In 1979 Keith Lingenfelter, a family history researcher from Red Bluff California, gave the Special Collections Department of the Meriam Library a large group of family records he had compiled. Among these records were nearly 50,000 names of the early immigrants what Keith called "pioneering men and women" who lived in or near Tehama County (Butte, Colusa, Shasta, Glenn in the mid-Sacramento Valley) recorded from before 1850 well into the mid twentieth century.
Keithís family history project began quietly in 1962 when he and some collaborators began to compile lists of family names of unmarried people and "family outlines" for married people to hand in as a class offered at Shasta College in Redding, California. When the class was over, he continued compiling family records and saving source material until the early 1980ís. What began as a class project became a 22 year search for family history information. Keith consistently worked on the collection of material and "outlines" until 1984 (June 22) when Keith passed away following a lengthy illness. Keith was very interested in how his research would be preserved and, if possible, published.
In 1983 the Conference of California Historical Societies honored Keith with their "AWARD OF MERIT" citing his "distinguished contributions to California history". He, however, felt his work was not good enough for such an award, but accepted it with characteristic graciousness. His "contributions" of energy, time, material and his boundless goodwill to northeastern California local and regional history projects is well known. His many roles included serving on the master planning committee for the Shasta College Museum, the Board of Directors of the Tehama County Historical Commission, and serving on the boards of numerous historical societies in the Sacramento Valley. He published his own research findings on bounty land grants and marriages in national history journals.
All of this research led him to the now well trodden interdisciplinary research/fieldwork pathways of the social/family/ historian--federal census records, courthouse records (including deeds to property, tax assessment rolls, voter registers, marriage records, homesteads,probate and death records,), cemetery records, newspaper obituaries, public and private photograph files, family records (sometimes conflicting in detail), family publications, scrapbooks, masters theses, and collateral genealogies (those already published in another source), county and town histories, maps, and conversations with and interviews of living descendants. His use of multiple source materials (primary and secondary) in many ways "pioneered" the later public history movement first begun by the late Dr. Robert Kelly at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Keith knew that the study of the elite and their great events had distorted the historical record. The status and material conditions of ordinary people had forever intrigued him. That continuing interest and those of many families motivated him to carry the project on long past the "A" he received in the class.
Keith often wrote to me about the people and institutions who had been of so much help and had offered him kindness over the years. He included the Tehama County Library, the Native Daughters of the Golden West, many cemetery districts and mortuaries, Veronica Satorius, Ruth Hitchcock, Frances Leininger, and many current "outline" families he kept in contact with over the years. He especially wanted Elsworth ("Red") and Frances Deering of Red Bluff to know of his gratitude for their substantial gifts of funds to California State University, Chico to publish his compilation, and to Special Collections for the preservation of his original writing. Special Collections also houses much material Keith compiled that did not go into the "outlines".
Upon his passing the Lingenfelter family and others near to him donated funds to begin typing the "outlines" manuscript. Five years later (1989) Mr. and Mrs. Deering gave the University an additional $10,000 to help carry the project forward. Other local agencies chose to purchase a copy of the book when it was completed. Numerous people, too many to list, have had part in the typing, editing, scanning and proofing of the manuscript over this six year period. We have left Keithís prose and guide codes unchanged except for correcting spelling (when possible) and obvious errors of date.
Keith could not have foreseen the growth of the electronic publishing industry beginning in the early 1990ís. Since this method of dissemination is now widespread, electronic access to the "family outlines" and "unmarried" lists are available on the World Wide Web site at California State University, Chico, Special Collections address.
The complete collection is available as Manuscript number 110, Keith Lingenfelter Genealogy and Research Collection, in the Special Collections Department, Meriam Library, California State University, Chico. Included in the collection are marriage records, death and burial permits, cemetery records, census records, subject research files, biographies, church records, and newspaper clippings.
Keith wanted his work dedicated to E.R. and Frances Deering.
William A. Jones