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

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Genealogical Conferences

by Maggie Melaney

Have you ever been to a genealogical conference?  It should be a requirement for all aspiring family historians.  There are several to choose from, including the upcoming SCGS Jamboree at the end of May

I’ve just returned from Rootstech, the Olympics of genealogy, held each year in Salt Lake City.  Here are a few of the highlights:

1.  The vendors.  From Ancestry and FamilySearch, through the DNA testers to the small book sellers and regional groups, there are enough booths to keep you busy all day without attending a single talk.  Most have presentations, and many offer discounts on products to attendees.

2.  The speakers.  It seems like everyone I’ve ever heard of was there.  I saw Thomas McEntree, Dick Eastman, Judy Russell, Lisa Louise Cook.  Also ran into our own Richard and Janet Rands, who were there as volunteers.  And I got to meet and shake hands with Henry Louis Gates Jr.  What a thrill!

3.  The talks:

  • The Sheboygan Dead Horse story with Colleen Fitzpatrick.  Learning how to evaluate photos for location, date, and other information
  • The National Archives (UK) - digitising the collections with Audrey Collins from the UK.  This was one I really wanted to attend, since I do lots of British research.  It was great to hear it from the horse’s mouth - the family history records specialist at Kew.  She had lots of good tips on searching the records online and what they hold
  • Using Geo-Tech Tools to Answer Research Questions with Fred Wertz.  We all love maps, right?  Here’s how to use location to tell a story and answer questions.
  • Big Data: Buzz Word or Family History Revolution?   Joshua Taylor spoke on “big data”, which are the trends and patterns behind the raw data we generally focus on.  What are the migration patterns?  the naming patterns?  Where did people go to church or seek employment?  Looking at the big data helps narrow a search or eliminate conflicting results.

Joshua also spoke on Diversity in Family History Tech.  This was a real emphasis of Rootstech 2018.  Someone asked me when I came back what I thought the ethnic makeup was this year.  Just from a look around at the attendees and vendors, it seemed much more diverse in terms of countries and groups represented.  And a much wider age range as well!

Here’s a sample of exhibitors:

  • 23&Me
  • Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • DAR
  • Desert Book Co.
  • Epson printers
  • Family Tree magazine
  • Irish Family History Centre           
  • New York Genealogical and Biographical Society
  • Quebec Genealogical eSociety
  • and yes, the Ukrainian Bar Association for Foreign Affairs

Much more information on the highlights, as well as rootstech 2019, can be found at

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

San Mateo County Cemeteries: Golden Hills Memorial Park

Like Hoy Sun Cemetery, Golden Hills Memorial Park was developed by the Hoy Sun Ning Yung Association as once again it became obvious that more burial ground was needed.  George Q Woo and a private investment group acquired 14 acres at the base of San Bruno Mountain, part of the former Cypress Hills Golf Course.

The first burial in this cemetery, which has room for 14,000 burials,  took place in February 1994.

Golden Hills, Gum Shan, is the name for California in Chinese. The opening of this cemetery marked a new age for Chinese-Americans.  No longer temporary sojourners in the United States, this cemetery is considered to be their final burial place. The cemetery works with families to bring ancestral remains from elsewhere for permanent placement in Golden Hill, where descendants can properly care for them.

Small incinerators are located in this cemetery, where family can burn imitation money so that those buried can purchase necessities in the "next world".  Food is placed at grave sites for travels of eh deceased. Oranges and 3 sticks of incenses can also be found, representing Heaven, Man and Earth.

Names engraved in red on tombstone indicate that an individual is not yet deceased, but that a resting place has been purchased for them.

Find A Grave - only 38 Burials listed
Phone: 650-755-1133


March Meeting:

Making a Family Video to Share

with Dr. Jan Joyce Aherns

Sat, Mar 24, 10:30 am - 12:00 noon
Cookies and Coffee  10 AM
Sharing Stories: Laurie Coulter reading "Imagine San Mateo in the 1950s"
Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo

You love genealogy research, but at family gatherings and cocktail parties your relatives' and friends' eyes glaze over when you start talking about it, right? This talk/workshop will show you how to make your genealogical information into an engaging video that everyone will love. Create videos for family, friends, and clients. 

At this talk, you will determine your audience and video topic, identify materials you have or need to find and how to organize them, write a script, create high-impact visual and audio effects, record, edit, and publish your video. This workshop will focus on mainly on developing content with a light touch on technology and software.

Dr. Aherns is a genealogy researcher whose personal work has focused on Ohio and Pennsylvania, England, Germany, Ireland, and Norway. She began researching in 1998 to better understand genealogy customers when she managed the marketing initiatives at Before beginning her genealogy career in writing and speaking, Jan earned a B.S. in Business, Marketing from Miami University, a MBA in Marketing from The Ohio State University, and a Doctor of Business Administration from Golden Gate University.


Book donations: If you have genealogy books gathering dust and you are ready to find them a new home, please consider donating them to SMCGS for our twice-yearly Seminar Book Sale. Bring your books to any monthly meeting. Contact with questions.

Spring Seminar 2018: Registration is open for the SMCGS Spring Seminar. We are very excited to host Sheila Benedict speaking on "Forensic Genealogy plus California Research: Missions to Present." It's going to be one interesting seminar! 
For more info and to register, click here.