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