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February 2009

New African American History Collection Now Online

Over a million pages of original documents, letters and photos, most digitized for the first time.

Lindon, UT - January 29, 2009 – In celebration of Black History Month, is launching its African American Collection. has been working with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C., to digitize records that provide a view into the lives of African Americans that few have seen before.

“These records cover subjects including slavery, military service, and issues facing African Americans dating back to the late 18th century,” explains James Hastings, Director of Access Programs at NARA. “Making these records available online will help people to better understand the history and sacrifice that took place in this country.” has spent the last two years with NARA compiling this collection and is currently working on adding more records that will be released in the upcoming months. African American records currently on include:

  • Service Records for Colored Troops in the Civil War – Records for the 2nd-13th infantries including enlistment papers, casualty sheets, oaths of allegiance, proof of ownership and bills of sale.
  • American Colonization Society – Letters and reports relating to this colony established in 1817 for free people of color residing in the U.S.
  • Amistad Case – Handwritten records of this landmark case beginning in 1839 involving the Spanish schooner Amistad, used to transport illegal slaves.
  • Southern Claims Commission – Petitions for compensation resulting from the Civil War.

“The Southern Claims Commission records are a very rich, often overlooked resource for African American family research. They often contain information that cannot be found anywhere else,” says Toni Carrier, Founding Director of the USF Africana Heritage Project. “These records document the experiences of former slaves during the Civil War and in the days immediately after. Many contain detailed narratives that make it possible for descendants to envision the lives and experiences of ancestors.” is also working on additional record collections that will be released shortly. Those records include:

  • Records of the US District Court for the District of Columbia Relating to Slaves, 1851-1863 – includes slave schedules, manumission papers and case papers relating to fugitive slaves.
  • Records for the Emancipation of Slaves in the District of Columbia, 1862-63 – minutes of meetings, docket books and petitions pertaining to emancipation of slaves.
  • Registro Central de Esclavos 1872 (Slave Schedules) – registers from Puerto Rico giving information for each slave: name, country of origin, name of parents, physical description, master’s name and more.
  • Records Relating to the Suppression of the African Slave Trade and Negro Colonization, 1854-1872 - letters, accounts, and other documents relating to the suppression of the African slave trade. 
  • Correspondence of the Military Intelligence Division Relation to “Negro Subversion” 1917-1941 - record cards and correspondence of the Military Intelligence Division (MID) that relate to activities of blacks in both civilian and military life.

In addition to these records, also features member contributions that include topics ranging from the Underground Railroad to Women Abolitionists to African Americans receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor.

“The contributions to our site have been impressive,” says Russell Wilding, CEO of “It’s exciting to see people connect with history and with each other.”

To view the African American Collection on visitors can go to

About Footnote, Inc. is a subscription website that features searchable original documents, providing users with an unaltered view of the events, places and people that shaped the American nation and the world. At, all are invited to come share, discuss, and collaborate on their discoveries with friends, family, and colleagues. For more information, visit

About The National Archives
NARA alone is the archives of the Government of the United States, responsible for safeguarding records of all three branches of the Federal Government. The records held by the National Archives belong to the public – and it is the mission of the National Archives to ensure the public can discover, use, and learn from the records of their government.

Ireland Civil Registration Indexes 1845-1958 now online

This news makes me wish I had more Irish ancestors.

This past weekend, FamilySearch published a new database containing an index of Ireland civil registration including:

  • Births (1864-1958)
  • Marriages (1845-1958)
  • Deaths (1864-1958)

Searching the database is simple. Just enter the name, select the life event (birth/christening, marriage, death/burial), enter a year and place and click the Search button. While the results are not linked to actual images of the certificates, they do provide clues (such as estimated birth year, age at death for a death record index) so you can order the actual certificate.

Once you have obtained the index information from the database, you will want to look at the original record. FamilySearch's new Research Wiki explains how to do this. Click here for the article.

To search this new database, click here.

Thanks to the 150,000+ FamilySearch Indexing volunteers who made this new database possible. This was actually one of the first record groups I helped with when I became a FamilySearch Indexing volunteer. To view a list of current and future projects, or to volunteer, click here.

How to cite this database using Legacy Family Tree's SourceWriter

If you find new information from this database, also be sure to add the citation in Legacy. Follow these steps:

  1. After adding the new information into the individual's information screen, click on the Source icon.
  2. Click on the Add a New Source button if you haven't previously added this database to your master source list. If you have already created this source, just click on the Cite a Master Source button and proceed.
  3. Because this is an online database, select this template: "Add a Generic Source here > Online database" and click Go to Step 2 (see image below).
  4. Fill in the source details (see image below).

