Friday, December 15, 2006

Merry Christmas from Scotland

Hello Everyone -

Just a wee note to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year. We thank everyone for viewing our blog, and hope that it has been useful to you. We look forward to the new year and getting new blog entries written up. Stay tuned for more to come.

I thought I would give some Christmas gift ideas for the genealogist or family historian:

1. Genealogy Books (these are always an essential for a family historian, sometimes gets
to be an obsession as we do love our books).

2. One of the latest versions of a genealogy program (these are really great as these
programs help in keeping research organized as well as creating family history books, reports,
pedigree charts, etc.). Some of the more popular ones are Family Tree Maker, Roots Magic, The Master Genealogist, just to name a few. It is a good idea to pick one according to your skills in working a computer program, as some have a higher learning curve than others (The Master Genealogist is more advanced to work with if just a beginner. A good program to start out with is Family Tree Maker as it is very user friendly, and is very widely available in most stores).

3. Buy a subscription to one of the genealogy magazines.

4. Buy a membership to a local family history society or national society such as the Scottish Genealogy Society or the National Genealogy Society (USA).

5. Buy a voucher for a day or more researching session at the Scottish General Registry Office in Edinburgh (New Register House), or other archive facility in your home country.

There are other ideas, but I just wanted to give a few off the top of my head.

Until Next Time/Year -

Carolyn of MGS

Friday, November 24, 2006

Joining Your Local Family History Society

Hello All -

Sorry it has been awhile since I have posted here. I thought I would discuss in this post about family history societies. I can guess that most folks working on their family history have heard of these or know of them, but have not joined one. Being a member of a handful myself, I can try to shed some light on this for those who may not be sure if it is worth it or not.

They are groups of family historians who have an interest in a particular geographical area, such as a county, or live in that area. There are also special interest societies, for example a specific surname. You should definitely join your local society.

Most societies hold regular meetings - go along to these and join in their activities. You may also find it useful to become a member of those societies covering the areas in which your ancestors once lived. All societies produce journals and these will describe local records and history. Their members might be able to help with particular 'local research' problems, for example by visiting the churchyard to read your grandfather's gravestone for you. Belonging to a family history society will also enable you to contact others who are tracing the same surname that you are, in the area where your ancestor lived. (FFHS)

You can of course research your family tree without the benefit of joining a society. However, it would be most beneficial for you to join at least one family history society, to help and guide you towards your goal of compiling your family tree. It must be emphasied that the work of compiling your family tree is yours, unless you can afford a professional researcher. It is recommended that you should join a society in the area in which you live, and also one within your area of research.

Membership of your local society will provide the benefits of talks by experts in their field, the knowledge of others who may have experienced similar problems that you may encounter and a wealth of information from the society's own library. Joining a society within the area you are researching will provide contact with the people who know the area and may be able to assist you in your research. (FHSC)

Sometimes it can be a matter of cost of joining a society that can put people off, but I can say that they do not cost very much at all. The local family history societies do not charge much - roughly £12-£15 a year. The national societies such as the Scottish Genealogy Society charge a bit more for their yearly membership fee, but nothing too bad as it is worth it since you can use their research facilities as a benefit of membership.

Until Next Time -
Carolyn of MGS

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Research Trip Tips

I thought I would give some tips for taking a research trip to a local archives or library. This is a complimentary article to go along with my previous blog. There will be a good chance that you will need to go to one or more of the archives or libraries located in Scotland, so here are some helpful tips to make your research go a bit smoother.

1. The first thing is to be prepared before you go (do your homework). This is most important as if you don't think things out first your research will be chaos. Think about who or what family line you want to research, and what information sources you will need to look at. Find out the hours of operation and other rules about the archive facility you are wanting to visit - does the archive facility require any fees, and what are the charges for making photocopies, etc.

2. Plan what items you want to take with you to perform your research. A good overall tip for items to take with you is a notebook with paper, pencils (you should only take pencils into a research room as most facilities only let you use a pencil in order to protect their documents), file folders, a small stapler or paperclips, research worksheets (pedigree chart, family group sheet, research log, source sheet, etc.), perhaps some soft white gloves if you are looking at very old documents to protect the documents from skin oils or moisture that may cause damage, and a magnifying glass for those small print or hard to read items.

3. If you have a laptop computer you should take it as most archives have a place where you can connect it. However, please check first if they are allowed and if there are outlets for their useage. Using a laptop can be used to take notes or transcribe documents and information you have found.

4. If you are researching for most of the day, take time to have breaks and lunch. It is important to take breaks every so often to give the ol' brain a rest, as well as giving you more energy to concentrate.

5. Allow archive staff to help you if you need it - don't be afraid to ask if you don't know. But there are instances where you will have to ask staff to obtain certain documents for you if there are in a backroom or other location. Always be courteous and polite when speaking with staff.

6. When your research trip is finished for the day, take time to organize what you have found - perhaps if you found some birth certificates you can place them in one of your file folders or however you have chosen to file/organize your research documents. If you have written things on little bits of paper, rewrite them or type them up on a larger piece of paper so they won't get lost (or put your information on your computer).

Well, that is pretty much the overall ways to have a good research trip - I just wish that there was a guarantee to find all the information you want to find. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
I hope this has been helpful to you, and I wish all you the best in your research.

Until Next Time -

Carolyn of MGS

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Scottish Genealogy Useful Addresses FYI

I thought I would give a link to many of the useful Scottish family history addresses - national, county, family history societies, among others. I wanted to give this link so that people will know where the various archives are in Scotland. There are times where someone may need to go to their local county archive rather than the national archives in Edinburgh. There are instances where the local archives have information that is not found elsewhere, for example local parish records, workhouse records, and various others. There are addresses for the local family history societies too. These are good if someone wants to become a member, as well as offering great publications regarding various parish information for each county/regional area that can be helpful.

In researching your family history it is important to know where to go to find the information you need. If possible you should search your local archives as well as the national archives in Edinburgh - it will give you a better chance of finding more information about your ancestor or family.

Here is the link that offers a great list of the address for Scottish family history for archives and information:

I hope that this link will be a useful tool for those who need it. Knowing where the archives are for researching your family history is crucial - they are the main key to finding your ancestors.

Until next time -
Carolyn of MGS

Saturday, October 28, 2006

You Have to Start Somewhere

Well, as the title says "you have to start somewhere." I thought I would give a brief introduction on starting to research one's family history. I know that there is so much out there already on this subject, but I figure it is best to discuss it as a teaching tool for those who may not know, and it seems like a good place to start.

Really the first thing to do when first starting to look into one's family history is to start with yourself and work backwards in time. It is certainly a more difficult of a task if you start with someone else. By doing this, it means you should try to locate any birth, marriage, and records and other documents that there may be about your family and yourself. Also, ask questions about your family with your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. This should open up the floodgates to more information to help get you started. Be sure to write down or tape all information you gather and where you got it from (i.e. your sources). If you happen to borrow any documents or photos from family members, please make sure you give them back (make a copy of it for yourself).

Make good use of your local archives, registry office, or public library, as they will be able to help in locating more information for you. Since this is a blog about Scottish genealogy/family history, a trip to your local registrar's office or the GRO in Edinburgh is a great place to start to find vital certificates (birth, marriage, death). There are also several sources on the internet that are good too. Birth, marriage, and death records are a goldmine of information to help get you back further in time in who your ancestors are. There are other record types as well, but I will not go into them at this time. I just want to give a very basic starting point for new budding family historians. I will discuss the other available sources more fully later as we go along.

The vital records will give you a basic skeleton of your family tree. By delving into the other available resources such as the censuses, wills, sasines, etc. these will help in finding more information about a person or family, as well as helping to move a family line back a generation or more. It all depends on the sources available for a family - there are many instances where the documents needed are no longer available due to damage or being lost through time. There are also instances where a family or individual just didn't leave much of a papertrail to begin with.

There is so much more that can be discussed regarding sources, research techniques, analytical skills, etc., but really what it all boils down to in the very, very beginning stages of researching one's family history is just starting with yourself, asking questions of living relatives, and finding/gathering family documents that your family already have - this is what gets your foot in the door. Everything else will fall into place as you go along and get more experience in researching.

Until next time -

Carolyn of MGS

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Genealogy vs. Family History

I think one of the first things to discuss before going any further is the difference between the terms "genealogy" and "family history." The two terms are often used as one in the same, but they are a little different. I did a quick "Google" search and have found a couple of good definitions and explainations to share.

The first one is found on the website genealogy in their "genealogy tip of the day" section:

"While is common for people to use the terms 'genealogy' and 'family history' interchangeably, they actually have a subtle but different meaning. Genealogy, the study of ancestry and descent, refers more to the actual search for ancestors, while family history, the narrative of the events in your ancestors' lives, denotes the telling of your family's story. Family history is genealogy come alive.
To experience the difference between genealogy and family history, place yourself in the world of an ancestor. For the best experience, select one for which you only have a few dull, dry facts such as birth date, hometown, marriage, children and burial location. Then try to learn the circumstances of his/her life - what he did to put food on the table, how he spent his leisure time, his position in the town or community, the cost of living in effect at the time, the types of food he ate, the clothes he wore, diseases which were prevalent for the time period, the traditions he followed...
To dig up the answers to these questions, you can turn to a variety of historical resources: timelines, social histories, community histories, newspaper accounts, biographies, etc. The records which gave you the names and dates for your ancestors are also a source for potential clues. Census records may be able to tell you about your ancestor's neighborhood, occupations, educational background, and financial situation. Wills may provide insight into your ancestor's feelings, friends, and possessions. Immigration and naturalization records may offer a look at your ancestor's motivations for moving to a new country.
In your quest to learn more about where you came from, don't limit yourself to the 'genealogy' search. Flesh out the lives of your ancestors, tell the stories of your living family members, and bring your family history to life."

Another great site I found was from one of the Open University website pages:
This site gives a really good illustration of how the two terms, "genealogy" and "family history" are used in a practical way by using examples and explainations.

I hope that this brief exploration of the differences between "genealogy" and "family history" will be helpful and maybe give a better understanding that there is a difference after all.

I am always open to questions and comments, so please feel free to use the comments section.

Until next time -
Carolyn of MGS

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Welcome to the Scottish Genealogy Blog

Hello Everyone:

This is the first posting of the new Scottish Genealogy Blog. I am hoping that this will be a great tool and resource for those who are interested in researching their Scottish ancestors. I am a professional genealogist who specializes in Scottish genealogy. I wanted to create this blog as a tool to help others who are interested in researching their family history, as well as a place where folks can get information and possibly ask questions regarding Scottish genealogy. I also have an great interest in computer-related genealogy too. The computer has really helped many people get more involved in researching their family history with all the sources available online now. Genealogy blogging is quite new at the moment, but I feel that it will become a great resource for the future.

I am looking forward to adding more information as the days go by. I will try to post as often as I can or as time permits. If anyone has any questions or comments please feel free to let me know.

Until next time -
Carolyn of McNicholl Genealogical Services