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Cutting Edge Documentation: Prove your Hard-to-Find Ancestors

Arlene H. Eakle, a professional genealogist, is offering a free publication entitled "Cutting Edge Documentation for your Genealogy." She writes:

What if much of what you thought you knew about genealogy evidence and how to fit the pieces all together is just plain wrong? Would you keep doing the same things over and over again, getting the same dismal NIL (No Information Located) results? Or would you be willing to try something radically different? Something new and excitingly effective? Order your copy of my FREE white paper “Cutting Edge Documentation.”

I've always been an advocate of learning from the professionals. This sounds like a good opportunity to learn and get new ideas. Just send Arlene your mailing address and she will mail you a copy. Read the entire introduction here.

Email her here.

1851 Canada census - now indexed and online

Canadian researchers have a great new tool available - Ancestry has recently published the 1851 Canadian census indexes. The index is linked to the original images.

The census covers New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Canada East (Lower Canada, or roughly Quebec), and Canada West (Upper Canada, or roughly Ontario).

Information listed in this census may include the following:

  • names
  • occupation
  • place of birth
  • religion
  • residence if outside of limits
  • age next birthday
  • gender
  • marital status
  • race
  • education

Begin searching the census by clicking here.

Using Research Logs and To Do Lists

Question from Bruce:

The beginning training video talks about the importance of Research Logs, then goes on to talk about the To Do List. Does that mean that you can use the To Do List as a research log? Do any of you do that or do you use a Research Log outside of Legacy?

In my first class en route to receiving a Bachelor's degree in genealogy, my instructor told us that Research Logs really are not that helpful. Of course I was shocked to hear this, but then he explained that even if we kept a good log for all our research, the stack of research logs could create a ceiling-tall pile, and we would not be able to find anything. This made sense.

However, I remember one day having a great idea to look for probate records for an ancestor in Venango County, Pennsylvania. So I set aside some time and money to drive to the Family History Library, where I searched its collections. I did not find what I was looking for. It appears that I had the exact same great idea a year before, when I looked for the same record - with the same result. My research log, kept in Legacy, showed me this.

Has this happened to you, too? You're looking at a document and you get the feeling that you've seen this before - perhaps you've looked at it 5 time previously.

If you kept a research log, you might have noted that you already did this research, there's no need to do it again, and again, and again.

Legacy's To Do List functions as a Research Log and a To Do List. It helps you organize all of your past research and keeps track of the research you have planned for the future. If you want to view all of the research for an individual that you've already completed, or marked as Done, just click on the Filter Options tab and mark the status as Done, and click Apply. Your To Do List is now filtered to show you those tasks that are completed. This is the Research Log.

Or, if you want a list of those tasks that you still have to work on, from the Filter Options tab, simply select the status of Open and click Apply. The resulting list is the To Do List.

My professor was right when he suggested that paper research logs can overwhelm you. But Legacy's To Do List overcomes these challenges by helping you organize your past and future research efforts.

An in-depth tutorial of using the To Do List can be viewed in the Legacy for Beginner's training video.

Transcribing images made easier with Transcript software

If you have ever tried to transcribe a digital image (census record, obituary, etc.) you likely had a difficult time trying to view the image and transcribe it on the same computer screen. You either had to memorize part of the text on the image, then quickly switch to your word processor or Legacy's notes, and then type what you can remember.

With a program called Transcript, you will not have this problem anymore. Transcript  is a shareware program that splits the screen into two - with the image on the top and a place to transcribe the document on the bottom. It certainly makes transcribing the document much easier.

Legacy user, Diane Manley, alerted us to this software. She wrote, "I can transcribe the information and then cut and paste it into Legacy or save and import it into Legacy. Works great. The user can enlarge the image or adjust the brightness for optimal viewing. It's been an invaluable tool for me in my research and with Legacy."

Learn more about Transcribe at

New state-wide indexes for Pennsylvania researchers

We recently attended the Pennsylvania Genealogy Conference in Pittsburgh and noticed, among much of interest, that Ancestor Tracks has introduced a new state-wide product for genealogists doing research in Pennsylvania. They have just published three CDs which contain the indexes to the state's Warrant Registers, Patent Registers, and Tract Name Registers from 1682-1959+.

The first CD, "First Landowners of Pennsylvania: Colonial and State Warrant Registers in the Pennsylvania Archives in Harrisburg," contains all 70 of the Warrant Registers showing the first transfer of land tracts to private owners. These are people who applied for land from either the Proprietors or the state. The records start in 1682 and continue through most of the first legally-recognized owners of land originally owned by the Penns, and later the state.  Every county register, containing thousands of pages, is on this CD. The dates of the land transfers continue throughout the 1700s and 1800s and into the mid-1900s. NOTE: These registers document the first owners of land for all counties and cover approximately 70% of Pennsylvania. These registers should not be confused with the deed register located in the counties which show all subsequent land transfers.

The second CD in the series, "First Landowners of Pennsylvania: Indexes to the Colonial and State Patent Registers in the PA Archives, Harrisburg, 1684 - ca 1995," contains the indexes to all people who actually were granted final title from colony or state authorities. In very many cases, they are not the same as the individuals who actually applied for the land (termed warrantees).

The third, "First Landowners of Pennsylvania: Indexes to Tract Names of Patented Land in the PA Archives, Harrisburg, ca 1684-1811," contains the names of these first land tracts and is the place to look when only the original name of the tract is known.

The CDs can be purchased individually or as a set of three at a slightly reduced price.

Ancestor Tracks also announced publication of the fourth of their Early Landowners of Pennsylvania county atlases, this one for Berks County; a companion CD of tract maps is also available. This atlas is the fourth one they produced (the others covered Fayette, Greene and Washington Counties). It contains the first tract maps for the county, with precise metes-and-bounds outlines of each original tract and all surrounding tracts in individual townships, giving the names of the warrantee and patentee; dates of warrant, survey and patent; and the survey and patent book pages where the transaction was recorded.  Each chapter starts with the Township Warrantee Map reduced to a 8 1/2 x 11" size and includes tables of transcriptions of all information from each tract may be found. An everyname index is included. The atlas and the CD may be purchased separately or in combination at a slightly reduced price.

Information on these and all products Ancestor Tracks produces can be found at their website, There are also links to other sources on Pennsylvania land records. Ancestor Tracks told us they are committed to provide such links for every county in Pennsylvania, and have made it very easy to connect by providing a "clickable" color-coded map of the state on the first page of their website. If you are interested in the first landowners of Pennsylvania, you might want to take a quick visit to this most interesting website.

Free software for UK research

Have you ever searched the records of the parish where you know your ancestor lived, only to find nothing about your ancestor? In these situations, good genealogical methodology suggests to search the records of the neighboring parishes. Often you will find the records here, and even the records of the future in-laws.

If your research includes United Kingdom ancestry, there are two excellent software programs that help identify surrounding parishes. They perform radius searches which provide a list of all parishes within a given mile/kilometer distance.

Parish Locator Program enables you to locate any one of over 15,000 UK parishes. It will produce a list of parishes in any County or a list of parishes within a given radius of any other parish and also allows Import and Export via "csv" files. The parishes listed were those in existence at some during the period from the mid 1500s to about 1837 when civil registration began. The best part of this program is its ability to create a map showing your parish in the middle, with all the neighboring parishes plotted around it.

A similar program, Parish Locator for Windows, contains a database of over 25,000 parishes throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. From the full listing you are able to select a 'Home' parish around which you need to identify other churches. You can enter a distance in either miles or kilometers from the 'Home' parish and request a listing of all such churches from the database within that radius. It also tells you about the dates that records are known to be available.

The best part about these two programs is that they are free.

Legacy Family Tree also has radius search via its Geo Location Database feature. Read about it here.

Download Parish Locator Program here.

Download Parish Locator for Windows here.

Organizing Digital Genealogy Files

If you use a computer in your genealogy research, then you likely have a large collection of digital files. Digital photos, downloaded census records or wills, scanned documents, emails... If you're like me, however, they are scattered in various folders throughout your computer. This complicates matters when I'm trying to locate a specific photo or track down an email.

As with any organization project, there are several different ways to organize your digital genealogy files. Begin by thinking about the way you work and the types of files that you collect in the course of your genealogy research.

Read the complete article here.

New - Google Docs & Spreadsheets


If you've ever struggled to keep track of different versions of spreadsheet or word processor files sent over email, Google Docs & Spreadsheets may be right for you. Google Docs & Spreadsheets is a web-based word processing and spreadsheet program that keeps documents current and lets the people you choose update files from their own computers. You can, for example, coordinate your student group's homework assignments, access your family to-do list from work or home, or collaborate with remote colleagues on a new business plan.

Take a tour here.

Protecting your Work

Thank you to JL Beeken for submitting the following:

The day I lost 10 years of detailed personal journals when both backup CD's cracked through the middle, one after the other in quick succession, I decided there's no such thing as too many backups.  I had spent months digitizing box loads of old paper and the chance of losing both CD copies at the same time (without a catastrophic natural event out of my control) was about one in a trillion but it happened anyway!

If you haven't lost any computer data yet consider yourself one of the Chosen Few.  But if I were you I wouldn't push my luck.  Hard-drives die, software goes on the fritz, a surprise virus attack can bring all your best laid plans to a screeching halt...  If you think you can keep skateboarding through Computer Land without a mishap the odds are minuscule.

Continue reading here.

Right-click menus in Legacy

Did you know that you can click with the right mouse button in many places in Legacy for a menu of the currently available options?

For example, right-clicking on anyone in Family View, or Pedigree View, or Descendant View, or Index View pops up menus with lists of useful options and actions to choose from.  Right-clicking on the backgrounds in Legacy Home, Family View, and other Views pops up similar menus.  Right-click on just about anything in Legacy and see what the possibilities are. They are too numerous to list here.

Here’s a clever idea: In just about any text field in Legacy, right-clicking is great for quick Cut, Copy or Paste.  Simply highlight the text, then right-click on it and select either Cut or Copy from the pop up menu.  Next go to the place where you want to insert it and right-click again. This time choose Paste from the pop up menu. Slick!

More recently I found that if I left click on File and select Open Family File and then right-click in the large white box where files are listed, pops up menus also appear. Right-clicking in the white background gives menu options to Paste, etc.  Right-clicking on a file listed here pops up a menu with Cut, Copy, Send To, and more.  Pointing at Send To opens a submenu with the choices for Compressed (zipped) Folder, Mail Recipient, my writable CD drive, my flash drive, etc. Can you see the possibilities? Wow!

For example, Send To > Mail Recipient allows me to effortlessly attach a file to an e-mail message.  Here’s how it works: I create a PDF file in the My Documents folder. When completed, I start to create another PDF file in the same folder, but this time in the Save PDF File screen I find the file I just created. Next I right-click on it and select Send To > Mail Recipient.  I immediately get an e-mail screen with my PDF file neatly attached.  All that I need to do is modify the message, then fill in the recipient’s e-mail address and click Send. Quick! Easy! Painless!  All that’s left to do is cancel the PDF file screen.

Thanks to Jim Terry for this news article.