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There's Still Time...Three Last Minute Ideas to Celebrate Family History Month

Thanks to guest-blogger, Lisa Alzo, for this article...

AlzoLegacyBlogImage10-15-23It’s hard to believe we are half way through the month of October. The end of the year is quickly approaching, and soon we will be looking ahead to holiday cooking, decorating, and shopping to prepare for those cherished family gatherings. Mid-October also means that National Family History Month is almost over. If you’ve been too busy to fully participate, or perhaps didn’t even realize it was here, it’s not too late. Here are three easy things you can do to discover your roots and honor your ancestors.

1. Immerse yourself in research. Schedule some time to practice what I like to call, "immersion genealogy." Here are a few ideas. Some you can accomplish in a day or two; others during a three-day weekend.

  • Visit an ancestor’s hometown. Look for their house, visit the church where they worshipped, walk through the cemetery.
  • Study your heritage. Check out books at your local public, college, or university library, or do a search on Google Books, or search Cyndi’s List under country or under Recipes, Cookbooks & Family Traditions.
  • Spend time interviewing your relatives. Ideally, you’ll want to do this in person, but if you can’t there’s always Skype or Facetime). Nobody to interview? Then, document your own story. Download a free guide here.
  • Gather ideas for your next family reunion. Make a list of those you wish to invite, choose a date, place, and theme, set up a planning committee. Get tips from Reunions Magazine.
  • Plan that dream trip to your ancestral homeland or take a virtual tour through Google Earth.

2. Start a heritage craft. With the holidays just around the corner, why not skip the mall or online shopping frenzy, and make a gift your family will cherish? Making your family history a part of your day-to-day life will stir up interest (and perhaps elicit information) the next time a relative visits. Add ancestral photos in a wall hanging such as the WallVerbs11-piece family tree ($39.99) You also could give someone the tree-themed decals and family names from and inspire them to show their roots (The large Photo Tree decal is perfect for displaying pictures), or get creative with family tree displays (click here to for some suggestions). If you like to sew, another great gift is a family history quilt. Fun Stuff For Genealogists carries preprinted fabric panels you add names to, or do a Google image search for family tree quilts. You can also use a photo gift site such as Shutterfly, create a family history book, or calendar with’s MyCanvas, or self-publish your favorite family recipes in a cookbook using Check Pinterest for even more ideas.

3. Continue your genealogy education. What better time is there to learn something new than Family History Month? Perhaps you can still catch a special event hosted by a genealogical society during October. Find a list of upcoming national, state, regional events at Conference Keepers, or look for upcoming Legacy Family Tree webinars you can watch from the comfort of home. Legacy QuickGuides® also provide you with quick tips and handy references to assist with your research (there are now more than 85 topics to choose from).

Don’t let Family History Month pass you by. There’s still time left to make some heritage happen!

Lisa A. Alzo is a freelance writer, instructor, and lecturer, and has been tracking her ancestors for 23 years. She is a frequent presenter for the Legacy Family Tree Webinars series and can be contacted via

Photo: The John Alzo family. Courtesy of Lisa A. Alzo

Get the Scoop on Your Ancestors with Newspapers - free webinar now online for limited time

10-16-2013 12-14-07 PMThe recording of today's webinar by Lisa Louise Cooke, "Get the Scoop on Your Ancestors with Newspapers" is now online to view for free for a limited time.'s host showed some real newspaper gems, including the newspaper maps and OCR tools in Evernote. You won't want to miss this one! Our live viewers were treated with live webcams from both Geoff and Lisa - another reason to attend live if you can. 

View the Recording at

If you could not make it to the live event or just want to watch it again, the 1 hour 23 minute recording of Get the Scoop on Your Ancestors with Newspapers is now available to view in our webinar archives for free through October 24, 2013. It is also available to our monthly or annual Webinar Members for the duration of your membership. Visit to watch.

Special Discount Coupon

The special discount coupon of news2 that was announced during the webinar is valid for 10% off anything at both and through Monday, September 23, 2013.

Newspaper_pubilsherLisa's Newspaper book

Her 155 page book includes the newspaper worksheet she showed during the webinar. Click here for more information or to purchase.

Webinar Memberships/Subscriptions

Webinar Members get:

  • On-demand access to the entire webinar archives (now 192 hours of genealogy education)
  • On-demand access to the instructor handouts (now 499 pages)
  • 5% off all products at (must be logged in at checkout, and yes, you can also use the 10% off webinar coupon above for a total of 15% off)
  • Access to all future recordings for the duration of their membership
  • Chance for a members-only door prize during each live webinar

Introductory pricing:

  • Annual membership: $49.95/year (that's about the cost of 5 webinar CDs)
  • Monthly membership: $9.95/month

Click here to subscribe.

Register for our upcoming webinars (free)

  • Using Church Records to Identify Ancestors by Mary Hill. October 23.
  • Using Court Records to tell the Story of our Ancestors' Lives by Judy Russell. October 30.
  • Ancestry Trees Can Jump Start Your Research by DearMYRTLE. November 1.
  • Researching with Marian! Creating a Research Plan with YOUR Research by Marian Pierre-Louis. November 6.
  • Using GPS Coordinates to Tag and Record Your Photos with Heritage Collector Software by Marlo Schuldt. November 8.
  • Researching Your Ohio Ancestors by Lisa Alzo. November 13.
  • Mind Mapping Your Research Plans and Results by Thomas MacEntee. November 20.
  • How Computers & Gadgets are Changing Genealogy by Barbara Renick. December 4.
  • Overcoming Lost Records Using Technology by Karen Clifford. December 18.

Click here to register.

See you online!

FamilySearch Records Update: More than 9.5 million records for Argentina, BillionGraves, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and United States

FamilySearch has recently added more than 9.5 million indexed records and images from Argentina, BillionGraves, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, and the United States. Notable collection updates include the 2,399,826 images from the new Denmark, Church Records, 1484–1941, collection, the 1,734,150 indexed records and images from the Canada Passenger Lists, 1881–1922, collection, and the 2,171,641 images from the new Italy, Campobasso, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809–1918, collection. See the table below for the full list of updates. Search these diverse collections and more than 3.5 billion other records for free at

Searchable historic records are made available on through the help of thousands of volunteers from around the world. These volunteers transcribe (index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. More volunteers are needed (particularly those who can read foreign languages) to keep pace with the large number of digital images being published online at Learn more about volunteering to help provide free access to the world’s historic genealogical records online at

FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources for free at or through more than 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Indexed Records

Digital Images


Argentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635–1981



Added indexed records to an existing collection.

Argentina, Capital Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1737–1977



Added indexed records to an existing collection.

BillionGraves Index



Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.

Canada Passenger Lists, 1881–1922



Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.

Denmark, Church Records, 1484–1941



New browsable image collection.

Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg, Landkreis Ostprignitz-Ruppin, Miscellaneous Records, 1559–1945



New browsable image collection.

Italy, Campobasso, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809–1918



New browsable image collection.

Italy, Napoli, Fontana, Parrocchia di Santa Maria della Mercede - La Sacra, Catholic Church Records, 1659–1929



Added images to an existing collection.

U.S., Illinois, Northern District (Eastern Division), Naturalization Index, 1926–1979



Added images to an existing collection.

U.S., Ohio, County Marriages, 1789–1994



Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.

New Legacy QuickGuide Now Available - Minnesota Genealogy

Minnesota GenealogyWe are delighted to announce our partnership with the Minnesota Genealogical Society and the immediate availability of our latest Legacy QuickGuide: Minnesota Genealogy.

Compiled by the Minnesota Genealogical Society, this Legacy QuickGuide provides a listing of essential North Star State resources. You'll find everything you need to get started on finding your Minnesota ancestors.

The Minnesota Genealogy Legacy QuickGuide™ also includes a timeline of Minnesota history events, tips on Minnesota research strategy, a list of Minnesota migration routes and more. Also included are over 100 links to websites and resources covering vital records, church records, census records, as well as general Minnesota resources. This handy 4-page PDF guide can be used on your computer or mobile device for anytime access.

Click here to purchase for just $2.95.

Now choose from 85!

United States - State Guides

United States - other Guides





Register for Webinar Wednesday - Get the Scoop on Your Ancestors with Newspapers by Lisa Louise Cooke

LogowhiteYearning to “read all about it?” Newspapers are a fantastic source of research leads, information and historical context for your family history. In this webinar, presented by Genealogy Gem's Lisa Louise Cooke, learn the specialized approach that is required to achieve success in locating the news on your ancestors. Includes 3 Cool Tech Tools that will get you started.

Join us for the live webinar Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 2pm Eastern U.S. Register today to reserve your virtual seat. Registration is free but space is limited to the first 1,000 people to join that day. Before joining, please visit to ensure you have the latest version of Java which our webinar software requires. When you join, if you receive a message that the webinar is full, you know we've reached the 1,000 limit, so we invite you to view the recording which should be published to the webinar archives within an hour or two of the event's conclusion.


Test Your Webinar Connection

To ensure that your webinar connection is ready to go, click here.

Can't make it to the live event?

No worries. Its recording will be available for free for the first 7 days after the live event. Webinar Subscribers have unlimited access for the duration of their membership.

About the presenter 

Presenter-9847Lisa Louise Cooke is the owner of Genealogy Gems, a genealogy and family history multi-media company. She is Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, the popular online genealogy audio show as well as the Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcast, both available at, in iTunes, and through the Genealogy Gems app, and free toolbar.   Her podcasts bring genealogy news, research strategies, expert interviews and inspiration to genealogists in 75 countries around the world.

Lisa is the author of a variety of multi-media materials including the Genealogy Gems Premium website subscription, and four books: Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy PowerhouseHow to Find Your Family History in NewspapersThe Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, and Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies, and the video series Google Earth for Genealogy.

Lisa’s offerings are not limited to online.  She is a sought after international genealogy speaker, and produces live presentations of The Genealogy Gems Podcast at top genealogy conferences.

Whether in person or online, Lisa strives to dig through the myriad of genealogy news, questions and resources and deliver the gems that can unlock each listeners own family history treasure trove!

Family is not just a priority professionally. Lisa is a doting wife to Bill, the proud mom of three daughters, and has added the role of Grandma to her resume.  She counts her blessings every day for the love, fulfillment and laughter that family brings to every aspect of her life.

Watch Lisa's previous webinar here:

  • Google Search Strategies for Common Surnames

Add it to your Google Calendar

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Webinar time

The webinar will be live on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at:

  • 2pm Eastern (U.S.)
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Or use this Time Zone Converter.

Here's how to attend:

  1. Register at today. It's free!
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  4. Calculate your time zone by clicking here.
  5. Make sure you have the latest version of Java installed on your computer. Check at
  6. Check your GoToWebinar connection here.
  7. Click on the webinar link (found in confirmation and reminder emails) prior to the start of the webinar. Arrive early as the room size is limited to the first 1,000 arrivals that day.
  8. Listen via headset (USB headsets work best), your computer speakers, or by phone.

We look forward to seeing you all there!

Legacy Genealogy Cruise - We're Back!

We have returned from our 10th annual Legacy Genealogy Cruise and had the time of our lives. Besides the genealogy classes, alone-time with my wife, and the yummy food, the highlight of our trip was probably our day in Costa Rica where we rode horses, saw monkies in the forest, got close to crocodiles, and zip-lined through the tree tops. I also enjoyed shuffleboard with Randy Seaver. I've also returned with:

  • 6 additional pounds (I've lost 3 of them already...)
  • many new genealogy friends
  • hundreds of fun digital photos
  • 1 less cell phone (borrowed/stolen in Columbia...)
  • even greater enthusiasm for what we are doing here at Legacy Family Tree

So before I officially get back to work, I'll write a little more about our adventures below. Click here to read my first report.

October 2 was our day through the locks of the Panama Canal. I couldn't believe that this big ship...

2013 09 24_0308

...would fit through the locks of the canal:

2013 10 02_0130

It was an amazing experience. We also saw the construction of the new locks along the way.

The next day we explored the canal some more, this time off the ship. My wife and I, with others in our group, explored the lakes via a small boat. Midway into the lake, our boat's engine died. It reminded me of the Gilligan's Island theme song. After the spare battery was installed, we sailed near the shores of the many islands where we had an experience with a monkey I will never forget. We pulled up to some over-hanging trees where curious monkeys started appearing from nowhere. One monkey hopped into our boat and was appreciative of the grapes we had ready for him. Another swiped an empty plastic bag and took off with it into the trees. What happened next is hard to believe unless you were there and saw it happen....About a minute later the monkey came back - this time wearing the plastic bag as a diaper! I didn't get a great picture of it, but couldn't believe my eyes. He darted back for the trees. Again he returned, this time wearing the bag on his head like a hat.

