Wednesday 31 October 2012

Planning a Genealogy Holiday

Genealogy vacations are on the rise. People are “heading home” in an effort to discover their heritage. This will have a positive impact on the economy of countries such as Scotland where the history and heritage are rich and where the repositories provide priceless treasures of their own.

Traveling to the home of your ancestors takes planning. It is not enough to show up in the village, head to the local pub and start asking questions. You need to do some research ahead of time. 

  • Learn about what repositories are available, what archival materials they hold, who can access them and what is required to access them (do you need a “readers ticket” or special card? Do you need photo i.d? Do you need to provide passport photos so an i.d. card can be created for you?) 
  • Learn the hours that the repositories are open, whether an appointment or booking time is required and whether there are fees involved. 
  • Many archival institutions have their holdings off-site and so it is important that you know this and order ahead so that your time can be well spent and disappointment minimalized.
  • Read up on whether you are allowed to photograph the images, scan the images, download or copy the images.
  • Take your laptop or tablet as well as a USB stick. 
For anyone traveling to an archival repository, the most important part of their research experience is not just the interaction with the archival documents, but their interaction with the Archivists themselves. The Archivists provide the road map to the archives and the records contained within. It is the Archivist who helps the researcher truly understand the information that can be gleaned from the records. The Archivist can put the documents into perspective. The Archivist can help the researcher know where to look next. And it is the Archivist’s enthusiasm and passion for what they do that puts the passion and enthusiasm into the researcher himself. It sparks the learning, and quells the yearning.

Genealogy Tours of Scotland, takes groups to Scotland every spring to research in the repositories in Edinburgh, including the Scotland’s People Centre, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish Genealogy Society. Arrangements can also be made for you to visit the family history society in your ancestral part of Scotland. More information can be found at

A trip to your ancestral homeland is both awe-inspiring and humbling. It provides you with such a deep seated feeling of reverence knowing you stand in the same place where your ancestors walked. The sights, some of the landmarks and the sounds may have changed, but the deep emotion of knowing your great, great anything once stood in the same spot you are now standing in, or worshipped in the same church you are visiting is incomparable. It helps you put the dates, names and places into perspective. It breathes life into the documents. Take the time to plan your trip and you will not be disappointed.

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