Sunday, 28 July 2013

Enjoy An Ancestral Holiday in Scotland

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: 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 Scottish Genealogy Society and the National Library.  Round the trip off with a night at The Scottish Experience Dinner Show.

We provide 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. We look forward to assisting you not just in making progress with your genealogy research, but also in gaining a better insight into your own Scottish heritage.

Book now for the May 2014 Tour:

Monday, 22 July 2013

Couple Discount for Genealogy Research Trip to Scotland

Do you want to go to Scotland to do some family history research? Are you looking to travel to Scotland with a partner but finding that cost is getting in the way? Why not take advantage of our couples discounts:

For one genealogy researcher and one non-genealogy researcher: This is a BOGO offer (Buy One Get One). Pay full fees for the researcher and then receive a 50% discount for the non-researcher. This applies to two people sharing a room. The fees for the non-researcher include breakfast daily, the Ceilidh, and some transportation fees. No research fees, lecture fees or other fees will be covered.

For two genealogy researchers, save the registration fees for one person. This again applies to two people sharing a room. Once both people have paid their fees in full, you will receive a refund for the second registration fee ($450).

These are equal opportunity discounts. The second person can be a spouse, partner, sibling, cousin, family member, partner or friend but must be willing to share the hotel room with you.

Book your trip now at:

Come to Scotland. Do your research onsite. Search your roots and discover YOUR heritage.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

You Can't Do All of Your Research Online

You will get to a point in your Scottish research where you can no longer get the information you seek online. You will either be looking for records that are too new to be published online, or that are too old to be readily found online. That is when it becomes necessary to either travel to Scotland or to hire a genealogist in Scotland to do the work for you. 

At the Scotland’s People Centre, you can view documents right up to the present day. These can not be copied or downloaded, but you can transcribe to your hearts content.

At the National Library, you can access national and regional newspapers, old maps, historical clubs and society records, emigration lists, trades directories, post office directories and a great deal more.
 At the Scottish Genealogy Society, you can view burial records, monumental inscriptions, some trades directories, voters rolls and more.

At the National Archives, you can access Kirk Session records, Court records, Fatal Accident Reports, Tax records and a host of other information to assist you in really knowing who your ancestors were.

Since this is likely to be a once in a lifetime trip, do yourself a favour and know what it is you hope to accomplish and where you can accomplish it. The worst thing you can do is just show up in Scotland and hope for the best. 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 kept to a minimum. 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. 

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.


Friday, 12 July 2013

It's Not Too Soon to Book Up for the 2014 Tour

2014 has been designated as the Year of the Homecoming by the Scottish Government. The last homecoming, in 2009, was a rousing success for the Diaspora and clans from all over the world, but ran a major deficit financially for the hosting country, and particularly for the host city. As a result, there has been reluctance by City councils to take on hosting the event. However, June 2014 is also the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. Clans from all over the world, but primarily Canada, the US and Australia have determined that they will have gatherings of their own during the year of the Homecoming. These events will not be a mass gathering as has taken place in the past, but rather clans will gather on their own at various venues throughout the country and throughout the year. This means that tourism will be busy all year. Many clans have had their facilities and events booked since 2012. That said, hotel availability will be at a premium. As well, there is a large push by the Scottish Government to promote Ancestral Tourism during these events since the Diaspora will be returning to their ancestral homeland. This means that the archives will also be busier than usual. Genealogy Tours of Scotland is already booked for the 2014 Genealogy Research Trip, including hotel space. It will be difficult to secure further rooms at a later date, so all spaces in the 2014 tour will be on a first come, first serve basis and will only be considered confirmed once full fees have been received. Spots can be reserved on a temporary basis (pending full payment) by paying your deposit today at: