California Genealogical Society

Joined in January 2019

About Us

Mission Statement

The California Genealogical Society embraces diversity and aims to help people trace and compile family histories. To accomplish this, the society maintains a library, gathers and preserves genealogical sources, disseminates information through its publications and internet access, and teaches genealogical research methods through classes, seminars and workshops.

About Us

The California Genealogical Society (CGS), organized in San Francisco on February 12, 1898, is the premier genealogical resource in Northern California. The Library is rich in genealogy reference materials, both standard and unique, covering people and places in California and the rest of the country. The Society offers research services, online one-of-a-kind genealogical indexes and databases, and a research library housing over 38,000 reference materials from California, the United States, and around the world.

In 2018, in recognition of our 120 years of existence and looking forward to the future, we completed a five-year strategic plan that will help guide the society in the coming years. Goals include expanding our educational offerings, sustaining our outreach activities and continuing to improve our library to better serve our members.

Although its roots are in California, CGS has created a Research Library with books and other resources covering every state in the country as well as extensive international materials, totaling over 38,000 reference materials. The Library maintains a collection of original manuscripts, containing pedigree charts, letters and information which are not available anywhere else; there is also a substantial collection of family histories. The Library is currently housed at 2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, CA.

CGS offers a wide variety of programs. There are classes at every level of expertise on topics ranging from how to get started in genealogy to the latest DNA techniques. Special Interest Groups permit deeper exploration of a topic in the company of others who share the same interests. Field trips and research trips introduce groups to local and national resources. Subscription software is available for use at the library; and research services exist for those who need further assistance.

 Every year we host world class speakers on topics of interest to our members and to the community. The Board of Directors is committed to offering speakers, classes and events that focus on diverse cultural and ethnic groups so that everyone in our community will find useful information. The CGS website, besides providing information about current programs, contains one-of-a-kind genealogical indexes and databases. Both the blog and the eNews help keep our members informed about our activities, as well as those of allied organizations, and about current topics in genealogy. The California Nugget, which appears twice a year, publishes articles by members covering such topics as innovations in genealogy, introduction to little known sources and repositories, as well as a special section devoted to members’ stories about their first family member to arrive in California.


In establishing an organization to bring together persons interested in family history and in preservation of genealogical data, the founders of CGS wanted a means of sharing their relevant books with others having similar interests. Appropriately, the first group of CGS officers selected in February 1898 included a librarian. Since then, its library collection – CGS’s major asset – has mirrored the Society’s history. The growth and composition of the holdings have reflected the dedication, the generosity, and the interests of the members.

In 1906, the books-- which by that fateful year numbered more than 300 – were housed in the apartment of the librarian, Mrs. Walter Damon Mansfield, in the California Hotel, Bush Street, between Kearny and Grant, San Francisco. The earthquake/fire completely consumed the fledgling library. The Society emerged from the 1906 calamity determined to rebuild and to expand the library collection. By 1913, a CGS publication described it as having become one of the most valuable genealogical collections in this section of the country.

For the next five decades, the library collection was housed in a variety of different locations including the San Francisco Public Library and the War Memorial Building. As the library grew, space became critical and the board began looking for a more permanent location. In 1962 CGS reached an agreement with the California Historical Society which provided a home for the collection for the next 20 years. After that two more moves followed, until in 2007 the library moved into its present home at 2201 Broadway, Oakland, California.

Starting around the year 2000, CGS began expanding its focus from the library to a series of programs designed to enhance community involvement and to make people of different backgrounds aware of genealogy. Among the programs offered were classes, a guest speaker series featuring world class speakers, research trips and field trips, and special events. New programs were also added to the library including a look-up service, an online searchable database of materials in the CGS Archives as well as an online version of the catalog. Today, with the use of technological advances and innovative programs, CGS continues the aim of the original founders of bringing together persons interested in family history.

Mission Statement

The California Genealogical Society embraces diversity and aims to help people trace and compile family histories. To accomplish this, the society maintains a library, gathers and preserves genealogical sources…

Issue Areas Include

  • Education

Location & Contact

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