Thursday, September 29, 2011

Much Anticipated Personal Historian 2 Software Released

I'm proud that RootsMagic sponsors the Genealogy Gems Podcast because they consistently deliver such high quality products.  And this week, they have announced the latest version of Personal and Family History Writing Software.  Here's the scoop:

SPRINGVILLE, Utah. — September 28, 2011 — RootsMagic, Inc. today announced the official release of Personal Historian 2, the latest version of the ground-breaking computer software which helps you write the story of your life and of other individuals. Personal Historian breaks this seemingly monumental task into small, manageable pieces and then reconstructs it into a complete, publishable document. With the release comes a free “Essentials” version of the software as well as a discount offer for new users and previous owners of the software.

Bring Life to Your Life Stories

“Many people want to write a personal history about themselves or family members but get lost or overwhelmed,” said Michael Booth, vice-president and lead developer of the software. “It’s very gratifying to hear people tell us that they are finally able to write their life stories thanks to Personal Historian.”

Personal Historian creates an interactive timeline of a person’s life to keep the stories organized, give context to life events, and to allow users to write stories in any order they wish. When ready, Personal Historian will compile the stories into a finished book complete with table of contents, chapters, pictures, indexes, and more. The book may then be printed at home, edited in a word processor, published professionally, or shared with friends and family.

New Features

“The new features in Personal Historian 2 have been worth the wait,” said Bruce Buzbee, president. “While we’ve added many new and powerful features, we’ve worked hard to make the software even easier to use than before.”

Personal Historian 2 boasts an impressive list of over 40 features including streamlined step-by-step wizards; expanded timelines and memory trigger questions; easy filtering and searching of stories; management of categories, people, and places; improved outlining and writing analysis; wrapping of text around pictures; fonts and text styles; and more-powerful publishing and output options.

Free “Personal Historian Essentials”

RootsMagic is also releasing a new, free edition of Personal Historian named, “Personal Historian Essentials”. Personal Historian Essentials contains many core features from the Personal Historian software and the two products are fully-compatible with one another. “We wanted to give everyone a risk-free option,” said Booth. “Personal Historian Essentials is perfect for someone who wants to start writing a personal history but doesn’t know where to begin.” Personal Historian Essentials is available for download at
Discount Offer

To celebrate it’s release, RootsMagic, Inc. is pleased to offer a special introductory offer for Personal Historian 2. Through October 31, 2011, Personal Historian 2 is available for a special introductory price of only $19.95, saving $10 off of the regular price. The discount is available only on the Personal Historian website at or by calling 1-800-766-8762.

Thursday, September 1, 2011 Makes Their Big Move

To be honest, when I first heard about I wasn't sure what to make of them.  The site almost had a "phishing feel" to it, and the vague responses to my inquiries just added to my lack of confidence.  And I wasn't alone.  Many genealogists were scratching their heads and wondering who they really were.

So it comes as somewhat of a relief to see making their big move today with their announcement that they are adding the U.S. Census to their website in partnership with FamilySearch.  In actuality they made their big move when they brought FamilySearch veteran Anne Roach AG®, CGSM on board as Director of Content Development. It was clear that they were getting poised to pounce on the industry.

According to their press release, the "U.S. Census collections were made available by FamilySearch International, the world’s largest genealogy organization, as part of a joint effort to introduce more records to family historians worldwide. In conjunction with the Census effort, Archives will also embark on a joint project with FamilySearch to digitize tens-of-millions of additional historical records, the majority of which are not currently online." Archives has pledged a minimum of five million dollars to the project.

This answers the big question many have wondered since launched in July 2009: Would they digitize original documents and host them on their site? Up until now it has appeared that the majority of the content was coming from other sources, some of which are free from other sites. This created a perception that their mission was to be more of a portal than a content provider, which didn't sit well with some genealogists. And it was hard to imagine anyone taking on Ancestry because they are already so far out in front.

But as the saying goes "Content is King" and is making a move I'm sure they hope will put them in the line of ascension.

"We’re dedicated to bringing users new and compelling content, and that’s why we’re happy to contribute at least five million dollars to similar ongoing community projects," says Archives CEO Matthew Monahan. That's good to hear - and it's about time.'s competitive edge is it's current low price compared to Ancestry's subscription rate. Monahan continued, "adding the U.S. Census and other unique collections as part of this initiative with FamilySearch will be a game changer.” has integrated the full set of U.S. Federal Population Census indexes from 1790­ to 1930 consisting of over 500 million names along with 3 million images from census years 1850, 1870, and 1900. In the near future, they say the full set of census images will be accessible. 

While has a long way to go to match the volume of Ancestry's content, a bit of competition may be very healthy for all concerned, and hopefully will mean more records for family historians.  We'll have to wait and see who will reign supreme.