San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

SMCGS Databases: Official Bonds and Election Certificates

Before taking office, elected officials were required to file bonds. Election Certificates were documents signed by the county clerk, verifying the election.

These bonds and certificates are located in the county record center in one of the small drawer cabinets (SM - RC5B1 - 15 - 21) You will find original signatures on many of the documents.

There are two indexes to the bonds and certificates. They are currently located on shelves that are being moved so the final location of the books is uncertain, but the indexes have been recreated digitally by Lauren Perritt and  are available here.

Index to Official Bonds and Election Certificates


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Friendly Acres - Redwood City

It has been on my agenda to write about Friendly Castle in Redwood City, but I find there is no need. Lauren has pointed me to a fantastic source of history for Friendly Acres, that includes not only information on Friendly Castle, but also Sweeny Ranch, the Red Feather Factory, Sanders Airport, and  familiar names such as Stafford, Phelps, and many more.  Although the last posts by B. Spangler appear to be in 2015, this well researched historic picture of the Friendly Acres neighborhood is worth reading in full.

The Friendly History Corner

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

San Mateo County Cemeteries: Chinese Christian

Although San Francisco had prohibited burials within the city as of the beginning of January 1898, an extension had been granted for the burial of Chinese in City Cemetery, due to the inability of the Chinese Six Companies to purchase land for a cemetery in San Mateo County.  Finally in July "Patrick Brooks sold 2 acres of land for $1,000 to the Chinese Christian Cemetery Association in an area that is now Daly City.

Chinese Six Companies (六大公司) refers to the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association. The Six Companies consisted of the Sam Yup Company, Yeong Wo Company, Kong Chow Company, Ning Yung Company, Hop Wo Company, and Yan Wo Company. In 1882, they extended their earlier cooperative efforts and officially established the benevolent association in San Francisco.

SF Chronicle 24 Jun 1911
Troubles for the Six Companies did not end with the purchase of the cemetery land in 1898.  Many Chinese were buried in Colma as an interim resting place before their bones were returned to China.  In 1911 with over 3000 bodies under contract to be moved, San Mateo County imposed a rate of $10 for a permit to remove each body.  The effort to remove the burials without a permit went all the way to the Supreme Court. The decision was that the Board of Supervisors could impose the fee.  There was an effort to reduce the fee to $3.

Many Chinese came to the United States hoping to make enough money to live comfortable lives on their return to China. Even in death it was important to many to return to be buried beside their ancestors where living relatives would honor them.  There are many good articles on Chinese burial customs y u'll find a few links below.

SF Chronicle  12 Nov 1911


Chinese Cemetary Association, 34 Jason Court, San FranciscoCA 94133 Phone: (415) 982-4148

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Barry's Bits

Culled from the San Francisco Examiner Obituary Pages by Barry Goyette....

Complaints that San Francisco takes advantage of San Mateo County have been part of the political scene pretty much from the day that the counties were separated.  This 1912 article complains about the railroad rates.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

FDR’s Alphabet Soup

Records from the Great Depression
Cath Madden Trindle

Federal Writers Project (WPA) 

1935–1943   NARA RG –  69.5.5 

At its peak, the Writers’ Project employed about 6,500 men and women around the country as writers, researchers, editors, historians, and other field workers, paying them a subsistence wage of about $20 a week.   Among the projects undertaken by the Writer's Project were the American Guide Series, the Historical Records Survey, Life Histories, Slave Narratives and more.
LOC Collections

§  The American Guide Series  (Digital Editions) – Publications specific to California were created by the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of California.

§  Historical Records Survey  See separate blog post

§  California Historic Landmark Collection – Essays written between 1936 and 1940 which may or may not be included in Guide series.

§  Finding Aid for the Federal Writer’s Project of California Records in UCLA Special Collections.  These records which contain essays and research relating to city and county governments, institutions, commerce, arts, sports, history, defense, folklore and more, are specific to the Southern California section and are contained in 206 document boxes.

§  Inventory of the Federal Writers Project Records, 1936 in San Francisco State University: Labor Archives and Research Center

§  The OAC list includes 942 items in 525 collections including an intriguing anonymous letter alleging communist influence in the Project in Oakland and a Documentary History of Migratory Farm Labor in California.  This is an online offering edited by Raymond P. Berry in 1938.  Not all items were created by the FWP, many tell of its history and those that were involved, including biographical information on those that participated.

§  NARA RG –  69.5.5 – Correspondence of specific projects, correspondenc and other records of the Los Angeles, CA, district office, 1935-37, information on FWP copyrights, 1935-40 over 2500 images for guides.  For further information see Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the Federal Writers’ Project, Work Projects Administration by Katherine H. Davidson, comp., 1935- 44, PI 57 (1953).

