How did I miss THIS the first time? and tips for using Legacy

How did I miss this the first time around?

I'll give myself a little leeway for overlooking it, for I was a beginning, inexperienced researcher at the time. But if I hadn't been careful with the rest of my research the results could have been disastrous.

Inspired by Mark Lowe's most recent webinar I decided to give the research of my 6th great-grandfather, John McCall, another shot. Knowing that researching backwards (from the end of the ancestor's life) is often good genealogical methodology, I opened up his Individual's Information screen in Legacy and focused on his will.


I clicked on the Will event and clicked the Edit button to view the will's transcription I had made years ago. I was looking specifically for the names of any friends, associates, or neighbors (otherwise referred to as the FAN club). Since John's origins have been difficult to trace, I would begin to study the lives of those around him. If I can learn where they came from, perhaps it would help me learn where John came from too.


In the transcription I noticed that there were several words that were represented with --- indicating to me that at the time I made the transcription I was unable to decipher the handwriting. I then noticed that the Media Gallery button was still black/white. In Legacy this is an indication that I've not yet linked a picture to the event.


Apparently I had not yet added the digital image of the will to this Will event so I browsed my digital filing system to see if I had scanned it yet. (Learn more about my digital filing system in Digital Imaging Essentials.)


Nope. So I went to my physical filing system and quickly located all of John's original documents. Thanks to the filing system I use I was able to find John's section in a few seconds. All of his documents are filed behind tab #7853. This corresponds to his Marriage Record Identification number that is shown in the lower right of Legacy. (To learn more about the filing system, click here.)


The photocopy of the microfilmed will was still there, but was of such poor quality that I really needed to see the original again. FamilySearch's Historical Record Collections appeared to have these records online now.


Pretty quickly I found John's will. Wow. All of this took just minutes. What a different experience this is today compared to when I originally looked for his will.


 And then I saw it. What I saw could make all the difference in solving a genealogy case. Here's the first line of John's will: 


Compare that with the first line of my transcription:

I John McCall of Washington County & State of Tennessee

Did you notice what was missing from my transcription? Senior. This 6-letter word is a big deal. It infers that there is more than one John McCall. While it usually means that this person had a son of the same name, it could also mean there were two John McCalls in town, and this was the elder of the two. Regardless, omitting that word from my transcription is kind of important. Thankfully I've already studied the entire community to identify all McCalls in the area and have learned there are only two Johns - the John who authored this will, and his son.

What does this teach us? First, while there is a place in our research for referring to abstracts or transcriptions, we should always try to consult the original record. Second, take another at your documents. I'm a better researcher today than I was back then. I'm going to see things today with fresh and experienced eyes. You might even have someone else take a look at your ancestor's documents - they might see something you've overlooked. There may be new clues in the records you already have.

More Evidence/Methodology Tips

Learn more genealogy methodology from genealogy's experts at We've got at least these 10 webinars in the library that will help you see your records with fresh, experienced eyes.


Legacy Tip - Who Was Alive in 1939? Or in ____?

Which of your ancestors were alive in 1939? Or in 1880? Or in 1861? Or in fill in the blank?

With the recent announcement of the new 1939 Register for England and Wales lots of us (myself included) are wondering if our cousins are included in this wonderful collection. A special tool in Legacy Family Tree makes it simple to know who would have been alive and living somewhere in England in 1939. OR, who would have been alive to be counted in the 1880 U.S. census? OR, who would have been alive at the start of the Civil War? OR, fill in the blank....

Here's how to get a list of who would have been alive on a certain date.

1) In Legacy Family Tree go to Search > Census List.


2) Fill in the place (England), the date (1939), and deselect the age and gender options (since we're looking for everyone in 1939 in England) and click the Create a Search List button.


My Search List shows 44 individuals:


Instead of clicking on the Create a Search List button, clicking on the Preview a Census List Report displays the results in this format:


Here, the birth date, death date, age on date, and possible location (with a percentage of likelihood they would be found there) are shown.

And it keeps getting better. Before printing the report, turn on the options for "include married names for wives" and "include surrounding relatives". Both options would make it easier to find them in the records.


This so-called "Census List" report really could be renamed to "Who Was Alive On?" What other ways could the report be used?

  • Who was alive during the ____ War (now look for their military records)?
  • Who was alive when the printing press was invented?
  • Who was alive during the great potato famine?
  • Who could I find on the 1892 New York state census?
  • And so on...

The Census List tool is a deluxe feature of Legacy Family Tree. To upgrade to Legacy Deluxe, click here.

1939 Register (England/Wales) SourceWriter template now available in Legacy Family Tree

The recently-released 1939 Register for England and Wales is the most complete survey of the population of England and Wales between 1921 and 1951. The records are now available exclusively on FindMyPast. Although not included in a FindMyPast subscription, the 60 credits I purchased to obtain a digital copy of my ancestor's record (about US$10.95) were worth every penny.


In addition to learning that Tom and Agnes Hague were still alive in 1939, I learned their exact birth dates, residence, and occupations. This will help me differentiate this Tom Hague from others in the death indexes. Happy genealogy day!

Adding and citing the new information to Legacy is now a breeze thanks to the new SourceWriter template in the latest free update.

As you have learned from Legacy Unlocked! Techniques, Tips and Step-by-Steps for Using Legacy to Record Your Genealogy (shameful plug), before adding the new information to Legacy I like to first set up the Source Clipboard. This helps to prepare me to properly cite the new information.

In the Individual's Information screen click on the blue triangle.


Then click on Step 1 to set up the master source and click Add.

Next, select the 1939 register as shown below.


Next, fill in the fields. Some are already done for you. I chose to leave the county field blank so I can reuse this master source for all counties within England.


Finally, fill in the source details (piece number, item number, etc.). I also added the transcription and linked to the digital image I downloaded.


Isn't the citation beautiful? I just love how Legacy's SourceWriter helps you write Evidence-Explained quality citations.


After setting up the Source Clipboard, you're ready to add all the new goodies like the new birth dates and the 1939 residence event. I even got to update Tom's and Agnes' death date field to read after 1939, thus narrowing down their year of death. Just remember, after each piece of information you add, be sure to click the Source Clipboard's paste button to add the citation. It's the second button (shown below).


Tom's updated Individual's Information screen now looks like this:


I didn't mean to write so much, I really just wanted to let you all know that Legacy now has the 1939 England/Wales register as part of the SourceWriter templates. Be sure to download the latest update and you'll have access too!

Additional Resources




Legacy Tip - how to standardize and clean up variations of a location

If your Master Location List in Legacy Family Tree looks like mine, then you, too, would benefit from a little cleanup.


Did you count them too? I have seven variations of the same place! Forty-four different people in my family file are linked to at least one of these spellings.

Regardless of how these seven spellings of Håkansbo made it into my file (I imported much of this from an online database about 20 years ago...), I will save time in future data entry, merging, and publishing after I have standardized and combined them into the one correct spelling. After researching the place, I have determined that the correct form of the place should be Håkansbo, Vittinge, Västmanland, Sweden (or Sverige). Here's how I cleaned up these locations.

1) In the Master Location List (View > Master Lists > Location) I started out by sorting the locations from left-to-right. This groups all of my countries together so I can easily find all of the variations of Håkansbo. Just click on the Sort button and rearrange the jurisdiction pieces.


And click OK.

2) Then I typed "Sweden" in the Find field and scrolled down until I located Håkansbo.

3) Next, I highlighted every occurrence/variation of Håkansbo by Control-Clicking (holding down the Control button on the keyboard while I clicked on each place). Then I clicked on the Combine button at the bottom.

4) Next, I clicked on the correct version of this place (if there isn't a correct version, first edit one of the places) and clicked on the Combine With button.

Here's what it looks like now:


Not bad, eh? Now, in the future, as I am typing in a place for an ancestor, this corrected version of Håkansbo will be the one that auto-fills for me. And I can feel a little better about having these places cleaned up.

Legacy Tip: add your favorite shortcut to the Quick Access Toolbar


Legacy Family Tree's Quick Access Toolbar gives you quick access to your favorite Legacy shortcut. Whether you're viewing the Index View or looking around at the Reports tab, these shortcuts are always visible.

With one click, you have access to these four shortcuts:

  • Navigate backwards
  • Open a new family file
  • Backup your family file
  • Display the last report

You can select from 55 different shortcuts to include on this toolbar including:

  • Search the Internet
  • Relationship Calculator
  • Create a CD
  • Mapping
  • and more

Follow these steps to add your favorite shortcut:

1. In the upper right, go to Design > Toolbars > Quick Access Toolbar


2. Drag and drop the desired shortcut to the Quick Access Toolbar area and click OK.


I added the Search Internet shortcut. Here is what my Quick Access toolbar looks like now:


Give it a try, and tell us in the comments below which shortcuts you added.

New Legacy QuickTip Video - How to Create a Family Calendar

We have another great Legacy QuickTip Video for you today! Learn:

  • How to create a family calendar.
  • How to see who else shares your birthday or anniversary.
  • How to create a list of birthdays for any month.

This QuickTip was presented live during the after-webinar party of this week's Using Periodicals to Find Your Ancestors webinar by Gena Philibert-Ortega.

Click here for the video.


Click here for more Legacy QuickTip videos.

Tuesday's Tip - Tips and Tricks

Legacy Family Tree Tuesday's Tip -Tips and Tricks

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

Tips and Tricks

If you go to HELP > HELP INDEX look over on the right and you will see a section labeled TIPS AND TRICKS.




This is my favorite section. There are a lot of features that you might not figure out on your own, little shortcuts and tricks that will make you happy.

In this section you'll find these tips, all with easy to understand graphics :

  • Family View Tips
  • More Family View Tips
  • Descendant View Tips
  • Pedigree View Tips
  • Chronology View Tips
  • Index View Tips
  • Information Screen Tips
  • Name List Tips
  • Detail Tab
  • Edit Tab
  • Events Tab
  • Sources Tab
  • LDS Tab
  • Print Preview Tips
  • Address Screen Tips
  • Master Location List Tips
  • Marriage Information Tips
  • Media Gallery Tips
  • Other Tips

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 checkout 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 is part of the technical support team at Millennia, the makers of the Legacy Family Tree software program. With over 20 years of research experience, Michele’s passion is helping new genealogists get started on the right foot through her writings, classes and lectures. She is the former staff genealogist and weekly columnist for the McDuffie Mirror and now authors Ancestoring, a blog geared toward the beginner/intermediate researcher.

New Legacy QuickTip Video - Using the Character Ribbon

We have another great Legacy QuickTip Video for you today! Learn:

  • How to use Legacy's Character ribbon to add special characters like ä, å, ö and more to your names, places, and notes.

This QuickTip was presented live during the after-webinar party of this week's German Names and Naming Patterns webinar by Jim Beidler.

Click here for the video.


Click here for more Legacy QuickTip videos.

New Legacy QuickTip Video - Working With Gaps

We have another great Legacy QuickTip Video for you today! Learn:

  • How to identify possible "gaps of unusual size" in Legacy, such as the first child was born too long after the marriage, too many years between the births of children, and more
  • How to turn on or off individual potential problem symbols
  • How to create a list of potential problems in your family file

This QuickTip was presented live during the after-webinar party of this week's Researching With Karen 2! webinar by Karen Clifford.

Click here for the video.


Click here for more Legacy QuickTip videos.