Saturday 21 December 2019

Gearing Up for 2020!


JANUARY 25th - the third annual Scottish ViC. This is the only virtual conference dedicated to Scottish research.

MARCH 16-19th - the first Virtual Institute - this one covers research in 4 Commonwealth countries - Canada, South Africa, British India and Australia.

APRIL 18th - I will be presenting 4 talks on Scottish research for the Wisconsin Historical Society

APRIL 29 - MAY 2 I will be speaking at the Ohio Genealogical Society's annual conference.

MAY 16-23 I will host a genealogy research tour in EDINBURGH. Because the majority of participants are returning for  a second or third (or fourth) tour, we have built in some extras for this tour. I am looking forward to the learning, the sharing and the "OMG" moments as participants uncover the stories of their ancestors. 

MAY 24-31 I will host an ORKNEY research and history tour. This is a special, one-off and one that I am very excited about. I can't wait to share the history of these magnificent islands with the tour participants. 

AUGUST - I am ticking an item off my bucket list with a genealogy cruise to Alaska. Interested in joining me?

SEPTEMBER 13-20 sees another genealogy research tour in EDINBURGH followed by a one-off research tour in the SCOTTISH BORDERS from Sept 20-27th. I am looking forward to being back on my family's home turf. 

Other events are yet to be confirmed but so far the year is turning out to be a very busy one. 

A Look Back at 2019

As I do every year, I look back on the genealogy events of the year. 2019 was a busy one!

JANUARY was the annual Scottish Virtual Conference with 7 presentations on Scottish genealogy research topics. 

FEBRUARY was RootsTech and all that comes with it. The learning, the networking, the travel and the exhaustion. 

MARCH saw the opportunity of a lifetime as I embarked on a whirlwind tour of the Mayflower400 sites and learned of all that has been planned for the 400th anniversary celebrations. 

MAY was the Glagow Research Tour. A very busy week of discovering as much as we could about our Glasgow ancestors while also taking in events that helped us learn about the history and social history of the city. 

JUNE saw the first (hopefully of many) Caledonia Celtic Festival in Caledonia. It is always so special to immerse in Scottish culture and to catch up with many of the diaspora. 

JULY & AUGUST saw a break from travel and allowed me to set the schedule of webinars for the ISBGFH winter webinar series, organize and plan the presentations for the Scottish ViC 2020, and write an article on the Mayflower400 tour. 

SEPTEMBER offered a short little break when I met with a group of past tour participants to work on scrapbooking our memories.

OCTOBER was a full week of learning and research at the British Institute in Salt Lake City where I taught the Scottish course. Such an incredibly fun week!

As always, the year flew by and provided some incredible opportunities. I am so very grateful for each and every one of them. I have enjoyed the "down time" that comes with late fall. This time allows me to get caught up on webinars, articles, blogs and scrapbooks. I am so looking forward to another very busy year in 2020 and am thankful to have had this time to re-charge. 

Thursday 19 December 2019

Need a Last Minute Gift for a Genealogist on Your List?

Need a Last Minute Gift for the Genealogist on Your List?

Give them the gift of learning. Give them insight into the records where they might find their Scottish ancestors. Help them to understand the social and historic events during which their ancestors lived. Register them for the Scottish ViC. 

Topics for 2020:
  • Glasgow and the Caribbean Slave Trade
  • Death, Burial and Cemetery Records
  • Prison Registers
  • Asylum Registers
  • Wills and Testaments
  • Scottish Newspapers
  • Scottish Emigration to Canada

Wednesday 4 December 2019

Schedule for the Scottish ViC January 25th 2020

All of the presentations for the Scottish ViC have now been recorded and I am thrilled with the level of learning that is being offered again this year. The Scottish ViC is unique in that it is the only virtual learning opportunity dedicated to Scottish genealogy/history. 

The day begins at 8 am with the first presentation at 8:30. We break at 12:30 for lunch and the day wraps up at 5 pm. Following the conclusion of each presentation, the presenter will be available live in a closed Facebook group to answer questions. 