2013 10 03_0093

I wrote about the zip-lining in the previous article, but here's one of the pictures:


Hundreds of feet up we sailed through the tops of the trees. Although I still retain my fear of heights, I would probably do it again.

On our last day of classes we had a couple of surprises for our group. The captain and the ship's executive staff surprised us with an impromptu cocktail party (yummy orange juice for me...) and thanked us for joining them. We ended the class as we always do by drawing more names for door prizes. Dave (Legacy's President) announced that the winners would get their choice of an annual webinar membership to or a free Legacy 8 upgrade. After drawing a few winners, he announced that all cruise attendees would get the same choice.

2013 10 06_0001_edited-1

Thanks again to Megan Smolenyak, Karen Clifford, Barbara Renick, Randy Seaver, Steve Salisbury, Dave Berdan, Ken McGinnis (and myself I suppose) for the great classes! Thanks to all of you who joined us! Thanks to the rest of our Legacy Family Tree staff who kept our Support, Customer Service, and Shipping departments open while we were away. And thanks to our cruise coodinator, Christy, for all she did for us too!

Next year's cruise to Asia

While we haven't officially announced it yet, it's not too early to begin thinking about next year's cruise (our 11th annual) to Asia. Click here for the details of where we're going.

Back to work

Now that I've officially announced our return, it's back to work! We're putting the final touches on Legacy 8 so we still expect to release it for you by the end of the year. I'm working hard on finalizing our 2014 webinar calendar and recording the last of the revised Legacy Family Tree training CDs.

Legacy Genealogy Cruise - 1st Report

Wow, I cannot believe we're already halfway done with our Legacy Genealogy Cruise and this is the first time I've posted here. Two explanations - we're having too much fun and the Internet speed on a cruise ship doesn't really exist. Below is a compilation of my journal entries for the first week or so. Wish you were all with us, but we're having the time of our lives.

September 25, 2013 Back home, by 9:15am each morning I have showered, finished breakfast, checked the headlines and a few emails, helped get the kids ready for school, taken them to school, studied, and have planned my work day. At 9:15am today, as I lie in my bed on the Celebrity Millennium on day 3 of our cruise, I started to feel guilty for sleeping in so long. That guilt did not last long as I remembered my cruise slogan, “because I can.”

We have had a terrific start to our 10th annual Legacy Genealogy Cruise. I fear to check the scales as I’ve already eaten enough for the entire week. Along with nearly 300 other friends and genealogists in our group, we’ve enjoyed getting to know each other and learning from our speakers. Megan Smolenyak, Karen Clifford, Barbara Renick, Dave Berdan, and myself taught day one’s classes. To accommodate our large group, the ship moved our classes to the lounge in the front of the ship, which had a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and a large skylight – a beautiful location for nearly any event. The skylight’s sunshine proved too much, however, for the projector during my 11am class, “What’s New in Legacy 8” so I cancelled it and we moved everyone into the conference rooms downstairs. After lunch we resumed and I got to show off the new features in Legacy that we’ve worked on for so long. Lots of “ooos” “aahhhs” and “applause”! You will all get to see it in action before too long.

Yesterday we enjoyed the day in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. My wife and I boarded a catamaran and toured the beautiful ocean rocks, watched the sea life, and sipped cold pineapple juice. Rough life, eh? We then toured the peninsula and took lots of pictures. On the way back I realized I left my cash and credit cards on the ship, which was probably a good thing, but I really wanted to try some authentic Mexican tacos. I hope to get my chance today in Puerto Vallarta, where we will arrive in a couple of hours.

September 26, 2013 We’re getting to that part of the cruise where it is difficult to identify the correct day of the week. Alas, it is Thursday at 8:55am, and as I type this, I am sitting in my room’s balcony watching the waves of the Pacific rush past me – in the middle of a torrential downpour. A bright flash of lightening just struck, the loud thunder followed about seven seconds later. And it is beautiful. I’ve had quiet time this morning to ponder about the state of the world’s genealogy, and about what I could do to help it progress. I look forward to the future!

