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1906 Earthquake Centennial Alliance

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Raking the Ashes: Genealogical Strategies for Pre-1906 San Francisco Research

California Genealogical Society

This book by Nancy Simons Peterson addresses the numerous difficulties encountered by researchers seeking early San Francisco city and county records. The three days of raging fire following the 1906 earthquake gutted San Francisco's City Hall, its Hall of records, Hall of Justice and countless churches. With only a few civil death records surviving, a fraction of the original land records saved, and no civil court records extant, the researcher necessarily must turn to other resources in order to construct relationships that in normal circumstances might be routine. It many ways it was one of those "burned courthouse" tragedies, but the losses in San Francisco went far beyond that. Peterson, a meticulous researcher with broad experience and creative problem-solving abilities, presents detailed descriptions of exactly what was lost, what survived, and shows the reader how to find the surviving records. Further, she offers strategies for circumventing difficulties due to lost records.

To be published April 2006 by California Genealogical Society, 1611 Telegraph Avenue, Suite 100, Oakland, CA 94612.

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Available April 2006.


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Addresses the hundred-year-old need to locate alternative routes to pre-1906 San Francisco records.


General public. Genealogists/historians.


Jane Lindsey, (510) 663-1358

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