Saturday, August 29, 2009

Which? Computing September 2009 Issue

Hello All -

The latest issue of Which? Computing magazine has some good articles and reviews of genealogy software and online research tools. This magazine is the UK version of Consumer Reports in the US. I haven't really seen if you can get this magazine (Which? Computing) in any retail newsagent. I think it is only by subscription, but I can't be certain. Which? is known for its unbiased and independent tests and assessments. You don't have to worry too much about a hidden agenda when reading their publications. If you can't find it in a shop, then possibly check with your local library to see if they have it, or you can visit the Which? website at I think it is well worth a read.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

BBC Radio 4 - Tracing Your Roots

Hello All -

Thought you might like listening to a family history radio program from the BBC on their
Radio 4 called "Tracing Your Roots." It has programs that you can listen to from September 2007 to November 2008. The presenter is Sally Magnusson who does a good job. It is very good listening, and gives a good instruction on British family history and genealogy in general.
Click on the link below to go the the webpage, and then click on the date you want to listen to - it will tell you what the episode is about. Hopefully, they will make some new programs for 2009.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Some Pics from the International Genealogy Festival in Glasgow

Hello All -

If by chance you were not able to go the International Genealogy Festival in Glasgow in late July, their website has some photos of the goings on during the event.

Please be sure you let them know that you would like to have another festival again next year. They have a comment page for you to voice your opinion. It would be great to have it again, as there are so few genealogical events in Scotland. Maybe next year it will be bigger and better than ever - sort of a Scottish version of the Who Do You Think You Are Live event in London.

Genealogy and Identity Theft

Ever wonder about how safe your identity is on the internet. With so many genealogy and family history sites now, it is wise to be very wary and cautious about your information online. I don't want to be a scare-monger, but just want everyone to be careful as well as enjoying themselves online. Here is an interesting article from "Family Tree Magazine" newsletter by Diane Haddad in their latest edition:

Q. I've looked at several social and family networking sites, including Geni. My concern is identity theft. If you share data about yourself and your family, you’re a target. These sites don’t even have secure connections. I don’t want to place myself and family at risk. Do you have any suggestions?

A. If you use social and family networking sites with a modicum of caution, it’s unlikely you’ll increase your risk for identity theft. Information you might enter into a social networking or family tree site—your name, your ancestors’ names, your hometown, and even your address and phone number—is already easily available through print and online phone directories, as well as other public records. Plus, most identity thieves want your financial information and social security number, not just your name and address (or your ancestors’ names). They'd rather spend their time stealing your mail or wallet, going through your garbage, or hacking stores’ computer systems. So the best way to protect your identity is to shred old bank and credit card statements, send mailed payments from the Post Office, guarding your wallet, and being careful with account information.

Social networking sites are designed to help people find you, which is why anyone can search them. But since most of us do want a certain amount of anonymity, sites usually have privacy options. You can choose to display only your name, or you can limit who can access your profile. If you’d rather not be found at all, of course, stay off social networking and family tree sites. Other tips for using these sites:

You’ll have to supply your name and e-mail address when you register for a site, but you may not have to provide your phone number or mailing address.

Familiarize yourself with the site’s privacy statement and its privacy features. Make sure you're not displaying any information you don't want displayed.

For courtesy’s sake, don’t post names, birthdates, hometowns or photos of living people unless you have their permission.

Making online purchases is generally safe (look for the “https” in the URL, which symbolizes a secure payment system), but don’t enter your credit card information for a site to keep on file just in case you make a purchase. Once you make a purchase, though, the site may save your credit card number.

If you log into your social networking or family tree profile from a public computer (such as at a library), leave the “remember me” or "save password" box unchecked and be sure to click the log out link when you’re finished, so the next user can’t access your account.

Facebook is pretty good at cracking down on spam messages, which may carry computer viruses or spy software, that may be sent to your Facebook inbox. But to be safe, don’t open or forward suspicious-looking messages (for example, those with subject lines like "You won’t believe this video!”) on any social networking site.