Based on past experiences, it is a fast paced, information packed day. While it sounds like an eternity in front of a computer, you will actually wonder how the time passed so quickly. The day is always an inspiration to kick start those who have not researched in a while. It provides new and renewed energy for those who are "stuck" or stagnant in their Scottish research. And it is a fantastic way to start a new genealogical year. 

Here's the line up for the day: 


5:00      WRAP UP

Monday 2 December 2019

Scottish Genealogy Research January 25, 2020

Scotland is where my story begins

Scotland is the home of my ancestors. I have a deep and abiding connection to them. There is a never-ending yearning to learn more of their story so that I can better understand my own.

To learn more about your Scottish ancestors, join us on Saturday, January 25th, 2020 for a day of virtual learning. Learn about record sets that contain information about the lives of your ancestors:

Death and burial, Wills and Testaments, Prison, Asylum, Emigration, Newspapers. For more details:

One low fee, seven presentations by six presenters. Access until February 25th to allow for time zone challenges. All from the comfort of home. No travel expense. No time away from family, friends, work or home. No accommodation expense. No meal expenses. Stay warm, stay in your jammies. Engage with others and learn from the best.

Friday 22 November 2019

Give Yourself the Gift of Learning

St Andrew's Day is just over a week away. We are five weeks away from Christmas and before you know it, it will be a new year and a new decade. 

Burn's birthday is January 25th and that means the annual Scottish ViC. 

We have a great line up of presentations. Presentations not offered outside of Scotland. Presentations that I wanted to be able to bring to a wider audience, which is why I started the ViC. 

In ViC 2020, we take an in-depth look at Prison and Asylum records and learn of the minutia of detail that they contain about the people in the records. Hair colour, eye colour, height, scars, tattoos

We look at records that will help you to learn about the death of your ancestors - and this goes well beyond the death registers and monumental inscriptions. A wide array of records can be consulted to assist with finding this information for your ancestors. 

We look at the rich detail contained in wills and testaments, the legal process of probating a will and the records generated as a result. 

We learn about Scotland's relationship to the Caribbean Slave trade - not a pleasant part of Scotland's history, but an important part to understand. Yes, you might even have ancestors of Scottish descent in the Caribbean.

We take a look at how best to search for your ancestors in the Scottish newspapers and the rich detail that can be gleaned from them. Like maps, newspapers are a huge rabbit hole and learning how to focus our time and attention will make for better success. Ok, who are we kidding, everyone's story in newspapers is worthy of a read - even people who have no relationship to us. 

We will look at the reasons Scots left their homeland and emigrated to Canada. We will learn about the emigration societies, their purpose, how land was parcelled and how our Scottish ancestors fared once they arrived in Canada. And we will learn of the more enterprising Scots who came after the initial settlers and how they made their mark. 

Access to the presentations will be open until February 25th to allow you time to revisit them at your leisure and on your schedule. 

All presenters will be available LIVE and in person in the closed Facebook group for ViC registrants. They will be available immediately following their presentations on January 25th. 

Give yourself the gift of learning. REGISTER HERE

Monday 11 November 2019


All four genealogy research tours scheduled for 2020 are now FULL! 

Two research opportunities in Edinburgh (May and Sept), one research opportunity in Orkney and one in the Borders. 2020 promises to be a busy year for finding Scottish ancestors, researching in Scottish archives and libraries, visiting ancestral homes and honouring ancestors at their graves. 

Watch this blog (or sign up for email alerts) to follow my tour participants as they discover more of their ancestral stories, learn about and better understand their ancestor's history, deepen their sense of heritage and fall more in love with Scotland. 

Plans for 2021 are still in the works and won't likely be announced until after the Scottish ViC 

Once everything is confirmed (dates and location) the 2021 schedule will be shared via this blog and my mailing list. Stay tuned....

Saturday 9 November 2019

Can't Find Your Ancestor's Death Information?

Have you hit a snag trying to find your Scottish ancestor's death record? Maybe it's because you aren't looking at the right records. 

