Sunday 22 February 2015

Everything I Need to Know to Be Successful in the Genealogy Community, I Learned in Kindergarten

Why is it that when it comes to researching our family histories, we all seem to lose our sensibilities? Whatever happened to the basic rules of sociability that we all learned in Kindergarten? Remember these?

1.) Play Fair - there's plenty of room in the sandbox for everyone. There's no need to throw mud at others who are also trying to make a living in genealogy. While there might be some who are better known in a particular field, it doesn't mean others can't also be good in that same sector or niche. It's not ok to talk badly about others just because they, too, understand the same things you do and want to help others know them too.

2.) Share - when you learn something new, show others. When you are successful by using a new tool or new technique, show others. When new opportunities arise, show others. It won't take away from your success. It will make the genealogy community a better place.

3.) Don't take things that aren't yours - sharing and stealing are not the same thing. If you don't have permission to take it or use it, it is considered stealing. If you didn't research to find that document, it isn't yours to claim. If you didn't create that family tree by hard work and good detective work, it isn't yours. If you didn't write that book, then the look-ups you offer to others, aren't yours to share. If you didn't research that talk, the slides aren't yours to share. The fact that the big boys in the database world turn a blind eye to stealing in the name of profit doesn't make it right either. If you don't have permission to take it or use it, it is considered STEALING. Don't take things that aren't yours.

4.) Don't hit people - when a new comer is just learning and says or writes something inaccurately, don't hit them where it hurts. Don't publicly shame them. Be nice. Treat them the way you would want to be treated if you were in their shoes. Be gentle, considerate and respectful. Help them. Don't hit them.

5.) Clean up your mess - when you can't follow the other rules and play fair in the sandbox, clean up your mess. How? Easy.....

6.) Say "sorry" - and mean it

Thursday 19 February 2015

The Best of Both Worlds Combine Learning and Researching

Day three of the Scottish Institute concludes the learning aspect of the week and embarks on the research part of the experience.

Today we return to West Lothian Room for the morning where we will hear about two diverse topics. The first will be Ian Walker speaking on Ancestral Tourism and the impact of this on both the Scottish tourist industry and on economics.

Following Ian's talk, we will hear from two members of the Scottish Genealogy Network, Kirsty Wilkinson and Elizabeth Irving who will tell us how their membership in the SGN has helped them in their careers and research.

In the afternoon, we will head over to the Causeway Building of the National Library of Scotland where we can be hands on with their maps. For those less interested in maps, an afternoon of research at the George IV Bridge location of the NLS can be arranged instead.

Following dinner on our own, we will walk over to Greyfriar's Kirkyard where we will enjoy a guided historic tour of the cemetery and learn about some of the lives of those interred there.

Today provides 4 hours of learning and 4 hours of research.

The rest of the week

Two and an half days of research to put our learning into practice
Thursday and Friday will be full days of research at the National Records of Scotland. Both days at the NRS, we will be able to research from 9 am until 4:30 pm.

On the Thursday evening, we also have reserved and protected research time in the evening at the NRS from 6:45 - 9:15.

In between the research times on Thursday, we can enjoy a group dinner at a local historic pub.

Thursday and Friday provide 17.5 hours of research time.

The Scottish Institute is limited to 15 participants. This is a unique learning opportunity which will also allow time to make collaborative relationships through built in networking opportunities.

To register:

Saturday 14 February 2015

WEBINAR: From Family Tree to Family Treasure

Next webinar:

Saturday Mar 7, 7:30 pm EST (GMT -5:00)
Fee: $7.95

From Family Tree to Family Treasure
Beginner/Intermediate Level

Now that we have those research documents, bits of scrap paper, newspaper clippings, photos, obits, e-mails and other assorted bits of “research”, how do we preserve them for future generations?

Make the most for your research by creating and presenting a family treasure that will ensure that your family stories won’t be forgotten.

  • How to start
  • Various Formats for Preserving Your Family's History
  • Who to include
  • Prompts for telling the stories
  • Learn about adding photos, maps, newspaper articles, certificates, recipes and other items to round out your names, dates and pedigree charts
  • Learn how to find out more about the social history of your ancestors for inclusion in your family book so that you can put context to your research
  • Dealing with the skeletons and scandals

To register:

Thursday 12 February 2015

Scottish Institute Day Two Speaker Line-Up

The Scottish Institute will be held in Edinburgh and will offer a series of talks by experts in their respective genealogical fields

Tuesday October 20

Today's talks will take place at the West Lothian Room of the Lothian Chambers on the George IV Bridge. Here, we will hear from the following experts:

Richard Hunter, archivist at the Edinburgh City Archives will share information on the resources available at the City Archives as well as how these records can be accessed for genealogical research

Louise McCarron, Manager of Reader Services at the National Library of Scotland will discuss the holdings of the NLS and, in particular, the family history resources that are available for genealogical research. Focus will be given to the Maps, Newspapers and Trades and Post Office Directories

Following lunch on our own, we will hear from Louise Williams, archivist with the Lothian NHS. Louise's talk Finding Heritage in Health: Hospital Records for Genealogists

Andrew Nicholl, Development Manager at SCRAN will talk to us about the resources available through the ScotlandsPlaces website as well as the photographic collection available from the Royal Commission of Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and how these can enhance genealogical research and research reports.

