Effects of the earthquake and fire
Last week’s post on “The records of death” — about the heartbreaking stories told of the 1906 Great Earthquake and fire in the records of what was then called the Coroner’s Office in San Francisco1 — raises a wonderful genealogical question.
If those records, from before and after that disaster, survived for us to use today, what else did?
It’s a book called Raking The Ashes: Genealogical Strategies For Pre-1906 San Francisco Research,2 newly published in its second edition, and it’s an absolute necessity for your bookshelf if you’re looking at that place and time.
Written by Nancy Simons Peterson, CG, the research director of the California Genealogical Society, this 242-page paperback takes the researcher through the issues of what did and didn’t survive, what workarounds exist for things that didn’t survive, what additional resources are available, and even what research techniques are particularly applicable to solving difficult problems of pre-1906 San Francisco.
An appendix catalogs the availability of pre-earthquake newspapers.
For $25 ($20 for members of the California Genealogical Society ordering through the CGS website), it’d be a steal just for the research techniques discussion by itself.
You can get your copy through the California Genealogical Society website (the information page is here and the order page is here), through the website for the book (here) or even through Amazon (here).
To whet your appetite more, if you need it, the table of contents:
Extent of the Record Loss
How to Use This Guide
Background and Acknowledgements
Part I: Original records: What Did and Did Not Survive, with Work-Arounds for Lost Records
Vital (Civil) Records: Birth, Marriage and Death
Mortuary, Crematory and Coroners’ Records
Cemetery and Columbarium Records
Newspapers: Films, Indexes, Abstracts and Online Digitizations
Census Enumerations and Indexes
San Francisco City Directories
Municipal Records: Annual Reports, Tax Records
Original and Appellate Court Records: Naturalization, Probate, Land, Divorce and Adoption
Immigration: Overland Arrivals, Passenger Lists and Passports
Records of Fraternal Organizations and Benevolent Societies
Institutional, Business and Occupational Records
Pre-Statehood Spanish and Mexican Records
Diaries and First-Hand Accounts
Ethnic Records and Resources
Part II: Continuing the Search: Additional Resources
Biographical and Historical Publications
The California Information File
Records of Pioneer and Other Lineage Societies
Help from Internet Resources
Family History Library Resources
Professional Research Assistance
Part III: Research Techniques for Solving Genealogical Problems
Assembling and Assessing Evidence
The Basics: the Census and City Directories
A Quick Survey of the Most-Used Sources
A Less-Used Source: Religious Records
Location, Location, Location
Expanding Your Search: Wider and Later
Thinking Beyond San Francisco
Source Summaries: Where to Find What
Putting It All Together
Appendix: Pre-earthquake Newspaper Collections: Titles, Local Sources and Dates of Coverage
Raking The Ashes: Genealogical Strategies For Pre-1906 San Francisco Research.
- Judy G. Russell, “The records of death,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 24 Apr 2013 (https://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 28 Apr 2013). ↩
- Nancy Simons Peterson, Raking The Ashes: Genealogical Strategies For Pre-1906 San Francisco Research, 2nd ed. (Oakland, California : California Genealogical Society, 2012). ↩