§  Library of Congress – Federal Writer’s Project  — includes more than 6000 online items, including American Life Histories, manuscripts from the FWP 1936-1940.  Web Guide – Federal Writer’s ProjectBorn in Slavery

 For more information on the WPA
§  Works Progress Administration – Wikipedia
§  WPA – 1937 an historic video on YouTube

FDR’s Alphabet Soup

Records from the Great Depression
Cath Madden Trindle

WPA - Works Progress (Project) Administration

 1935-1943   NARA RG 69 

Established on 6 May 1935, the goal of the Works Progress Administration was to relieve unemployment through the creation of jobs.  It succeeded FERA and the CWA, both created in 1933.  In July of 1939 it was renamed the Works Project Administration and placed under the Federal Works Agency (FWA).  Although officially abolished on 30 June 1943, the Division for Liquidation of the Work Projects Administration was set up in the Federal Works Agency allowing programs to wind down by 30 June 1944.
In the nine years it was in place the WPA employed over 8.5 million workers in construction, the arts and more.  The goal was to make sure there was at least one wage earner in every family. WPA workers were paid the prevailing wage for the area where they lived, but they could not be paid for over 30 hours in a week.  For the most part the jobs were intended to be temporary and there was little attention to teaching skills for permanent job placement. 
Aquatic Park Bathhouse,
Beach Street, West of Polk Street,
 San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA – WPA 1939
 The result was buildings, bridges, dams and other structural projects were funded in communities in every state.  Artistic endeavors were encouraged.  It is hard to find a community that does not have a striking example.  In San Francisco the Beach Chalet has wonderful murals painted by Lucien Adolphe Labaudt and the Botanical Gardens were planted with WPA funds.  In Inglewood the “History of Transportation” a massive mosaic by Helen Lundeberg, most likely the largest New Deal art work commissioned has been restored. In Fresno the Memorial Auditorium is a prime example of New Deal architecture.  Details of other California WPA projects can be found on the website of University of California – Berkeley’s  The Living New Deal.
The WPA was run at four levels federal, regional, state administrations and district offices.  Most federal records, including those of special projects and field offices are held in Washington D.C.  Many have been microfilmed including over 10000 rolls of field office records, 634 for California.  Those records include correspondence, administrative files, project folders, sponsors’ reports organizational and functional charts, accomplishment reports, as well as other records, covering the years 1935-1943. (RG 69.6).  

The Library of Congress has hundreds of online items in their WPA collections, including: photographs, films, manuscripts, narratives, books, music and more.  Finding Aid to Works Progress Administration Records at LOC, search the aid for California for more specific information on California Collections.

The Online Archive of California lists 257 collections with WPA references. These include records for many statewide and local projects.   

FDR’s Alphabet Soup

Records from the Great Depression
Cath Madden Trindle

Federal Arts Project (WPA)

1935-1939   NARA RG69.5.2
The Federal Arts Project was established in August 1935 and terminated September 1939 with instructions for states to allocate all project art work to eligible tax-supported public institutions. It was reputed to have created more than 200,000  works, FAP artists created posters, murals and paintings. It was the goal of the FAP to employ out of work artists and provide art for non-federal buildings, such as schools, hospitals and libraries.
Artists wishing to be considered for the Federal Art Project  had to prove they were impoverished and had to submit samples of their work. Before they could be apply, they had to be accepted for Home Relief. If chosen for the Project, artists were paid a salary of about $24 a week.
There were three primary divisions of the project: art production, art education and art research. The primary product of the art research portion of the project was the Index of American Design,  consisting of approximately 18,000 watercolor renderings of American decorative arts objects from the colonial period through the nineteenth century.  The education component resulted in art centers, classes, lectures and exhibits around the country.  The production aspect produced many of the wonderful murals that are still in existence today.
Like many Federal agencies the National Park Service
benefited by the work of FAP artists.
(Public Domain Images Online)

The Autry Historic Southwest Museum in Los Angeles has a collection relating to a Federal Arts Project  sponsored by the National Park Service at the Southwest Museum and the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art from 1936-1937.
You will find administrative records which include correspondence,  instructions and personnel reports. The photographic collections include field notes, file notes and the photographs themselves. A third section of the collection includes chalk and ink drawings, maps, oil paintings and watercolors depicting the collectinos and historical figures from California History.
This is just a sample of what might exist for other projects. If your family members were employed by the FAP look in local repositories for collections on the art works in the area where they lived.
The Letter – Burlingame Post Office
 funded by Section of Fine Arts – Department of the Treasury

The Department of the Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture  (Section of Fine Arts),  was established in 1934 and administered by the Procurement Division. It continued until 1943.  Unlike the other New Deal art programs,  commissions were awarded through competitions and artists were paid a lump sum for their work. Competitions were open to all artists, regardless of economic status. Proposals were reviewed without identifying the name of the artist who had made the submission.
Find more on New Deal Arts Programs:
§  Federal Arts Project– Wikipedia

FDR’s Alphabet Soup

Records from the Great Depression
Cath Madden Trindle

Federal Theatre Project (WPA)

1935-1939   NARA RG 69.5.4

Poster for Federal Theatre Project presentation of a
“Festival of American Dance” featuring “An American Exodus”
at the Alcazar, showing a man and a woman dancing. (LOC Collections)
The primary goal of the Federal Theatre Project was to implement the reemployment of theater workers who were on public relief rolls, including actors, directors, playwrights, designers, vaudeville artists, and stage technicians.  A secondary goal was to make theater a vital part of community life, an art form that would continue to function after the FTP program was completed.
Theater projects were set up in towns where a number of theater professionals were unemployed.  At its largest, the Federal Theatre Project employed around 12,700 people. Over 90% of these employees came from the relief rolls.
Ninety percent of the FTP appropriation had to be spent on wages. About fifty per cent of FTP personnel were actors. Others were writers, designers, theater musicians, dancers, stage hands, box office staff, ushers, maintenance workers, and the business personnel necessary to operate the program in a way that would meet government standards.  There were theater companies in some forty cities in twenty two states. In order to reach the more rural areas some of the companies toured.  Classic plays shared the stage with those newly written for the project, puppet shows, dance reviews, children’s theater, ethnic theater, foreign plays and more.
Photographic Print from San Francisco production of Power.
Finding Aid Box 1182.
Among the largest theater companies was the one in Los Angeles.  San Francisco and San Diego also had companies.
The University of Southern California and UCLA both have collections of scripts and other items relating to the theater project in the Los Angeles area. San Francisco Public Library history room has items relating to the program on Treasure Island. UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library has photographs for SF Bay area productions.  Check the OAC for other materials available in California.
Collections at the National Archives include among other things: correspondence, staging blueprints, specifics on certain productions, over 25,000 photographs, drawings and paintings of costumes and set designs, and posters.
The Federal Theatre Project Collection (Finding Aid), housed in the Library of Congress’ Performing Arts Reading Room, contains correspondence, memoranda, play and radio scripts, reports, research studies, manuals, publications, bulletins, forms, lists, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, charts, costume and set designs, blueprints, posters, addressograph plates, photographs, negatives, slides, playbills, and other records documenting the role of the Federal Theatre Project in laying the groundwork during the New Deal years for much innovation in the theater. (LOC Guide – Federal Theatre Project).  American Memory – FTP.

FDR’s Alphabet Soup

Records from the Great Depression
Cath Madden Trindle

Historical Records Survey (WPA)

1935-1943  NARA RG69.5.6  

 The Historical Records Survey was organized under the direction of Luther H Evans as part of the Federal Writer’s Project on 16th Nov 1935.  It became an independent division of Federal Project 1 in October of 1936.  In 1939 projects were handed off to state and local governments with oversight by the WPA’s Research and Records Program, Professional and Service Division.

Never eager to recreate what someone else has done well, I suggest you read Bryan Mulcahy’s Work’s Progress Administration (WPA) – Historical Records Survey for a good background of the Survey, a listing of its objectives and an overview of the records useful for genealogical research. 

Some California materials are listed below. Most are online, click on any link to go to an online description or publication.

California Historical Records Survey 
§  Published County Surveys.
§  Alameda (#1)
§  V2  (H)
§  Fresno (#10)  (F)
§  Kern (#15)  (F)
§  V.2   (F)
§  Los Angeles (#20)
§  Marin (#22) (H)
§  Mono (#27)  (F)
§  Napa (#29)  (F)
§  San Benito (#36)  (F)
§  San Bernardino (#37)  (F)
§  San Diego (#38)
§  Issue 38  (F)
§  San Francisco (#39)
§  v.2  (F)
§  San Luis Obispo (#41) (H)
§  San Mateo (#42)  (F)
§  Santa Barbara (#43)
§  Santa Clara (#44)  (F)
§  Ventura (#57)
§  Unpublished County Records Survey Materials
§  Orange County – Collection at UC Irvine
§  The California State Archives (Northern CA)
§  Owen C. Coy Collection  Arranged by county and topic
§  Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, California (Southern California materials)

§  Archives and Libraries
§  List of the Letters and Documents of Rulers and Statesmen in the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library (University of California at Los Angeles

§  Federal Archives in the States – California (Digitized by (F) FamilySearch)
§  Labor (11-5) 
§  Miscellaneous
§  Records of the San Francisco office of the Survey of Federal Archives, consisting of survey sheets
§  Records relating to the WPA Ships Registry Project for ships registered between 1850 and 1910 at the port of San Francisco
§  Records of Hope L. Cahill, director of the Division of Professional Service Projects, and state director, Division of Community Service Programs\.
§  Records of the Division of Professional and Service Projects, Northern California office, San Francisco, 1939-42 relating to programs, activities, and achievements. Included are records concerning:
§  Golden Gate International Exposition (Treasure Island, 1939)
§  “This Work Pays Your Community” Week
§  District Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The records include correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs and speeches.
§  Records of the Survey of Federal Archives, 1936-41. (See publications above)
§  Microfilm T935 – T937, Index to Reference Cards for Work Projects Administration Project Files, 1935-42(selected rolls)
§  NARA – Washington DC

Online publications are available through
§  (F) FamilySearch – Church of Latterday Saints.
§  (G) Google Books