Lesson 2

Workshop 2 - RootsMagic and Interfacing with Family Tree

Objective for this Lesson

To help students get familiar with basic RootsMagic functions, learn to appreciate and create source citations, and empower them to begin to identify and organize what they already know about their families


Powerpoint: The scripture is on slide 2 of the Workshop 2 powerpoint so that a student can read it out loud.

●      D&C 88:119

o      Based on this scripture and other gospel principles you know, how important do you think organization is to the Lord? Why?

o      What are some ways that we can make sure our research follows this pattern of order the Lord has established?

●      Purpose of RootsMagic

o      to keep track of your research

o      to document sources

o      to print reports such as pedigree charts and family group sheets

Intro to RootsMagic

Powerpoint: Slide 3 of the Workshop 2 powerpoint explains what RootsMagic is.

RootsMagic is one way to record the information you’ve gathered. It can help you organize your research and help you see where you need to focus your efforts.

5 Step Research Process

Why did you take this course? What do you hope to learn?

Powerpoint: Slide 4 of the Workshop 2 powerpoint explains Step 1 of the Five Step Research Process. Today we’re going to talk about how to get started with the Research Process, steps 1 and 2. Remember that Step 1 is to identify what you know about your family. You can do this by:

●      Gathering documents you have around the house for yourself, your immediate family, and your ancestors.

●      Asking your family members what they know or remember about their lives and the lives of their predecessors.

●      Recording the information you find either on paper or electronically

Step 2 is to decide what you want to learn about your family:

●      Is the marriage date missing for your great-grandparents?

●      Have you always heard that your great uncle had a twin brother that died as a baby? What was his name?

●      Is the information in Family Tree approximated? Do you want to make that information more accurate?

Different Versions/Purchasing RootsMagic

●      Go to www.rootsmagic.com

●      When you hover over the “Products” Tab, you’ll see that there are different versions of RootsMagic.

o      The Essentials version has everything that you’ll need to make it through your classes. It’s totally free, just download it.

o      RootsMagic 6.0 has more bells and whistles. If you use the Student Discount code (262BYU15) you can get the full package for just $10 (www.rootsmagic.com/student). (The full version allows more features than the free version. Such as copy and pasting a source citation - citing the same census document for each person in the family).

●      If you have a Mac

o      You CAN download RootsMagic but you will also need to use another program so it can run on your Mac, because RootsMagic is PC based software.

o      You may get the student discounted full version stated previously but you will also need to download “MacBridge for RootsMagic 6”. This program is $9.95 for a limited time. Download it at http://www.rootsmagic.com/mac/. This will allow you to run RootsMagic on a Mac without downloading the Crossover software or having to run Windows.

●      Keep in mind that you don’t have to have RootsMagic for this class if you don’t want to. You can use other programs if you’d like. RootsMagic 6 is also available on our lab computers and the Family History Center’s computers on the 2nd floor of the HBLL. So, you could do all your assignments on these computers and just keep a copy of your file on a flash drive or in an email account.

●      RootsMagic isn’t the only family history program out there. There are many different programs you can use for Macs or PCs: Mac Family Tree, Legacy, etc. If you have questions about using other programs, please ask a TA during an open lab hour.

Creating a New File

Hand out “Home Sources” photocopies so they can create a file for that family.

●      Open RootsMagic 6 from your start menu

●      Close the RootsMagic News window that pops up

●      Choose “Create a new file”

●      Give it a descriptive name

●      Click the three boxes on the right [“display names uppercase” “LDS support” “new FamilySearch support”]

●      Push OK

Adding Preparer Information

Preparer information is included on every report so that others will always have a way of contacting you should they ever see your reports or printouts.

Additionally, all the teachers require that you have preparer information or you will lose points.

●      Tools→File Options→Preparer [with the cartoon dude]

●      Don’t have to enter in all the fields, but should have sufficient data to get a hold of you—at least your name and one method of contacting you.

Start Exploring

Powerpoint: Slide 8 of the Workshop 2 powerpoint has a list of things the students should try to figure out how to do.

●      Add yourself in the pedigree by clicking on the box

●      Fill in as many details as you can about yourself before clicking OK

●      When you push OK, your card will pull up. Push “Add a fact” and continue adding all kinds of information about yourself.

●      Push “Close” when you’re ready to move on and start adding information about members of your family.

o      You can start with adding your mom and dad by clicking on the boxes above or beneath your name on the pedigree.

o      Or you can select the “Family” tab at the top and begin filling in information from that view. This will also allow you to add information about brothers and sisters.

●      A few things to note:

o      You can make notes about any fact or person by clicking on the correct box in the notebook column or using the “note” button on the right hand side--this is useful for just about anything: recording your guesses, talking about why you think an estimated date is correct, etc.

o      You can include pictures or other media by clicking on the right box in the camera column or by pushing the “Media” button at the top--this is useful if you have a record, file, video, or picture you want to attach to the person or fact.

o      Some of the students will need to know how to use the Research Log button. Show them how to open it and make and use notes in the log.

