Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Researching HBC Ancestors


On Thursday, September 5th at 1:00 pm, eastern, I will be giving a presentation on researching ancestors that worked for the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) for Genealogy with a Canadian Twist. 

One of the results of men working for HBC was that they took what were known as "Country Wives" and married or coupled with Cree women. The children resulting from these relationships gave rise to the Métis and the presentation will include resources for researching Métis ancestors as well. 

Please join me! https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_chSvUK7PSgWa4bh7p60TFQ

The presentation is FREE  at the time of the live webinar. 

Sunday, 11 August 2019

JOIN ME AT THE VGA CONFERENCE NOV 1-3


I am delighted to have been chosen as a speaker for the Virtual Genealogical Association's first Virtual Conference. The conference runs from Nov 1- 3, 2019 and showcases 19 speakers over the three days. 


Registrants will have access to the recordings and handouts for all sessions for 6 months following the conference - watch any time, any place, on any device. Register at https://virtualgenealogy.org/2019-vga-conference ($59 for members, $79 for non-members).

Closed captioning via Rev.com will be added to recordings of all sessions and will be made available to registrants within 7 days of the live broadcast.





Thursday, 8 August 2019

OPEN SPACE FOR EDINBURGH RESEARCH TOUR SEPT 2020



A SPACE HAS BECOME AVAILABLE IN THE SEPT 2020 EDINBURGH TOUR

The Edinburgh tour runs from Sept 13-19, 2020 directly ahead of the Borders Tour.

Fees include:

Pre-tour preparation
Hotel & Breakfast
Three full days of research at ScotlandsPeople Centre (NRS)
Research at Scottish Genealogy Society
Research at National Library of Scotland

As with all empty spaces, this will go on a first come first serve basis.

For more information, or to book your space:
https://www.genealogytoursofscotland.ca/edinburgh-sept-2020.html

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Damage to Original Records at the National Records of Scotland

Social media was on fire today with the news that precious original documents have been damaged at New Register House thanks largely to indifference. 

The building that houses the National Records of Scotland, ScotlandsPeople Centre and the Court of the Lord Lyon was purpose built to preserve the growing number of government documents. The building of what is now General Register House was an 11 year process, from 1774-1785. That was 234 years ago. 



New Register House was added in 1869 to provide much needed storage for the documents that were being created following Statutory Registration in 1855. While perhaps a more modern addition, it is still a century and a half old. 

Unlike today, in 1869 next to no one in Scotland or elsewhere for that matter cared about genealogical research. Fast forward to 1977 when the western world was gripped by the new "mini series" Roots. That sparked an interest in learning more about our ancestors. The interest in the 21st century, with the easy access to records online and user friendly platforms to assist with building, storing and sharing family trees has grown exponentially. 

In response to this came innovation out of Register House in 2002, with the digitization of vital documents and making them available on the world wide web. More innovation in 2007 when dedicated research space was created for people to come in - literally off the street - to research their Scottish ancestors.

The world wide web soared in growth and more and more digitized records became available online. In response, the NRS changed service providers for their online presence, with a promise to bringing large sets of records online. Records such as Kirk Sessions and Court Records. Despite the records already sitting in virtual volumes, the promise of moving them onto the website has been rife with indecision, lack of follow through, lack of open, honest communication and has, ultimately, resulted in a false promise that has never or perhaps will never become reality. 

It is this same indecision and lack of follow through that led to the disaster last week of records being damaged as a result of recent torrential rain. Rain isn't new for Scotland. However, as the earth warms, the storms pack a bigger punch. Staff at the NRS noticed that the dome in West Register House sprung leaks whenever the rain was more than what Scotland had been accustomed to in 1869. These same staff raised concern. Repeatedly. And yet, like the promise of large record sets coming online, nothing was done. This indifference, indecision and lack of follow through has now resulted in disaster. Ruined documents. 



It's not enough to breathe a sigh of relief that the documents are digitized. They were digitized nearly two decades ago when the technology for digitizing was fairly new. It is not uncommon to find a document that is underexposed, overexposed or otherwise unreadable. When asked, the registrars are incredibly accommodating about returning to the original registers and re-scanning the page (using more modern technology) so that it is more legible. The public has no access to original records if they have been digitized. But the registrars certainly do and their job will be far more difficult as a result of the water damage from the leaky roof that no one took responsibility for fixing. 

