San Mateo County Genealogical Society

Discovering Our Family History Together


About Us

The San Mateo County Genealogical Society supports the study of family history on the San Francisco Peninsula and beyond through educational programs with locally and nationally known speakers, a library with more than 2,000 books as well as journals, maps, and atlases, an online catalog, databases and records, the First Families of San Mateo County program, and research services.


Goals of the society: SMCGS has the following goals:

  • Support a community of people interested in genealogy
  • Provide educational opportunities
  • Preserve and index San Mateo County records
  • Provide a variety of genealogical resources covering San Mateo County, the U.S., and the world

Meetings, seminars, classes/workshops: Ten months of the year, SMCGS hosts a short general meeting followed by a presentation on a topic of historical or genealogical interest; everyone is welcome to attend. Once or twice a year SMCGS hosts a full-day seminar with a well-known genealogical speaker. Workshops and classes are also held throughout the year.

Meetings during the pandemic: Our meetings are held remotely via Zoom. A link to each Zoom meeting will be sent to SMCGS eNews subscribers (both members and non-members) several days before the meeting. SMCGS members are automatically subscribed to eNews unless they choose to "unsubscribe."  Non-members can also subscribe; if you're not already a subscriber and wish to become one, click here.

Board meetings: Monthly SMCGS Board meetings will continue to held by Zoom. See the events calendar for dates. If you would like to offer suggestions or attend a board meeting, please email for instructions.

Communications to members: SMCGS produces six newsletters/year. We also occasionally email notices of SMCGS events to members and eNews subscribers.

Volunteering: There are many volunteer opportunities for connecting with fellow genealogists, and we invite everyone to participate.

Connect: Find us on Facebook and on our blog (subscribe to the blog by entering your email address in the "Follow by Email" box). Receive occasional email notices of SMCGS events and news by joining our eNews mailing list. If you have questions, please contact us via email.

Join us: No matter where you live, or what your genealogy interests are, join SMCGS and expand your knowledge through our excellent educational monthly speaker series, twice-yearly seminars, workshops and classes, and blog.

History of the Society

The San Mateo County Genealogical Society traces its roots to a 1982 Genealogy Class taught by Carol Harless through the San Mateo Department of Recreation.  As members of the class acquired the skills to search for their ancestors, Ms. Harless encouraged them to form a genealogical society in San Mateo County.   Eighteen people gathered for the first meeting where Janet Morrison was elected President.  In order to help people interested in tracing their roots, the Society decided to offer monthly meetings on various topics related to genealogy and family history.  The newly formed Society identified establishment of a genealogical library in San Mateo County as their main goal. 

The first public meeting of the Society was held on October 13, 1982, at the Ampex Cafeteria in Redwood City.  Over 100 people were in attendance.  Mr. Herb Garcia, of the San Mateo County Historical Association was the guest speaker.  His topic was “Genealogy Comes Alive Through History”.  The Society was incorporated as a non-profit organization in July 1982.  Past Presidents of the Society include Janet Morrison, Dana Leslie, Jean Cloud, Mona Beddow, Doris Newbury, Irene Gough, Helen Crisman, Richard Laughlin, Diane Smelker, Chris Bell Green, Joyce Morey, and Michael Davis.  The Society’s current President is Kara Rosenberg.

Under the leadership of Anna Scott, retired San Mateo County Reference Librarian, the Society began to form the nucleus of a library by acquiring books and magazines related to the topic of genealogy.  In the early days, the library materials were stored in boxes and brought to each meeting.  In 1989 the Society opened its library at 900 Main St., Redwood City, in a storefront provided free of charge by the city.  When that space was no longer available, Redwood City gave the Society space in the basement of the Redwood City Library.  When that library was torn down, the Society moved to a space within the San Mateo County Library Administration Building at 25 Lessengia Road in San Mateo.  Since 2010 the SMCGS Library has been located within the CaƱada College Library in Redwood City. Recently, the library moved to the San Mateo Public Library at 55 W. 3rd Avenue, San Mateo. You'll find it on the second floor.

Today the San Mateo County Genealogical Society has over 200 members and continues to provide guidance and mentoring to citizens of San Mateo County who are interested in tracing their family history.  We offer ten monthly meetings a year, publish a newsletter every other month, present two all day seminars a year on family history topics and offer workshops throughout the year.

SMCGS is a member of the National Genealogical Society.  

San Mateo County Genealogical Society

     SMCGS is a 501(c)(3) organization

PO Box 230
San Mateo, CA 94401-0230


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