Family History Resources

San Francisco

Special Interest Group

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The following resource list was developed by the San Francisco Special Interest Group (SF SIG), with special thanks to our leader and coordinator Sandra Britt-Huber. SF SIG is sponsored by the California Genealogical Society , 2201 Broadway at 22nd, Oakland, California 94612. This list is specific to genealogical research in the greater San Francisco bay area. (Following the San Francisco resources is a list of the Top 100 Genealogy Websites of 2015, from Genealogy In Time Magazine and may also be of value in your San Francisco related research.) Have Questions: or

Online Sites

• - ‘All things San Francisco’ - Genealogy and History for the San Francisco Bay Area. It is a website contains numerous databases with frequently changing content …
..... Description of how best to get the most out of this site
..... List data bases with brief description and usage
• The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society is a complication of data and databases dedicated to preserving, interpreting and presenting the historical heritage of San Francisco.
• - An Internet Archive and digital library containing Genealogy books and Internet sites.
• – Online Archives of California (OAC).

Bay Area Archives

• The National Archives at San Francisco - 1000 Commodore Drive, San Bruno, CA 94066 (650) 238-3500. The holdings of the National Archives at San Francisco include over 70,000 cubic feet of original records dating from the 1850s to the 1980s. The holdings are a primary resource for the study of Asian-Pacific immigration, environmental and natural history, naval and military activity in the Pacific, the American Indian experience, and many other aspects of United States history.

Cemetery Resources

• The history of cemeteries in San Francisco is well documented in Nancy Peterson’s book, Raking the Ashes: “The extensive record loss … as a result of the 1906 earthquake and fire is exacerbated by the loss of records resulting from the forced removal of San Francisco cemeteries over the years spanning 1900 to 1942. … Until 1838, Mission Dolores and the Presidio military establishment were the only settlements in what would become San Francisco. Each had a … cemetery … . Until the first authorized public cemetery … was laid out in February 1850, the dead were buried in private cemeteries or in unauthorized locations … . In 1900 the Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance effective the following year halting burials within the city limits. In 1914 the Board of Health, bowing to pressure by land developers, ruled that the four largest cemeteries, … were a public health hazard, and removal orders were issued.” From there the pressure to close all cemeteries in San Francisco moved forward. Nancy Peterson goes on to discuss the disposition of each major San Francisco Cemetery and their records.
• Colma, Cemeteries, how best to use them, and brief History
• Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery - 1500 Mission Road, Colma, CA 94014, (650) 756-2060 As the oldest and largest Cemetery in "the city of cemeteries," Colma, California, Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery is rich in California history. This historical legacy translates into the important values of tradition, experience, stability and trust.


• Raking the Ashes, Genealogical Strategies for Pre- 1906 San Francisco Research, Nancy S. Peterson, California Genealogical Society, 2011, Published by the California Genealogy Society

Genealogical Societies and Organizations

• California Genealogical Society - (510) 663-1358 - 2201 Broadway, Suite LL2, Oakland, CA 94612; Founded 1898; has more than 38,000 genealogical references; Recent publications: San Francisco Deaths: Abstracts from Surviving Civil Records; San Francisco Probate,1906-1942: Register of Actions; A most Dreadful Earthquake: A First-Hand Account of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire with Glimpses into the Phillips-Jones Letter writers; San Francisco, California: I.O.O.F. Cemetery Records; San Francisco, Columbarium Records, 1847-1980; San Francisco Probate Index, 1880-1906: A Partial Reconstruction; Index to San Francisco Marriage Returns, 1850-1858
• San Mateo Genealogical Society - (650) 306-3423 - PO Box 5569 Redwood City, CA 94063 - Founded 1982; Many San Mateo and San Francisco online data bases
• DAR SF Chapter - -


