BIPOC Genealogy and African American History in California’s Gold Rush

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A free CGS Outreach Series about BIPOC oral history, African Americans and Hidden Figures in the California Gold Rush.

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BIPOC Genealogy and African American History in California’s Gold Rush


A Free CGS Outreach Series

Three Individual Sessions, Tuesday Evenings

October 5, 12; November 9

6:30 pm - 8:00 pm PDT/PST

 Presented by 

Jonathan Burgess

The event is presented online via Zoom

October 5 - Series One: Importance of Family Oral Narrative in BIPOC Genealogy

We will explore the significance of why oral narratives are important when exploring history and genealogy of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) origin. The right to education was not afforded to all; therefore BIPOC families shared history orally. Out of protection those that could read and write still shared much orally and this practice exists today.

October 12 - Series Two: California African American Gold Rush Association’s Mission

The California African American Gold Rush Association a 501(c) 3 was established to interpret and share inclusive history of an event the shaped California and laid the foundation for immigrant migration to the United States "Opportunity". BIPOC contributions and history were left out of this significant period of time as it relates to California history. Never told stories that include BIPOC families will be shared in addition to those of Marshall and Sutter. We share stories of pioneers that left the gold hills to fight in the confederate, lost and returned to the gold hills; only to be named as respected pioneers of the Gold Rush.

November 9 - Series Three: Hidden Figures During the California Gold Rush

Rufus Burgess left his handwritten autobiography detailing his life from birth in Virginia around the year 1790, to his migration to California in 1849 with Robert Bell (Slave Trader). His story, although written in code, will be shared surrounding the events that occurred during and after the Gold Rush 1849 to 1869. Ex-Confederate soldiers living in the area would see to it that he was buried under his slave name and his assets seized. This last program will tie together sessions one and two.

The sessions will take place via Zoom. If you join, please sign in early to make sure you are able to see the program. We will send you instructions the night before, and a reminder shortly before the event, which will give you access. When registering, use an email address you will be checking. Please note first two sessions times are Pacific Daylight Time, and final is Pacific Standard Time

You do not have to have a Zoom account to attend a Zoom meeting. You will be prompted to download the software, once you have clicked on the link that you have been provided. You may also wish to create an account, but that is not required to participate in a Zoom meeting. 

These events are presented live. Some events may be recorded for internal use only.

See you online!

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CGS Members and Non-Members enjoy free access.

Pre-registration is required. Class size is limited so register early to confirm your spot.

You can purchase a $45 one-year CGS Basic membership when you check out. To sign up for other membership options go to our web page: CGS Membership application


Credit card payments will be processed by Eventbrite.

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The CGS library will be re-opening June 30 on a limited basis for library visits – read all about it!  Also see more background on our reopening plans.

CGS Covid Information


 Connecting people to their diverse family heritage

Whether you have Gold Rush ancestors or have no family connection to California, you will find extensive support for your genealogy research at the California Genealogical Society (CGS) in Oakland. The society offers research services, online indexes and databases, and a research library housing over 38,000 reference materials from California, the United States, and around the world. CGS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. The library is conveniently located in Uptown Oakland, one block north of the Paramount Theatre, at 2201 Broadway, Suite LL2. We are three blocks from the 19th Street BART Station.

Phone: (510) 663-1358 

Non-Discrimination Statement

The goal of the California Genealogical Society is to connect people to their family heritage and to promote a spirit of diversity and inclusivity for our members and patrons. The California Genealogical Society does not tolerate discrimination in any form. 


Courtesy Request

In order to maintain a welcoming and healthy environment, please refrain from using scented products at CGS events or in the library.

Photography Notice

California Genealogical Society (CGS) may take photographs, audio recordings, and video footage in our library, classrooms or events for historical records or publicity purposes.  If you do not want to be photographed or filmed, it is the individual’s responsibility to 'opt out' by notifying the event leader or photographer at the event.

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