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Raking the Ashes--Genealogical Strategies for pre-1906 San Francisco Research Paperback – June 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


"A book of strategies... Well researched...clearly written...packed with meaningful data...and rich illustrations" -- Curt Witcher, Historical Genealogy Department Manager, Allen County Public Library

"Help has arrived" ...a better gold mine for genealogists than the one discovered in 1849 at Sutter’s Mill." -- ― Marsha Hoffman Rising, CG, FASG, author The Family Tree Problem Solver: Proven Methods for Scaling the Inevitable Brick Wall

"the best book available today on searching for elusive ancestors in San Francisco before 1906" -- Ralph J. Crandall, Executive Director Emeritus, New England Historic Genealogical Society

About the Author

Nancy Simons Peterson, CG

A fifth-generation Californian, Nancy Simons Peterson is a nationally certified genealogist and author of numerous articles appearing in prominent genealogical periodicals. Winner of the 1998 National Genealogical Society Family History Writing Contest and the Society of Genealogists Scholar Award in 2003, she holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Stanford University. The Petersons presently reside in Walnut Creek California.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: California Genealogical Society; First edition. edition (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967240980
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967240985
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,877,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Perhaps nothing is more frustrating for a family history researcher than contending with the destruction of records. Historic disasters were devastating to our ancestors & were not kind to the records we depend on to trace our families either. With this year's centennial anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake & fire, the California Genealogical Society has published Nancy Peterson's timely "Raking the Ashes: Genealogical Strategies for Pre-1906 San Francisco Research".

"Raking the Ashes" is an exceptional how-to guide for overcoming the record losses from the great San Francisco earthquake & fire. The 222-page volume is a treasure trove of concise information with all of the "good stuff" easily accessible for the researcher. The accompanying 44 maps, photos & illustrations provide excellent visual examples of the records discussed in the adjacent text. The book's expertly written advice provides the following for San Francisco records with genealogical value:

* definitions of records (why they were made);

* survival of the records during & after the quake and fire of 1906;

* informational value of the records (what they contain);

* exactly how & where to locate these records (available locally, via the Family History Library, the Internet, etc. - all with exact reference numbers or web addresses).

An extremely valuable section of the book is the "Research Techniques, Tips & Cautions" where the author shares her vast experience of research successes and potential problems to help the reader jump-start their own research.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By James Smith on July 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Most of the difficulties in finding pre-1906 San Francisco genealogical research are conveniently laid on the great earthquake and fire. Any information prior to that event seems blocked by burned municipal records, lost vital records and relocated cemeteries. Raking the Ashes - Genealogical Strategies for Pre-1906 San Francisco Research presents the truth regarding what remains and offers workaround strategies for what's missing. It puts all the strategies for researching San Francisco genealogy concisely in one easy to follow reference.

I've read this book twice--once last April when I was graciously allowed to read a draft and now reading the final product. Raking the Ashes is the ultimate resource for pre-1906 San Francisco genealogical research. It's also a great guide for post quake research. It defines the types of files and records that can be found, how to use them and what can be expected from them. The clear illustrations offer the opportunity to see what the records look like with tips on how to use them.

Racking the Ashes is comprised of three parts - (1) what did and did not survive with possible substitutions, (2) additional resources and (3) Research Techniques, Tips and Cautions. The book is well written, very readable and logically organized.

It's been nearly two decades since I began my San Francisco genealogical research, looking for information on my ancestors who arrived in San Francisco in the mid 1850s, the 1870s and the late 1890s. This book offers new avenues of research and expectations of new breakthroughs. Raking the Ashes knocks down the brick walls that plague researchers with San Francisco roots. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn more of their San Francisco family or those with an interest in good genealogical research strategies. Raking the Ashes belongs on every genealogist's desk.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By booklover on October 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The second edition of this book is a "must have" for anyone needing to find records of ancestors living in the Bay Area of California at the time of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. Part of our family lived there at that time and it has already helped us find missing facts about more than one of our relatives.

Well-written and documented.
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