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Basic Handwriting Tip: The Long S

Deciphering old and faded handwriting is a common challenge for genealogists, especially for those just beginning their quest. Certain letters seem to have their twin counterparts, such as the capital S and L, the small t and c, or of the captial W and M.

The letter S is its own challenge, especially when there are two of the letter in a row. For example, to the untrained eye, the surname below looks like Crofs. The surname is actually Cross.


This is a typical example of the old style S, also known as the long S, the double S, or the long-tailed S. From Kip Sperry's Reading Early American Handwriting we learn that "the first s, or what is known as the leading s, was usually followed by a more regular looking or modern s." This style is seen in records through the middle of the nineteenth century.

When I was a beginner, I struggled to understand where Asa Clark Brown actually lived in 1840. The census seemed to show that he lived in Scrubgrafs Township:


This is another example of the leading s. Some other examples are:

Maps = Mass [Massachusetts]

Mifsouri = Missouri

Sufsana = Sussana

Additional helpful resources

Why couldn't they have just used a computer in the 1500s? Sure would make our research a lot easier. :)

New records online for Germany, Mexico, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia

FamilySearch's Record Search is the hottest new thing in genealogy. Nearly every week new records are being made available at their pilot site for free searching.  Recently added or updated collections include:


  • Baptisms 1700-1900
  • Marriages 1700-1900


  • Baptisms 1700-1900
  • Marriages 1700-1900

United States

  • 1860 census
  • 1880 census
  • 1900 census
  • Civil War Pension Index Cards
  • Michigan Births 1867-1902
  • Michigan Deaths 1867-1897
  • Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates 1803-1915
  • West Virginia Births 1853-1930
  • West Virginia Deaths 1853-1970
  • West Virginia Marriages 1853-1970

The availability of these records is possible in large part thanks to the efforts of volunteer indexers from around the world participating in the's project. FamilySearch recently announced that over 140,000 volunteers have signed up to participate. They are indexing records at a rate of nearly 400,000 new names per day. For more information, or to participate, visit

Access the records by clicking here.

Beginner's Tip: How To Set A Quick-Bookmark

If you have ever clicked more than once to try to navigate back to your own screen, this tip is for you. Whether you are in the Family, Pedigree, Descendant, Chronology, or Index View, it should never take more than one click to return to yourself.

Here's a scenario. You're in the Family View, looking at your 9th great-grandfather. To navigate back to yourself, either you 1) click on his child enough times until you're finally back to yourself or 2) you switch to the Index View, locate yourself, and then go back to the Family View. If this sounds familiar, you will be happy to know there is a quicker way.

All you have to do is first navigate to yourself, then set a Quick-Bookmark.

To set the quick-bookmark, simply right-click in the blank area in the lower left of the screen (see image below). Just to the right of the small "1" numeral is a blank space. Right-clicking in this blank space will set a quick-bookmark for the currently highlighted person.

Once this is set, you can be viewing your 13th cousin, 4 times removed, and all you have to do to navigate back to yourself, is left-click once on your name in the quick-bookmark section.


In fact, you can set up to three quick-bookmarks. Just navigate to the desired person, then right-click in any of the three quick-bookmark sections. Then, to jump to a quick-bookmarked person, just click on their name.

To clear a quick-bookmark, while holding down the Ctrl key, right-click in the box you want to clear. The name disappears.

FamilySearch Teams with to Publish Historic Civil War Era Records

from 14 May 2008:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—FamilySearch announced today its records access agreement with to publish two significant Civil War Era databases online—the 1860 U.S. Census and Civil War Pensions Index. The two relevant collections will provide free online access to millions of names of individuals from the 1860 to 1865 period in the United States. The completed databases will expand FamilySearch’s growing, free U.S. Census collection online and Footnote’s Civil War Collection.

The censuses and Civil War pension files are the most used collections of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The 1860 census provides a snapshot of families living during the Civil War Era. The index to the Civil War pension applications allows searchers to quickly see if a Civil War veteran or his widow applied for a pension—which can lead to rich family history information contained in the original pension document.

Under the agreement, FamilySearch will provide the digital images of the original documents for the 1860 U.S. Census, and will provide the indexes to both the 1860 U.S. Census and Civil War Pensions. FamilySearch plans to publish the indexes for both of these collections for free this year at The images of the original documents will also be viewable at or accessed for free through the 4,500 FamilySearch family history centers located worldwide.

As segments of the collections are completed, users will be able to search them at

Civil War Pensions Index
Ten percent (3 million) of the U.S. population served or fought in the U.S. Civil War, and 2 percent (620,000) died—more American casualties than The American Revolutionary War, World War I, World War II, The War against Mexico, The War of 1812, and the Vietnam War combined. If soldiers or their families applied for a pension from the government, an index card for the pension application should exist.

The index also extends beyond the Civil War to include veterans who served between 1861 to 1917 in the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, the Boxer Rebellion, and the regular establishment.

Each card usually lists the soldier's full name, rank, company and regiment, when he enlisted and discharged, and provides a certificate number required to order a copy of the original pension application from NARA. The completed index will allow users to search on a name, or browse by state, arm of service (infantry, cavalry, militia, etc.), regiment, and company to locate individual records.

1860 U.S. Census
The 1860 U.S. Census index will allow users to quickly search the names of 31 million people captured on the census. Additional information includes the age, sex, color, place of birth, and marriage status. Slave schedules show the name of the slave owner, number of slaves owned, number of freed slaves, and the age, color, and gender of the slaves. The names of the slaves were not included in the 1860 Census.

“These record collections provide a valuable view of America during a critical time in its history,” said Russ Wilding, CEO of “Together with the other Civil War documents on, visitors are able to piece together a picture of our history that few have seen before.”

Ransom Love, director of Strategic Relationships for FamilySearch, added, “Footnote is targeting U.S. historical records and building their Civil War Collection. FamilySearch wants to provide free indexes to all of the U.S. Censuses online. This joint project helps bring both companies closer to their respective goals.”

FamilySearch Engages to Add Features to Popular Online Family History Library Catalog

from 14 May 2008:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—FamilySearch has teamed with, Inc. to improve the user experience of the Family History Library Catalog for millions of people worldwide by adding new Web 2.0 functionality and enhancements. The improvements will also enable users to spend research time more efficiently by directing them to the information that will generate the quickest results.’s improvements to the catalog will make it searchable by major online search engines and allow users to annotate item descriptions—increasing their accuracy and enriching the content.

FamilySearch’s Family History Library Catalog is used extensively by genealogy enthusiasts. It is a window to the vast collection of genealogical resources amassed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the past 100 years—millions of microfilms, fiche, and books from 110+ countries throughout the world.

Genealogists use the popular online catalog to see if FamilySearch has any material that can help them in their research. Materials are then requested through one of FamilySearch’s 4,500 local family history centers worldwide.

“The enhancements will help make to the Family History Library Catalog will increase its usability and exposure. Beginners will find it particularly easier to navigate, and searching and browsing will be more rewarding,” said Paul Nauta, Manager of Public Affairs, FamilySearch.

Improved Searching
Upgrades to the Family History Library Catalog will allow it to be combed by the major Web search engines. That means Web searches done by millions of family history enthusiasts who may not have been familiar with the rich content of the Family History Library Catalog will now discover exciting new sources to assist them in their genealogy pursuits.

In a typical search of the Family History Library Catalog, users first identify known facts about a family and then go through a step-by-step process to locate records. Newly integrated tools will help users better identify information. Guided searches will help users decide what they want to learn about their families, point them to relevant records, help them obtain and search the records, provide clues to more information, and assist them with the application of the new information.

As part of the enhancement, will make searches more useful by allowing the user to browse, sort (by popularity, relevance, most used, etc.), and perform multiple searches. A new “probability engine” feature will calculate the likelihood that a particular source contains the desired item. It will also be able to search across someone’s entire family tree to determine which ancestry lines have the highest likelihood of success based on known sources.

“We are excited to work with FamilySearch and to add this extensive catalog to our database collections,” said Paul Allen, CEO,, Inc. “We have looked at doing this collaboration for quite a while. We will enhance the catalog by connecting it with new innovative tools, along with the best resources of our databases, the social networking site, and our We’re Related application in Facebook. Putting all of these resources together will dramatically change the meaning of ‘search’ in genealogy.”

Social Networking will also add an annotation feature that will encourage user contributions and make the catalog much more dynamic and current. Users will be able to add or suggest a new source, enhance an existing source by adding a place (location) or a time period, and rate and review a source based on its usefulness.

Another enhancement to the Family History Library Catalog will be its increased interactivity. Every entry in the catalog will link to an online or digital source, if available. The user will then be able to link directly to the publisher, buy the book, or search for the nearest copy.

“FamilySearch is excited to work with to enhance the Family History Library Catalog. They are leaders in the Social Networking space and will greatly enhance and extend the catalog and its usefulness to millions of people,” said Ransom Love, FamilySearch Director of Strategic Relations. “We hope this is the first of many other possible opportunities for FamilySearch to outsource key infrastructure components to innovative companies like They will receive access to key resources to help them grow much quicker and FamilySearch’s assets will be upgraded and extended in return.”

“We know that search traffic will increase on both the FamilyLink services and FamilySearch’s site when users discover the new guided search tools,” said President David Lifferth. “Last month we had over 700,000 unique visitors and 8.5 million page views. We are predicting that these numbers will more than double after the first quarter of use.”

More About Legacy 7's Upcoming Release

Hi Legacy Users,

We are working very hard to get things ready to release to everyone. The software is mostly ready with just a few more things that we are finishing up and getting ready for prime time.

It's a huge effort to release a program like Legacy and believe me we are working very hard. Doing a pre-release at NGS is a simple thing as all we have to do is take Legacy and the new books and sell them.  Officially releasing takes a bunch of very time consuming behind the scenes work like re-working our website, getting our online store ready for orders, improving our ordering system, mailing lists, press releases, training videos and getting all the other things I can't even think about right now that have to be done for a release of a new product.

We have hired several people to help with the shipping. For the last 10 months we have been selling Legacy 6.0 with the promise that if they buy it we will give them a free Legacy 7.0 as soon as it's ready.  These people have already paid for v7 and we have many, many, many thousands of these people waiting for their promised copies. It's going to take a while to get all these backordered copies out the door, even with all the people we have setup to help. This is a huge project, bigger than we have ever undertaken in the history of our company. We will begin shipping these promised copies starting early next week.

During the week or two that it's going to take to get this huge backlog of orders out the door we'll be working on all the other items needed to go live on our website with v7. It's coming soon and we really are working around the clock trying to get the long awaited Legacy 7.0 out to all of you.

We appreciate your patience and we'll try hard to keep everyone informed as to how it's going. From what we have seen as we have demonstrated Legacy 7 at the various conferences the last couple months we believe all of you will agree that the wait will have been worth it. We have had such positive feedback from the pre-release of Legacy Charting and when we have shown the new source system people have been really excited about it. The source template project was a huge undertaking that you are going to love. It took several man years and cost several hundred thousand dollars to put together this new system. It's so cool and it is going to help everyone do their sources the right way the first time.

We value all of our users and appreciate all that each of you have done to help Legacy become the great success that it has become.  If it wasn't for all of you helping us get the word out to your friends and family we wouldn't be enjoying the growth we have seen. A huge THANK YOU to all of you.

Thanks, Ken McGinnis

Legacy Family Tree 7.0 (Pre-Release Edition) to be released at NGS this week

If you are going to be at the National Genealogical Society Conference this week in Kansas City, Missouri, we invite you to visit the Legacy Family Tree booth where we will be displaying the new features in Legacy Family Tree version 7.0.

In fact, Legacy 7.0 will be available for purchase as a special pre-release edition. You will be the first to try out Legacy 7.0's new mapping, sourcing, and wall charting features (lots of other new features too - to be announced soon). This special pre-release edition is only available to attendees of the NGS conference.

When will Legacy 7 be available to everyone?

Okay, here's a little more information than the "soon" answer....For those who purchased Legacy 6.0 from July 1, 2007 to the present, we will begin shipping your upgrades next week. There's a lot of them to be shipped out, so thank you for your patience. Our hope is to make Legacy 7.0 available from our online store by the beginning of June.

Exhibit Hall Hours (free to the public)

  • Wednesday, May 14 - 9:00am to 5:30pm
  • Thursday, May 15 - 9:00am to 6:00pm
  • Friday, May 16 - 9:00am to 5:30pm
  • Saturday, May 17 - 9:00am to 3:00pm

Legacy NGS Conference Lecture

  • Thursday - 9:30am - Citing Sources Evidence-Explained Style Using Legacy's New SourceWriter

Our Booth

Don't miss the opportunity to visit personally with the Legacy developers. Visit us in booths 615 and 617.

Legacy Charting - New Update Now Available - Pre-Release version 7.0.094

A new update to Legacy Charting Pre-Release edition is now available for free download. Below is a list of the new additions and minor fixes.


  • Added the ability to display the Prefix and Suffix fields for names
  • Added DPI control for exported file types (50 DPI to 600 DPI)


  • The sort order of children now follows Legacy's sort order
  • Fixed sizing problems with PDf and export file types
  • In some Fan Charts, there was missing information for individuals. Fixed.
  • Fixed some problems with backgrounds and memory leaks. Should run even faster now.
  • Fixed some printing issues.

How to Download the update

To update to the latest version of Legacy Charting Pre-Release edition:

  1. Open Legacy Charting and click on the Tips & Updates tab in the upper right.
  2. In the upper left, click on the Download New Update Now link.

