The History of the
San Ramon Valley Genealogical Society

The Beginning: In 1984 Jean Blackmur envisioned a genealogy group which could meet during the daytime rather than in the evenings as most of the Valley's societies did. So notices were posted and on January 15, 1985 twenty five interested people gathered at the old Danville Library. By February a one page newsletter was created with a plan to hold meetings in the morning of the third Tuesday of each month (except August and December). Minutes of the May, 1985 meeting record a charter membership of fifty two persons, an approved constitution and bylaws with dues for memberships. And so the San Ramon Valley Genealogical Society was formed. The meeting place would be the old Danville Library.

The Early Years: Education seemed to be top priority. Outside speakers were asked to each meeting, knowledgeable members taught special classes, and group visits to area libraries housing genealogical collections were planned. By the fourth meeting the group had outgrown the old Danville Library and moved into St. Timothy's Social Hall. This move turned out to be unsatisfactory and again the Society moved in 1990 into the Danville Women's Club. To offset rental fees and newsletter expenses, dues were raised and fundraisers were held on a regular basis. Once again, the Society's membership outgrew the meeting space, next finding space in the Guardian Rehabilitation Hospital general activity room. In 1999 the Society was once again looking for a meeting space due to the remodeling project at the hospital. Space at the Danville Family History Center in Alamo was offered. The members gladly accepted. Currently, our members enjoy the expertise of the Family History Center staff, its library and resources as well as the meeting and activity rooms.

Organization and Activities: The Board of Directors is made up of seven officers. There are twenty two active committees and special interest groups. Board meetings are held monthly (except August and December). Members teach special monthly education classes. Members of the Publishing Special Interest Group wrote and published a booklet entitled Print, Publish and Preserve. This publication is of great help in organizing and publishing family histories, stories and collections. The booklet has also provided income for the Society. Our members support our Society and the genealogical community by serving as genealogy resource persons at both county fair and genealogical fairs. Members also volunteer as docents at the Danville Library, the Heritage Collection Room at the Contra Costa County Library in Pleasant Hill, and at the Family History Center in Alamo. Members have helped with the input of the 1890 California Voter Registration list for the California State Genealogical Alliance Project. The LDS History staff asked us to help with an extraction project in preparation for entry into their International Genealogical Index file. We have also helped with the New York City death files extraction project. Our members have served as National Archives volunteers on the Friends of the Archives Board, held offices in other local and state genealogical societies, and presented workshops and programs for other organization. Members have published family histories, diaries, records and letters as well as produced oral history and family reunion videotapes.

Multi-media: The John Kopcie Memorial Tape Collection was established through a donation from Theresa Kopcie in memory of her husband. Now called the Media Library, it includes audio tapes, video tapes, CDs and DVDs. Media may be borrowed on a monthly basis for a nominal fee. These accrued funds are used to advance the collection. It has grown through tapes purchased with these funds, tapes donated, and tapes or CDs of meeting speakers. The San Ramon Genealogical Society has a collection of basic genealogy books housed in the Danville Library. These books are for reference only.

Knowledge & Resources: The diverse speakers, monthly education classes, and trips to area libraries are evidence that the goals of our founding members are being met. The information available today compared to 1985 is astounding. Information found on the Internet can be helpful, but the real information is still found in repositories such as courthouses, church records, newspapers, state and national archives, and libraries.

We need our own genealogical society members for support. We still need other societies to lead us to records in their areas. But most of all, we need the San Ramon Valley Genealogical Society and other societies for the opportunity to educate, to learn, to serve and to preserve, and to make lasting friendships.

Rev. 105; Date: Thursday, March 12, 2015 @ 8:30 pm