Sunday, 29 March 2015

ONLY 7 SPACES LEFT FOR 2016 GENEALOGY RESEARCH TRIP TO SCOTLAND


All of the genealogy tours tend to sell out at least 7 months ahead of the time they start. However, with the increased interest, this time frame is changing drastically. Although we are still 14 months away from the 2016 tour, there are only 7 spaces left.

Once I get back from Scotland, I will start the conference/talk circuit and anticipate that will spots will be filled before mid summer.

If traveling to Scotland to research your family history, by gaining access to records not available online, is something you are interested in, book now before you lose the opportunity.

Year after year, as I take people to Scotland to research their family history, I hear participants tell me, "as soon as I stepped on Scottish soil, I felt like I was home. I knew I belonged."  There is no greater, more humbling experience than traveling to the land of your ancestors. The feelings of belonging and connection are powerful and make a compelling argument for the idea of memory being passed down through our DNA. 

All of this culminates in an irreducible sense of belonging as you walk the streets they walked, see the houses they lived in, the factories they worked in, the churches they worshiped in. These moments provide a deep sense of affinity for your ancestors. A deep appreciation of their battles and struggles. A sense of pride as they overcame in order to carry on. You come to understand not only their story but also your own history. How you came to be.







Your tour fees include:

· pre-tour preparation package
· pre-tour webinars
· 9 nights accommodation
· 9 breakfasts
· protected research time
· onsite overviews and talks
· 3 full days of research at Scotland's People Centre
· Full day of research at the National Library of Scotland
· Full day of research at the NLS Maps Reading Room
· Daily research fees
· Evening at the Scottish Experience Dinner show
· All ground transportation for research
· Time to visit the area where your ancestors lived (additional travel fees not included)
· Opportunity to visit the local family history society where your ancestors lived

For more information, or to book: For more information: www.genealogytoursofscotland.ca


For unanswered questions: genealogytoursofscotland@gmail.com

Friday, 27 March 2015

Scottish Chapbooks Now Available Online

Yesterday, I had the honour of attending the launch of a new digital collection at the University of Guelph Library. Special Collections Librarian, Melissa McAfee and professor of Digital Humanities, Andrew Ross, have been working tirelessly and collaboratively to digitize the University's very large collection of Scottish Chapbooks. This exhaustive and extensive work culminated yesterday with the launch of the new website, Scottish Chapbooks (http://scottishchapbooks.org/)

Chapbooks were enormously popular among the working classes in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Typically in the 17th and 18th centuries they were geared toward adult readers and in the 19th century many were written as children's literature.

Chapbooks were cheap, crudely made books that were peddled by traveling salesmen, known as "chap men". Thus Chapbooks were books available from chap men.

The chapbooks were typically printed on a single sheet of  paper, folded to make eight, sixteen, or twenty-four pages. In Scotland, where literacy rates tended to be higher than elsewhere in the British Isles, chapbooks were in high demand.

Chapbooks became a very attractive and simple way to disseminate popular culture to the working class people, especially in rural areas. Chapbooks not only provided information, but also entertainment. In some instances chapbooks also provided, a somewhat biased view of history.

Chapbooks were inexpensively priced, often selling for one or two pennies each. The chapbooks would be shared among the members of the community and quite often also used as toilet paper or food wrappers once everyone had had a chance to read them.

The University of Guelph, Special Collections Department, has one of the largest collections of Scottish Chapbooks. They have now digitized these and made them available online for scholars, historians, genealogists, archivists and yes, even the average reader, to take enjoy.





Monday, 23 March 2015

"I Just Feel So Whole"

Perhaps the best line of the entire Who Do You Think You Are? series was spoken by Angie Harmon as she stood on her family's farm, looking out at the same land her ancestors had owned.

"I just feel so whole" nicely sums up the entire ancestral journey. Year after year, as I take people to Scotland to research their family history, I hear participants tell me, "as soon as I stepped on Scottish soil, I felt like I was home. I knew I belonged."  There is no greater, more humbling experience than traveling to the land of your ancestors. The feelings of belonging and connection are powerful and make a compelling argument for the idea of memory being passed down through our DNA.  

As any family history researcher will tell you, there is great excitement when you find your ancestor in a document. Tangible verification of their existence. And there is a sense of wonder when you see their signature. It is almost as if  you could reach out and touch them. Multiply that by infinity when you walk the streets they walked, see the houses they lived in, the factories they worked in, the churches they worshiped in. These moments provide a deep sense of affinity for your ancestors. A deep appreciation of their battles and struggles. A sense of pride as they overcame in order to carry on.

All of this culminates in an irreducible sense of belonging as you come to understand not only their story but also your own history. How you came to be.

If you are ready to experience your own feelings of being whole, connected, belonging to your Scottish ancestors, join us on our next Genealogy Tour in May 2016. Very limited research spaces remain, so book before you miss out on this life-changing experience.


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2015

The Ontario Genealogical Society is taking place at Georgian College in Barrie from May 29-31 2015. 

A Genealogist’s/Family Historian’s Dream!

Tours
Friday Workshops
Using Google, Surname Studies, Irish Land Valuation Records, Biography Writing

Saturday and Sunday Genealogical Lectures
Five Lecture Streams featuring Canadian, English and American Genealogical Speakers
Kirsty Gray, Thomas MacEntee, Richard M. Doherty, Dr. Maurice Gleeson, James F.S. Thomson, Jane E. MacNamara, Dr. Janet Few, Janice Nickerson, Fran Murphy, Sarah Warner, Debra Honor, Dave Obee, Kathryn Lake Hogan, Tammy Tipler-Priolo, Ruth Burkholder, Guylaine Petrin, Gary Schroder, Christine Woodcock, Sandra Joyce and Karen Mahoney, Austin Bovenizer, Ken McKinlay, Vicki McKay, and Alan Campbell

Marketplace
Books, maps, software from commercial vendors as well as information and sales tables for 32 OGS Branches and Special Interest Groups. Fast Tracks (20 min) presentations
 inside Marketplace.
Note: Marketplace is open to the public. You do not have to be registered at the conference to visit the vendors.

First-Timers Gathering: Friday 29 May 4:30pm

Banquet: Saturday 30 May 6:00pm
After-Dinner Speaker Dr. Maurice Gleeson “ Genealogy 2020 – All aboard!”

For Information:
www.ogs.on.ca/conference [for information and online registration]
Conference@ogs.on.ca [for answers to questions]

Telephone: (416) 489-0734

Saturday, 21 March 2015

T Minus 25

In just over three weeks I will be on my way "home" once again. This time, however, there will be a stop off in Birmingham first to attend Who Do You Think You Are? Live. 

I am looking forward to meeting up with friends and colleagues while there and to learning lots of new things. 

From Birmingham it will be onto Edinburgh to meet up with this year's tour participants. Always such an exciting time for me. Again this year, most of the participants are from the US, with a couple of fellow Canadians in the mix. 

I have my lists compiled. Not so much on what I want to research genealogy-wise, but places to visit and learn more about. Castles, Cemeteries (I'm an avid Taphophile) and historic places. 

I have my days planned well in advance, and as always, will hit the dirt running. This allows me to get the most out of my short time in Scotland and to alleviate jet lag. It is only when I return to Canada that the exhaustion sets in. For days. 

I look forward to sharing my time at WDYTYA Live and in Scotland through daily blogging. 

What I am not looking forward to is the travel. A long ass flight that generally goes poorly. If nothing else, it will provide fodder for the blog roll. 

Stay tuned!

Thank You Cambridge!

I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening on Thursday, speaking to a group of Scottish family history researchers at McDougall Cottage in Cambridge. 

The cottage is an historic home that has been fully restored to its original glory. It is cosy when a crowd gathers, as we did on Thurday night. As always, there is great craic when the descendants of the Scots Diaspora gather. 

I hope that everyone managed to get some time on the ScotlandsPeople website once they got back home and were able to move forward in their genealogy research. 

I hope to return to McDougall again. Always such a great group. Thank you, Michelle and Joleen for putting the event together. 

Tartan Day - April 6

April 6th will be the 695th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, a letter written to Pope John XXII declaring Scotland an independent country and allowing Scotlandto use military action when provoked.



The Declaration, written in Latin (the formal language of the times), was signed by 51 noblemen. As a toast to this very historic event, Canada began celebrating its Scots heritage in the mid 1980s with parades, pipe bands, highland dancing, Kirkin o' the Tartna and other gatherings of the Scots Diaspora. This became widely known as Tartan Day. And in 2011, Canada had its own (Maple Leaf) tartan officially recognised.


In fairly short order, many other countries of the Scots Diaspora also declared or celebrated Tartan Day on April 6th. The exception to this is Australasia, which celebrates International Tartan Day on July 1, the anniversary of the repeal of the Act of Proscription which forbade the wearing of tartan by anyone outwith the military.


