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New book: Social Networking for Genealogists

Socialnet Social Networking for Genealogists is now available from our online store for just $18.95.

Drew Smith's new book, Social Networking for Genealogists, is a book that all genealogists should read. With how quickly the Internet has changed in the past few years, I sometimes feel that I am barely able to keep my head above water. Anyone else feel this way?

All of these new social networking services are supposed to help us in our genealogy, that is, if we can figure out what they are and how to use them. Social Networking for genealogists helps us become acquainted with:

  • Blogs
  • Collaborative editing
  • Genealogy-specific social networks
  • General social networking (Facebook)
  • Message boards & mailing lists
  • Photo & video sharing
  • Podcasts
  • RSS feeds
  • Sharing personal libraries
  • Tags
  • Virtual worlds
  • Wikis

Is social networking for all genealogists?

"When you first suggest to a genealogist that he or she should get involved with social networking, you might get the reaction, "I'm doing fine with my research. Why would I need social networking?" The same kind of argument could have been made about the Web, genealogy software, e-mail, and PCs. Clearly, genealogists have successfully engaged in genealogical research for centuries without any of these technological tools. Nobody here is arguing that you have to become a social networking user in order to become a successful genealogist.

But genealogists are encouraged to seek out new resources and adopt new tools that may prove to be valuable. If a social networking service makes it easier for you to discover a researcher working on the same line as you, share your research with others, see a photo of an ancestral town or building, locate new genealogy sites of interest, ask another genealogist to do a look-up in a rare reference book, find a useful genealogy how-to video, or working together with other genealogists on a group project, isn't it worth your time to learn about such a service and see if it fits into your interests and research methods?

When you became a genealogist, you undoubtedly learned about places you should go (libraries, archives, courthouses, cemeteries, etc.) and tools you should use (library catalogs, microfilm readers, genealogy software and websites). This book will build upon that by introducing you to new "places" and new tools."

This book describes the wide array of social networking services that are now available online and highlights how these services can be used by genealogists to share information, photos, and videos with family, friends, and other researchers. Each chapter guides you through a unique category of social networking services using genealogy-related examples. From blogs and wikis to Facebook and Second Life, author Drew Smith shows you how to incorporate these powerful new tools into your family history research.

How to purchase

This 129-page book is now available from the Legacy online store for just $18.95.

Legacy tip: Which name should I record?

I think I'm about to shake up the family tree....

I located the birth record of my great-great-grandfather. Great! But the name listed in the birth record is not the name he used later in his life.

His name, Lauritz Marinus LARSEN, is printed in all the family books and even hangs on my office wall as part of the large, custom-framed wall chart of my ancestry. His death certificate even identifies him as Lauritz LARSEN.

His real name

I already had his family's genealogical information, but I wanted to verify it by locating the original documents. Legacy Family Tree's Research Guidance tool provided the link to the Denmark State Archives' parish register collection. After a little searching, I located the birth record of Laurits Marinus STEFENSEN, who was born on the same day and in the same place as my Lauritz Marinus LARSEN.

Laurits Marinus STEFENSEN, born 14 Sep 1869 in Elling, Hjørring, Denmark - birth record

Lauritz Marinus LARSEN, born 14 Sep 1869 in Elling, Hjørring, Denmark - family records


As Danish researchers well know, patronymic naming was the custom in Denmark where the child's surname was composed of the father's given name followed by the addition of the suffix of -sen (son) or -datter (daughter). Therefore, if patronymics were still used in 1869, we could usually assume that according to his birth record, Laurits' father's name was Stefen.

So where did the LARSEN surname come from? I don't yet have all these answers, but I do know that after the family emigrated to America, they used LARSEN as their surname.

How should this be recorded in Legacy?

I know that Laurits STEFENSEN and Lauritz LARSEN are the same person. But for as long as I have been doing genealogy, his name has been recorded in my family file with the LARSEN surname. Good researchers will record every name variant, nickname, and alias and add its proper documentation. These names can then optionally be printed when creating any lists or reports. Following this advice, we should use Legacy's Alternate Names form to record the newly-found name.

  1. In the Individual's Information screen, click on the Alternate Names icon. (It's the first in the row of icons at the top, and just to the right of the surname field.)
  2. Click on the Add button and fill in both the given name and surname. Click Save.
  3. Finally, click on the newly-entered name to highlight it, and using the Source button, add its documentation.

So which of the two names should be his "primary" name? My rule of thumb is to:

use the name as it was earliest recorded.

So in this case, in the Alternate Names form, I would highlight the Laurits STEFENSEN name and click on the Swap Alternate Name with Main Name button. Doing this simply switches the highlighted alternate name with the name in the Individual's Information screen. Of course, there are always exceptions to this guideline - just use your best judgement.


The real problem

Now that I've updated his primary name in my Legacy family file, do I now reprint the family group records, books, and even the large wall chart in my office? Maybe I'll work on documenting the rest of the family first.

When an old man dies a library burns

Interview This old African proverb, "when an old man dies a library burns," resonates with genealogists. If I could have just an hour more with my great-grandmother, I would have so many questions. Is there anyone in your life that you need to talk with before it is too late?

You need to know the best kind of questions to ask. For example, "how was your childhood" might get you the response of "it was okay." Interview done....

If you had the right set of thought-provoking questions you could get more out of the "library." Thanks to the interview experts of, Legacy Family Tree 7.0's Interview Questions has all of the right questions and more.

In Legacy (Reports > Books/Other tab > Interview Questions) choose the subject of your interview...

  • My Memories
  • Your Memories
  • Father Remembers
  • Remembering Father
  • Mother Remembers
  • Remembering Mother
  • Grandpa Remembers
  • Remembering Grandpa
  • Grandma Remembers
  • Remembering Grandma
  • Christmas Memories
  • Family Folklore
  • Life in Your Town

... and select which categories/questions you want to include, and you have everything you need to conduct a perfect interview.

You can even interview someone else about your mother/father/grandparent. For example, if you select the "Remembering Mother" interview, Legacy will give you the right questions to interview someone else about mother. Here are the questions from the "Family Time" category within this interview:

  • How would you describe my mother's family life when she was growing up?
  • When they worked together, what did they do?
  • Tell me about some of their family excursions.
  • What is one of your favorite, funny memories about my mother's family?

Notice that the questions are open-ended. You'll never get a Yes or No response to these.

You can select from the default questions, write your own questions, or even create your very own interview.

When you are ready, print the entire interview or save it as a text file, or even a .pdf that you can send in an email.

This "when an old man dies a library burns" quote was a good reminder to me to talk more with my "more experienced" relatives before it is too late. Now where did I put Grandma's telephone number....

Thank you Research Guidance, and

Today I had another Genealogy Happy Dance - thanks to the combination of Legacy's Research Guidance, the indexing volunteers of, and the online historical newspaper collection at

Christian Gross, husband of my 3rd great-grandaunt (click here to learn how to set relationships in Legacy) died sometime after June 7, 1900. He was living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the 1900 census.

Gross1Research Guidance

My goal was to find when and where he died, so I clicked on Legacy's Research Guidance tab and chose the goal of "Death".

 One of Legacy's top-ranked suggestions for this goal was to search the Philadelphia City Death Certificate collection. The red checkmark in the Online column shows that this collection can be searched for free online. Clicking the Online button took me directly to FamilySearch's Record Search.

FamilySearch Indexing

Thanks to the volunteers of FamilySearchIndexing, I located the Philadelphia Death Certificate collection, did a search for any Christian Gross individuals who died after 1900, and quickly located a terrific possibility for my man. Although the death certificate did not list Christian's birth date, it did tell me when he died and how old he was when he died. Using Legacy's date calculator, I entered what I knew and Legacy calculated his birth to be March 4, 1821. This is the exact birth date I had previously discovered for Christian!!


