Monthly Programs

Meetings: Held monthly except for December on the 4th Saturday. Check dates as some meetings are moved to the 3rd Saturday.

Time:  10:00-10:30 am Social mixer with coffee/tea & cookies; 10:30 am - 12 noon Announcements followed by the program on subjects of interest to all levels of genealogists.

Location: Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo, CA 94403. (See map below)  Entrance is at the back of the church off the parking lot. Look for the SMCGS sign.

For more information, contact us.  For a list of past programs, click here .

Sarah Coston, VP Programs

Upcoming Meetings

January 2018 Meeting

The Slave Narrative that Freed Me: How I found William Grimes
Speaker: Regina Mason
Saturday, January 27, 2018   10:30am - 12:00 pm
Cookies & Coffee 10-10:30 am
Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo

In 5th grade, Regina Mason was told that her grandfather was a former slave. For years she felt that she did not have a family history worth sharing, but she finally dove head first into exploring her family history through genealogy, and, after a few years of searching, she discovered her third great grandfather who had written the precedent-setting memoir, Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave, which he published himself in 1825.

By recovering the lives through genealogical research of relatives deemed marginal and insignificant, Regina gave voice and honor to her ancestors and by extension fortified herself and helped make her whole.

Regina’s talk will address her journey to find her ancestors and reclaim her heritage, and the importance of William Grimes’s memoir. Regina's story has been made into a movie, "Gina's Journey."

Copies of the book "Life of William Grimes, Runaway Slave" with a forward by Regina Mason and William L. Andrews, professor at Univ of North Carolina, will be available at the talk.

Regina Mason is an international speaker, author, executive producer and storyteller. She has spent 15 years researching the life and times of her third great grandfather, pioneering fugitive slave autobiographer William Grimes. Her essays have appeared in The Race Card Project, various blogs, and The Root. She, along with literary critic and expert, William L. Andrews, is co-editor of the authoritative 2008 Oxford University Press edition of Life of William Grimes, the Runaway Slave. She has spoken to or appeared at many organizations including Yale University, UC Berkeley, Mansfield College, NPR, C-Span’s Book TV, KQED, and others. She currently serves as Executive Producer of the award-wining feature documentary film Gina’s Journey: The Search for William Grimes.

February 2018 Meeting

Who's in Your Neighborhood? Meeting the Diverse Research Needs of Your Community
Speaker: Linda Harms Okazki
Saturday, February 24, 2018   10:30am - 12:00 pm
Cookies & Coffee 10-10:30 am

Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo

This talk will focus on examining the different cultures within our community of San Mateo County reaching back through historical events, laws, immigration patterns, and primary source documents. Many examples from local ethnic groups including Japanese Americans, Chinese, Filipino, and Pacific Islanders will be presented.

In order for genealogical societies to become more diverse, we need to examine and embrace the different cultures within our communities. Is your genealogical society inclusive? Does your membership reflect the diversity of your community? What immigrant populations have historically lived in your county? Who currently lives there? Does your genealogical society reach out to the surrounding community? What records are specific to certain ethnic groups?

Linda Harms Okazaki is a fourth generation San Franciscan and has been researching her husband’s ancestry for the past several years, documenting his family in the internment camps and in Japan. She is passionate about researching, documenting, teaching, and sharing the stores of Japanese Americans. Her other areas of research include California, upstate New York, England and Australia. Linda is a member of APG, the Genealogical Speakers Guild, and the DAR. She is a graduate of GenFed, ProGen and several genealogy institutes. She currently serves as the president of the California Genealogical Society.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and a Master of Arts degree in Education. You may find her blog at

March 2018 Meeting

Making A Family Video to Share
Speaker: Dr. Jan Joyce Aherns
Saturday, March 24, 2018   10:30am - 12:00 pm
Cookies & Coffee 10-10:30 am
Grace Lutheran Church, 2825 Alameda de las Pulgas, San Mateo

You love genealogy research but at family gatherings and cocktail parties your relatives’ and friends' eyes glaze over when you start talking about it, right?  This talk/workshop will show you how to make your genealogical information into an engaging video that everyone will love. Create videos for family, friends, and clients.  

You will determine your audience and video topic, identify the materials you have or need to find and how to organize them, write a script, create high impact visual and audio effects, record, edit, and publish your video. This workshop will focus on developing content with a light touch on technology and software.

Dr. Ahrens is a genealogy researcher whose personal work has focused on Ohio and Pennsylvania, England, Germany, Ireland, and Norway. She began researching in 1998 to better understand genealogy customers when she managed the marketing initiatives at Before beginning her genealogy career in writing and speaking, Jan earned a B.S. in Business, Marketing, from Miami University; and an MBA, Marketing, from The Ohio State University and a Doctor of Business Administration from Golden Gate University

She has completed the Boston University Certificate in Genealogy Research, the ProGen Study Group, Advanced Genealogical Methods Course at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), Intermediate Genealogy & Historical Studies Course at the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), British Institute - Researching Your English Ancestors, and the Writing & Publishing for Genealogists Course (IGHR) among others. 

Find us:
SMCGS Meetings c/o Grace Lutheran Church
2825 Alameda de las Pulgas
San Mateo, CA