The mind boggles that in a building full of archivists and registrars, the safe preservation of original documents hasn't been set as priority one. Five years ago, the NRS undertook an Estates Review and recognized the need for a new venue. 

We need a new purpose built archives for government documents. One with adequate storage so that records can be accessed within an hour rather than within a day or two. A building without leaky roofs. I think of the Highland Archives in Inverness, the Glasgow Women's Library, the National Library of Scotland and the Mitchell Library when it comes to more modern research space and adequate storage. 

While the Highland Archives is a very modern building, the others aren't. It IS possible to have both aesthetics and functionality. But that can't happen with indifference, indecision and lack of follow through. 

Friday, 12 July 2019

In Search of Your Scottish Ancestors: British Institute




I will be teaching the Scottish course at this year's British Institute in Salt Lake City. The Institute allows for an intense week of learning and research. The classroom experience is in the morning followed by an afternoon, early evening of research at the Family History Library.

The course will cover the following topics over the course of the week:

·         Researching Scottish Ancestors – The Basics
·         Breaking Through Brick Walls
·         Online and Offline Resources for Scottish Research
·         Genealogy Resources in Scottish Archives (NRS, Local and University)
·         Genealogy Gems in Scottish Libraries
·         Mapping Your Scottish Ancestors
·         Those Poor Daft Scots – Poor Law and Asylum Records
·         Researching Scottish Occupations
·         Researching Scottish Criminal Ancestors
·         The Highland Clearances – Before and After
·         Settling in America
·         Settling in Canada
·         Hudson's Bay Ancestors and Metis resources
·         British Home Children and Farm Servants
·         Customs, Superstitions and Traditions
·         Preparing for a Genealogy Research Trip to Scotland

For more info on the British Institute:

Friday, 5 July 2019

Speakers Confirmed for Scottish ViC 2020


Saturday January 25th, 2020


Speakers and topics are now confirmed for the Scottish ViC in 2020. Once again, we have a great line-up of speakers and topics.

Presentations will be (in no particular order as yet):

Margaret Fox - archivist Margaret Fox will once again give a presentation. As anyone who has attended a previous ViC knows, Margaret is incredibly knowledgeable and incredibly thorough in her presentation. Her topic will be Wills and Testaments.

Irene O'Brien - archivist Irene O'Brien will talk about the records that can be generated when a person dies. Death registers, Cemetery & Lair records and funeral home records.

Emma Maxwell - genealogist Emma Maxwell will be giving two presentations in 2020. One will be on Asylum records and the other on Prison records.

Aoife O'Connor - Aoife is from Findmypast and will be talking in depth about the British Newspaper Archive. Newspapers are a fabulous way to find the stories of your ancestors lives.

Dr Stephen Mullen -Based at the University of Glasgow, Dr Mullen's work focuses on Scotland and Glasgow's historical connections with the Caribbean and wider Atlantic world in the 18th and 19th centuries. His presentation will focus on the economic and social impact of Caribbean slavery on Glasgow and Scotland.

Christine Woodcock - genealogy educator, Christine Woodcock will give a presentation on the enticements that were offered to Scots which led them to emigrate to Canada. 
Registration opens October 1, 2019

Monday, 24 June 2019

Dolphins, Whales and Icebergs, Oh My!

For eons now, a trip to Alaska has been on my bucket list. And next year, I will get to check that one off! 


Gena Philibert-Ortega is running a genealogy cruise out of Seattle in August 2020 that is a one week trip up the Gulf of Alaska, returning through the Inside Passage. This will take in not just the probability of dolphins, whales and icebergs but also glacial lakes and fjords. Day excursions will help me learn more about the history and heritage of Alaska - the goldrush days and the Indigenous peoples. 

All this shared with fellow genealogy researchers where we will hear talks, share stories and offer advice on our brick walls. 

Ready to join us? 

https://www.oconnelltravel.com/rw/cruise/84648#city194

This week there is a sale. Your cabin can be reserved for just $100usd. Book a balcony cabin and you get a free drinks package. Then start counting the days!