(The Date Calculator is accessed by clicking on the Calendar button in Legacy's main toolbar.)

Now that I knew when Christian died, I wanted to locate an obituary for him which could identify his parents. Obituary research is exciting because of the potential discoveries but it often takes a long time. First you have to identify the possible newspapers in the area for the time period. Then you have to locate a repository that is willing to search it for you or lend it to your library via inter-library loan. Finally you have to read each page of the newspaper to try to find the obituary.

Thanks to, this is no longer necessary. has scanned over 150 million newspaper articles from the years 1690-1980 from American newspapers (this won't help me with my UK and Germany ancestry...). Browsing through the title list, I was in luck because they had scanned hundreds of years of Philadelphia newspapers. I did a quick search for Christian Gross and nearly instantly 111 matches were returned. On some subscription websites you have to pay to get enough information to know if these matches are related, but at GenealogyBank, they gave me the date of the article and even a preview of the article. Two of the first five hits were dated one day after Christian Gross died and so I knew I had the right guy.


Clicking on the link took me to the subscription page where they listed an introductory special of $9.95 for 30 days of access. Comparing this price to the nearly $100 I usually spend to obtain an obituary, this is a great deal. I signed up, but somehow didn't get the introductory price. Rather I paid $19.95 for the month, which is still a great deal. Regardless, I now had access to the entire article which the website let me download as a .pdf.

My final and most exciting step was to add the new information to Legacy, including the source. Using Legacy's SourceWriter, I chose the "Newspapers > Online images (issued by unrelated content provider)" template and easily entered the citation information which look like this:


All in all, this was a very successful experience, but I couldn't have done it quite as easily without the help of Legacy's Research Guidance and Date Calculator, FamilySearch's Indexing project, and GenealogyBank. Thanks everyone!

Legacy Video Tip: Working with Locations

Question from Legacy user:

"Is there an easy way to create a list of everyone linked to a certain location? I know that in Legacy's Master Location List I can highlight a location and see the list of people. For example, if I click on Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts I get a list of everyone that ever lived there. But I want a list of everyone who ever lived/died/resided in Suffolk County."

Answer from Legacy:

This is such a great question and one that ALL researchers come across. We need to know who resided in a certain county, or in a certain state/province. To answer your question, below we've "extracted" a portion of the Mastering Legacy: Names, Dates & Places training video. Click on the Play button to watch. The transcript is also beneath the video if you want to read the instructions.

If you do not see the play button below, either 1) click on the yellow "allow" button in your browser above or 2) make sure you have installed Windows Media Player.

Here's the transcript:

The master location list is a powerful research tool. Quite often, you will want to create a report showing all individuals who lived in a certain locality. Once you’re in the master location list, highlight the desired locality, and on the right is the list of everyone who ever lived there. In this example, 14 individuals were found as having Minneapolis, Minnesota as a locality linked to them. Lorenzo Brown, for example, died and was buried in Minneapolis. This list can then be printed by clicking on the List Options button, and you have a custom report.

Now suppose that you want to create a list of all individuals who had resided in Hennepin County, Minnesota. One way to do this is to manually scroll through the long list of localities and select the ones that have Hennepin as the county. This is not very fast, however. It is better to sort this list in reverse order. To do this, click on the sort button.

Typically, the sorted order is city, county, state, and country. In this situation, move the state to the top, then move the county to position number 2, and move the city to the third position. This can be done by either clicking on the move arrows on the left, or just by dragging and dropping the appropriate fields. Now click on OK.

Now all of the Minnesota localities are sorted together, followed by the county, followed by the city. Now each of the localities in which Hennepin is a part can be selected. Then click on the Options button on the right, click on Show List, and a report of all individuals in Hennepin County will be presented.

Preview Mastering Legacy: Names, Dates & Places

The video above is an excerpt from Mastering Legacy: Names, Dates & Places, the second video in our "Learn Legacy" series. To preview the video, or for more information or to purchase the video, please click here.

Follow Legacy on Twitter

Twitter It seems everyone is using Twitter, and now, so are we here at Legacy Family Tree! To make sure you don't miss our "tweets", follow us at

When I think of tweeting, I think of my childhood-favorite cartoon - Tweety and Sylvester. Twitter is becoming so popular, that in one day last week I heard about it on the radio and twice during two unrelated television shows.

So what's all the hype about? Twitter's website explains that "Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?"

Personally, I struggle to find enough minutes in the day to keep up with my own immediate family, and the thought of keeping up with so many others via Twitter seems an undaunting task. What would our ancestors think?

However, here at Legacy Family Tree we try to stay on top of technology so we're giving it a try. When you sign up to follow us on Twitter, you will receive instant notification of our latest news, tips, and updates.

So, if you want to follow us, sign up at

Other ways to follow Legacy

Not quite ready for Twitter? You can still follow us in other ways....

Legacy Home. Open Legacy and click on the Legacy Home tab (in the upper left). As part of Legacy Home, the Legacy News section brings you the headlines of each of our news articles. All you need is an Internet connection, and the articles automatically appear in Legacy.

Blog. The articles can be read by visiting our blog at Here, the articles are archived by date and category. For example, click on the Technology Tips link in the Archives section, and you will get to read all of the articles that have been published relating to genealogy technology. For more information on blogs, read "What is a Blog?"

RSS Feed. Using Bloglines or other feed management software described at, you can subscribe to our Legacy News feed. Whenever a new article is available, it will be immediately delivered to your reader. The advantage of using this technology is that the articles are not transmitted via email, therefore, your spam control will not somehow block its delivery. And you won't have to visit our website each day to see if anything new has been published. But then, you can do the same thing via Legacy Home. For more on RSS, read Dick Eastman's article here.

LegacyNews Headlines. The headlines and other important Legacy information is still emailed twice a month. To ensure that you receive the email, make sure that you are subscribed to LegacyNews at, and make sure that your spam-filtering software is not blocking it.

FamilySearch Expands Canadian Census Collection


Four pre-1900 censuses available for free online

TORONTO—FamilySearch, in partnership with and the Libraries and Archives Canada (LAC), announced today the addition of the 1851, 1861, and 1871 Canada Census indexes to its online collection. The new indexes can be searched for free at (click Search Records, and then click Record Search pilot). FamilySearch published the 1881 Canada Census previously online and plans to add the 1891 Canada Census shortly.

Over a fourth of all Canadians struggle to trace their roots past 100 years. Having the indexes to all of the pre-1900 Canadian censuses online will make it much easier for Canadians to extend their understanding of their family’s history.

These censuses are part of the FamilySearch records access program reported in May 2008 to provide public access to more records more quickly. In this project, provided the indexes to the 1851 and 1891 Canada Censuses, and FamilySearch created the indexes for the 1861, 1871, and 1881 Canada Censuses. It is a win-win for the public, who will have free access to all five of the pre-1900 census indexes online at

FamilySearch used its growing community of online volunteers to index the 1861 and 1871 Census records. For the past year, volunteers have logged online to FamilySearch’s indexing application from all over the world, working seven days a week, 24 hours a day—literally—to accomplish the feat. Thousands of volunteer hours later, coupled with the added indexes from, the public now has free, easily searchable databases of millions of Canadian citizens from 1851 to 1891.

“The publication of free indexes to these major censuses gives a great boost to Canadian family history research. For the first time, genealogy enthusiasts and historians may search online databases containing some 17 million records of individuals who lived in Canada in the latter half of the 19th century. Indexers keyed many personal details—names, ages, birthplaces, religions, and residences—for individuals listed in these early Canadian censuses,” said FamilySearch chief genealogical officer, David Rencher.

Researchers will discover heads of households, their family members, and any lodgers residing with a family at the time. They can also see the street address where ancestors were living at the time the census was taken, along with their age, occupation, and perhaps their ethnicity.

Free access to the indexes for the 19th century collection of Canada Censuses is the first phase. Free access to the record images will also be available to qualified FamilySearch members as soon as an authentication process is implemented.

The 1881 Canada Census was published on in 2002. The 1916 Canada Census was also made available for free to the public earlier this year through FamilySearch’s 4,600 family history centers worldwide.

Wales - 1911 census goes online today

Wales Good news today for those with Welsh ancestry. The following announcement was written by

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

Due to public demand for access to the 1911 census, the records have been released as soon as each region's records have been digitised. Following the initial release of 1911 records in January 2009, the records of people living in Wales in 1911 are being made available today for the first time.

The 1911 census records contain details about the lives of the ancestors of many of Wales' famous sons and daughters, such as Richard Burton, Dylan Thomas, Kylie Minogue and Tom Jones.

The census covered Wales, England, 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. 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.

Debra Chatfield, Marketing Manager at, said: "This latest release from the 1911 census offers a crucial new entry point to Welsh 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 Welsh ancestors, these records shed more light on our predecessors' 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 Wales, before the Great War."

Handwritten records
Completed by all householders in Wales and England 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 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
  • 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 are also valid on Vouchers can be purchased from The National Archives bookshop and redeemed on Credits can then be spent on both and
  • or 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 seminar now downloadable for offline viewing

For those of you want to view the Legacy Seminar, but you have a slower Internet connection, you can now download the seminar to your computer for "offline viewing". Here are the instructions:

  1. Download here (108 MB, requires Windows Media player). When the File Download screen appears, click on Save to save the .zip file to your computer.
  2. After the downloading is complete, click on the Open button to begin the "unzipping".
  3. In Windows XP, click on the "Extract all files" link which will launch the Extraction Wizard. Click Next.
  4. Using the Browse button, decide where on your hard drive you want to save the seminar files. Click Next. Click Finish at the end.
  5. Two folders will appear - overview3 and tips3. In the overview3 folder, double-click on the overview3.html file to watch the overview class. In the tips3 folder, double-click on the tips3.html file to watch the tips class.

Enjoy the seminar!

Legacy Family Tree seminar now online

If you did not make it to Hemet, California three weeks ago for the Hemet-San Jacinto Genealogical Society's "Genealogy Technology with Legacy's Geoff Rasmussen seminar" (that's me!) here's your second chance. We recorded the seminar and have now published the Legacy classes for everyone to view.

In the past, we couldn't make it to every genealogy society around the world that wanted us to demonstrate Legacy. But with technology, we can now bring a seminar to the comforts of your own home. You can even attend this seminar in your pajamas.

Publishing these "live" seminar classes is somewhat of a risk for me, because now the whole world gets to experience my dry humor and sometimes foot-in-the-mouth jokes which don't appear in our Legacy Training Video collection. But since one of my goals is to help others with genealogy and Legacy, I guess it's worth the risk....

The classes

We've published two of the seminar's four classes for you to view.

Legacy Family Tree - an Overview (54 minutes) is intended for those who are new to Legacy but is also a great refresher course for experienced Legacy users. Topics include:

  • importing from another genealogy computer program
  • setting and understanding relationships
  • 1/2 siblings
  • setting your direct line
  • AKAs
  • addresses
  • notes
  • sources
  • pictures
  • To Do List
  • Research Guidance
  • reports

Legacy Family Tree - Tips and Tricks (58 minutes) is intended for those who are experienced Legacy users, but everyone is welcome to view it. Topics include:

  • chronologies
  • effective use of events/facts
  • adding historical events to timelines
  • successfully obtaining information from living relatives
  • creating books
  • using Legacy Charting
  • Descendant and Index View tips
  • using the split screen feature
  • what to do when you have an unproven relative
  • how to add unlinked individuals
  • news/updates
  • family group records

How to Watch

Visit for the links to the videos. Be sure to also print the seminar's handouts.