Friday, January 23, 2015

Legacy: Using all of the different notes fields

Most Legacy users know about the five main notes fields, General, Research, Medical, Marriage and Event but are you taking advantage of all of the other notes fields Legacy has?  Just in case you are not familiar with the Big 5 we will look at those first.  I will tell you what I put in each field.  You can click any of the screenshots to make them bigger.

I use the General Notes to hold biographical information.  I try to write a short bio on every person in my direct line and for the siblings of my direct line at the very least.  Sometimes this is a paragraph and sometimes it is several pages.



I use the Research Notes to document my current theories and my train of thought.



I use the Medical Notes to record all kinds of medical things I find.



And here is a Marriage Note.



Here is how I use the notes for an event.  This happens to be a newspaper article so I have put the transcription in the notes. 



Now we will look at some of the notes fields that people seem to overlook.  I like to keep my notes with the fact they are describing.  To get to the Birth, Baptism, Death and Burial Notes fields all you have to do is click the + (plus) sign to the right of the field.  You will also see some other options listed for each of these fields.



Here are some examples of what I put in these 4 notes fields.






Ah but we are just getting started! Any attached Media can have notes.



You can have notes attached to locations. 



You can have notes on addresses.



You can have notes for repositories.



To-Do Tasks have two tabs of notes, the Task Description and the Results.  If you take the time to fill these out properly you will have a nice research log.



Did I miss any?  A lot of Legacy users will jam all their notes into the General or Research notes.  They will get lengthy and then it will be hard to find things.  I like to attach my notes to the fact that they actually pertain to.  It just makes more sense.  Your reports will also read out better. 


Copyright © 2015 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. Here's a tip I learned from Tessa Keough. Add notes to your locations. This is especially helpful to me to keep the political changes in perspective. I try to use the location name as it was when the event happened. so I have 4 different ways to "say" Ireland and 2 ways to "say" Hawaii and Utah.. Without the date notes I would be constantly looking up the information. And I learn a little about each place.

    1. Mary,
      I agree! I also will copy and paste excerpts from old local histories that are out of copyright (still citing it properly though!). I just finished adding notes to all of the Georgia Parishes (Before the Rev War Georgia had Parishes instead of counties) with the history of each Parish.

      By the way, Tessa is a GREAT resource! She is definitely a power user and you can trust what she tells you. She has a very popular Google+ page, the Legacy Virtual Users Group

  2. Thanks very much for these informative posts on Legacy. I am learning so much!

  3. Great post Michele! I do not take advantage of all the note locations but I think you have given me the push to try harder :) Have a great weekend!

  4. Excellent post Michele. I'm a major user of all the notes fields you mentioned except for the To Do List notes. I don't use the To Do List (yes, I know I should). I love entering notes and even copy and paste the index info into birth, marriage, death etc. I really like adding historical background info to the geographical notes. I hope your post will encourage others to utilize these features more often.

    1. It took me some time to let go of my traditional research logs and use Legacy exclusively. The problem I had with the research logs is that I had a log for each research question for each person. It was hard to keep all of that organized. In Legacy I can set it up the same way. I use the Categories as my research question. If I want to see everything I have done for a certain goal I can filter the list, The trick is filling the tasks out completely (all fields) so that the filters will work for you. Having said that, you need to use whatever works for you. The To-Do list is there if you want to use it but you certainly don't have to.

  5. Great post, Michele. I've made use of all those note fields, but not consistently for everyone. I need to clean those up. I also use the medical tab to write the definition of any archaic medical terms or diagnoses. I'd love to see your Category list for research questions. Would you put up a screen shot? I'd like to use the to-do as my research log, but having trouble turning loose of those traditional logs.

  6. The one I showed on the blog happens to be my favorite To-Do at the moment (I still haven't gotten my answer yet). The category is Court Records and that is the field that I will use to filter if I want to see what all court records I have been looking for. The "Task Needing to be Done" field isn't a field you can filter BUT you can sort by that field. There is a difference. You can see that I was pretty specific on what I put in that box, "Official Document naming William as Sheriff of Perry County?" I am usually not this elaborate. If I want to be able to sort my tasks by the name in this box then if I have more than one task for this goal they will have to match. This is very easy to do because you can see your list of goals in the list and you can type in a new one using the same wording. I am more likely to type something in like "Who did John marry?" "Who were John's parents?" "Did John have will?" just because I am lazy and these are less words. I can type it as elaborate as I want though because if I need to add another one with the same title I can see the titles I have used in the list. Remember, this field is used for SORTING not FILTERING.

    I use the Sort Order when I am looking at ONE person. This is different than the Filter Options which is on a different tab. This make it look like more of a research calendar. I can see everything I have done for this ONE person. I sort mine first by TASK NAME, then by CATEGORY and then by OPEN DATE. On the Filter tab a select Open and Closed if I want to see my entire research calendar or by just Open to see what I am still working on. Does that make sense? Filtering and Sorting are two different things.

    You can play with this until you get your lists looking just like you want.

  7. Good demonstration and ideas for using Legacy notes. I think I need to make time to learn how to make better use of Legacy, at least to see what it can help me with. I got into the habit of putting research notes into Evernote, where I can write it up with citation, transcription, to do lists, analysis etc in one place. I want to see how I can use Legacy for more of that, which would also help keep me up to date on where I am with each individual.