The work can be tedious. There are no medals or awards, no public interviews or outward recognition. But a group of dedicated volunteers has provided Livermore and the Tri-Valley with an important resource in tracing genealogical history in Alameda County.
Spearheaded by David Abrahams and the Livermore-Amador Genealogical Society, the group has created a database of pre-1905 genealogical data and made it available at the web site of the Society at www.l-ags.org.
If that doesn’t sound monumental to you, consider that, prior to 1905, official records didn’t exist. “The reason we tackled this project is before 1905, there was no requirement by the State of California to keep records,” Abrahams explains. Although Berkeley and Oakland had already begun keeping records by 1905, the database ensures that records from what is now Hayward, Fremont, and Alameda, are readily available.
But the group isn’t going to stop there. “We also need to transcribe the death certificates from Oakland and Berkeley,” Abrahams explains, as well as including local data, obtained by scouring cemetery records and reading gravestones.
Sister organization the Livermore Heritage Guild provided early obituaries, so that that data, too, can be entered into an online database.
Other sources include early mortuary records, data from the Hayward Area Historical Society, and files from the Latter Day Saints’ library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
While it sounds like an overwhelming task, Abrahams and approximately 15 dedicated volunteers have spent the better part of 2003 and 2004 checking, transcribing, and entering early 20th century data from various sources.
The result is over 6,000 death records from the 19th and early 20th centuries which help researchers piece together the history of their ancestors, prominent figures, and city founders.
These records have been added to the 70,000-plus records already available on the Society web site, which include burial records, Murray Township census records, an index to the Schellens papers, and a Master Index of names from those who lived in eastern Alameda County.
These online records are just part of the resources the Society’s web site offers. In addition to online local records, the Society offers related links for genealogy research, as well as a listing of their video and audiotape libraries and books available for purchase.
As the work continues, Abrahams is grateful that so many volunteers have come forward and worked so hard for so long. “We have enough volunteers right now, but I can see where one or two people may want to take a break, so we would welcome knowing of additional people who want to volunteer for the project,” he says.