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Tuesday's Tip - Known Associates (Intermediate)

  Known Associates

Tuesday's Tips provide brief how-to's to help you learn to use the Legacy Family Tree software with new tricks and techniques.

Known Associates (Intermediate)

One of the best ways to break down a brick wall is by looking at your ancestor's FAN Club*  I use a combination of Unlinked Individuals/Trees, Hashtags, and Shared Events to record this information. 

 *FAN Club stands for Friends, Associates, and Neighbors which was coined by Elizabeth Shown Mills. You can read more about it HERE. This concept is also called "Cluster Genealogy." We also have several WEBINARS about this research strategy.

I use a three-method approach because each method brings something to the table.  

Unlinked Individuals/Trees

When working on a brick wall I add FANs as unlinked individuals. This gives me the opportunity to work with them just like I work with anyone else in my file. I research these associated people even though I don't know how they fit in yet because the more research I do, the more likely the connection will emerge. As I expand their family, sometimes it is easy to see the link. Even if I can't link their line to my main tree through a familial relationship, I will be able to link them to the main line using shared events (keep reading).


I have hashtags like this..

FANs of Freeman, James (1752 - 1823)
FANs of McMichael, John (1727 - 1803)
FANs of  Simmons, James (1764-1843)

If I have more than one person with the same name, I can put further qualifiers in the Description field such as, "of Perry County, married Ellenor Lee"

I only do this for my "brick wall" ancestors and not for everyone.  I have a lot of other Hashtags related to my brick walls that help me find connections that I don't readily see. For example, men that served in the the same military unit, known DNA matches, lived in the same area at the same time, etc. This helps me see how the "FANs" are interrelated to each other.


Whenever I am looking at a document that has multiple people named, I will share the event with those people. The only events that I don't share are census events. I copy and paste these (just my preference). Legacy will allow you to share events with people that aren't in your database but I always add them. (see point 1)

Bringing it all together

With Hashtags I am looking for people that are grouped together on more than one Hashtag. This is a clue that those people were closely associated. I can search by Hashtag and print out little mini reports that I can compare. I can also Tag a group of people, search by that Tag, and then print a report that include all of the Hashtags they have. There are several possibilities here.

With Events I like to run an Individual Chart Report on my brick walls from time to time. Sometimes just seeing it on paper will cause me to notice something that I didn't notice before like a couple of events that are shared with the same person.

Speaking of reports, another helpful report is the Chronology Comparison Report. Many times you are using this to see if two people in your database are really the same person but you can also compare two totally unrelated people to compare their timelines for dates and locations. This is especially helpful if you notice that two people were in two different places at the same time. Family and friends travel together.

I would love to hear your ideas about how you document an ancestor's FAN Club in Legacy.


Find tech tips every day in the Facebook Legacy User Group. The group is free and is available to anyone with a Facebook account.

For video tech tips check out the Legacy Quick Tips page.  These short videos will make it easy for you to learn all sort of fun and interesting ways to look at your genealogy research.

Michele Simmons Lewis, CG® is part of the Legacy Family Tree team at MyHeritage. She handles the enhancement suggestions that come in from our users as well as writing for Legacy News. You can usually find her hanging out on the Legacy User Group Facebook page answering questions and posting tips.


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Sorry reading this article has confused me even more than before I started. Yes I have brick walls but not sure how researching people of same name (if that is what FAN people are) but obviously dates of birth / death will be different. Think article needs rewriting with more explanation. Does author have multiple family files - again no explanation where things go.

I marked this as Intermediate and that means some of the more basic information is not included since intermediate users should already know this information. This makes it easier to write a concise articles for intermediate and advanced users.

This work is done within a single file. Most users only work with a single file. You aren't looking at just people with the same surname but you are looking at your brick wall's associates. You want to look at who lived near them, who they had business dealings with (deeds for example), who they went to church with, who served in the military together, etc.

When you research these associate people, the records that these people generate can tell you more about your brick wall ancestor. It is sort of like coming in the back door.

If you are a webinar subscriber, we have three webinars that explain this process.

FAN + GPS + DNA: The Problem-Solver's Great Trifecta (a great case study)

What Your Ancestor's Neighbors Can Tell You

Clusters and Chains for Genealogical Success (this one deals with English genealogy)

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