Friday, 20 March 2015

Limited Spaces Remain for 2016 Genealogy Tour to Scotland

Although we are still over a year away, spaces on the 2016 Genealogy Tour to Scotland are filling fast and only limited spaces remain. 

If traveling to Scotland to do family history research is on your bucket list, don't wait to book. 

There is no greater feeling than walking in the footsteps of your ancestors. It will give you such a deep sense of connection to those who have gone before you. 

Create your own Who Do You Think You Are ancestral trip. Your tour fees include:

  • pre-tour preparation package
  • pre-tour webinars
  • 9 nights accommodation 
  • 9 breakfasts  
  • protected research time
  • onsite overviews and talks
  • 3 full days of research at Scotland's People Centre 
  • Full day of research at the National Library of Scotland
  • Full day of research at the NLS Maps Reading Room
  • Daily research fees
  • Evening at the Scottish Experience Dinner show 
  • All ground transportation for research 
  • Time to visit the area where your ancestors lived (additional travel fees not included)
  • Opportunity to visit the local family history society where your ancestors lived
Book your spot on the 2016 spot now at: 



VisitScotland Ancestral Tourism eBook

I was honoured to have the opportunity to provide input into VisitScotland's new Ancestral Tourism eBook. 

If you are planning a trip to Scotland, to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors, or to visit the areas associated with your clan or name, be sure to have a look at this eBook before you go. It will assist you in knowing where to travel.

The book has downloadable itineraries for Clan tours, an Outlander tour and a listing of historic sites, battlefields and castles that formed part of the rich history of Scotland. 

In addition to all of this, there is a great deal of information about getting started in researching your Scottish ancestors. This is a brilliant guide for beginners. 

You can either link to the download page at :
 
 
Or go straight to the ebook itself by using this link.
 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Genealogy Fair Kitchener Public Library

The Kitchener Public Library is once again hosting a full day Genealogy Fair on 

Saturday, April 25 
9:00 - 3:30 
at Kitchener Central Library

Keynote speaker will be Armchair genealogist, Lynn Palermo who will be sharing about storytelling and writing your family history. 

Other speakers:

Sandra Joyce - British Home Children
Karen Ball-Pyatt - Online Databases
Carolyn McNeil - Sorting and Storing Photos
Amanda Hill - Ontario Archives
Ruth Burkholder - Land Petitions
Patti Metzger - Digital Books
Kathryn Lake-Hogan - Canadian Census Records
Nuala Farrell-Griffin - Irish Ancestry

This is a FREE event. There will be a marketplace. 

In Search of Your Scottish Roots Talk

I will be returning to McDougall Cottage in Cambridge next Thursday, March 19th to give a talk on getting started with your Scottish genealogy research. 

The talk starts at 7 pm.

If you are in the area, please drop by. And if you are at the talk, come up and say hello!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Has Ancestry Dot Com Made Us Lazy As Researchers?

In the last two weeks I have heard so many stories about incorrect information on public family trees and that because the information gets shared exponentially, it makes the  mistakes that much more widespread.

In the past week, I have also held two online webinar/workshops to assist people to become more efficient at Using the ScotlandsPeople website. It takes a completely different tack to use this website because it is NOT a subscription website. However, it is also the only website where you can view original images of the Scottish registers and see all of the information that was gathered at the time of the event. And Scottish documents are some of, if not THE best for providing genealogical data.

It occurs to me that part of the issue that ties these two things together is that subscription sites like Ancestry Dot Com have created a slew of lazy genealogy researchers. Part of the joy in genealogy is the thrill of the hunt. We tune into, hone and cultivate our inner detective. But the subscription websites like Ancestry Dot Com take the need for these skills away. We upload a tree. Shaky leaf appears. Click. New document. Click and attach. No thought, no detective skills. It doesn't even matter that this might not be YOUR ancestor. The website has become more of a computer game than a tool to enhance our genealogical skills. And that, in turn, leads to all sorts of false information being spread all over the 'net.

I see a leaf, click. Oh, this tree says my gt gt grandfather died in Ohio. If I haven't learned to hone my inner detective, I might take this with a "thank you for all of the work you have saved me" and incorporate this information into MY tree. Except my gt gt grandfather never left Scotland. In fact two couples and one single man were the only ancestors I have that emigrated to the US. No matter how many shaky leaves I get, that fact is not going to change. My personal frustration with Ancestry is that despite the fact that my tree details that my ancestors were all in Scotland, I get matched with records that are 5000 miles from the land of my ancestors. My professional frustration with Ancestry is that it requires no detective skills, and is raising a generation of lazy genealogy researchers.