Our day will end early to allow for some free time to enjoy this historic city.

Tuesday provides 5 hours of learning. 

The Scottish Institute is limited to 15 participants. This is a unique learning opportunity which will also allow time to make collaborative relationships through built in networking opportunities. 

To register:

For unanswered questions:



Saturday 7 February 2015

Scottish Institute Speakers Confirmed - Day 1

The Scottish Institute, a unique learning opportunity for genealogists who do client work in the Scottish records, will be held in Edinburgh and will offer a series of talks by experts in their respective genealogical fields

Monday October 19

Today's talks will take place at the National Records of Scotland. Here, we will hear from the following experts:

Iain Ferguson, Manager, ScotlandsPeople Centre, who will talk about the records held by the GRO and that are available at the ScotlandsPeople Centre. These differ greatly from the records available online.

An archivist (yet to be named) will talk about the records available at the National Archives of Scotland.

Chris Halliday, manager of the Family History Centre at the Highland Archives in Inverness will share information about what Highland resources are available and how they can be accessed.

Following lunch on our own, Emma and Graham Maxwell, owners of the Scottish Indexes website will discuss their work on the more elusive records that they are indexing and making available online. These include sheriff court records (Paternity Cases), Asylum records, Prison registers and non-OPR BMD records.

Kirsty Wilkinson, owner of My Ain Folk genealogy services will talk to us about palaeography and understanding Scottish handwriting.

We will round out the day at the NRS with a talk by Chris Paton, owner of Scotlands Greatest Story and author of the British Genes blog. Chris will talk on the various church records, how to access them and what information we might find in them.

After dinner on our own, we will walk over to the Scottish Genealogy Society where genealogist Ken Nisbet will share his expertise on researching Military records. Ken will also provide us with a tour of the Scottish Genealogy Society.

We will then retire back to the hotel to get rested up for day two of lectures.

Monday provides 7 hours of learning.

The Scottish Institute is limited to 15 participants. This is a unique learning opportunity which will also allow time to make collaborative relationships through built in networking opportunities.

Thursday 5 February 2015

A Scot's A Scot Even to the Twentieth Generation

Few words have more truth. No matter how many Scots I meet, whether born and raised, first generation or ten generations removed, Scots have a fierce and proud claim on their heritage. Not a chest-pounding machismo sort of pride. But a calm, deeply entrenched sense of belonging. 

It is this inherent sense of who they are that gives the Scot descendant, who visits Scotland for the first time, the sense that they have returned home. A calm, comfortable knowledge that they belong here. THIS is where their roots started.

Is there such a thing as the memories of our ancestors being passed along in our DNA? Hard to know for certain. But something in our genes, our culture makes us KNOW where we came from and to whom we belong. 

One of the best parts of working and interacting with the Scots diaspora on a daily basis is their quickness to indulge in their heritage and all things Scottish. The symbolism, the celebrations, the traditions, the music. Photographs, food, memories evoke a depth of response that, for many cultures, is beyond understanding. 

Genetically and biologically, I belong to a huge family. My maternal grandfather fathered 21 children. All but one survived to adulthood. My paternal grandparents had 9 children. 8 of them survived to adulthood. A feat in and of itself. 

At a young age, my parents and I left our home and family behind for a better life in Canada. Mum had 2 sisters and a niece here. But in many ways, my upbringing was likely more Scottish than that of my cousins in Scotland. Every summer, all summer, Scotland came to us. The family arrived in pairs, or in packs, but they always arrived. 

In addition, all of my parent's friends were Scottish. We celebrated every tradition and holiday known to Scots. My parents regularly had a ceilidh, as had been the tradition in my dad's home when he was growing up. Of course, my dad was the only one that was musically inclined, but the others were always up for a get together. 

Our house was the focus of the neighbourhood and friendship circle every Hogmanay. The cleaning, the cooking, the food, the Auld Lang Syne circle and of course the First Footer. And then there were the Burns Nights. Not that we called them that. And not that they always occurred in January. But there were times when the haggis was made, paraded out on a platter and aptly addressed by my mum as she recited, from heart, Rabbie's immortal words. 

I find that now that most of my parents' generation have passed on, I crave those moments more with each passing day. This past couple of weeks, however, has provided some wonderful opportunities to re-connect with those traditions. I enjoyed sharing my heritage with friends at a Burns Night sponsored by Clan Donald Southern Ontario and then 5 days later, was able to enjoy the Scottish Tattoo at the Sony Centre where I also manned a booth for the Clans and Scottish Societies of Canada. 

People flocked to the table to see what their tartan looked like. Some were clearly moved when they touched the swatch of material. Lots of memories were shared and lots of humour shared. And a deep sense of knowing that in our heritage, we belonged to each other and to our ancestral homeland.