The citation is now formatted using the genealogy industry standards as explained in Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained.

Sample from step 3 above. Click to enlarge:


Sample from step 4 above. Click to enlarge:


Genealogical success with the living

When I think of genealogical and family history success, I think of times when I have solved a brick wall problem, or when I find the missing piece to a genealogy puzzle.

This morning I experienced a different kind of success story. It happened with a living relative - my 3-year-old son.

Back in November, I published an article about how to create a Family Tree Bookmark. Using Legacy Charting I created picture-descendancy bookmarks for my extended family. My hope was that the bookmark would help my nieces and nephews remember each other better, as we do not live nearby.

So, this morning I found my 3-year-old sitting in the middle of the floor in his bedroom. He was looking at the bookmark. When he noticed that I entered the room, he said, "Daddy, these are my cousins. I see them at Grandma's house!" Of course, my heart melted and I experienced another Genealogy Happy Dance. I can't wait for him to be just as excited about our trips to the cemetery....

Legacy Charting Tip - a mug shot for a background

At a seminar this week in Mesa, Arizona, I demonstrated Legacy Charting to a great group of genealogists. I wanted to impress them by adding one of my own pictures as a background to an Ancestor Chart.

This was the first time I had presented using my new netbook computer, and I quickly learned that I had not copied all of my pictures onto the new computer. Stumbling around through my various folders on the hard drive, I couldn't find the normal scenic view of the Canadian Rockies, but I did locate a "mug shot" of one of my cousins. As it was the only immediately-accessible photo I could use, I selected it.

The reaction from the audience, and even my own reaction was quite surprising. It actually looked really good. We had just been discussing how we could get our less-interested family members interested in genealogy. We felt that the chart with this kind of background was an immediate solution.

I've since printed a picture pedigree for each of my kids with their own picture as the background. It's just a small thing, but maybe it will help plant the seeds of love and respect for their ancestors.

Click here for step-by-step instructions for adding a background to a chart.

If you have a good idea for a chart, we'd love to hear about it. Let us know by commenting below.


1916 Census of Western Canada Now Available Online

If you are a Canadian researcher, today it's your turn to get excited. The 1916 census of Western Canada is now available online for free searching and browsing. Thanks to Legacy News reader Karen Foster for bringing this to our attention.

In August 2008 the census was released on microfilm and has been available for searching on location at Library and Archives Canada. We wrote about this here. Now, thanks to the FamilySearchIndexing efforts, the census, which includes Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, is now searchable in FamilySearch's pilot Record Search database.

To search the census, click here, then select Canada in the Select a Region drop-down list. Happy searching!

*** UPDATE February 4, 2009 ***

It appears that this no longer available at the Record Search database. Keep checking back....

How to cite the 1911 England/Wales census

It has now been two days since the online release of the 1911 England and Wales census. From your comments, it sounds like many of you have found success, while others have faced challenges with their search engine and pricing. With time these things will surely be enhanced.

We have heard your requests for us to create a specific SourceWriter template for this new census and we are now ready to give it to you. It has been really fun ;) trying to interpret and properly identify the citation information that accompanies each downloaded image and make it easy for you to enter it into Legacy. This is part of the file name of the image when downloaded, and it is all supposed to mean something:

RG14PN28112 RG78PN1606 RD511 SD5 ED3 SN40

In creating the new template, it was not as easy as simply modifying an existing SourceWriter template to create this new one. The records have new identifiers and appear to be catalogued differently than previous censuses. So we have done the hard work so it will be a piece of cake for you. We have now come up with a standard for citing this census which, for an online image will provide the following formatted citations:

Footnote/Endnote Citation:
     1911 census of England, Yorkshire, Tingle Bridge Hemingfield near Barnsley, Tom Hague household; digital images,, (; citing RG 78 PN 1606, RG 14 PN 28112, registration district (RD) 511, sub district (SD) 5, enumeration district (ED) 3, schedule number (SN) 40.

Subsequent Citation:
     1911 census of England, Yorkshire, Single Bridge Flemingfield near Barnsley, Tom Hague household.

England. Yorkshire. 1911 census of England. Digital images. : 2009.

The good thing about all of this is that you do not have to know what pieces go where for the citations. Legacy's award-winning (I just couldn't resist advertising that award...) SourceWriter does it all for you. You just fill in the blanks! We have created 20 new templates which will cover each type of media (online images, online database, microfilm, etc.) for England, Wales, Channel Islands, and Isle of Man.

How to get the update
Our programmers are actually in the middle of a big project (for the future) and so we cannot yet release an "official" free update. We did not want to wait for the next free update to give you this new template. So, if you want this new template, you will need to download a special file which will replace the existing Legacy10.dbm file which resides in your Legacy folder. Here's how to do it:

  1. Make sure Legacy is closed.
  2. Click here to download the file. I recommend saving this "zipped" file to your desktop so you remember where you saved it. (You can delete the .zip file after step 4.)
  3. Because this is a "zipped" file, it needs to be extracted. This is super easy in Windows XP or Vista. Simply double-click on the file and follow the prompts. The resulting Legacy10.dbm file needs to be extracted to replace your existing Legacy10.dbm file which currently resides in your c:\Legacy folder.
  4. Open Legacy and the new templates are ready to use.

Let us know (by commenting below) about your experiences with using the new 1911 census.

Legacy 7 awarded ThinkGenealogy Innovator Award

Tginnovatoraward-tp Mark Tucker, publisher of the ThinkGenealogy blog, today awarded Legacy Family Tree version 7 with the ThinkGenealogy Innovator award. He wrote, "when the innovator award is presented for software innovation, it is for a specific feature. The innovative feature that is being recognized today is Legacy 7's source citation templates following Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace."

Coming from Mark, this really is a prestigious award. In the genealogy community, Mark has quickly risen to the top of genealogy problem solvers, innovators, and speakers. A software architect by day, he has a strong passion for genealogy. So...thanks Mark!

Read his entire article by clicking here.

1911 England and Wales census now available online

The National Archives today announced the availability of the 1911 census for England, Wales, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. I immediately visited their website, performed a search, paid for the image, and experienced my latest Genealogy Happy Dance.

Using the website was very user-friendly. In the search box, I entered the name and year of birth of my wife's great-granduncle, Tom Hague and clicked on the Search button. A list of possible matches appeared, from which I could easily identify the correct person.

To view the information, you have two choices: you can view the transcript (for 10 credits) or the actual image (30 credits). Knowing that viewing original images are always more reliable than a transcript I paid the £6.95 ($10.12 USD) for 60 credits. I can view up to two images for this amount, which seems quite pricey, but is certainly a bargain considering I don't even have to leave my office chair to obtain a copy of the record.

I immediately was impressed with the quality of the image. In fact, the digitized images are in full color, making it easier than any other record I've worked with to read. The census lists the following information:

  • Name and surname
  • Relationship to head of family
  • Age and sex
  • Marriage status
  • How many years married
  • Number of children of the present marriage
  • Total number of children born alive
  • Number of children still living
  • Occupation
  • Exact birthplace of each person
  • Nationality if born in a foreign country
  • Infirmity information

The next thing I'll do is add the census information to my Legacy family file, including the complete source citation. It doesn't look like all of the citation parts are the same as prior census years, so I've contacted the National Archives to have them provide that information. Hopefully we'll be able to release a new Legacy update soon that has the 1911 census built in to the SourceWriter.

We will also add guidance to Legacy's Research Guidance which will make it easy for you to manage your 1911 census searching.

Search the 1911 census

To search the census, click here.

Press Release

Here is the press release from

* Online access to the records of 36 million people in 1911
* Major new family history resource

36 million people were recorded in the census taken on the night of Sunday, 2 April, 1911. Today, after nearly 100 years, these census records are available to the public at

The census covered England, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, as well as recording those aboard Royal Naval and Merchant vessels at sea and in foreign ports and, for the first time in a British census, full details of British Army personnel and their families in military establishments overseas. It is the most detailed census since UK records began and the first for which the original census schedules have been preserved - complete with our ancestors' own handwriting - providing a fascinating insight into British society nearly a century ago.

From today over 27 million people's census entries - 80 per cent of the English records - will be available. A further nine million records of people from the remaining counties of England, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, as well as the naval and overseas military records, will be made available over the coming months. is easy to access and enables the public to view high quality colour images of their ancestors' original handwritten census returns. Transcribed text versions of the records ensure they are fully searchable by name or address.

Public demand for the 1911 census, which will be a key resource for family historians, has resulted in the records being released earlier than the scheduled 2012 date. To make this early online release to the public possible, the 1911 census team worked around the clock for two years - scanning on average one census page per second. In line with data protection legislation, certain sensitive information relating to infirmity and to children of women prisoners will be held back until 2012.

Comprehensive and rigorously tested, has been developed by UK-based family history website, owned by brightsolid, in association with The National Archives.

Elaine Collins, Commercial Director at, said: "The 1911 census offers a crucial new entry point to family history research for a wide range of people, from novice family historians to seasoned genealogists who have hit a 'wall' in their family tree research. As well as helping people trace their ancestors, these records shed more light on our ancestors' day-to-day lifestyles, providing a snapshot of a day in their lives, with details of their occupations, housing arrangements and social status."

