Friday, 20 January 2012

Getting Ready for Your Research Trip to Scotland

Although May still seems like a long way off, it is not too early to start getting ready for your research time in Scotland. Now is the time to start deciding how you are going to spend your time in the research facilities.

Here are a few tips to get you better organized:
  1. Make sure that your Family Tree is up to date. If you can, make it portable. Have it on a laptop, iPad, tablet or smartphone so that you can access the information in Scotland. If you are not tech savvy, print off Family Group Sheets and write down what you are missing and hope to find when you are in Scotland.
  2. Make a list of all of the documents you already have copies or originals of. This will prevent you wasting time searching for information you already have. Remember, you will be able to see births newer than 100 years, marriage records newer than 75 years and death records newer than 50 years, so you will want to make a list of the more recent records you want to have a look at while you are in Edinburgh.
  3. Write out your brick walls and think about what you want to find out to help break those down. Do you need to look at parish records, voters rolls, apprentice records, maps, directories, newspapers? This will help to focus and guide your research time.
It is also not too early to make sure that your passport is valid and up to date. If you are traveling from Canada, the US, or Australia, you do NOT require a visa. Your passport is all that you will need and it must not expire before you return to your country of origin.

I am looking forward to our time together in Scotland.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Genealogy Research Trip to Scotland

With the popularity of television shows like Ancestors in the Attic and Who Do You Think You Are? more people are showing an interest in finding their roots. It seems to be an integral part of the Boomer Generation to want to connect with our heritage. In our collective lifetime, families have been on the move. Unlike the 50s when our parents were starting families, we don’t live, marry, work and die in the same neighbourhood, and often not even in the same city as the rest of our families. Many Boomers are finding the inclination to return to the countries where their ancestors came from.

Some 40 million Americans and another 6 million Canadians can lay claim to Scottish Ancestry. Scottish records are some of the easiest to access, but privacy laws prevent online access within certain timeframes (100 years or older for birth and census records, 75 years for marriage records and 50 years for deaths), making your desk-chair research a bit limited.

Certainly, new images are being digitized all the time, but the statutory records are bound by privacy laws. While you may find your ancestor in ship’s lists, trades directories, and newspapers you will not find the more recent BMD or census records. This is where it becomes necessary to travel to Scotland to do your research on-site. What better way to truly understand your ancestors than to visit their homeland?

If you are of Scottish descent, no trip to your ancestral homeland would be complete without a visit to the location where your ancestors actually lived. The beauty of Scotland is its compact size. Nothing is terribly far away, at least not for those of us from North America. This makes visiting your ancestor’s home area, and carrying out genealogy research, all possible in one vacation.

From Glasgow, it is a 1 hour ride to Ayr, home of Robbie Burns, or just a 2 hour ride to Oban and then onward to any island in the West. Also from Glasgow it is a 3 1/2 hour ride to Inverness and the highlands. From Edinburgh, you can be in St Andrews or the Borders Region (Jedburgh, Peebles, Moffat) in just over an hour. In less than three you can be in Aberdeen, the Granite City. While in the area of your ancestors, it is always a good idea to try to pop into the local family history society. The local societies will have local resources on hand (census reports, parish records, newspapers) and may also have school records, photographs of schools or school/church groups. They can give you a bit of the social history that you might be lacking especially in regards to where your ancestors worked or the specific village that they lived in. A list of the local genealogy societies can be found at:http://www.safhs.org.uk Click on the tab on the left side of the screen entitled “membership” for a full listing of the genealogy societies in Scotland.

If you are nervous about travelling on your own, why not join an organized tour? At Genealogy Tours of Scotland we offer 10 day research tours that include time at Scotland's People Centre, The Mitchell Library, the Scottish Genealogy Society and the National Library. Learn about the Scottish culture with a night at The Scottish Experience Dinner Show and round the trip off with a full Scottish Banquet at a small country castle. There is free time which will allow you to get to the area where your ancestor lived so that you can walk in his or her footsteps. Research tours run twice a year. For more information, visit our website at: http://www.genealogytoursofscotland.ca//. We look forward to assisting you not just in making progress with your genealogy research, but also in gaining a better insight into your history and culture-rich heritage.

Our next tour begins May 6, 2012. I hope you'll join us