Yesterday’s trip to Puerta Vallarta will be difficult to top. Shortly after our arrival we boarded a boat and crossed the bay for a visit to a private beach getaway. Waterfalls, angelfish, and a delicious buffet welcomed our arrival. I had been hoping for an authentic Mexican food experience and I got it, topped off with a glass of my now-favorite pineapple juice. We were then taken on a guided snorkeling tour. I enjoy exploring the water underworld although this morning I wish I would have remembered sunscreen for my back. We also toured the sub-tropical rain forest, learning about the vegetation and shaking fingers with the monkeys. We also spent time in the hammocks, listening to soft music and enjoying the sounds of the waves. Paradise – yes! Could I spend my life there? Probably. I’d have to check into Internet speeds first.

September 29, 2013 I’ve had too much fun these past couple of days to write until now. Thursday was a sea day which meant genealogy classes! I had the pleasure of speaking in the morning, beginning with our small group and 1-on-1 sessions – I had a blast answering Legacy questions, and even found a couple of dangling Legacy 8 bugs while doing so. Dave’s been in his room programming every day, putting on the final touches before our release. After lunch Megan Smolenyak taught her two DNA classes, and we learned about the story behind her Smolenyak2 name and got new ideas on DNA’s role in our genealogy. What a fascinating topic and wonderful speaker!

Yesterday we visited the country of Guatamala – somewhere I never imagined I would visit. We decided to take our own tour instead of booking through the cruise ship’s excursion, and next time we’ll probably stick with the excursion desk. We hoped to see the old Mayan ruins which our tour guide promised. We did see them, but it was at a museum instead of the real thing. Oh well – I did see things in Guatamala City that I’ve never seen before. The mountains and rolling hills were amazing, but the poverty and living conditions were unlike anything I have imagined. The freeways were crowded with so much traffic that street vendors walked between the lanes of cars selling cotton candy, iPhone chargers, and dried bananas. We stopped at a park where I ate an authentic tamale and had some roasted corn. That was fun!

Today I’m looking forward to spending more time with our genealogy group as Karen Clifford, Randy Seaver, Steve Salisbury, and Megan Smolenyak speak to us. I think I might break down today and purchase an hour’s worth of Internet use – I haven’t read or composed even one email for over a week now. It’s kind of refreshing, but I’m also wondering what’s going on back home.

October 1, 2013 Yesterday in Costa Rica now sits at the top of my cruise favorites. Firstly – what a beautiful country! Only the size of Virginia, it is home to 4% of the world’s wildlife. And we saw lots of it, beginning with gigantic crocodiles which we viewed from the safety of our little boat. The river which we navigated was home to 25 crocodiles per mile. Next, my wife and I saddled up and went on a horseback ride through the jungle. Watching the monkeys in the trees was something I won’t forget. Something I hope to forget is that my horse was the slowest, and no matter what I tried, he liked hanging out in the far, far back. I don’t think he understood my English, and I didn’t speak enough Spanish. It was enjoyable nonetheless. After a buffet of authentic Costa Rican food, we went zip-lining through the rain forest. I’ve been nervous about this adventure for months as my fear of heights has not yet been conquered. Oh the compromises we make in a marriage. :) It turned out to be one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences. From the tops of the trees (must have been hundreds of feet up) we could see everything – rivers, jungles, the ocean, monkeys, and even their beautiful macaws. The platforms upon which we stood at the tops of the trees was the scariest part. They were narrow and without railings. The only thing keeping me from falling was my safety rope which I hoped was really strong. My legs felt like they had heavy weights attached to them as I tried to gain the confidence to move them one step at a time. Once I had jumped off the edge I truly enjoyed gliding through the tall jungle.

And so this morning, I am happy to be alive and happy to have experienced what I did with my wife and fellow adventurers. Today we are at sea for another full day of genealogy classes. We’ll begin with one-on-one and small group Q/A sessions, but I’m thinking of starting out the session by sharing some new ideas about how Legacy can help solve brick walls. Tomorrow we travel through the Panama Canal.