Glasgow City Archivist, Irene O'Brien will show us a variety of records where you can find the information you are looking for when the standard records don't seem to be available. 

Join us for the Scottish ViC to learn about researching Scottish deaths and so much more. Seven presentations, six presenters to show you that your Scottish ancestors really are waiting for you to find them. 

Registration allows access to the presentations and downloadable handouts for one full month.

Thursday 7 November 2019


SEPT 13 - 19, 2020

The tour is scheduled for Sept 13 - 19th, 2020. Arrival will be on the Sunday and check out on the following Saturday.  This allows five full days of dedicated genealogy research.

The tour fees are $2545 canadian. This includes: 
  • Pre-tour preparation and support
  • Hotel and breakfast
  • Three days at the ScotlandsPeople Centre/National Records of Scotland
  • One full day at the National Library of Scotland
  • One full day of research at the Scottish Genealogy Society. 
*each person is responsible for getting to and from Edinburgh on their own. Airfare and transport between the airport and hotel are not included.

​​***Non researching companions/spouses/family members sharing a room are welcome to join us for $500 Canadian. This includes their extra fee to the hotel. Non researchers do not count for available spaces so a single space DOES allow you to bring a companion. It is the research spaces that are limited.  

Walk where your ancetors walked. Worship where your ancestors worshipped. Visit your ancestors at their gravesides.
Find your Scottish ancestors waiting for you on the shelves of the archives, libraries and family history societies in Edinburgh
Gain a deeper sense of your story, your history and your place within the wider Scottish Diaspora. 

As with all spaces, this availability will go on a first come first served basis.  

Wednesday 6 November 2019


As we approach Cyber Monday, you have the opportunity to WIN your ViC registration. 

Everyone who registers (or is already registered) for the ViC by Cyber Monday (Monday, December 2, 2019) will be entered to win back their registration fees. (A full refund will be issued to the winner)

Friday 1 November 2019

Scottish Prison and Asylum Records Presentations

Do you know what your ancestor looked like? Do you know his height? His hair and eye colour? Whether he had tattoos or scars? Scottish PRISON records have such rich detail contained within them.

Do you know what the living conditions were for your ancestor who was in a Scottish asylum?

The Prison and Asylum records for Scotland include a wealth of rich detail that will help you to get a clearer understanding of your ancestor and the life that they lived.

Emma Maxwell will be giving 2 presentations during the Scottish ViC. One on Prison records and the deep detail they contain and one on Asylum records and the stories contained within them about your ancestors.

Access to the presentations is open for a full month following the ViC once you register.





The ISBGFH is pleased to announce their Virtual Institute which will run from March 16-19, 2020. The theme for this Institute is Researching in Commonwealth Countries. Each day of the Institute will feature 4 presentations on a particular Commonwealth Country:

Monday March 16 – Canadian Research presented by Kathryn Lake Hogan, UE, PLCGS. Kathryn is a Canadian professional genealogist who revels in teaching people how to find their ancestors in Canada. She is the founder and owner of the Canadian-based genealogy business, Looking4Ancestors.

Tuesday March 17 – South African Research presented by Sue McNelly. Sue is a professional genealogist based in Phoenix, Arizona, with over 16 years of experience. Born in South Africa to her English father and South African mother, Sue’s roots are predominantly English with a little Scottish, Irish and of course South African, to add to the mix. Sue is the owner of KindredPast, a genealogy company focusing on research in South Africa, England, and the Isle of Man.

Wednesday March 18 – British India Research presented by Emma Jolly. Emma Jolly MA is a professional genealogist and writer. Based in London, Emma writes regularly for family history publications and is the author of four books. Emma's media work includes radio and television appearances, as well as research for British and Swedish television channels, independent production companies, and national newspapers. She also edits the monthly newsletter of the Society of Genealogists. Emma specializes in genealogy problem-solving, tracing living relatives (alongside DNA test analysis), London history, social history, women's history and the British in India.

Thursday March 19 – Australian Research presented by Kerry Farmer. Kerry Farmer is a researcher, presenter and teacher in genealogical studies. She is on the Board of the Society of Australian Genealogists and convener of their Education Committee. She is Director of Australian Studies for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, developing their Australian Records courses.
**Please note that this will be a late afternoon/evening series given the time zone differences**

$70usd per day. $249usd for all 4 days.
Registration allows you access to recordings of the presentations
until April 30th 

Monday 28 October 2019


As a lead up to the Scottish ViC, I will be offering a series of free webinars on Scottish research:

Thursday Nov 14, 2019 at 8 pm eastern

Thursday Nov 21, 2019 at 8 pm eastern

Thursday Nov 28, 2019 at 8 pm eastern

Tuesday 22 October 2019


At the request of several registrants, and given the timing of the ViC, access to the recordings is being extended to one month rather than just one week.

That means that when you register for the ViC, you will have access to the recordings of the presentations until February 25th, 2020.  

This allows you to attend your Burns Night Celebration without missing out on the learning that is being offered. 

Access will also be extended for the downloadable handouts as well. Ready to register?

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Join Us for the Scottish ViC

Scottish ViC 2020
Saturday January 25, 2020

The Scottish ViC is in its third year. The ViC is a virtual conference.  It is the ONLY virtual conference dedicated to assisting people researching Scottish ancestors. The ViC is enjoyed from the comfort of your own home. No travel necessary. We bring the learning to YOU.

There are a series of presentations throughout the day, on a timed basis, just like an in-person conference. The presentations are pre-recorded and cover topics not normally presented outwith Scotland. The presenters are all intimately familiar with the records they are discussing and understand the value of these records to the family historians.

Following the presentation, the presenter will be available answer your questions.

Your registration allows you to have access to the presentations for a full week so that you can go back and re-visit the topics that are of the most interest to you as a genealogy researcher.

7 Presentations:

Death & Cemetery Records
Prison Records
Asylum Records
Wills & Testaments
Glasgow’s Role in the Slave Trade
Canada: Land & Opportunity
Scots Emigration to Canada

Click to register:

Online learning is not the next best thing. It is the NOW best thing.

Saturday 5 October 2019


Last chance to research your Scottish ancestors in the records in Edinburgh. There is ONE space open for the Sept 2020 tour. Dates are Sept 13-19, 2020 directly ahead of the Borders Research Tour. 

The tour includes:

6 nights Hotel
6 Breakfasts
3 Full days of research at the ScotlandsPeople Centre/National Archives
A day of research at the National Library of Scotland
A day of research at the Scottish Genealogy Society
Optional evening events

For the full itinerary or to book:

First come, first served. There will be NO Edinburgh tour in 2021. 

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Just TWO Spaces Remain for Edinburgh Research Tour Sept 2020

There are just two spaces left for the Edinburgh research tour in Sept 2020. The dates are Sept 13-19, 2020 with research opportunities at:

ScotlandsPeople Centre/National Records of Scotland (3 full days)
National Library of Scotland
Scottish Genealogy Society

This is a fantastic opportunity to find your Scottish ancestors on the shelves of the Scottish libraries and archives. Edinburgh records cover the whole of Scotland.

As with all of the research tours, spaces will go on a first come first served basis. This will be the LAST Edinburgh tour for the forseeable future. Edinburgh will NOT be offered in 2021.

For more details about the tour or to book:

NEW Information About the Pilgrims Uncovered

This is a classic example of how important it is to revisit your documents/records once in a while. In preparing for next year's #Mayflower400 celebrations, Luke Skerritt of Boston Guildhall made a fascinating discovery. Here's the press release: 

New and exciting information has been uncovered in the lead up to the 2020 ‘Mayflower 400’ anniversary of the foundation of America that completely changes the story of the Pilgrims in Boston. 

