Thursday 31 January 2013

One Man’s Trash….Our Descendants Treasure?

I was at a genealogy conference in the fall where Dr Kevin James, an historian from the University of Guelph’s Scottish Studies Program was the keynote speaker. He has transcribed the guest registers from 19th century hotels in Ireland. During his talk, James spoke of ephemera, particularly how much we, as genealogists, treasure the ephemera of our ancestors (ship’s passage tickets, journals, calling cards, invitations, funeral cards etc). Of particular interest to me, were his comments on our own ephemera and how we handle it. Many of us are “savers” (some say “hoarders”) and save ticket stubs, pamphlets, wrist bracelets or other “souvenirs’. However, all of us get flyers on a weekly basis and take them from our front door mailbox to our back door recycling bin without a second thought.

According to James, these pieces of ephemera will tell our descendants a great deal about the times in which we live. What people were interested in purchasing, what we ate, how much things cost, where we shopped. Just think of how intrigued we are now when we are scanning through newspapers and come across ads, or when we find treasures like a 1937 Eaton’s catalogue. And yet we never give our own catalogues or ads a second thought. I have to admit, I am not intrigued enough to start hoarding my weekly flyers, but it certainly might make me more aware that the impact of the ephemera I have tucked away might have on future generations of my offspring. 


February Family History Writing Challenge

People often ask, “What got you started in genealogy?” My answer is pretty simple. My mum and my gran were the story tellers of the family. They died within 9 months of each other. Once they died, I became obsessed about preserving the family stories, so with the assistance of my tenacious aunt, we set to work gathering information about all of my mum’s siblings (she was a middle child—middle of 20!). We gathered BMD information as well as photos and a biography for each sibling and then I put it all together in a “family book”. That book has become a treasured heirloom with stories of its own. And it has spawned a quarterly family newsletters where stories can still be shared. Because of the joy and sense of connection that these stories provide our family, I am a strong proponent for writing family history. 

In an effort to get people writing their family history stories, Lynn Palermo of Simcoe has an annual challenge. Every February, she provides a different “daily prompt” to get your memory working and get you inspired to write down your family stories. You can sign up for the challenge at:

You will receive an email every day with your daily prompt and some words of advice from Lynn to get you started. I’m committed! Are you?


Monday 28 January 2013

1905 Valuation Rolls Now Available on ScotlandsPeople

As promised, ScotlandsPeople has released the digitized records for the 1905 Valuation Roll. These are now searchable at:

To view the index is 1 credit per page and to view the image is an additional 2 credits per page. The 1905 Valuation Rolls will allow you to keep track of your ancestor between census years (1901 & 1911)

The Valuation Rolls will tell you:

Name and designation of the owner of a property
•Name of Tenant of the property
•Name of Occupier of the property
•Annual rateable value of the property

Happy Searching!

Free Webinar on Scottish Inheritance

A FREE webinar on Scottish Wills, Testaments and Land Inheritance by Marie Dougan will be available on Wednesday, January 30th at 2pm EST.

Register at:

Sunday 27 January 2013

Added Bonus for May 2013 Trip!

Co-incidentally, the Scottish Association of Family History Societies is having their annual conference while we are on our trip this year. The conference takes place in Galashiels this year, in the Scottish Borders. This is similar to the State or Provincial Genealogy Conferences here. There is a fee to attend the talks (6 in total) and I would be happy to cover those fees for you if you are interested in attending. The speakers will be top notch experts in their field. The theme this year is "Comings and Goings, Migration and Scotland" The list of talks can be found here:

Anyone registered for the May Trip who also wishes to attend this conference can contact me at for more information.

Remember book now and pay in full by February 15 to save $200!


Saturday 26 January 2013


Book your research trip to Scotland now and pay in full by February 2013 to save $200.

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.

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.


Tracking Your Scots Immigrants in Canada

The Library and  Archives Canada blog is featuring their collection of records for those of us trying to track our Scots ancestors who emigrated to Canada. The website has some interesting items from their Central Registry Files including:

  • Glasgow Juvenile Delinquency Board - Girls Industrial School, Glasgow, RG 76, volume 119, file 22468, microfilm C-4782. File includes a list of children sent to Saint John, New Brunswick, between 1895 and 1906.

  • Fifteen Parish trainees from Glasgow allocated to Toronto, 1927, Glasgow Training Scheme. RG 76, volume 323, file 310968, microfilm C-10236.

  • Alexander McOwen, Virden, Manitoba - Special immigration agent to Scotland, 1904-1906, RG 76, volume 337, file 350610, microfilm C-10247. File includes list of names.

  • Mackay Brothers, booking agent lists, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1915-1922. RG 76, volume 362, file 453045, microfilm C-10264.

  • Mackay Brothers & Company, booking agent lists, Aberdeen, Scotland, 1910-1921. RG76, volume 564, file 809010, microfilm C-10644.

  • Group of 27 labourers sent from from Leith, Scotland, 1906. RG 76, volume 367, file 484243, microfilm C-10268.

  • Party from Stornoway sent out by the Queen Alexandra's Unemployed Fund, 1906. RG 76, volume 377, file 522409, microfilm C-10275.

  • J. Bruce Walker, Commissioner of Immigration, Winnipeg, Manitoba. Letters from successful "Scotch" ploughmen, 1908-1911. RG 76, volume 548, file 805711, microfilm C-10633.

  • H.W.J. Paton, Aberdeen, Scotland, booking agent, farm hands and domestics, lists, 1908-1921. RG 76, volume 538, file 803839, microfilm C-10627.

  • Alexander Wyllie, Glasgow, Scotland. Bonus claims, lists, 1907-1909. RG 76, volume 415, file 601089, microfilm C-10302.

  • D. Cumming, Glasgow, Scotland. Bonus claims, lists, 1907-1915, 1918. RG 76, volume 426, file 629453, microfilm C-10309.

  • D. McFarlane, Glasgow, Scotland. Booking agent, lists, 1907-1923. RG 76, volume 435, file 652806, microfilm C-10315.

  • You can view the list here:

    Unfortunately the records are not yet digitized and searchable online. They are still on microfilm and with the discontinuation of the inter-library loan system, these records are not readily available to anyone not immediately in the Ottawa area........

    Friday 25 January 2013

    Point of Lewis Families Added to Hebrides People Website

    The website for the Outer Hebrides, called Hebrides People has now added families for the Point of Lewis (the peninsula extending east from Stornoway).

    The website is a pay-per-view through the purchase of credits. From their notice comes the following information:

    "The database also allows access to two further unique features - family notes and family sheets. These take the researcher beyond research into individual persons to research into whole families. The family notes give a summary of the family history. They are based on the 1851 census as a datum-line, working back as far as possible – usually to the generation born in about 1750/60, and forward as far as 1920. The family sheets are hand-written work-sheets, compiled by Bill Lawson for each family, showing the lines of descent in the male line, together with cross referencing of the female line to their spouses’ family sheets. There is also a gazetteer available, with a summarised history of each township for those less familiar with Harris."

    And here's the link:

    Thursday 24 January 2013

    Local Archives

    Scotland has a long history of preserving both the country’s history and the nation’s memory. Scotland was the first to place searchable, digitized records online and make them available for the Diaspora worldwide who were in search of their Scottish roots.

    Most of us are aware of the more commonplace repositories, but few are aware of the treasure trove of information available within local archives or university archives. Here is a listing of some of the more local archives. This is not a compete sampling. Not all of the archives have digitized collections available online, so you may need to contact them via e-mail or traditional mail. All of the sites where a web address has been provided have contact information on them.

    Located in Inverness, the Highland Archives have the following records in their holdings: 

    *      School records

    *      Records of poor relief

    *      Valuation rolls

    *      Church record

    *      Family and estate papers

    *      Records of Clan Societies

    *      The Tartan Archive (a collection of records relating to the history of tartan)

    *      Large scale Ordnance Survey maps dating from the 1860s".

    Located on the second floor of the Mitchell Library, the Glasgowarchives have the following holdings:

    *      Poor Law Records

    *      School Records

    *      Police Records

    *      Sasine Registers

    *      Valuation Rolls

    *      Voters Rolls

    *      Burgess Rolls

    Located in the City Chambers, the Edinburgh City Archives hold: 

    *      School Records

    *      Poor Board Records

    *      Records of EdinburghBrewers Friendly Society

    *      Burgh Court Records

    *      Poll Tax Records

    *      Burgh Records (committees etc)

    *      Ex-Councillor Records 

    The Stirling Archives have the following records in their holdings: 

    *      School Records

    *      Council Records

    *      Justice of the Peace Records

    *      Church Records

    *      Customs and Excise Records

    *      Sasine Registers

    *      Newspapers 

    Aberdeen Archives have records for: 

    *      Burgh Records

    *      County Records

    *      Poor Relief Records

    *      School Records

    *      Militia Records

    *      Baptism Records

    *      Tax Records

    Located in Hawick, the Scottish Borders Archives has a collection unique to the Borders Region. This includes:

    *      School log books

    *      Poor relief registers

    *      Police records

    *      Local business records including the textile, fishing and farming industries

    *      Land records

    *      Kirk Session records

    *      Censuses

    *      Old parish records

    *      Monumental inscriptions  

    Fife Council Archives:
    Located in Markinch, the Fife Council Archives contain:

    *      Commissioners of Supply minute books

    *      Statute Labour Road Trustees and Turnpike Trustees records

    *      Poor Board Records

    *      School Records

    *      School log books

    *      Some School Admissions Registers

    *      Police Records

    *      Electoral Registers

    *      Records of several hospitals in Fife

    *      Burial records

    *      Records of the Fife County Nursing Association

    Many Ayrshire Archives can be found at the Burns Monument Centre in Kilmarnock

    These include: 

    *      Census Returns

    *      Old Parish Registers

    *      Registers of Births, Marriages, Deaths, Divorces, Corrected Entries

    *      Wills and Testaments

    *      Poor relief records

    *      Council records

    *      Burial records

    *      Monumental inscriptions

    *      Ayrshire newspapers