Don’t use your mother’s maiden name (or another word someone might easily figure out) for a password on any site.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Another Thing I Noticed on TV

Hello All -

Just remembered about another thing that I noticed while watching the tv show "Who Do You Think You Are?" last night. I noticed that David Mitchell was looking at the website He stated or the narrator stated (I can't remember exactly) that he had made a post (at least I am assuming it was the same website that he was shown being on) for more information on one of his ancestors. And someone responded to his request as seen in the show. These forums do work, all it takes is one person to view it that knows what you are looking for.

I was sitting watching the show and said to myself hey I know that site. I wonder if Marilyn knows anything about this (Marilyn is the site admin. of the website).

Until Next Time

A Bit of A New Look

Hello All -

Just a brief mention that you might have noticed I did a small change to the blog. It is still The Scottish Genealogy Blog, but to make things a bit more snappy I shortened the title to ScotGen -everything else is the same. Also, I have changed my webpage url to and the email contact has changed as well.

Just thought I would give a quick update on the changes.

An Interesting Find While Watching TV

Hello All -

I was watching the latest episode of "Who Do You Think You Are?" on BBC last night. This episode was with comedian David Mitchell. During the episode David goes to see the vestry home of one of his ancestors the Forbes family of Sleat in Skye. The former home was sold by the Church of Scotland to a private owner. The owner showed David into her home and pulls out a 1852 (if I remember correctly) kirk session book that she found in the old house.

The earliest date of the Sleat kirk session records for Sleat parish is 1882 at NAS. This book found in the home by the private owner is about 30 years earlier. My colleague Chris Paton has also noticed this in his current blog post at I agree wholeheartedly with Chris. I would hope too that the current home owner who is in possession of this kirk session book would let the NAS have a copy of it for themselves. I was thinking this when I was watching the program. I said to myself that document looks to be an original, but maybe the Archives has a copy of it. It looks very likely that the archives don't have it according to their catalogue.

I am such a bit advocate for private citizens who do happen to have old papers and documents to have the Archives take a look at them to see if they need them or not. I did this recently with my husband's documents that he purchased at the Baras 10 years ago. They were late 1600s and early 1700s sasine records for a family in Ross and Cromarty. These were original documents written on vellum, which looks like were in someones loft or basement for ages. I took these 6 documents to the NAS while I was doing research there to let them have a look at them just in case they did not have a copy in their possession. However, it seems that they do have a copy as well. I am glad I went to let them see it, because you never know if they have the documents or not. I know that there would be someone that may be a descendant of those people mentioned in these documents that would like to see these documents for their research.

I really hope that someone will alert the NAS or other archive to this kirk session book, or perhaps someone can contact the owner of the document to take it to the Archives to let them look at it. They can take a copy of it, and give the original back to the private owner. It will be a win-win situation all around. I am sure someone's ancestor is in that book, and the person reading the details found in the book will be a bit shocked at the goings on in it. You wouldn't be pulled up in front of the kirk session unless you needed a good talking to for something. The same can be said in US church minutes as well, but not all ancestors were angels as we sometimes find out.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Don't Rely Too Much on the Internet for Your Research

I saw this image/poster California Genealogical Society and Library Blog

What a great image, and how true. As most of you know I am a big advocate for technology in genealogy; however, I am also still "old-fashioned" when it comes to the traditional methods. The internet is a great tool, but it doesn't have the complete resources as the archives, libraries, and other repositories have. Especially if you are looking in the local area for your ancestors. Your local library or archive or courthouse, etc. will have more of what you need to find that ancestor.

In order to be a good and well educated genealogist/family historian, you need a mix of the old and the new. In my opinion going to the local libraries and archives, and doing the searching of the books, manuscripts, documents, etc. in person makes for a much better researcher. There is nothing like sitting in a hard wooden chair and desk and going to get the books or other documents you need - just spending a good amount of time searching and being able to talk to people in the facility about the various sources and your own project that you are working on. Who knows maybe you might bump into a relative researching one of your families too.

The bottom line is that the internet doesn't have it all. More and more information is being included everyday online which is good. But, it is vital that you do the "legwork" at a library or archive too. As the poster illustrates - the internet is just the tip of the iceberg. In the end you will be a much better and experienced genealogist.