Hire a Reseacher at CGS

California Genealogical Society offers an extended research service for $50 per hour for non-members, and $40 per hour for members, with a two-hour minimum. We have unique access to records for events that occurred in the nine Bay Area counties – Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma. We also have experienced staff who have engaged in research outside of the state and country. 


Please consider our Surname Search in the menu bar. It may be able to help you with searches in various indexed sources within the library that require less than two hours.


Many questions will be answered by our California Research Tips page. Please consult this page for topics relevant to your research needs and ask for our help at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

What We Will Do

Fees cover research, analysis, documentation, and reporting of results.If copies of official records, such as death certificates, are desired, we can tell you how and where to obtain them.

Information Needed: In order to prevent duplication of work you have done, we need a list of sources you have already consulted even if nothing was found.

Things to Keep In Mind about California


California did not begin keeping vital records until mid-1905, but many individual counties kept records long before this.


The statewide marriage index does not begin until 1949, but individual counties, as with birth and death records, have indexes that begin before this year.


Details such as religious affiliation, occupation, identity of siblings or other relations, and dates of significant events will be more important clues here than in some other localities because most of the pre-earthquake (April 1906) civil records of San Francisco were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire.


We have access to a broad range of San Francisco newspaper indexes, newspaper extracts, and early cemetery records to aid in this research.


For more detailed information, please see the California Research Tips page.

Initiating a Research Job


Unless your request is very simple, one hour is usually needed to ascertain if a job is do-able. We then create an overall plan and begin the actual research. For this reason, we ask for a two-hour pre-payment. If more time is needed, we will provide an estimate based on our initial work and ask for payment in advance.


Online: To submit requests online, use the "Purchase Services" link at the bottom of this page to bring up the order form, which you can use to pre-pay using PayPal. Describe your problem and previous work as instructed above. If appropriate, you may send detailed information as a separate attachment. Be sure to include your postal address.


By Mail: Enclose your check, payable to CGS, accompanied by your postal address and email address, if you have one. Please use the "Purchase Services" link at the bottom of this page to prepare an order form. Postage is normally included for requests made from within the United States, Canada, and Mexico. However, a surcharge will be added for overseas mailing. If your request is submitted from outside the United States, and you are unable to pay online (see below), remittance should be made by a bank international money order, or a foreign draft on a financial institution in the United States, made payable in United States currency.


Send mail requests to: California Genealogical Society
ATTN: Research Director
2201 Broadway, Suite LL2
Oakland, CA 94612-3031

Time Required

We will get back to you as soon as possible, but turnaround time to complete and report the research may take a month or more. Once a job is initiated by either method, we are happy to continue correspondence by e-mail, as well as by postal service. Telephone conversations do not work well for this correspondence, particularly because they leave no written record.