Give students five minutes to start their family tree and discover how to record the information they already know.


Powerpoint: Slide 9 of the Workshop 2 powerpoint outlines some reasons for adding sources.

Why do we care about sources? Why do you think they are important?

●      Click on a fact and then click Sources, on the right side.

●      “Cite existing source” will pull up a list of all the sources you have already put into RM

●      For now, click “Add new source.” This will pull up a bunch of source templates. To find the right one for your source, look for the most detailed source template that matches your record.

o      For the stuff you just typed in, it’s probably your personal knowledge and there’s a template for that!

●      Fill in as many fields as possible. Don’t get lazy! Remember that your research is only as good as your sourcing.

●      If you decide to reuse this citation for another fact or individual, the yellow portion of the source template will stay the same (it’s part of the master source). The green part changes for each individual record, so you will have to fill it out each time

●      Before you close out of Citation Manager, push “Memorize” and “Paste” if you need to source the same record for the same person

Home Sources Activity

Have students look at the home sources photocopies that are examples of documents or objects they might find lying around their parents’ homes. These might include:

●      A photograph with writing on the back identifying the individuals

●      Letters or postcards

●      Newspaper clippings or obituaries

●      Birth or wedding announcements

Have the students practice adding the information from the items into their RootsMagic file and practice sourcing.

Note: If a student doesn’t want to add the source to a legitimate person they have already created in their database, have the student select “Add Individual” on the Add tab at the top of the screen. This will create an individual that is not connected to their tree (is only in their database) on whom they can practice sourcing.

Creating and Printing Reports

NOTE: Select one of the parents of a family for a family group sheet and the root person for a pedigree chart

●      Reports→Print a Report (or there are quick options on the drop-down menu)

●      To practice:

o      Select family group sheet

o      A box will pop up with various options. If you want to you can change the font or layout, etc.

o      You’re always going to want the box that says “Print preparer and comments” checked--most teachers require it and you’ll want it too

o      Now try creating a pedigree chart.

Note: Reports will always print out a place and name index - two wasted sheets of paper. To reduce on paper and money waste, click on Indexes, and select No Name Index and No Place Index on the Place Index tab.

Importing and Exporting Information

RootsMagic is not the only type of genealogical software out there. Maybe you’ve heard of PAF, or Legacy Family Tree or others. Let’s say your mom or your uncle or you second cousin, twice-removed is using one of those and  you’d like to share your information with them. You can do this by exporting your file as a GEDCOM.

●      A GEDCOM is a file type that is readable by any major genealogical software. In other words, if you export your RootsMagic file as a GEDCOM, anyone with genealogical software will be able to read it. This also works in reverse. You can get the information off of your grandfather’s PAF file, so long as he exports it as a GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data COMmunication)

●      To export: File→Export

o      You can play around with the settings, if you’d like

o      When you push OK, it will have you save it somewhere useful

o      You can then send this GEDCOM through e-mail or copy it onto a flash drive, etc.

●      To import: File→Import

o      Select that the file you’re importing is a GEDCOM

o      Either tell it to “Search for files” or “I know where the file is”

o      Select the file and push “Open”

o      You’ll be prompted to choose one of two options- you’ll want to choose create a new database and it will have you walk through the opening steps (giving it a name, etc.)

Backing Up and Saving Your Information

Each time you edit a fact and hit the save button on an individual’s card, RootsMagic is saving the file. But you’ll still want to backup your information regularly and keep a backup in at least two places (i.e. one copy on your computer and one on a flash drive or on your email account or on an external hard drive)

●      Option 1: create a copy by exporting your information as a GEDCOM (as explained before)

●      Option 2: create a simple copy

o      File→Copy. Give it a name (notice that it ends in .rmgc) and save it somewhere you’ll be able to find it.

o      To open a copy, the computer you are using must have RootsMagic on it. You may simply find the file, double click on it, and it will open in RootsMagic.

▪       Some students may find it easier to first open RootsMagic on the computer they’ll be using. Then go to File→Open, search for the file, and open it.

●      Option 3: create a backup.

o      File→Backup. Give it a name and specify a place to save it (notice that it ends in .rmgb)

o      To open a backup, first open RootsMagic. Then File→Restore, search for the file and open it. (This is zipping and unzipping the file so simply clicking on it will not be sufficient.)

Downloading (Importing) Data from FamilySearch

●      Log on to Family Tree through RootsMagic

o      File→FamilySearch Central OR

o      On the header, choose the FamilySearch icon (the blue tree)

●      Sign in using your LDS account username and password

●      Click on the Import button

●      BEFORE you push Import, select 4 generations of ancestors, and 0 generations of descendents

●      Explain that the more generations you import, the longer it will take

●      When the import is finished, you have to push close before it will populate the pedigree chart

●      Point out that the Temple icons correspond to New FamilySearch (green arrows, blue check marks, yellow yield signs) and that the FamilySearch icon will be blue if the person is synced between New FamilySearch and RootsMagic, and gray if they’re not synched.

●      Explain that you can sync whatever information you want, you don’t have to sync everything.