Thursday, October 19, 2006


Today I'd like to pass along a few items that have caught my attention recently.

While searching for the best way to request a probate file from the City and County of San Francisco, I found this site: and made these notes:

"A good resource for tips on doing SF genealogical research. I found details on obtaining probate records there – much more helpful than the city gov website, which has no info (that I could find) on retrieving old probate records. Turns out they do not accept requests online for older records, and they do not list costs involved.."

My mailed request (with SASE enclosed of course) brought a swift response. The Clerk's Office had located the file even though I had only asked for information, and informed me that it would be mailed out if I sent them a large postage-paid envelope and a check for $7.00. Three days after my response the 15-page file was in my hands! I still don't know if they charge a flat fee or by the page.


The local library has a great kids' book: What a family : a fresh look at family trees! by Rachel Isadora (G.P.Putnam's Sons, 2006). It is a large format picture book, with emphasis on the many inherited physical traits that can show up in various generations. The endpapers have an illustrated "drop chart" (my favorite kind) showing dozens of related people of various ethnicities. Some of the traits amusingly illustrated are eye color, curly vs. straight hair, toe length (yes!), and the ability to wiggle one's ears.

There is also a straightforward explanation of the cousin connections, which bears repeating:
Cousins are often the most confusing part of family trees. First cousins share the same grandparents. Second cousins share the same great-grandparents, third cousins have the same great-great-grandparents, etc., etc.

If cousins don't have the same number of generations between them and their common ancestor, they are "removed." If there is a one-generation difference, the cousins are "once removed." If there is a two-generation difference, the cousins are "twice removed," and so forth.


The Huntington Library, down in San Marino, has created an online database documenting early California residents. Their press release states:

"For the first time ever, scholars and the general public alike will be able to access a database that delves into the historical records doumenting the lives of some 110,000 Californians between 1769 and 1850.

"The Early California Population Project is a comprehensive database of the sacramental registers – the baptismal, marriage, and death records – from California's 21 missions.

"Unntil how, historians and anthropologists have relied on microfilm versions of the meticulous logs kept by Franciscans since the founding of the first mission in San Diego in 1769. However those microfilm records are scattered at archives up and down the state, and their physical quality has deteriorated over the years."

For the complete article, you can go to


That's all for now. If you have questions, suggestions or comments, please feel free to use the "comment" feature, or email me at

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