5 Questions with the DC Metro Rootsmagic User Group Leader, Dr. Margaret Ezell

Recently I asked Dr. Ezell to answer a few questions about her favorite genealogy software program, Rootsmagic.


1. Why should a genealogist use a genealogy software program?

My biggest reasons for using a genealogy software program are:

  • Good software programs like RootsMagic make it easy to share information. Some also have iPad, or Smartphone versions.
  • The mistakes in my database are my own, and all changes are mine.
  • I decide when something is proven, when I have enough sources, and who is related to whom.

There are two types of genealogy/family history programs, those that run in the cloud and those that run on your home computer. Example programs on the Cloud are Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage. They are easy to share with others. Example software program that run on your computer (PC or MAC) are RootsMagic, Legacy, Family Tree Heritage, Family Tree.

When I use collaborative online family trees, such as Family Search, other users can change the entries. Example: My great grandfather’s name was James Reeves Watson, the Clerk of Court in Claiborne Parish, LA. Every document we have has his full name. One of my unknown relatives decided to wipe out his full name and put in just JR Watson. I had to go back into FamilySearch and put in his full name, documented. He could have had a nickname of JR, but my mother at 99 had never heard her grandfather called that. She had been very close to him.

The same thing happens when you use any of the online program and you don’t make your file PRIVATE! But you don’t want to make it private so you can find new relatives and researchers. That is the oxymoron for researchers! So have your own copy offline!


2. What genealogy software programs have you used?

RootsMagic (several versions including the latest: RootsMagic 7). It works with Windows 10, 8, 7, 2000, and Mac OS X

Broderbund Family Tree Maker


PAF (Personal Ancestral File), which is no longer supported by FamilySearch as of JULY 15, 2013.


3. Why do you recommend using RootsMagic?

It works/synchs/searches/imports directly with FamilySearch and soon it will with Ancestry.

Later this year, RootsMagic users will have access to Ancestry’s huge collections of records and members’ trees. With this new association, comes the ability to use the hints (Shaky Leaves). This will be in addition to the Hints from FamilySearch and MyHeritage.

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4. Is there a great feature of RootsMagic that people should be using and don’t?

There are several that I love besides the HINTS:

Color Coding people and lines. You can use the color coding to highlight those who want work on or highlight you problem people for whom you need more documentation.

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Switching Views from Pedigree to Family to Descendants to People, WebSearch, Timeline.

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5. How can participating in a user group help a genealogist?

You can ask your specific questions or ask for a demonstration from other members. A current example topic is: Help for moving data from Family Tree Maker to RootsMagic.

Each month our RootsMagic User Group tries to have a lesson of some type. Researchers new to RootsMagic 7 may have challenges learning how to enter source citations into RootsMagic, so I thought I would show how I enter a new source and then create a citation, with the Evidence Explained source templates, and with a free-form template (in a later post in this series).This past month we were going through lesson on Creating Source Citations in Rootsmagic 7 from Randy Seaver’s Blog at Genea-Musings. You can view these blog posts here.


About the Metro DC Rootsmagic User Group

The Metro DC RootsMagic User Group meets at Washington DC Family History the 2nd Saturday of each month at 9:30 a.m. except when major Genealogy Conference are the same weekend. Everyone is invited to attend.  After the RootsMagic / Ancestry announcement there have been a lot of new users, so we have gone back to a lot of the basics at the meetings.  We have a free-for-all question session after the lesson.


Margaret P. Ezell, Ph.D.


As far back as Margaret Ezell can remember, she was taken to research libraries, courthouses, and to visit family members to gather family history information. Margaret’s mother, Mildred Ezell – (who died in 2015 at 99 yrs. and 10 days) became a genealogy enthusiast more than 63 years ago. Margaret remembers at about age 9, going to courthouses in Georgia and South Carolina. “There was one bare 40-watt bulb dangling from the ceiling, damp walls, boxes of stinky old records, and bug parts in the basement room where Mom copied records (no Xerox machines then). We took our own lightbulb -100-watt. Mom had me copy records until lunchtime when the movie matinee opened and I ran like the wind to get out of the courthouse.”

Having stood with her Mother for 3 days at the copier straight at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Wilson Library Manuscript Room, she is now glad to have so many digitized online records. Her computer skills were used to train her Mom to use the computer at 70 years of age. She wrote more than 15 genealogy books that Margaret edited, formatted and prepared the text and photos for camera-ready copy for publishing. The books are all on her family – mainly southern roots – Corry, Brodnax, Watson, Cain, Seab, Swint. She and her Mom submitted over seven (7) thousand records to the FamilySearch.

Margaret has a Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Family Finance and has worked in the financial and information technology arenas for over 15 years. Margaret is a Seneca Stake Family History Consultant and one of the founders of the DC Metro RootsMagic User Group which meets the 2nd Saturday of every month at the DC Family History Cente

Five Questions with Artist Barbara Talbott

You might recognize these images from A Week of Genealogy’s Facebook page. They were so interesting that I asked the artist, Barbara Talbot to share some information about them.


BarbaraTalbot image for blogImages ©2015 Barbara Talbott, used with permission


1. Your photography is a great way to display family heirlooms. How did you come to take these photos?

I was working on my body of work, Tarnish, and a friend mentioned she had some pieces of vintage silver I could shoot for my show. When I went to her house to shoot the pieces, they were too contemporary for my work but I shot everything anyway. As I was working we talked about how she was trying to figure out how to display the silver since it was so tarnished and we came up with the idea of creating a wall of prints to hang over her buffet.


heirloom photo - cake cutter2. How did you make the items come to life?

The whole Tarnish body of work was actually an accident. I had these pieces and photographed them to create some etchings. When I opened them in Photoshop and started working with them, all these gorgeous colors came out and I loved the look of them. I worked on the original images for two years before I showed them to anyone. I rework the images to bring out all the color and texture.


3. What recommendations do you have for a genealogist who wants to photograph family items?

Metal objects are tricky. There are lots of reflections that tarnish and patina disguise. The best light comes from Windows and natural light. Use broad sources so the light can wrap around the objects. Place them on a fairly plain surface, an old damask table cloth or a dark oak table. The item should be the star. You can add props, fresh fruit in a bowl, napkins, but keep them subtle. You don’t want to hide the piece, just add a little color. Of course you can always find a professional photographer as well.


heirloom photo - butter dish4. How do you recommend framing photos of family items?

In the case of my friend, she went to antique stores and second hand stores and bought frames. We laid out the frames and determined the design for her wall. We scaled the prints to fit the frames and she had them assembled at a framing shop.



5. Where can people see your work?

In December, I has a piece at the Circle Gallery in Annapolis and at Montpelier art center both. You can see my solo show coming up in February at a restaurant in Laurel called Olive on Main.

Barbara’s work can also be found at her website bjtalbott.com.

Barbara Talbott is a computer illustrator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland and a Resident Artist at Montpelier Art Center, Laurel, Maryland. Barbara has been making things since she was a child. She attended MICA, Maryland Institute College of Art. She was at MICA, she studied the textural works of Jasper Johns, Jim Dine, and Frank Stella. The way these artists handled materials and created work so tactile made a distinct impression. It is the need to replicate the texture and surface of life that propels her to discover new ways to use materials and processes in everything she makes. After 30 years as an advertising photographer, graphic designer and computer illustrator, Barbara brings this experience into her work.