The 1911 census is huge - occupying over two kilometres of shelving - an incredible eight million paper census returns have been transcribed to create over 16 million digital images. This makes the 1911 census one of the biggest digitisation projects ever undertaken by The National Archives in association with a commercial partner.

Oliver Morley, Director of Customer and Business Development at The National Archives, commented: "This is a major achievement. By teaming up with, we are bringing history to life for millions. This remarkable record is available online to researchers and family historians all over the world for future generations. The 1911 census is a poignant reflection of how different life was in early 20 century Britain, before the Great War."

Due to the widespread popularity of family history, it is anticipated that will experience a high level of visitors logging on to search the records, especially in the first weeks of launch.

Elaine Collins, Commercial Director at, advises: '"We aim to deliver a quality service that has high but not infinite capacity. If visitors do experience a short delay in accessing the records via soon after launch, we would advise them to try again later when the website becomes less busy. is here to stay and access to the online census records will be unlimited permanently from today."

Handwritten records
Completed by all householders in England and Wales on Sunday, 2 April 1911, the census records show the name, age, place of birth, marital status and occupation of every resident in every home, as well as their relationship to the head of the household.

People will also have unique access to their ancestors' handwriting as the original householders' schedules were preserved and used as working documents rather than copying the details in to summary books as was the case in previous census years.

The records contain details about the lives of many important British historical figures, such as David Lloyd George, the contemporary Prime Minister H.H. Asquith and 'Bloomsbury Set' author Virginia Woolf. The launch of the records also creates a starting point for people to trace their own family tree by looking up their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who were alive in the year 1911.

'Fertility Census'
The 1911 census was the first to ask questions relating to fertility in marriage. Married women were asked to state how long they had been married and how many children had been born from that marriage. The census also provides a fascinating snapshot of the population of the country just a few years before a whole generation of young men perished in the Great War of 1914-1918.

How to use the 1911 Census records

* Log on to and register for free
* Search for an ancestor in 1911 by entering their name
* If the name is common you can enter their approximate year of birth, which will help to narrow down the results
* Search for an address to look up the history of your house or an ancestor's address in 1911 (this function will be available in summer 2009)
* Pay as you go to view each record. You will be charged 10 credits per transcript and 30 credits for each original household page. Visitors to the website can buy 60 credits for £6.95.
* vouchers will also be valid on Vouchers can be purchased from The National Archives bookshop and redeemed on Credits can then be spent on both and
* For more information about using the 1911 census for family history research, 'Census: The Expert Guide' by Peter Christian and David Annal is available from The National Archives online bookshop at

Legacy tip: Searching and the Marriage List

With the birth of my new daughter (6 days old now) I've put my non-living relatives on hold for a little while. But this morning I got an email from a potential relative and I just couldn't wait any longer....

The potential relative asked if I was related to a Jens Rasmussen, born 1811 in Denmark. He was married to a Maren Larsdatter. The names sounded familiar to me, but then most Danish patronymic names sound alike. Using Legacy Family Tree's search capabilities, it was easy to search for a possible connection.

Marriage List

One method is to:

  1. Marriagelist1 Open the Marriage List by clicking on its button in the main toolbar (upper left of Legacy). All marriages are listed here, sorted by the husband's surname.
  2. In the husband field, type the name of the surname, followed by a comma, followed by the husband's given name. For example, Rasmussen, Jens.
  3. In my case, there were 10 Jens Rasmussens listed. Glancing in the wife column, I saw that there were not any Maren Larsdatters.


Another method is to perform a search in your family file. Follow these steps:

  1. Click on the Search button in the main toolbar.
  2. Fill in the fields as shown in the image below and click on Create List. (Click on the image for a larger view.)


The resulting Search List will display all persons who match the search criteria. In my case, there were no Jens Rasmussens married to anyone with the surname of Larsdatter. Darn - would have been a great way to start my week by locating a fellow family researcher. However, my week has already started beautifully - baby Kaitlyn gave us a great sleep last night.

World's newest Legacy user is born

I just couldn't help myself. I had to write this little article.... :)

Late last night, the world's newest Legacy user joined our family. Kaitlyn Elizabeth Rasmussen, my first daughter, was born. She weighed in at 7 lbs 12 oz, 19 inches long. Her three older brothers are proud to have a sister to take care of.

Sure was fun adding her to my Legacy family file this morning.

  1. Click on Add > Daughter > Add a New Person.
  2. Fill in the details and click Save.

There, now this article can be categorized under Legacy tips. :)

Here's Kaitlyn at 3 hours and 14 minutes old:


Welcome to our family Kaitlyn.