Tuesday, February 8, 2011

San Francisco History Expo -- But No Family History

The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society is putting on a "history expo" this coming weekend, February 12 and 13.  More than twenty groups will showcase their contributions to San Francisco's history.  But there is a significant omission from the list of exhibitors:  No genealogical societies are participating.  And why are they not participating?  Because they weren't invited!

When the president of the San Francisco Bay Area Jewish Genealogical Society asked about the possibility of participating, on behalf of his group and the California Genealogical Society (which has only been around since 1898), he was told they were already full up and that they would add the genealogical societies to the list for what "might be" another event in the future, "if this is successful."

The tagline of the expo is "Piecing Together Our Past."  That's what genealogists and family historians do every day.  Well, maybe this event will go well and they'll have another one, and we can add family history to San Francisco's history.  I'm not sure how they're planning on measuring success, though.  The event is free, so there won't be any tickets to track attendance accurately.

If you go to the expo, I encourage you to mention your interest in genealogy to the event organizers.  If there is a survey of some sort, suggest that next year they include genealogical organizations as well.  (If you aren't going, there is a contact link on the Web site.)  After all, when you research your ancestors, you need to understand the times they lived in, and when you learn about history, you are learning about the people who lived at those times.  Genealogy is, at its best, the placing of a person in the context of his time -- and isn't that what a history expo should be all about?

For more information about the expo, visit http://www.sfhistory.org/index.php?pageid=20.

(Special thanks to reader Carol Townsend for her feedback on this post.)

1 comment:

  1. Feedback from a friend who attended the Expo on Saturday:

    With over one hundred people waiting outside, there was obviously a lot of interest from all quarters to see the first of what is hoped to be an annual event showcasing the many diverse neighborhoods of the city as well as the infrastructure that holds it together -- police and fire services, and of course the ubiquitous street car railroad. Even the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge Rebuid and Renovation had a booth!

    By the looks of things there were tourists and local people as well as local historians and transportation buffs. Nearly every room on the first floor was given over to neighborhood booths with exhibits. There was the Potrero Hill Neighborhood, Presidio Neighborhood, North Beach, and Western Addition.

    Downstairs at basement level, visitors thronged the now empty vaults. No gold bars or coins were to be found, though photographs had shown gold bars stacked from floor to ceiling.

    A conversation with Kurt Nystrom, the Chief Operating and Financial Officer for the The Mint Project, revealed that because of city regulations, only a certain number of rooms could be used.

    Kurt had learned via an earlier e-mail that the exclusion of genealogical societies was an oversight to be rectified. Let's hope that the success of this year's Expo will prise open a few more doors so that more groups with a San Francisco bias can be included.


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