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.


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