Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Shameless plug

Legacy just released a new updated website that is just awesome! If you have been thinking about getting a webinar subscription now is the time. This new updated website is mobile friendly and it now has a playlist so that you can pull in the webinars you want to watch. If you start watching one and get interrupted you can pick up where you left off and Legacy will remember ALL of the webinars that you are in the middle of watching. That's my favorite feature so I am mentioning that one specifically but there are all kinds of cool new things on this website. The webinar subscription is on sale right now for $49.95 for a year.

Legacy’s new webinar website

Video tour of the website showcasing the new features


Click graphic to access the ordering page

Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, October 26, 2015

Using FamilySearch’s Family Tree the right way

I happen to like FamilySearch’s Family Tree.  It is a collaborative tree which is very different than the Public and Private Member Trees on

Before you can use FamilySearch’s Family Tree to its full potential, you need to educate yourself on how it all works.  A lot of people who have no clue will connect and then start deleting people and merging people which messes things up big time for everyone else.  Using one of the programs that can directly sync can make it even easier for you to mess things up for others.

Before you even think about sharing any of your data with FamilySearch, you need to clean up your data.  Again, this is even more important (and easier!) if you are using one of the programs that can directly sync.  Cleanup means making sure all of your data is entered consistently using the genealogy standards accepted by FamilySearch (the formats for names, dates and locations).  If you use Legacy you will want to visit all of the Master Lists and check them for consistency as well as run the Potential Problems Report and the Find Duplicates routines.  Having nicely formatted sources for all of your data is a plus. Once your data is in the best shape that it can be, now you can think about uploading it.

Now that your data is ready to go, you can upload on the website via gedcom.  You can do that HERE.  If you upload via gedcom, FamilySearch is going to make you address possible duplicates right off the bat and that is why you need to know the right way to deal with duplicates.  You can also upload via one of FamilySearch approved software programs.

The Riverton Family History Center’s pdf instructions on how to use FamilySearch’s Family Tree are the best in my opinion.  These are the ones I pass out when I give a lecture on FamilySearch.  You can see them HERE. They are 11 pdfs listed under Family Tree that will teach you everything you need to know.

Once you are very familiar with the above tasks, you can then learn how the direct interface works in your FamilySearch approved software program.  If you are using Legacy, you can watch the Legacy and FamilySearch Family Tree Webinar (free) and download an informative pdf from HERE


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Creating a gedcom to go along with autosomal DNA

For those of you that want to create a gedcom to upload to one of the DNA websites to go along with your autosomal DNA, what's the best way to do this? You will want to include all of your blood relatives and exclude everyone that isn't related to you by blood.

The instructions below are for Legacy.  If you use a different genealogy database program you can read through the Legacy directions to help you figure out how to do this in your program.

1) Go to TOOLS > SET RELATIONSHIPS. Make sure that the person that provided the DNA sample is the person that is in the top box (many of us have DNA samples for several of our family members). Set the “Blood Relationships” to 999 and set the “Non-blood Relationships” to 0. Now SET RELATIONSHIPS.

2) Go to SEARCH > FIND. Click the DETAILED SEARCH tab. Here is the search criteria you need.

Individual > Relationship > Equal to > Related

Now tag everyone on this search list (OPTIONS > ADVANCED TAGGING > TAG #1 > EVERYONE IN SEARCH LIST)  Use any unused tag and then label that tag.

3) You are now going to export the gedcom but you don't want to show any living people except for yourself. Temporarily mark yourself as deceased. When you do the export (FILE > EXPORT > GEDCOM FILE) under PRIVACY OPTIONS select “Exclude living people totally as if they do not exist” (my choice) or “Suppress details for living people/Change name to "Living."

Under RECORD SELECTION choose to export only the tagged individuals. Don't check the boxes for spouses/children/parents because you already have everyone tagged that needs to be exported.

You will also want to strip the gedcom of events and notes. I only upload the vital events (birth, marriage, death) to include dates and locations. You can tell Legacy what NOT to export on the CUSTOMIZE screen.

Now SELECT FILE NAME AND START EXPORT. You now have a file of everyone you are blood related to. Living persons (except you) have been excluded to protect their privacy. You have stripped the gedcom of all of the fluff that doesn't need to be there. Perfect!


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, October 19, 2015


DNA.LAND is the new DNA kid on the block and it has taken off big time. CeCe Moore (expert genetic genealogist) endorses it and that is all I need to know. Here is CeCe Moore’s BLOG POST about it.

I uploaded my atDNA and I already have matches even thought the pool is still relatively small. 

Here is my ethnicity:


Wow.  I am pretty generic.

Here is one of my matches.  I had to cut off some of the information to protect the privacy of the person I match to.  This is a predicted 3rd cousin, my closest match right now.  I wanted you to see what their chromosome bowser looks like.


I figure the more DNA pools I have my genes in the more matches I will get.  I can also take advantage of the tools each website has to further refine my genetic research.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Something you need to know when researching in newspapers


This is a follow-up post to Thank you ACPL and PERSI.  My dilemma is finding a marriage record in South Carolina, a state that didn’t bother to record marriages at the county level until 1911.  The two best places to find marriages in South Carolina are church records (the last post) and newspapers (today’s post).

There some great online sources of newspapers, some are free, some are subscription:

If you limit your newspaper search to what is available on line you will probably miss something. There are a lot of newspapers out there that are on microfilm at the state archives and within the university and public library systems that are not online.  There are also many that are original papers that haven’t even been microfilmed.  How do you find these?  The Library of Congress has a wonderful tool:

Search U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-Present 

This site will tell you EVERY newspaper that was in print in a certain location and in a certain time period AND where you can find them. 

Here is an example.  I want to know what papers were in publication in Georgetown, Georgetown County, South Carolina between 1780 and 1790.

There is only one hit, The Georgetown Chronicle and South-Carolina Weekly Advertiser.  It was in publication from 179?-1797 (the exact starting date is unknown because as you will see below not many issues have survived time).  The search picked this paper up because I had entered 1790 and the first date could be 1790.

Now I can see a list of repositories that have this paper and not only that, it will tell me exactly what years/issues they have. 

American Antiquarian Soc, Newsp Proj, Worcester, MA
Dates: 1796:3:22 Original

Harvard Univ, Houghton Libr, Cambridge, MA
Dates 1797:1:19 Original

Univ of S Carolina, Columbia, SC
Dates: 1796: 3:22, 1797:1:19 Microfilm

You can see that only two papers have survived.  The American Antiquarian Society has one and Harvard has the other.  The University of South Carolina has microfilmed these two papers and they hold the microfilm.

This was a very limited example.  Now I will give you one that has a few more hits.  This time I will do the search for Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina for 1780 – 1790 (same 10 year span, different city).  Charleston was an important port city so I expect to see more hits and I do. There were TWENTY-SIX papers in publication during this time! Some of these are overlaps but still.

1. The South-Carolina & American general gazette [microform]. (Charlestown [S.C.]) 1764-1781
2. The Royal South-Carolina gazette [microform]. (Charles-Town, S.C.) 1780-1782
3. Charleston gazette. (Charleston, S.C.) 1778-1780
4. The South-Carolina gazette and general advertizer. (Charlestown [i.e. Charleston, S.C.]) 1783-1784
5. South Carolina state gazette and daily advertiser. (Charleston, S.C.) 1784-1785
6. The Columbian herald, or The Patriotic courier of North-America. (Charleston, S.C.) 1784-1785
7. The Charleston morning post, and daily advertiser. (Charleston) 1786-1787
8. The state gazette of South-Carolina. (Charleston [S.C.]) 1785-1793
9. The city gazette, and the daily advertiser. (Charleston) 1787-1803
10. The Columbian herald, or, The Independent courier of North-America. (Charleston, S.C.) 1785-1792
11. The Gazette of the state of South-Carolina. (Charles-town [S.C.]) 1777-1785
12. The South-Carolina weekly advertiser. (Charlestown [i.e. Charleston], S.C.) 1783-178?
13. Chronicle of liberty, or, The republican intelligencer. ([Charleston, S.C.]) 1783-178?
14. The royal gazette. ([Charleston] S.C.) 1781-1782
15. The South-Carolina & American general gazette. (Charlestown [S.C.]) 1764-1781
16. The Royal South-Carolina gazette. (Charles-Town, S.C.) 1780-1782
17. The Charlestown gazette. (Charlestown, S.C.) 1778-1780
18. South Carolina state gazette, and general advertiser. (Charleston [S.C.]) 1784-1784
19. The Charleston evening gazette. ([Charleston, S.C.]) 1785-178?
20. The South-Carolina weekly gazette. (Charlestown [i.e. Charleston, S.C.]) 1783-1784
21. The South-Carolina gazette, and public advertiser. (Charleston [S.C.]) 1784-1786
22. The South-Carolina gazette, and the general advertiser. (Charleston) 1786-1786
23. The South-Carolina weekly chronicle. (Charleston, S.C.) 1787-1787
24. The City gazette, and the daily advertiser [microform]. (Charleston [S.C.]) 1787-1803
25. The Charleston morning post and daily advertiser [microform]. (Charleston, S.C.) 1786-1787
26. The city gazette, and the daily advertiser [microform]. (Charleston [S.C.]) 1787-1803

Nice!  Each one of these has its own list of repositories.  I will only show you #3, the Charleston Gazette, 1778-1780.

There is only one place you can find this paper and that is at Wagner College on Staten Island, NY (why does NY have a SC paper?  I have no clue). Here are the issues they have:

1778: 11:3
1779: 1:26, 3:23, 11:23
1780: 1: 11, 18

These are on microfilm.  Since the original papers are not listed at any repository it is assumed they have been destroyed. 

I am sure that you can see from these very simple examples that there are a gazillion papers out there that you will never see if you only rely on online newspaper sites.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Monday, October 12, 2015

Thank you ACPL and PERSI

The Allen County Library (ACPL) in Fort Wayne, Indiana is the creator of the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) which has been of great use to me over the years.  I just received copies of five articles that appeared in the South Carolina Historical Magazine.

  • “South Carolina Episcopal Church Records” by Margaretta Childs and Isabella G. Leland, Oct 1983
  • “South Carolina Methodist Records” by Richard N. Côté, Jan 1984
  • “South Carolina Presbyterian Records” by Richard N. Côté, Apr 1984
  • “South Carolina Baptist Records” by J. Glen Clayton, Oct 1984
  • “South Carolina Religious Records: Other Denominations” by Richard N. Côté, Jan 1985

South Carolina, unlike everyone else, didn’t keep marriage records at the county level until 1911 which is very inconvenient.  There are a few scattered marriage records in the court records but there aren’t many.  One must turn to church records and newspapers.  I am going to address newspapers in the next post because there is something very important to know when you want to try and find something in a newspaper.

Before you start a search through church records you need to know what records actually exist and where they are housed.  That is why I ordered the above articles.  They are a gold mine of information and I am starting to put together a comprehensive research plan.  I am looking for a specific marriage and I am not 100% sure which church the couple belonged to (I suspect Episcopal) so I must look at all of the denominations.  It’s a needle in a haystack search and that it why it is doubly important to search methodically and keep records of everything that has been searched.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis


















Friday, October 9, 2015


Previous posts in this series:
Benchmarks – Part I
Benchmarks – Part II
Education – Foundational
Education – Intermediate

The first two aren’t educational opportunities per se but going through the process will be the best education you will probably ever get.

Both the BCG and ICAPGen have all kinds of resources that you can use to help bring your research skills up to the advanced level even if you don’t plan on actually submitting anything to them.

My portfolio for the BCG is over half done BUT I am having to take an extended break from it because I have a grandbaby on the way.  Family is always first for me and when my daughter goes back to work I will be watching the baby for her in addition to my full time job at Legacy.  It just isn’t in the cards for me right now but going through the process taught me a lot.  To see what is required, you can look at the BCG’s Application Guide. I already told you about BCG’s Standards Manual but you can also take a look at BCG’s Rubrics which is used to judge the portfolios. 

Another great advanced learning opportunity is submitting an article to a peer-reviewed journal such as the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ), The Register (published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society),  The Record (published by the New York Genealogical & Biographical Society), or The American Genealogist.  The editorial process can take up to a year depending on the article and the journal.  Each journal has its own style of what type of articles they accept and how they need to be submitted so your first step is to acquaint yourself with their submission guidelines. 

Here are two educational opportunities that are definitely on my bucket list. You can read descriptions of the courses on their websites.

Here are some new ones from Excelsior College that look VERY interesting. 

These have not been scheduled yet but I have put my name on the list.  It just so happens I received my bachelor’s degree in nursing from Excelsior so I am familiar with the school and they have an excellent reputation.  Since full descriptions of the courses aren’t available yet I don’t know what level these courses are but knowing the types of courses that Excelsior have these will be at the intermediate level at the very least.

There are A LOT of great webinars out there on specialized topics.  Cyndi’s List has a clearinghouse of Online Courses and Webinars you can take a look at.  Just make sure you vet the instructor so that you know the course is legit.

You can get CDs of presentations given at the national level by the top genealogists in the country/world.  This is a great way to take advantage of national conferences when you can’t travel.  My favorite source is JAMB Tapes, Inc.

I highly recommend that you keep track of your education.  I have a friend that designed a really cool form in MS Word that I use.  You could also use MS Excel or other spreadsheet program.  I would not only include the specifics of the course (name, date, location, description, cost) but also your personal evaluation of the course. 


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Previous posts in this series:
Benchmarks – Part I
Benchmarks – Part II
Education – Foundational

So now you have some education and experience under your belt and you want to kick it up a notch, where do you go from here?  We are still at the point where you need to get a general, well-rounded education but you can also start branching out into specialized areas. 

You can of course continue your education at the FamilySearch Learning Center by going through the courses that are labeled intermediate (and then advanced).  There are 351 at the intermediate level.  That should keep you busy for awhile.

Normally I would have said that the next step would be the National Genealogical Society’s Home Study Course but I now see that they have changed it to American Genealogical Studies. I am not sure if the original course is still available other than for students who are already enrolled. The NGS Home Study course was a comprehensive survey of the most common record sets that you will be working with. There are assignments for each module and you get personalized feedback from the instructor. This was a great precursor to ProGen.  The new American Genealogical Studies series is set up differently.  I haven’t seen it myself but I am pretty confident it is a good program since it is from the NGS. Here are the tracks:

Here are a couple more ideas for comprehensive programs.

I also highly recommend ProGen.  This is an 18 month study group.  You have to be willing to commit because there is a lot of work involved.  I am VERY glad I participated.  I was in ProGen 18 and all of us are still in touch.  As a matter of fact, we have our own secret Facebook Group page. 

Joining one of the NGSQ Study Groups is also a great idea.  Once a month you get together to discuss a NGSQ article.  You must be a member of the National Genealogical Society to take advantage of this one because you will need access to the articles archive.  The schedule of articles is sent out at the beginning of the year.  There are groups that meet on different days/times and using different platforms so you should be able to find a good fit.  If you are interested, you can send an email to Darcie Posz at for more information.

Another great intermediate group is the GenProof Study Groups which is based on the book, Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones. These groups are 8 or 16 weeks long, meet at different days/times and on different platforms so there is something for everyone. For more information you can contact Michelle Goodrum at I am one of the mentors for these groups and every time I take a group through I learn something. 

So what books do you need to add to your library?  This is a little tougher because now that you are at the intermediate level there are so many great books out there.  You really aren’t limited anymore.  Here is my Complete Book List.  There are a couple that I have that aren’t on the list but this is most of them.

This is also where you can start building resources for specific topics.  For example, since I do a lot of German research I have a bunch of books just for that though some people might consider German research an advanced skill.

Bentz, Edna M. If I Can You Can Decipher Germanic Records. San Diego, CA: privately published, 2001.

Beidler, James M. German: Chronological Considerations. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2014.

Gläntzer, Christina. Hundert Jahre im Leben Einer Familie, Die Familie Gläntzer. Bielefeld, Germany: privately published, n.d.

Langenscheidt’s New College German Dictionary. Revised Edition. New York: Langenscheidt,1995.

Meyerink, Kory and Kenneth Lee Smith. German: Church Records. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2003.

Meyerink, Kory. German: Civil Registration. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2005.

Meyerink, Kory. German: Emigration Records. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2004.

Meyerink, Kory. German: Introduction to Research for North Americans. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2002.

Meyerink, Kory. German: Locating Places in Germany. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2009.

Meyerink, Kory. German: Reading the Records. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2003.

Meyerink, Kory. German: Records Repositories. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2004.

Meyerink, Kory. German: The Language. N.p.: National Institute for Genealogical Studies, 2002.

Minert, Roger P. Deciphering Handwriting in German Documents.  2nd Ed. Provo, UT: GRT Publications, 2013.

Minert, Roger P. Spelling Variations in German Names: Solving Family History Problems Through Applications of German and English Phonetics. Provo, UT: GRT Publications, 2000.

Reimer, Shirley J., et al. The German Research Companion. 3rd Ed. Sacramento, CA: Lorelei Press, 2010.

Smith, Kenneth L. German Names – A Practical Guide. Morgantown, PA: Mastof Press, 2007.

Strutz, Henry. 501 German Verbs. 3rd Ed. Alfred, NY: Barron’s, 1998.

Süß, Harold. Deutsche Screibschrift, Lesen und Schreiben Lernen. München, Germany: Augutus Verlag, 2000.

Thode, Ernest. German-English Genealogical Dictionary. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2003.

Urban, Thomas. Deutsche in Polen, Geschichte und Gegenwart einer Minderheirt. München, Germany: C. H. Beck, 2000.

Verdenhalven, Fritz. Die Deutsche Schrift-The German Script. Neustadt, Germany: Verlag Degener & Co., 1994.


Next time we will talk about some advanced learning opportunities.  Some of these will require travel.


Copyright © 2015 Michèle Simmons Lewis