• San Francisco Public Library - (415) 557-4400 - 100 Larkin St., San Francisco, 94102; With 29 branches; The 6th floor of the Main Library is dedicated to S F related genealogical collections. The Daniel E. Koshland San Francisco History Center (6th Floor) contains a research collection of books, newspapers and magazines, photographs, maps, posters, archives and manuscript collections, and ephemera, documenting all aspects of San Francisco life and history. The Center is also the archives for the City and County of San Francisco.
• Sutro library (Genealogy and Family History) - (415) 469-6100 - In Sacramento and San Francisco State University, 1630 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco 94132; extensive genealogy collection, Adolph Sutro's rare book and manuscript collection, Genealogical, family and local history catalogs
• Bancroft Library - (510) 642-6481 - University of California Berkeley, CA 94720,


• San Francisco City Directories


• Pre-Earthquake Newspaper Collections: Titles, Local Sources and Dates of Coverage. This is a 5 page Appendix in the book Raking the Ashes by Nancy Peterson

San Francisco Research hints

• From census record that shows children listed in a SF orphanage to tracking them through Probate proceedings to finding Superior Court hearing records that committed the parent/s to the State Insane Asylum. Then tracking the kids from the orphanage returning to their relatives or other family/friends of family (possibly with different surnames), or by the next census year the kids are of age and on their own. Combine this data with information from city directories or newspaper articles, and so forth and so on.
• Fires in the city really had an impact because most everything was build from wood so when there was a bad fire (1857 and 1858), as well as the 1906 earthquake and fire, folks just moved away because there was not enough housing during these early decades. We suggest reading the newspaper for the decade your researching to learn what's going on before you start.
• Next example simple but hard to find-- how to provide an example for searching a family when only part of the family can be found. I found why someone moved to another county to work but came home to SF on weekends. Searching the next census year finds the Father/Husband missing. Is he dead, moved away, remarried? Trying to find out what happened was really hard and one of our members searched for 20 years to try find what happened to him and when he died. She asked me to help and I found him within a week by reconstructing all the records for her family using every SF source I knew about. I think I just got lucky on this one. Simple but hard.
• San Francisco researchers are at a disadvantage by not having cemetery records, because they were destroyed and only some moved to another location and the records trashed. Who does that? Oh, San Francisco did. San Francisco has layers of obstacles to finding records. What helps is having the ability to construct work-around scenarios. I like to think of this plan as replacement idea/s to fill in the gaps. That's where SF-SIG can be of help, everybody telling their story, and getting advice from others.

