Finding Cousins With RootsMagic

I have used RootsMagic for many years, and it just keeps getting better. The program is making finding cousins a bit easier for me as well.


Many programs are trying to help people who want to find more than their direct lines ancestors (i.e., Puzilla). These are great tools, but RootsMagic takes the cake in making things easy for me. Why? With a visually simple tool, they provide hints within a program that I already understand. That’s why this girl is going to stick with what she knows.

RootsMagic 7: Name List

First, I must tell you that the folks in my computer based tree are descendants of common ancestors. Few are from external lines as I cull the tree every so often to focus on the ‘closest kin’. I leave my extended lines on FamilySearch.org to for safe keeping.


This narrow set of persons on my computer enables me to skip the common ‘first step’ when doing descendancy research. The first step is often to select an ancestor from 5 or 6 generations back or born in the late 1700s or early 1800s. Then, you use different tools to “look down” the tree. With RootsMagic full of relatives, I can select anyone from the name list and see whether their tree looks like a spring or a bush.


With that said introduction out of the way, let’s focus on how I use RootsMagic to find cousins.


Picking where to start is easy for me because I’m an orderly kind of person. I start at the beginning of the alphabet. I skip the persons with no last names, as it’s easier to start with a known last name. Additionally, I ignore the folks that I have color coded in RootsMagic as living. Once I see a name on my list that meets these criteria, I look for individuals who have little or no sources or facts. Often, these folks are the very cousins who need to have spouses, children, or parents discovered. Sometimes these individuals are dead ends or bricks walls, but most often (in my case), they are cousins who need their stories investigated.

When I find one, such as Margaret Bush, I will highlight that name and look at the RootsMagic family page. In this image, Margaret is listed as a child of Marion and Nellie Bush. I can navigate to her family group where she is a wife by clicking the red arrow next to her name.

Family Page for Margaret Bush in RootsMagic

Perhaps you noticed what makes me super excited! The first thing is an aesthetic joy. RootsMagic 7 has ‘sticky’ fields. In other words, when you use the bottom scroll bar to view the children’s’ details, the child’s name will always appear. That seems new to me, and I really like it!


The second new feature involves those super cool light bulbs! These light bulbs are helping me branch out and find those who have been forgotten.


In RootsMagic 7, I can connect with my MyHeritage and FamilySearch Family Tree accounts. The program will communicate with these online trees and look for hints and links automatically. That’s right; I do not have to do much work. One application will search two resources and bring hints to me. Super exciting!!!


Let’s all remember that not every hint found automatically is accurate. We still have to investigate the potential sources and make conclusions; yet, increasing efficiency is a very, very cool thing. These light bulbs made my initial research into distant lines remarkable simple.

Web Hints in RootsMagic

When I click on a yellow ‘lighted’ bulb, I see a WebHints screen. If RootsMagic finds hints in FamilySearch or MyHeritage, the options will appear on this screen. If I click on the number in the pending column, I will be taken to the hints for each website. In this case, there are currently no hints in MyHeritage.

Hint Screen on FamilySearch from RootsMagic

FamilySearch will then display the hints the program has discovered as possible sources. These suggestions may support or expand research already attached to the FamilySearch tree. I see a census record for Margaret Bailey. In RootsMagic, I had added her spouse Claude, but I didn’t include the child. Now, I can add the child to FamilySearch Family, supported by the research.


Remember how I like to keep my desktop tree compact? I now have a few decisions to make. I could download Margaret and Claude’s family information to my computer. Or I can leave the new relatives online and only download the latest supporting evidence for Margaret. I opt for the second method. I’ll let the discoveries stay online and increase the sources I have for Margaret.


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After investigating the hints and other research discoveries for Margaret, I can go to the next name on my RootsMagic list and repeat the process. This process enables me to:


a) know where I stopped b) know how to work on next


As I go through this process, I wonder, will RootsMagic have one page where I can see all the lightbulbs? Does RootsMagic have this feature already and I haven’t found it yet?


Happy Hunting!


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