Monday, June 22, 2009

YFT Poll on Genealogy Software

Hello All -

The British family history magazine, "Your Family Tree," has in their latest issue (June 2008) the results from their poll regarding genealogy software. Here are the results:

The poll questions is: What is your family history software of choice?


46% - Family Tree Maker
28% - Family Historian
14% - Other
7% - Legacy
5% - Roots Magic

I am not really surprised by the results of the survey. Family Tree Maker has always been the top dog in software for family history. I am a bit surprised by the low results for Legacy and Roots Magic. One of the reasons could be that in the UK FTM and Family Historian are more widely available to the public (shops always stock FTM and FH). Legacy and Roots Magic are not as well known in the UK, but they are advertised in the UK genealogy magazines. Also, Family Tree Maker has been around much longer than the others, so it has a well established niche in the market. Family Historian does well in UK because it is a British program, and is widely available in this country. It is also a good program to work with too. Version 4 is just become available, and has lots of new and improved features. I must admit that I have not worked with Family Historian myself, but I do not doubt its popularity and quality.

I would like to see the results of this poll question in the US, and in other countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc. I wouldn't doubt that FTM would still be top of the list in these countries too.

I use Legacy and Roots Magic myself, and in my opinion they will become more popular, and will give FTM a run for its money in the future. The quality of these two programs is fantastic, and are excellent in publishing books and reports. They also have great add on programs that you can buy that are tailor made for Legacy and RM, such as Family Atlas, Genelines, Gensmarts, etc. Also, they have good websites for users and program news - Legacy has one of the best in this department. They really try hard to get their customers to learn the ins and outs of their program by producing cd tutorials and books. I mentioned previously that they just published on their website an online seminar of how to work with Legacy. I think if people give a try to Legacy or Roots Magic they will really like them.

However, as I have mentioned before on this topic, pick the program that is right for you and what you want out of it - publishing books, webpage creation, etc.

Let's see how things go next year if the same poll is taken - I think it might be a bit more spread out between the main contenders - FTM, FH, RM, and Legacy. Legacy and Roots Magic might just take a bit more share of the pie.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Family History As A Play?

Hello All -

I found this quite interesting - someone writing a play about family history/genealogy. The play is called "Making Up History: Searching For Annie Moore" written by Alia Faith Williams. I have copied the links of the play found on Roots TV - it is in four parts each being around 15-18 minutes long.

There were many Irish and Scots who immigrated to the US and Canada in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which is the time period of this play for Annie Moore coming to Ellis Island from Ireland to make a new life for herself.

I think it is a great idea for create a play about family history, why not? Family history and genealogy doesn't have to be boring and academic, it can be fun and creative as well. One of the best things about family history is making it come alive - ancestors were more than dates, names, and places.

Until Next Time.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Scottish Handwriting in Old Documents - Some Quick Tips

Hello All -

I am sure it has happened sometime along the line whenever you have been doing any research into your Scottish ancestors - those pesky old documents with the funny hand to read writing.
To help you out a bit, there is a website dedicated to help in this. It is is a product of the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN).

The website has online tutorials to help you get to grips with reading these old documents with the funny handwriting. There is an interactive tutorial and a coaching manual. Palaeography, studying old handwriting, is a skill that is worth trying to learn. If you are fortunate enough to find documents regarding your ancestor(s) before say 1770ish in Scotland, then this website will be quite helpful to you in learning the basics.

Also, it helps to learn a bit of latin too. Most of the Scottish documents found before 1750 are in latin. You don't have to get too learned in the language (only if you want to), just be able to recognize a few important words such as Father, Mother, born, died, married, son, daughter, etc.
A good idea would be to take a sheet of paper of latin words and their english translation with you when you do any research in a repository - sort of a cheat sheet. An excellent website on learning latin words and simple phrases in genealogy is found at the website:

Another very simple and quick tip on helping to read the handwriting on documents (for example ones found in the Statutory Registers after 1855) is if you have trouble making out a word in a document, say for example a death record, look at the words around the word you are having trouble with. Look at the letters and see if they look the same as the word you are trying to make out. This may help in making sense of the word. Of course you don't have to worry about such bad handwriting from the Registrar until after the early 1900s, when the documents were starting to be typed with a typewriter.

Just think, there is always someone out there with worse handwriting than you.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Legacy Software Seminar Online

Hello All -

I talk a fair bit about technology for genealogy research. This post is no exception. If you are thinking about software programs for your family history and are not sure about which one is best for you, Legacy Family Tree has an online seminar on their website. This seminar gives an overview and tips and tricks about the program.

I have just started using Legacy 7 Deluxe edition myself, and after using some of the other program out there I can wholeheartedly recommend it. I have just newly received it, so I am still learning about how the program works completely. However, from what I have learned so far, Legacy is a very user friendly program. It arranges things in a straightforward manner (I was able to work with it without looking at the manual). One of the features that I really like is their book publishing report. The program pretty much does it all for you - you just can do some appearance changes here and there to suit your preferences and it does the rest. The book will create its own table of contents and index, which is really nice.

I am also a fan of Roots Magic, which is another very good and user friendly program. But, I think Legacy has got a slight edge for me right at the moment.

To view the seminars online just go to Legacy's website at
They are in three different versions, so one of them will work for you.