If you haven't yet installed Legacy Charting Pre-Release edition...

Please visit

New Genealogy Guides for England and Scotland

from on May 2, 2008:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—FamilySearch announced today the release of two new free research tools that will help those with British and Scottish roots to find their ancestors. The research guides, Finding Records of Your Ancestors, England, and Finding Records of Your Ancestors, Scotland feature easy-to-follow instructions, colorful graphics, and removable worksheets. Free copies can be viewed, downloaded, or printed online at

The guides will help take the guesswork out of British and Scottish genealogical research by simplifying the process and giving users a specific, proven strategy to use. In an inviting workbook style, the guides show users which records to search, what to look for, and what tools to use. The steps and tools needed to navigate British and Scottish historical records to find ancestors are colorfully outlined.

Finding Records of Your Ancestors, England and Finding Records of Your Ancestors, Scotland, are the latest additions to the popular series of free online publications. The guides are designed for those who have already gathered some family history information about their British or Scottish ancestors and are ready to search public and private records—they are must-have reference tools for researchers of British or Scottish genealogy.

The guides explain different types of records in England and Scotland and instruct the user when and how to use specific records. Real-life case studies allow readers to see for themselves how the research process works. Expert search tips, including tips on how to use the Family History Library Catalog, are included. Also included are maps, key dates in British and Scottish histories, and guides for reading respective genealogical records.

Other guides in the Finding Records of Your Ancestors series include African American, Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Italy, Jewish, Mexico, Norway, and Sweden.

FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization that maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources. Patrons may access resources online at or through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. FamilySearch is a trademark of Intellectual Reserve, Inc. and is registered in the United States of America and other countries.

FamilySearch Teams with to Increase Online Access to British Historical Records

from on May 2, 2008:

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH—FamilySearch announced today it is working with the UK family history Web site and The National Archives of the United Kingdom to increase access to select British historical records. The first major projects will provide access to millions of names of deceased British soldiers and seamen from eighteenth to twentieth century. and FamilySearch were recently awarded licenses by The National Archives to digitize and make available both the Chelsea Pensioners retired soldiers records between 1760 and 1914, and the Merchant Seamen’s collection of records dating from 1835 to 1941.

Chelsea Pensioners and Militia Records
The three-year project will digitize and index nine million images from the War Office’s Royal Hospital Chelsea Soldiers’ Service documents dating from 1760 and Militia Attestation Papers documents from 1870, through to 1913.

The records truly bring to life the comings and goings of pensioners (patients) in the Royal Hospital Chelsea, including each ex-serviceman’s name, age, birthplace and service history, as well as details of physical appearance, conduct sheet, previous occupation, and in some cases the reason for discharge. After 1883, details of marriages and children may also appear.

Merchant Seamen Records
The Board of Trade’s merchant seamen records from the periods 1835 to 1844 and 1918 to 1941 will also be digitized and indexed. When the project is complete, the public will be able to easily search online for the names and date and place of birth of ancestors who served as merchant seamen.

Many of the twentieth century records include portrait photographs of the sailors as well as personal details and summaries of their voyages. The records include people of many nationalities and women’s service records.

Nearly a third of UK families have ancestors who served as a merchant seaman, and many Americans have British roots, making this series of records extremely important to genealogists and family historians.

Digitization partnership
FamilySearch will digitize the records on site at The National Archives, and will create indexes and transcriptions to enable online patrons to easily search the records and images at both and

Elaine Collins, Commercial Director at said, “This is great news for anyone who has hit a brick wall in their family history research. Servicemen and merchant seamen played a hugely important role in the United Kingdom’s military, economic and social history. The details included in these two sets of records will open up a wealth of new information about their lives to family history enthusiasts and military historians alike.”

Ransom Love, director of Strategic Relationships for FamilySearch, added, “FamilySearch is working with cultural institutions like The National Archives [of the United Kingdom] and genealogy-related companies like to preserve and provide access to genealogical records faster, more effectively, and more efficiently. We are excited to begin the Chelsea and Merchant Seaman projects with and The National Archive and look forward to more exciting initiatives together in the near future.”

Dan Jones, Head of Business Development at The National Archives, said, “Being able to add these popular records to the growing list of The National Archives’ resources available digitally is yet more evidence of the importance and effectiveness of forming partnerships across the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. We are very pleased to be able to announce the start of these two exciting projects and the continuation of The National Archives’ strong relationship with and FamilySearch.”

FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization that maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources. Patrons may access resources online at or through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. FamilySearch is a trademark of Intellectual Reserve, Inc. and is registered in the United States of America and other countries.