Research Your Roots, Without Leaving Oakland

You don’t have to leave Oakland city limits to find out about your roots.  These days anyone can visit genealogy sites, like, and start digging into their past through vital records.  But we’re talking about flesh-and-blood help in conducting research, which comes in handy when you’re not an expert sleuth.

St. John's Elderberries

California Roots:  California Genealogical Society (CGS)

This statewide treasure trove is located at 2201 Broadway, Suite LL2 (map), where you can begin searching for kin.  There are records at state, county and local levels, dating back to pioneers from the 1800s.  Fortunately, the CGS has taken the time to identify and access these disparate sources.

The Elderberries, who attend St. John’s Church in Montclair, recently paid a visit to the CGS library.  However you can go it alone, and attend the next Genealogy for Beginners class on April 4th, from 11:00am – 12:30pm.  To sign up, call 510-663-1358 or email

CGS library hours are Thurs-Fri (from 9am – 4pm) and Sat (from 10am – 4pm), and it costs $5/day.  For those who want to know their roots but can’t stomach the work, CGS librarians will provide quick look-ups or conduct extended research at low cost.

Scattered Roots:  Oakland Regional Family History Center (ORFHC)

This worldwide treasure trove is located right in the Oakland LDS Temple’s visitor center, at 4766 Lincoln Ave. (map).  Especially when you don’t know much about your roots, these resources aid the hunt for forefathers and mothers.

The LDS have excellent genealogy databases, available through their Family Search tools.  Staff suggests that you come prepared with any family names and even a disk (or flash drive) to save data for later use.  If you have questions, then please call 510-531-3905 or email

ORFHC hours are Tues-Wed (from 10am – 9pm) and Thurs-Sat (from 10am – 4pm), without entry fees.  There are also frequent classes and you are asked to register beforehand.

Can’t Decide:  Learn From Both Camps

Oakland-based genealogists are combining their efforts next month!  These alphabet soup groups (CGS and ORFHC) are co-hosting their Beginning Genealogy Seminar on April 18th, from 9am – 4pm at the California Genealogical Society (map).

To attend the newbie seminar,  just send this form and the $15 registration fee to the Family History Center.  You’ll need to sign up quickly because there are only 30 spots available for this session.

Admittedly I have never really researched my roots, except when visiting Ellis Island over a decade ago.  I like all the offerings from local groups, but this all-day event seems like the best way to learn – in one fell-swoop.

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