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Software Review - NGS NewsMagazine, April/May 2006
reprinted with permission of the National Genealogical Society

Legacy 6.0

By Barbara Schenck

There may be no such thing as a free lunch but Millennia Corporation's Legacy 6.0 Standard Version is a free software program that, if you have a computer, leaves you with no reason not to keep your records organized and your research focused.

If you are looking for a full featured program to organize you family history data, keep track of your research goals, and create a variety of reports to share with interested family members, and keep your wallet to you pocket, take a look at Legacy 6.0.

The deluxe edition a $29.95 upgrade, is even better.

It provides focused research guidance, an almost unlimited array of report options, a very helpful timeline feature, a potential problems list creator, the availability of verifying the date of formation of United States counties, a place to put DNA results, the potential for creating multiple lines of descent, and reports and forms in a variety of languages, among other things.

Both the standard and deluxe versions are powerful programs that look almost identical. The Deluxe, however, has more bells and whistles. Both are easy to navigate and to understand. The initial learning curve is not steep, though there is a great deal of substance once you get into the program.

'There are, frankly, many great features in Legacy.'

Features

Both forms of Legacy have a toolbar along the top with bright, cheerful icons that you can click to move forward or back, search for individuals in your file, consult an every-name and married couples index (I love the married couples index! Anyone with 57 men named William Ralph in their database would love the marriage index!), create reports and a to do list, merge individuals, and go onto the Internet (provided you have a connection). What you can do with each of these is pretty self explanatory. Even better, there are labels underneath the cheerful icons to tell you what they are--a particularly helpful feature if you are as icon-challenged as I am.

Below the toolbar, a row of horizontal tabs allows you to access your data in a variety of ways. When you open a new file you are taken to a Family page (on the left, just inboard of the tab that will take you to the Legacy home page). The family page is where you may want to begin entering data by clicking on the individual--either husband or wife--you wish to start with. When you do, a new window pops up with fields for you to enter information.

Entering sources

In this same window there is the option to enter sources for your data--and add them to a master source list. All genealogists wish they had started taking sources seriously sooner than they did. Legacy encourages--and reiterates how important sources are and its Master Source List, with its "source clipboard" makes what sometimes feels like a time consuming chore much easier. The source clipboard allows you to click on an entry from your master source list add then click again to enter it into a series of citations rather than having to retype.

For example, if you are citing a county history about your ancestor and it mentions several other people in the family, and you wait to cite this source for all of them, you can put the title on your master source list, and then bring it up onto the clipboard. Using a set of vertical buttons down the left hand side of each individual's page, you can then add this source to that person's information with a single click of the mouse.

To change "detail information" you click another button for a "detail screen' where the master remains, but you can edit the details, i.e. page numbers, etc. As a person who has diligently typed a census citation over and over for a family of twelve, I have a deep appreciation for this shortcut.

There is also a very nice feature with which you can evaluate the source you are citing. Have you found your "evidence" in a local history of suspect reliability? Then you can indicate that. Have you used a microfilm of an original parish register? You can give it higher marks. There is a place to check off if you have verified your sources, too.

In the interest of helping you learn how to cite sources and use its program most effectively, Millennia has created a series of videos. The first of these on "beginning genealogy" is also available free online. Introductions to the other videos are there, too, and are worth a look even if you don't purchase them. I found many hints for using the program effectively just from these overviews. I'm sure that the videos would be an excellent way to make sure you are getting the most out of the program. Check them out at <http://www.legacyfamilytree.com>.

Once you have your marital couple entered, entering children can be done from the same Family page. And clicking on the blank places above the individual's name will take you to the previous generation where you can enter grandparents' information.

Other tabs

The other tabs across the screen--Pedigree, Descendent, Chronology and Index--make it easy to move mound in your data. Pedigree takes you to the ancestral pedigree tree we are all familiar with. Descendant gives you a vertical outline descendancy tree. Chronology offers a timeline version of an ancestor's life, including his age and the year when significant events in his life happened. It's also possible to include historical events, such as wars, which took place during his lifetime. To see his life in historical context can sometimes open our eyes to avenues of research that we haven't explored yet.

Research guidance

That brings us to the final horizontal tab, Research Guidance, which provides suggestions for research on each individual. If, for example, I highlight my great-great grandfaither, William M. Jenkins, on the Family page, then click on Research Guidance, the program takes all the facts I have entered about him and creates a timeline (rather like the one on the chronology tab). But then it goes several steps further.

It begins by suggesting a preliminary survey of places I should look to see what might already be known about him - the Pedigree Resource File, World Connect, and Ancestry.com among others. It suggests surname and locality mailing lists and message boards then goes on to suggest genealogies and local histories that I might want to consult.

Because William Jenkins was bom in Weakley County, Tennessee, grew to manhood in southwest Missouri, and ended his days in Grayson County, Texas, Legacy cites more than a dozen possible local histories for me to consult - and it even tells me some repositories where they are available!

As if that weren't enough, Legacy offers another level of Suggested Sources in which I can pick a goal (for example, where to find William's death date or his marriage record). Based upon the goal, it will provide another list of records I might want to check. These, too, can be added to my to do list.

To do list

Once I have created a to do list, accessible from the toolbar whenever I want it, Legacy gives me a way to manage it effectively, too. It has created a "tagging" feature that can be tuned on using the Options menu at the top of the screen above the toolbar. Once I activate "tagging" there, I can use it any way my heart desires.

If, for example, I am going to the NARA archives in Fort Worth, I can go through my to do list and tag all the items that are available at Fort Worth, print out my tagged list, and take it with me. And while I still might stand there dazed and confused by the multitude of possibilities available, it won't be Legacy's fault. The software will have given me a list beforehand that should help me focus my research and make the best use of my time.

This 'tagging' option can be used in an almost limitless fashion, not just with sources, but also with individuals and family groups. In fact, think of any way you want to sort your sundry relatives, tag them, and they are thereafter marked as a group, accessible when you want them to do with ever you chose- until you untag them. It's a great feature with lots of possibilities.

There are, frankly, many, great features in Legacy. It was not a program I was familiar with. I've used another mainstream genealogy program for a number of years. And while I usually go back to it when I've tried out another program, recently I've found myself using Legacy more and more. I imported a GEDCOM of my 7,600 nearest and dearest into it with nary a hitch, and the ease of navigation and the variety of reports and ways to manipulate the data now frequently cause me to turn to Legacy when I want to take a look at what I've got.

I recently used it to send family group sheets in German to a possible relation of my grandfather, we share the same surname and a general geographic area, but we don't share the same language. Being able to print the forms with my data in German and send them to him was a big help. It won't do a genealogical report in German (aw. Shucks) but it does get the basics down very nicely.

There are a lot of extras on the Deluxe version that I hive barely had a chance to mention here. It has master lists of locations that it will check your data against; it will analyze your file and point out possible problems, allowing you to delete them or correct them or put them on your ever growing to do list for future sorting out.

I've used Legacy for 2 months now - and I feel as if I have barely scratched the surface of its potential. If you are looking for a program with lots of options and a very good price, Legacy 6.0 is definitely worth checking out!

Barbara Schenck has been researching her family for thirty years, during which tine she has learned to document her sources. She also found many opportunities to discover her reluctant relatives. What she doesn't use in family history ends up as grist for her novels written as Anne McAllistster. She can he reached at barbarajschenck@gmail.com.
 


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