of the California Genealogical Society. Each index card contains information on a specific individual related to the Phillips family.
  • Papers and index cards pertaining to the descendants and ancestors of Humphrey Griffin of Ipswich, Massachusetts, covering the period from 1600 to 1943.Compiled by Charles Frances Griffin, MD, former President of the California Genealogical Society.

The collection is arranged by sub-collection and then date.

The California Genealogical Society (CGS) was the first genealogical society formed in California, organized in San Francisco on February 12, 1898. One of the premier genealogical resources in Northern California, the society maintains a library in downtown Oakland in the historic Breuner Building.

The CGS Library is rich in genealogy reference materials, both standard and unique. California is the major focus with special emphasis on the San Francisco Bay Area; however, the library is also particularly strong in other geographical areas such as New England, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The library has titles representing all fifty states.

Each type of record was created for a different purpose. Cemetery records are kept as a permanent record of who was buried and usually who purchased the burial plot. Indexes were created as a rapid access to specific records or pieces of information.

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for California, Collections of the California Genealogical Society, 1700-1942.

Coverage Map

To see a coverage map of FamilySearch's holdings of California marriages, click here.

Collection Content

Sample Images

This collection may include the following information:
  • Names
  • Birth, marriage, or death dates
  • Relationships
  • Residencies
  • Family groupings
  • Burial information

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know:

  • Name
  • Identifying information such as the birth date and place

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search this collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒ Select the "Browse" link in the initial search page
⇒ Select the appropriate "County"
⇒ Select the appropriate "Town"
⇒ Select the appropriate "Record Type, Date Range and Volume" which takes you to the images.

Many of these volumes have indexes at the beginning or end. You should search these first. If your ancestor is in the index download a copy or write down the page numbers listed for your ancestor. You can then quickly turn to those pages.

If you do not find your ancestor in the index, look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

What Do I Do Next?

This collection is considered a secondary source, but the information on the cards can lead you to other primary records. Compare the information in the records to what you already know to make sure that you have the correct family or individual. Add any new information to existing records about your family. You may find the following suggestions helpful:

  • Use the locator information in the index (such as page, entry, or certificate number) to find the event record you are looking for in the collection.
  • Use the names, dates, and places as the basis for family groups or to build a family pedigree.
  • Use the dates along with places or residences to help you locate the family in other records such as census, church, and land records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • Burial information may lead you to mortuary or funeral records, which could include names and addresses of family members. Be aware that many mortuary and funeral records did not survive the earthquake and fire in 1906.
  • Compile the entries for every person who has the same surname.
  • Continue to search the records to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives of the deceased who may have been buried in the same cemetery or nearby. This can help you identify other generations of your family. Repeat this process for each new generation you identify.
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
  • If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, check for variant spellings of the surnames.

Citing this Collection

Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.

Collection Citation:

"California, Collections of the California Genealogical Society, 1700-1942." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. California Genealogical Society, Oakland.

Image Citation

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for California, Collections of the California Genealogical Society, 1700-1942.

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.