Original archive documents and new research, now on display in Boston Guildhall, has revealed a story of illicit worship, intrigue and influence in the town with a Boston draper, Leonard Beetson, central to unravelling the threads that make the story so compelling. 

archival document that uncovered new details

Luke Skerritt of Boston Guildhall Museum knew of a document in Lincolnshire Archives that related to the arrest of the Pilgrims in Boston in 1607 and arranged to view it. It was this document and the leads it provided which proved to be the first step in uncovering the story. Instead of a brief relationship with Boston it was actually the case that the Pilgrims were in the town for three months before their arrest and that those arrested were incredibly influential individuals such as WIlliam Brewster, Richard Clyfton and Thomas Helwys as well as the Boston draper Leonard Beetson.  This showed a completely different relationship between the Pilgrims and Boston, accessing other archival documents and new research the story began to unravel. 

jail cells where pilgrims were held
Beetson, the Boston Draper, weaves two of Boston’s most influential American connections together… he is the thread between the Pilgrims and the foundation of Boston Massachusetts by the congregation of charismatic Boston vicar John Cotton.  Arrested alongside the famous Pilgrims he chose to stay in Boston and became a respected business man and eventually a town councillor. He kept his habit of not conforming to religious convention though and became a close friend of the charismatic and radical, puritan vicar of Boston, John Cotton who influenced 1 in every 10 Bostonians to leave for America and found Boston Massachusetts in 1630. 

Not only have these stories been revealed but further intrigue comes linking them with a hand written letter from Edward Winslow one of the most famous of the Pilgrims to a Clerk of the local Courts shining a new light on an unsuspected network between Boston and Scrooby, Nottinghamshire where many of the Pilgrims came from. 

The new exhibition on display at Boston Guildhall showcases these stories and features as it’s highlight the documents that have helped reveal them which are on public display together for the very first time.

new exhibit for the #mayflower400 commemoration

*with thanks to Boston Guildhall for the information

Wednesday 18 September 2019

FREE Webinar: Preserve Your Family History FOREVER

You have worked hard to collect documents, photos, stories. Now what? What happens when you can no longer manage your research? Let's talk about that and let me show you how I am saving, storing, preserving my family history research and making it available to future generations. 

Join my FREE webinar Thursday September 19th at 8:00 pm eastern

Monday 16 September 2019

Third Annual Scottish ViC January 25, 2020

Genealogy Tours of Scotland announces the third annual virtual conference on Scottish Genealogy Research. This is the only virtual conference dedicated to Scottish research topics.


The ViC (virtual conference) will launch on Saturday, January 25th, 2020 at 8:30 am Eastern

The line-up of talks and speakers for the day:

Glasgow’s Role in the Slave Trade on Plantations in the West Indies presented by Stephen Mullen

Using Wills and Testaments for Scottish Genealogy Research presented by archivist Margaret Fox

Using Prison Records for Genealogy Research, presented by genealogist, Emma Maxwell

Using Asylum Records for Genealogy Research, presented by genealogist, Emma Maxwell

Using the Records Generated Upon Death for Genealogy Research, presented by archivist Irene O’Brien

Researching Your Scottish Ancestors in British Newspapers presented by Aoife O’Connor

Canada: Land and Opportunity presented by genealogy educator Christine Woodcock

Registration fee is just $99.99 (cad) and allows unlimited access to the talks, handouts and marketplace until midnight (eastern) on February 1st, 2020.

*** Virtual "Seats" are limited!*** For more information or to register:

All presentations are pre-recorded and released on a timed basis throughout the day, just like an in person conference. The live Q&A will only happen on January 25th when the presenters will be available following their presentation to answer any questions.

Friday 6 September 2019

Fewer Tours Going Forward

2020 is PACKED with tours. As a result I will be significantly reducing the number of trips in 2021. 

There will be NO Edinburgh tour in 2021. If you are interested in researching in Edinburgh, there are two spaces left for the Sept 2020 tour. Once they are gone, that will be it for the forseeable future. 

For more information or register

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!

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

Sunday 11 August 2019


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 ($59 for members, $79 for non-members).

Closed captioning via 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



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:

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: