Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Newspaper Archiving" Program Summary

The program at today's Chula Vista Genealogical Society meeting was "Newspaper Archiving" by Peter Rowe, a staff writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. Peter is also the newspaper's Archivist. His CV can be read here.

Peter started the program by noting that he likes Chula Vista, but fears that after his talk that it will climb higher on the Forbe's "America's Ten Most Boring Cities" list. I doubt it! He noted that the reporting and newspaper business is very chaotic, and that the deadline pressures and editing decisions often result in stories that are incomplete or partially erroneous.

He provided a short history of archiving at the San Diego Union (and Union-Tribune) over the years:

* From 1868 (when the Union was first published) into the 1970's, whole copies of the paper, and cut up stories put in large envelopes by subject, were kept in the newspaper offices. This was called the "morgue" by the reporters and the envelopes were consulted often by reporters and the librarians.

* In the 1970's, the newspaper ran out of storage space, and moved to a new building, and the envelopes with all of the cut-up stories were placed in the San Diego Historical Society collection in Balboa Park. The separate Photo Archives were also placed at the San Diego Historical Society.

* In 1984, digital archives were started for the newspaper and the practice of cutting up articles and putting them in the envelopes was discontinued. However, the "digital archives" are not available to the public on the newspaper web site.

* In 2000, the site was started, and the online archives cover this time period, but is available only to subscribers through the web page. There is a Search box on the home page of the newspaper, but it does not always provide accurate results.

Peter observed that a Search for his mother's 2008 obituary using the home page did not find any articles, but using the subscriber Archives search there were four articles about her.

In response to a question, he noted that there were no digital archives for San Diego newspapers before 1984 on any historical or current newspaper web site.

The San Diego Public Library has microfilms of the complete run of the San Diego Union (1868-1992), San Diego Evening Tribune, San Diego Union-Tribune (1992 -present) and other San Diego newspapers in their second floor Newspaper Room.

To find newspaper articles in other cities, Peter recommended contacting the local libraries and historical societies to determine the extent and availability of their collections. He searched for specific people in Seattle and San Francisco newspapers as examples.

For searches of Irving people, he said that he used, and the Superior Court records (available for San Diego at Peter also provided some "fun" sites - and

This was a fun-filled talk. Peter is pretty laid back and has a dry sense of humor. He spoke without notes. He does look like his picture.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

CVGS Program on 5/27 - Peter Rowe on "Newspaper Archives"

The next Program Meeting of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society will be on Wednesday, 27 May 2009, at 12 noon in the Auditorium of the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street in Chula Vista).

After a brief business meeting, the Program Speaker will be Peter Rowe, a reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper, who is currently the newspaper's archivist.

In July 1984, Peter Rowe was hired as a writer for the San Diego Union's Currents section. He has yet to be fired.

At the Union, he wrote feature stories and devoted five misspent years to editing. When the Union merged with the Tribune in 1992, he ransomed his byline and became a columnist for the Union-Tribune's Currents section.

A California native, Rowe attended high school in Encinitas (San Dieguito) and college in La Jolla (UCSD). He graduated from the journalism schools at UC Berkeley and Northwestern University.

Peter is a past president of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, a former Fulbright scholar (Japan, 2003) and owns a smattering of plaques from journalism competitions. But he'd trade them all for a chance to avenge his disastrous third-place finish during a 1994 appearance on "Jeopardy!"

Peter is married to a wonderful woman who does read the column, but refuses to set foot in it. A character known as The Woman Next Door handles all spouse-of-columnist duties. He has three sons. Not one of them reads his column.

Peter writes a monthly beer column for the Union-Tribune's Food section. He is also the Archivist for the newspaper. He does not look like his photograph.

Please enter the auditorium through the Conference Room door off the east entrance hallway in order to register, pick up handouts, buy an opportunity drawing ticket and have a snack before the meeting.

CVGS welcomes all members of the community, and all CVGS programs are free to attend.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

CVGS Research and Query Services

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society provides research services and answers queries concerning south San Diego County genealogy research.

The services that can be provided include:

• Obituary search in Chula Vista Star-News newspaper (twice-weekly). Microfilm for issues from 1900 to the present is available at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library. A copy can be made and sent by mail or email attachment.
• Obituary search in San Diego Union and Union-Tribune (since 1995) newspapers. The Chula Vista library has an index for 1930 to 1980, and microfilm for issues from 1973 to the present. A copy can be made and sent by mail or email attachment. Copies of obituaries before 1973 can be obtained at the San Diego Public Library in downtown San Diego.

• Directory search in San Diego City and Suburban directories. The Chula Vista library has directories from 1890 to 1982, although the collection is not complete. The directories provide addresses and employer for residents.

• Cemetery search at Glen Abbey Memorial Park (in Bonita), La Vista Cemetery (in National City), Mount Hope Cemetery (in San Diego), Holy Cross Cemetery (in San Diego), Cypress View Cemetery and Mausoleum (in San Diego), and Greenwood Cemetery (in San Diego). These searches are usually done by visiting the cemetery. Digital photos of gravestones can be obtained if requested.

• Birth, marriage and death certificates for San Diego County events can be obtained at the County Clerk's office in Chula Vista on a walk-in basis. There is a fee to obtain a certificate that can be used for non-identification purposes.

The Society would appreciate a $10 donation for these services (in addition to any fee payments).

Queries can be requested using the form on the CVGS Queries page at or by email to Randy Seaver at

Thursday, May 14, 2009

CVGS Research Group Summary

We had our Chula Vista Genealogical Society Research Group meeting on Wednesday, with 10 persons contributing. There were some interesting problems.

Ann (a visitor) is doing research for a friend, and was looking for a McNabb born in about 1892 in Texas in the census records. She found him in the 1920 and 1930 census with his family, but couldn't find him in 1900 and 1910 with his parents. The group suggested trying different last name variations - McNabb, MacNabb, M'Nabb, Nabb, etc. And to use wild cards for both names, and birth year and birth place to narrow the search.

Mary has an interesting challenge - her mother was raised by her father, and Mary has looked for what happened to her mother's mother without much success. And she wants to know her grandmother's ancestry too. The grandmother's maiden name was Esther Fletcher, and after she left her first husband (mother of her mother, born in 1912 in Quebec) in Maine, she married a Sprague and a Marks and lived in Toronto, Ontario. The group suggested looking for an Ontario death record, obtaining a death certificate, finding an obituary, etc. One of the marriage records may provide a birth date and place and perhaps parents names.

Ruth had an interesting problem too - her great-grandfather, John C. Hayley born in 1872 in Tennessee, ran off from his family at age 14 when his step-father put him down a well (who could blame him for running off?). She thinks that John C.'s father was Johns W. Hayley (1829-1874) who died in Tennessee, and left no land or probate records. Her question had to do with the father of James W. Hayley - was it James W. Hayley who died in 1842 in Madison County, Tennessee? Ruth has James W.'s will and John W. is not mentioned. The group suggested looking for other Hayley's in the area in the 1840 time frame (census, land, probate, tax records) and pursuing records of John W.'s death (obituary, county history) which might provide clues to his parentage.

Dearl decided to clean up some of his older file folders, and found that he had many more records than he recalled from his early years of researching. There's a good lesson here for everybody - check your previous work before doing more on a family.

Marcia followed up on some of the ideas from the April seminar, and has found another Timothy Leahy descendant in Ireland and they are corresponding. In the mean time, she found her Corkery family in Iowa, and found cousins on the Internet along with some family trees. We recommended getting death records and obituaries for the siblings of her Corkery, and to check the county history books also.

Pam is still chasing her Benjamin Sherman in Connecticut. She's going to step back from finding new records and try to sort out what she already has before charging off for more new information. She's planning to find a book by Roy V. Sherman using Inter-Library Loan.

Gary wondered where he could find information about the history of La Vista Cemetery in National City for a Memorial Day project. We suggested the National city library's Local History Room which has the Star newspaper indexed in a card file and has many books and pictures about National City history.

John sent an email to one of Randy's blogger and Facebook Friends and received a packet of information about two North Carolina families, including land records and the will of a John Leeper in 1796. He was surprised that the wife's name was Elizabeth, and now wonders if he started with the wrong information from an online family tree. He really appreciated the results from the query!

Dick has a problem with Family Tree Maker 2009 - he downloaded the update and now cannot open the program. He will contact the FTM customer service to see what needs to be done. We assured him that his databases were fine, and he could uninstall and reinstall the program, or anything that FTM sends him, and use his database with it.

There wasn't much time for Randy, who briefly described how the War of 1812 pension file index is not name indexed on, and that he had found 15 databases like that on

Several people wanted to know about how to obtain the Social Security for a relative, and we pointed them to Rootsweb where they write the letter to the SSA for you.

The two hours seemed to fly by as we all wondered about the complexity of families, the things that happen in family life, and the fact that we may collect only 10 to 20 records that reflect just snapshots of a person's life over 60 to 80 years (perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 days).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CVGS Visit to Fredericka Manor

About 20 CVGS members and family attended a very nice program meeting, luncheon and guided facility tour at Fredericka Manor in Chula Vista on Tuesday, 12 May from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event was hosted by Betsy Keller, Marketing Manager of Fredericka Manor, which is a senior retirement community in downtown Chula Vista.

The idea was for CVGS to introduce Fredericka residents to starting genewalogy and fmaily history research and the genealogy society, and for Fredericka Manor to introduce their facility and services to CVGS members. It may be the start of a symbiosis relationship! About 25 CVGS members and family attended, and about 40 Fredericka Manor residents attended the program.

The program meeting started with a sign-in, a snack and drink. Betsy Keller welcomed everybody and held the first 15 door prize drawings. Gary Brock, President of CVGS, summarized the CVGS activities and introduced some of the members in attendance. Pam Journey of the San Diego Genealogical Society gave a wonderful lecture on Beginning Genealogy Research, with a six page handout that included a pedigree chart and family group sheet. Besides talking about the "how-to-start-your-genealogy," she addressed why people do family history research and the family, educational and social benefits of it. After the talk, there were more door prize drawings.

Then it was off to lunch in the Fredericka Manor dining room, hosted by staff people who answered questions and made sure that everyone at their table was well fed. The menu was a salad, spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread and bread pudding and/or ice cream. After lunch, we were shown six different living accommodations in the facility from a one room studio to a 1,500 square foot two-bedroom detached house. Some of the units are detached on the property, and some are in the seven-story tower building. The tour lasted about 30 minutes and was very well done.

We were quite pleased with the event, and hope that some of the Fredericka attendees will come to our society meetings. We already have several residents in our society.

This event pointed out to me that meetings with community groups and businesses can have mutual benefits. CVGS can provide speakers at social, church and service clubs and businesses, like Fredericka Manor, could partner with CVGS to the mutual benefit of both.

May 2009 CVGS Newsletter is online

The May 2009 edition of the Chula Vista Genealogical Society Newsletter is available on the web site - go to

There are ten pages in this newsletter about the Society events - past and future. Two and a half pages are devoted to computer-related genealogy - web sites, this blog, a book review, etc. These computer-related pages are not included in the printed newsletter sent by mail to the members who wish to receive it by mail.

Please tell me what you think about the newsletter content. We had to put the Bylaws information in this issue so that we can approve them at our next general meeting. The minutes of the two meetings are a bit long - we are working to reduce the length of them in order to be able to add original content from our members.

If you would like to exchange society newsletters via email, please let me know and I will add you to our email distribution list, and I woulds appreciate being added to your list also (

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Recent CVGS Newsletters are on online

Until recently, the current Chula Vista Genealogical Society Newsletter was hidden from public view by a password, although earlier editions were available.

The CVGS Board of Directors removed the password restriction recently on the theory that hiding the current edition prevents online browsers from finding out more about the society activities.

The newsletters since January 2008 are online at

CVGS still prints the first eight pages of the newsletter and sends it by US postal mail to members who wish to have a printed copy and to societies and/or libraries that will display it and save it in their libraries. However, additional pages concerning computer-oriented genealogy information (software, web sites, databases, etc.) are added to the online version of the newsletter.

One advantage of reading the newsletter online, or downloading and saving it, is the ability to use graphics and color, and to have live links to web sites. We are leery of too many graphics because they increase the size of the PDF file.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

CVGS Library Booklist

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society devotes a significant portion of its' yearly budget to purchase genealogy books for the Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street in Chula Vista). After purchasing and receiving the books, they are taken to the library office and put into the Family Research collection at the library. The Family Research collection has over 2,000 titles (books and periodicals) in one long bookcase stack on the north wall of the library, near the public computer terminals.

The CVGS librarian is Bernice Heiter, and she maintains the CVGS Book List of the holdings. She recently updated the list to the end of 2008, and it was put on the CVGS web site. You can see it at

Friday, May 1, 2009

Genealogy Days in Chula Vista - May 2009

The Chula Vista Genealogical Society events for May 2009 include:

** Saturday, May 2, 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. CVGS Research Trip to San Diego Public Library. Contact Randy Seaver (619-422-3397, for carpool information.

** Tuesday, May 12, 10 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., Fredericka Manor Retirement Community (Third Avenue) -- Free genealogy talk ("Beginning Genealogy" by Pam Journey), luncheon and Fredericka Manor tour. Contact Betsy Keller (619-205-4116) for information and reservations.

** Wednesday, May 13, 12 noon to 2 pm, Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street) -- CVGS Research Group meets in the Library Conference Room. We will review the latest genealogy news, share success stories and information, and discuss members research problems, and potential solutions, based on the collective knowledge and wisdom of the group.

** Wednesday, May 20, 12 noon to 2 pm, Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street) -- CVGS Computer Group meets in the Library Computer Lab. We will visit some helpful genealogy web sites. This is an opportunity for those members who haven't used computers for genealogy research to practice with a mentor to guide them.

** Wednesday, May 27, 12 noon to 2 p.m., Chula Vista Civic Center Branch Library (365 F Street) - CVGS Program Meeting in the Auditorium. After a brief business meeting, the featured speaker will be Peter Rowe, Archivist of the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper, who will speak on "Newspaper Archiving."

** Monday afternoons (12 noon to 2 PM) - May 4, 11, and 18 - Genealogy Table Talk with Dearl Glenn and John Finch in the Family Research section of the Chula Vista Civic Center Library. They are ready and willing to help people with their research, discuss a problem or success, or just tell stories.

The Chula Vista Civic Center Library is located at 365 "F" Street in Chula Vista - between Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue, midway between I-5 and I-805 (take the "E" Street exit from the freeways).

We welcome guests and visitors to our CVGS programs and events - if you are in the greater San Diego area and want to attend our events - please come and introduce yourselves. If you have questions, please email Randy at or phone 619-422-3397.