Top 100 Genealogy Websites of 2015
from Genealogy In Time Magazine ...
Rank Website      Category Country Free/Pay     URL Address           	
1       records      USA      pay
2    FamilySearch       records      USA     free
3    Find A Grave       cemetery     USA     free	
4     records      UK       pay	
5     family tree  USA      pay	
6    GeneaNet           family tree  France   free	
7           family tree  USA      pay	
8      records      USA      pay	
9    records      Australia pay	
10   FindMyPast UK	records      UK        pay	
11	newspapers	USA	pay	
12	records	USA	pay	8
13	records	Canada	pay	15	
14	Family Tree DNA	DNA testing	USA	pay	
15	WikiTree	family tree	USA	free	
16	Genealogy Bank	newspapers	USA	pay	
17	RootsChat	forum	UK	free	23	
18	AncientFaces	forum	USA	free	12	
19	Cyndi's List	links	USA	free	37	
20	Mocavo	search engine	USA	pay	28	
21	Fold3	records	USA	pay     	
22	family tree	France	pay	
23	Newspaper Archive	newspapers	USA	pay	
24	Genes Reunited	records	UK	pay	30	
25	USGenWeb Archives	records	USA	free	3	
26	GenealogyInTime Magazine	magazine	Canada	free	16	
27	family tree	Germany	pay	55	
28	Eastman's Genealogy Newsletter	blog	USA	free	
29	Genwiki	wiki	Germany	free	31	
30	Free BMD	records	UK	free	42
31	GEDmatch	DNA testing	USA	free	
32	records	USA	pay	59	
33	JewishGen	ethnic heritage	USA	free	
34	British Newspaper Archive	newspapers	UK	pay	
35	Forces War Records	records	UK	pay	
36	Billion Graves	cemetery	USA	free	
37	Genealogy Today	records	USA	pay	58	
38	World Vital Records	records	USA	pay	
39	Arkivverket Digitalarkivet	records	Norway	free	
40	family tree	France	pay	
41	family tree	Norway	pay	
42	family tree	Spain	pay	
43	Commonwealth War Graves	records	UK	free	
44	American Ancestors	society	USA	pay	43	
45	Family Tree Magazine	magazine	USA	pay	41	
46	family tree	Netherlands	pay	73	
47	MyTrees	family tree	USA	pay	67	
48	Daughters American Revolution	society	USA	pay	52	
49	articles	USA	free	27	
50	Tribal Pages	family tree	USA	pay	45	
51	Geneall	family tree	Portugal	free	52	
52	records	Germany	pay	83	
53	ScotlandsPeople	records	Scotland	pay	48	
54	Genealogy Trails	records	USA	free	40	
55	Steve Morse	search engine	USA	free	35	
56	The Genealogist	records	UK	pay	74	
57	FindMyPast Australia	records	Australia	pay	n/a	
58	Genealogie Online	family tree	Netherlands	pay	54	
59	Genuki	records	UK	free	70	
60	Legacy Family Tree	software	USA	pay	49	
61	Roots Ireland	records	Ireland	pay	60	
62	DIS-Norway	society	Norway	free	34	
63	FamilyTreeNow	family tree	USA	free	n/a	
64	Fulton History	newspapers	USA	free	50	
65	ProGenealogists	services	USA	pay	44	
66	FamilyLink	records	USA	pay	68	
67	family tree	Poland	pay	65	
68	Lost Cousins	family tree	UK	pay	n/a	
69	Crestleaf	family tree	USA	pay	n/a	
70	Access Genealogy	search engine	USA	free	94	
71	Western Australian Gen Society	society	Australia	free	n/a	
72	Genoom	family tree	Spain	free	56	
73	RootsMagic	software	USA	pay	61	
74	forum	Germany	free	53	
75	FindMyPast Ireland	records	Ireland	pay	80
76	Polskie Towarzystwo Genealog	society	Poland	free	n/a	
77	WieWasWie	records	Netherlands	free	64	
78	Interment	cemetery	USA	free	66	
79	We Relate	wiki	USA	free	86	>	
80	records	Sweden	pay	75	
81	Death Indexes	links	USA	free	85	
82	sysoon	cemetery	USA	free	84	
83	Family Tree Webinars	magazine	USA	pay	69	
84	Geneawiki	wiki	France	free	88	
85	family tree	Italy	pay	93	
86	The Legal Genealogist	blog	USA	free	n/a	
87	Gould Genealogy	blog	Australia	free	87	
88	family tree	Brazil	pay	71	
89	Geneabloggers	blog	USA	free	81	
90	Irish Genealogy	records	Ireland	free	100	
91	records	USA	pay	n/a	
92	Heritage Quest Online	records	USA	pay	82	
93	Historic Mapworks	records	USA	pay	n/a	
94	Genealogical Society Finland	society	Finland	free	n/a	
95	Family Tree Maker	software	USA	pay	76	
96	family tree	Sweden	pay	90	
97	Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections	blog	Canada	free	63	
98	links	USA	free	92	
99	blog	Ireland	free	n/a	
100	Global Genealogy	services	Canada	pay	n/a	

Family History¦¦ Rognlie Page¦¦ Rognlie Books¦¦ Unknown Rognlie Photos¦¦ Aug 2009 Reunion¦¦ Genealogy Resources¦¦ Ron's Home Page¦¦ Patricia's Home Page¦¦ About Me¦¦ Contact Me¦¦ Site Map

Name Meanings
Last updated: January 27, 2015
Copyright © 2015 Ron Madson
El Granada, California, USA
email: Ron Madson