Let's look at what skills are REALLY needed to be able to be successful as a genealogist. You will note that neither clicking a mouse nor copy and pasting make the list.

Know how to find information
Yes, Ancestry Dot Com is a rich database. They host a wealth of records. I can remember how hard genealogy research was before Ancestry Dot Com made records from other states and other countries available. They have enriched our experience as researchers and our opportunities to access the information we crave. Use them as a database and be grateful that your subscription gives you unlimited access to the records they hold.

Other online databases are also fantastic resources. As are libraries, local, state, provincial or county archives, genealogy societies and family history centres. Don't limit yourself to just one point of research.

Cultivate an eye for detail
Look at every piece of information on that document. Look again. Put it aside for a day or two and then look at it again. You will be surprised at what you see that you didn't see the first time. Remember those posters that have words written backwards, numbers interspersed with letters and yet we can read what the poster says? Our brains read without paying attention to details. But to be a good genealogist, we need to pay attention to the details on the documents. To do that, we need to look at every detail. Put the document aside and then look at it with fresh eyes a few days later.

Develop your reasoning skills
Being able to think through a problem without making illogical leaps will help you resolve conflicting information. And it will help you to understand what caused the conflict in the first place.

Pay attention
This isn't the same as cultivating an eye for detail. Pay attention to what the information is telling you. Is this really your gt gt grandfather? If you pay attention to dates of events, you will know that he can't possibly be because that would have made him 8 when your gt grandma was born. Same name. Same location. Same father's name. But the dates are terribly wrong. Therefore, he can't be YOUR gt gt grandfather. He may be your ancestor so don't discard the document. Just don't ignore the information that shows he isn't the ancestor you think he is.

Keep notes
Notes are important. Keep notes on who you have received information from. Where you have checked for documents. What you have learned and what you still need to find out. Notes will keep your research focused and will help you to make better sense of the documents you find and who the information should be attached to in order to be correct. It will also help you know who also knows a particular ancestor so that you can go back and re-visit what they know that you don't and vice versa.

Critical Thinking
Simply stated, use your noggin. Piece the parts of the puzzle together and know why the flat sided pieces don't fit in the middle of the picture.

Active Learning

As with any activity you are passionate about, keep learning. Listen to webinars. Go to conferences. Attend talks and workshops. Read blogs. It's important to keep up to date with what is new, what others find useful, new record sets that have been released. It will make you a better genealogy researcher and will really help you hone your inner detective. 

Book Your Ancestral Trip to Scotland Before the Tour Sells Out

Most of us are at a stage of our lives now where we can focus less on family and work and more on ourselves. To some it has been a long time coming. So, now that time is less of a constraint, why not give yourself the gift of connecting with your ancestral heritage?If you wait, it may be too late!

At Genealogy Tours of Scotland, our ancestral trips tend to sell out 8 months ahead of the scheduled tour. 

If traveling to Scotland to conduct family history research, accessing records not available online and visiting the land of your ancestors is on YOUR bucket list, you won't want to miss out on this opportunity. https://www.genealogytoursofscotland.ca/

 At Genealogy Tours of Scotland, (http://www.genealogytoursofscotland.ca, we provide you with protected time at the ScotlandsPeople Centre and at the National Library of Scotland. While on the tour, you will receive personal assistance from the archivists in each location.  

In addition to the repository visits, time is available to travel to the area of Scotland where your ancestors lived. I provide connections to ancestral tour companies, run by genealogists in Scotland, who will give you a personalised tour of your ancestors home area including graveyards, churches, streets, business and anything else you may wish to see that is still standing.  

If a genealogy research visit to Scotland is on your to-do list, contact me and I can assist you to make the most of your ancestral visit. (genealogytoursofscotland@gmail.com). I'm looking forward to sharing your genealogical adventures with you!

Come to Scotland. Spend time in the archives. Research your roots. Tour your ancestral
villages, towns, graveyards. Learn the history and culture of your ancestral homeland. Feel more connected, more rooted. Create a memory of a lifetime. Bring a friend or partner along to share the journey.

Non-genealogy partners travel for half price.

Free Access to Find My Past This Weekend

Find My Past announces that from 7am on Friday, March 6th (EST) to 7am Monday, March 9th (EST) their records will be free to view.

Note that EST is GMT -5:00

Here's the link to get you started on your weekend of genealogical discoveries:

http://www.findmypast.com/