Monday, December 20, 2010

BCG's Newest Member

Hello All -

After much angst and worry, I have finally heard back from the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) and am happy to report that it was good news. I have become one of their newest members, and have been designated a Certified Genealogist (CG). I have only just received the news via email and have not yet received my portfolio back from them with the judges comments.

I will write a follow up post once I receive my portfolio back in the mail, and will give more detail about my experience. I know that others who have applied to the BCG or are thinking about it are always wondering about other people's experiences.

This will most likely be my last post of this year, so let me wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a very Blessed New Year in 2011.

Until Next Time ....

Saturday, November 27, 2010

WDYTYA LIVE 2011 Tickets Now On Sale

Hello All -

Just saw that the tickets for the upcoming Who Do You Think You Are Live 2011 are now on sale to the public on their website -
This is probably the biggest annual genealogy event in the UK at present. This coming year's event is from 25-27 February in London at the Olympia Exhibition Centre. Each year it seems to grow and get better. There is a vast amount of things to do - workshops, exhibits, vendor stalls, etc. There should be something for everyone and every interest.

To learn more about this event just check out their website, link is above. There is not as much info on their at the moment, but nearer the time it should have the days events and times, who will be there, etc. But, the main thing at the moment is that you can buy your ticket now.

Until Next Time ....

Friday, November 19, 2010

From Pit to Palace ....

Hello All -

With all the excitement of the upcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the UK newspapers have really had a field day with their articles regarding the event and the couple.
However, there is a very interesting article in today's Daily Mail about Kate's family history. To read the full article just click the link below.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

NBC Announces New Series of WDYTYA?

Hello All -

News from the US is that a new series of Who Do You Think You Are? will be starting on 21 January 2011. Not sure who the participants will be this time around, but I think that the US genealogy community will be thrilled with a new batch of shows.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Another UK Genealogy Magazine to Cease Publication

Hello All:

It seems that the hard economic times has taken another bite. Unfortunately, it is in the UK genealogy world. The magazine "Practical Family History" will cease publication soon. This is one of the longest running genealogy magazines in the UK and had a focus for the beginner in family history. It is hard to compete with the internet and other publications, especially when times are tough economically such as they are now.

The magazine served the genealogy community very well and gave alot of good information to the budding genealogist. I wish the staff all the best, and am sorry to see PFH go.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Family History Month

Hello All -

Just realized that October is Family History Month, well in many US states anyway. But, that doesn't mean that here in the UK that we can't celebrate as well. Here are a few tips on how to celebrate by Kimberly Powell of Genealogy:

1. Get Started Tracing Your Family Tree
2. Create a Family Cookbook
3. Record Family Stories
4. Uncover Your Family Health History
5. Take a Trip Back in Time
6. Scrapbook Your Family Heritage
7. Start a Family Web Site
8. Preserve Your Family Pictures
9. Get the Next Generation Involved
10. Craft a Heritage Gift

To learn more about these 10 ideas just read Kimberly Powell's post at

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Private Companies Taking Over Libraries

Hello All -

Dick Eastman had an interesting post about some US city public libraries being taken over or managed by private companies, such as LSSI. The full NY Times article mentioned in Eastman's post can be read here:

Could this happen here in the UK? The only answer that I can give is I don't know. Libraries all over are facing the cut backs in financing and hours, etc. due to the current financial situation. Public libraries have in a sense always been a institution of the local government. If the city's public library goes into private management would that make things more costly for the patron? The private management company is for profit or they wouldn't be going into business. How is the private company making it's money - fees for books that are returned late, etc. The article mentioned about making cuts in the library workers, etc. That would save money in overhead, but how else would the private library get it's funding. There is the fear that fees, and various other costs for the library patron will increase down the line. It may not be immediate, but it will no doubt come.

However (playing devil's advocate), perhaps privatizing the public library will be a good thing all around, and make things work better and more efficiently. In the US, some of the libraries are unionized. This can sometimes cause their own problems with strikes, high cost of pensions and benefits, etc. Maybe the privatization will cut out the unnecessary waste for the library, which can be a sore spot in any government run facility now days. As long as the services are not cut or made to cost more (private company wanting to make a big profit), there shouldn't be a problem with privatization.

There could also be the problem of "what if the private company goes bust?" Then what happens to the library? Will it go back to the government to run again, will it be sold to another private company, or will the library just go along the wayside and left to rot empty and derelict.

In my local town public library there is a sense that the facility is not being as used as much as it once was, mainly due to the Internet. So much information can be acquired at home on a personal computer. The local public library is not really the hub of activity as it used to be. There are many times that I have been into the local public library and hardly a soul is in it. I cannot speak for other libraries, but just what I have noticed in my own local one.

I don't really know if privatization of the public library will happen here in the UK. My hunch is probably not. But, I think it is an interesting concept that I hadn't thought about until reading Eastman's post and the NY Times article. It makes one think about the future of their public library facilities. Perhaps when the economy gets better things will not look as troublesome for the local library, and things will pick up in terms of budget, hours of operation, etc.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

SOG Centenary Conference in 2011

Hello All -

Just a brief mention about the upcoming Soceity of Genealogist's 100 Years Celebration Centenary Conference in 2011. It is to be held on 7th May 2011 at The Royal Overseas League, Over-Seas House, Park Place, 5 St James’s Terrace, London SW1A 1LP.

For more information about his event please view the website at:

The conference will have earlybird rate of £99.00 up to January 31, 2011. The price also includes a lunch. The price after 31st January will be £120.00. There will also be a Conference Banquet for an earlybird cost of £30 (goes up to £35 after 31st January). If you are interested in the Conference and the Banquet the cost will be £116 for earlybird rate (£140 after 31st Jan.).

I have had a quick look at the program and it looks to be quite a good outing. We wish the SoG well in their 100 years and hope for many more years to come for their organization.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

APG at WDYTYA? Live 2011

Hello All -

For those of you who may be interested in possibly knowing more about professional genealogy, and about those who are practicing professional genealogists (like myself), the Association of Professional Genealogists are planning on having a information booth at this upcoming Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2011 in London. The APG is headquartered in the US, but has members from all over the world. Here is some further information regarding their trip to London from their Executive Director, Kathleen W. Hinckley, CG:

"The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG®) announced today that it will participate in the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE 2011, The National Conference, this coming February in London, U.K. APG will exhibit at the event, with the goal of educating new audiences on the benefits of hiring professional genealogists who adhere to genealogical standards and ethics.

APG president Laura Prescott and APG executive director Kathleen Hinckley, CG, will represent the organization at the show. "The APG represents more than 2,000 professional genealogists in more than 30 countries," said Prescott. "The Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE conference will give APG an opportunity to meet approximately 15,000 family history enthusiasts and educate them about our mission and the availability of our members to serve them."The APG's international committee has been exploring the growing need for professional genealogists in markets outside of North America. The committee, with members in England, India, Ireland, Israel and the U.S., examines opportunities to share the APG message and promote international awareness of, and interest in, professional genealogical services.

The upcoming exhibition will be the APG's first conference presence outside of North America.About the Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE 2011 Conference and Exhibition The Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE 2011 conference, the U.K.'s largest and most comprehensive family history event, will be held February 25-27, 2011 at London's historic Olympia Exhibition Centre. The conference, held since 2007, was created in response to overwhelming interest in the U.K.'s television show Who Do You Think You Are?, now in its seventh season. The show features nearly 200 exhibitors and more than 100 seminars and workshops. Celebrities from the U.K. show will also appear. See for more information.

About the APG The Association of Professional Genealogists (, established in 1979, represents more than 2,000 genealogists, librarians, writers, editors, historians, instructors, booksellers, publishers, and others involved in genealogy-related businesses. APG encourages genealogical excellence, ethical practice, mentoring, and education. The organization also supports the preservation and accessibility of records useful to the fields of genealogy, local, and social history. Its members represent all fifty states, Canada, and thirty other countries."

The good folks at the APG have asked us to spread the word about the "Yanks" coming to London. We are hoping all of you out there will turn out - it will definitely be a good time, and there will be lots of booths and great lectures. The WDYTYA? Live event seems to get bigger and better every year.

Tracing Your Roots Back on BBC Radio 4

Hello All -

The new series of BBC 4's Tracing Your Roots is back on the airwaves again. It is broadcast on Tuesdays at 4:00 pm (16:00). Sally Magnusson is your host along with the expertise of Nick Barratt. If you have happened to miss any of the episodes so far you can listen online at:

The first two episodes are there presently for your listening pleasure.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Some Reflection On This Series of WDYTYA?

Hello All -

Well, now that this series of UK Who Do You Think You Are? is over I thought I would give some personal reflection of it. I think as a whole it was ok compared to previous series. There were a couple that were a bit boring - Bruce Forsyth, Rupert Everett, and Alexander Armstrong where the main ones that I felt were a bit of a snoozer or disappointing. I had missed three of the episodes while I was in the US in August, but did watch them on "catch up" when I got back home. I admit that I turned off the Alexander Armstrong episode halfway through.

The other ones apart from the three mentioned above I thought were good and interesting to watch. There were stories that held your attention and wanting to find out what happens. They were also good ones to watch for the different record types and countries involved in the research.

Some of the episodes only focused on the one ancestor in the story, but I think that that one ancestor was that interesting to follow for the entire programme. Personally, I do like the ones where you get to follow a few more lines of the person's tree. Especially when the person doesn't know much of anything at all about their family and the discoveries are all new to them and you see their reactions.

This is just my personal opinion of things, as I know that some of you may not agree with my choices of boring and good episodes. Overall, I still think that WDYTYA is a great programme and it is great to see it being shown in various countries with their version (Australia, US, etc.).
NBC in the US had already planned to do their second series, which is great news.

I was fortunate to watch a couple of the episodes as repeats while I was in the US. Being in the UK, unless you have a special VPN type software or other way of bypassing the country restrictions, one cannot watch the episodes online on the NBC website. The BBC did show about three episodes though (Brooke Shields, Susan Sarandan, and Jessica Parker). One of the episodes that I watched that I really enjoyed was the Emmitt Smith one - I might be biased being a big Dallas Cowboys fan. However, I hope that the US version will slow down a bit as I found that it went a bit too quickly on the ancestors and skipping up the tree without knowing how they got there. The Emmitt Smith episode was a good one for being more focused on the one family line or ancestor at a time.

Can't wait to see what the next series will be like and who it will feature. Hopefully they will make more episodes as I think the series is still popular with the public.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Last Episode of UK WDYTYA Tonight

Hello All -

The last episode in this series of the UK Who Do You Think You Are is on tonight at 9:00 pm
on BBC1. This episode involves the Scottish actor Alan Cumming. This one should be good for us Scottish genealogical researchers, and see what types of records and repositories are used.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Brief Review of Buzzy's Book

Hello All -

I have just read the new book by Buzzy Jackson called "Shaking The Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist." I purchased it while I was on holiday in the US this past month.

I can see why this book is so widely praised, it is a book that you can't put down. Needless to say it involves Buzzy taking her readers on a journey of her beginnings of researching her ancestry - her Jackson side of the family. It is a book that really sucks you in as a reader, especially as a fellow genealogist. The book delves into Buzzy's beginnings of her interest in researching her family, and quickly illustrates how addictive it can be. Buzzy shows a great sense of humour and seems to have a great time with it all. She demonstrates the fun side of genealogy as well as the serious academic side of things.

Buzzy's genealogical journey takes her in a number of areas - DNA research, interviewing her older relatives as well as her parents, going on the Wholly Genes Cruise, graveyard visits, joining her local family history society, etc. This book really shows the process in practical form of performing family history research, and does so in a very entertaining way. It is a book that almost everyone can relate to, as we have all done some of the same sort of things ourselves as newbies. Buzzy seems to quickly get a hand on things and learns alot from her experiences in researching her Jackson family. She definitely meets up with the best folks to learn from (her cruise with Wholly Genes).

It was so interesting to read of her experiences with the world of genealogy as a new-comer, and her development within it. Buzzy's book would make a great documentary - one can just image the book on film. I would definitely recommend reading Buzzy's book - beginner or not.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Still Here

Hello All -

I know I haven't blogged in a while, but I do have a good excuse. I was attending the Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in Knoxville, Tennesse, and the Association of Professional Genealogists PMC. This is held the day just before the main FGS conference. It was a bit of a trek to go from Scotland, but I can say that it was worth it. The conference was well attended and had a record number of new, budding genealogists attending.

This was a great time had by all. The Knoxville area is a wonderful city, which loads of history and a fantastic research facilities. I spent at least two days searching the McClung Collection at the East Tennessee History Center The ETHC also houses the Knox County Archives. So, this is the place to go if you have specifically Knox County ancestors. It is also great on Tennessee records too in the McClung Collection.

The exhibit hall had loads of great stuff - it was hard to not buy something. But there was also informative venders as well such as and Familysearch. The whole enormous exhibit area always seemed to have a good crowd looking at the stalls and talking with the folks there.

The main highlight was attending the numerous talks given by some of the top lecturers in genealogy, Tom Jones, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Elissa Powell, Joshua Taylor, just to name a few.

I definitely learned alot, and had fun too (not to mention eating some good Tennessee bar-b-q as well).

If you haven't done so, I definitely recommend attending a main genealogy conference - National Genealogical Society, WDYTYA? London, FGS, etc. It can be a bit expensive, but only if you can just go once it would really be a great experience and you would learn loads. There is nothing like hundreds to thousands of genealogists roaming around under one roof.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Borders FHS Silver Julilee

Hello All -

Got this email about the upcoming Borders Family History Society Silver Jubilee coming in October. Looks like it should be a good day out for all.

In September 2010, Borders Family History Society will be 25 years old.

To celebrate our silver jubilee we’re planning a family and local history fair and conference on Saturday, 9th October in Melrose, at which one of our founder members, the noted local author, Norrie McLeish, will be giving the keynote lecture, and we will have three other lectures during the day. Refreshments will be available.

Access to the public is from 10am to 4pm.Stall set-up is between 9am and 10am and dismantling between 4pm and 5pm.

The event will be held in the Corn Exchange and Ormiston Institute, Melrose, TD6 9PN - see map at

The building is situated right on Market Square, so there'll be lots of shoppers passing the door, and admission is free, so there'll be every reason for people to come in.

Would you like a table to display your goods and services ?
We're charging paid-up members of the Society £25, and non-members £30 per table.
I'm sending this invitation out to more organisations than there are tables available, in the expectation that some organisations won't be available to come, so it's a case of "first come, first served" for tables.
In addition to booking a table, if you provide a link on your website to the Borders Family History Society website , you can also have a link to your website on our conference page at no extra cost.

There may be additional tables available, depending on the number of organisations accepting.

If you are interested, please let me know by email by 15th August.
We will be seeking payment for tables shortly after that.
There is a limited amount of power and you would need to bring your own extension lead. We are required by the Council to advise you that all electrical equipment must have a valid Portable Appliance Test certificate, and is in a safe and sound condition and complies with all relevant safety regulations. We certainly expect you to switch off equipment when you're away from it.So far as we know, there is currently no WiFi access.There is wheelchair access to the building and a toilet for people with disabilities.

Please note that although there are some adjacent parking spaces, these are normally occupied, so you'll probably need to unload your car at the door, and then find somewhere to park. There are 3 car parks in Melrose (2 free and 1 paid) and a very limited amount of short stay street parking.

Come to our conference on 9th October - more details at

Friday, July 30, 2010

Genealogy "Dark Ages" To Come?

Hello All -

There is an interesting article about the idea of a genealogy "Dark Ages" that may come in the future. The copied article comes from the "Mormon Times."

"PROVO, Utah — With all the genealogical information being made accessible on the Internet, some might think this is the golden age of family history. To Curt B. Witcher, however, we may be entering a new dark age where vital records and the memories of people alive today are lost forever.

"At the same time we have more (technological) ability we are losing interest and focus on keeping the thoughts and the words for future generations," Witcher said.

Witcher, the manager of The Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Ind., was the plenary speaker at BYU's Conference on Family History and Genealogy on Wednesday.

"I believe we have a crisis in our midst," Witcher said. "We have left the care of our written records largely in the hands of disinterested strangers." He said these records include everything from birth records to tombstones — and more and more they are disappearing.
Libraries are limiting hours and public access to materials. Courthouses are engaging in "radical sampling," where they take a few samples of large collections of old records and destroy the rest. "This is going on now," Witcher said.

Witcher gave several specific examples of the problem. The Ohio State Library gave away all its genealogical materials to a local library. The Library of Michigan was getting rid of genealogical items that are not directly related to Michigan. The Boston Public Library is contemplating making its vast collections of newspapers inaccessible to the general public. Seventy-nine percent of reporting U.S. Federal agencies believed their records were at high or great risk of being lost.

"At every turn there is a threat," Witcher said.
Records are also disappearing on a personal level. "Who is writing letters anymore?" Witcher asked. "When was the last time you received a letter?"

But even if letters are a thing of the past, Witcher worries about e-mail. "Do you organize your e-mail well? All those Christmas greetings? All those family stories that have been exchanged through e-mail? How are you doing with that file management? It's a part of living history."
To counteract the trend, Witcher encouraged people to write. "Write as you never have written before." This writing can be about memories, describing a family photograph or center on themes such as a family's rituals.

After something is written, Witcher said to share it with others. Otherwise, he said "many of those precious pieces of living history go into landfills."

Witcher said to publish — locally to family or even on a website such as Just be careful with personal information of living individuals. The object is to create a record that will be there for descendants.

"We have an awesome responsibility ahead of us," Witcher said. "In so many ways, we have history in our hands. What are we going to do with it? If we wait, if we relegate for someone else to take care of, we are endangering that history — that history may be lost."

Even though this article is mainly focusing on US genealogy, it doesn't mean that it cannot happen here in the UK and other countries as well. As a genealogy community, it is important to be active and not let things get "lost" to future generations. All these "cost saving meaures" by governments via the archives and libraries are potentially fatal to all of us. It is great that many documents are being digitalized, but at the same time don't trash the original paper records.

There is also the point that due to the digital age, paper records are not being left like in the past. But, in a way, the computer is just another method of "writing" things down. In some ways it might be easier as documents are saved and copies made very easily - cds, USB jump-drives, etc.

No doubt things will change as they always do because of technology advances, etc. Genealogical research is no exception to this - who would have thought that so much could be done on the computer in the comfort of one's home. In some instances this may not have been the best thing to have happened, as people are not using their local archives and libraries like they used to. This is some of the reason why libraries have cut hours, jobs, etc. The computer has been a great tool for family history research, but at what cost in the long run?

I don't think that the "Dark Ages" are on us yet, but if we are not careful it just might come at us before we realize it - the boiling of a frog saying comes to mind. One of the things to keep in mind when doing research is to make sure you leave a "paper trail" behind you. Also, keep your work saved in various formats for others. Another good tip is to make sure to let people know not to throw away your own records if anything should happen to you in the future. If a family member doesn't want any of your hard work, please donate it to your local library or other facility.

This article definitely makes you think.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Newest Season of WDYTYA UK on Tonight

Hello All -

Well tonight is the big night for the new season of the UK version of Who Do You Think You Are?
The first episode will feature Bruce Forsyth - it will have a very interesting tale about his great grandfather and the possibility of bigamy. It will be on at 9:00 p.m. on BBC tonight (Monday).

Over 400 Year Old Map of Renfewshire on Show

Hello All -

At the Library of Scotland their will be on show of an old map of Renfrewshire, at least 400 years old, created by Timothy Pont. This will be a rare glimpse into seeing cartography from the 16th century. I am a big one for maps myself, so this is so interesting to see all the "old" names in the Renfrewshire area that are still here today. The full article about the map can be read here:

Monday, July 12, 2010

US Version WDYTYA? on Tonight BBC

Hello All -

The Susan Sarandon episode of the US version of Who Do You Think You Are? is on tonight at 10:35 pm on BBC1. Also, on the 19th of this month, the new series of the UK WDYTYA? begins on BBC. This was mentioned in more detail in one of my previous posts. Looks like a great month for genealogy tv.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Breakthrough in Helping Families Go Back To Their Roots

Hello All -

A nice article in the Scotland Herald yesterday. According to the article, "Scottish scientists have found a way to identify a person’s family roots to within a few miles, raising the possibility that city dwellers could soon trace their descendants back to their ancestral village." They say that the technique could be in effect within 5 years. This sounds quite exciting news for the world of genealogy and family history. It will be interesting to see it work and how accurate it will be after all the inital tests are done. There does appear to be a bit of a drawback though in the research, "The method cannot yet be applied to people who live in cities, as the industrial revolution and subsequent urbanisation mixed up the gene pool." The science of DNA and family history is getting more sophisticated step by step. No telling how much we will learn from our DNA and our ancestry in the future.

To read the full article just follow the link here:

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are? (US Version) on Tonight

Hello All -

Part two of the US version of WDYTYA? is on tonight at 9:15 pm on BBC1.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

2011 SAFHS Conference

Hello All -

The Scottish Association of Family History Societies has announced its 2011 Conference.
It will be hosted by the Scottish Genealogy Society and will be located in Edinburgh on the
26th of June.

To see more information on this upcoming event please see the SGS website at:

You can also check out the new website for the SGS which looks to have been revamped.

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Series of WDYTYA UK 2010

Hello All -

The BBC has just announced the new series of Who Do You Think You Are for 2010. Their website says the new series will start at the end of July. The new celebrities appearing this time around are: Bruce Forsyth, Rupert Everett, Monty Don, Jason Donovan, married couple
Rupert Penry-Jones and Dervla Kirwan, Alan Cumming, and Alexander Armstrong. The link below will give more details on the upcoming show.

Just to briefly mention the fact that the BBC has shown the first episode of the US version with Sarah Jessica Parker this past weekend. For us in the UK, well at least for me anyway, the series cannot be seen via the NBC website - I think country restrictions of some sort. I haven't yet looked to see if the other epsiodes will be shown on the BBC. Hopefully they will be.

I know it is late in the game for me to do any sort of review of this first episode, but last weekend was the first time I was able to view it. In general I enjoyed it - I love watching any sort of genealogy on tv. Just a few thoughts that did come to mind is that I did find that it went a bit fast compared to the UK version. I also thought that you didn't really get to see how the lines of Sarah's ancestry were developed - jumps the generations a bit due to the fast pace of the show. I did cringe a bit when I saw her pencil too close to the original 1600s document. There were no white protective gloves worn as one would do in an archive touching very old documents. I cannot be certain of how really excited Sarah was - a bit too over the top for me. I have read other reviews that have noticed the same things. I guess I am more used to the UK version.
But overall the US version was good and worth watching.

Looks like it will be a good Summer of genealogy tv to watch - us geneaholics will be satisfied.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Evidence Management

Hello All -

One of my favourite genealogy blogs is the Ancestry Insider, and for the past wee while he has been writing a series of posts regarding Evidence Management involved within genealogy programmes/software. Very interesting to read and makes you think. You can read his series of posts on the subject here:

Friday, May 28, 2010

History Cold Case BBC2

Hello All -

There has been a very interesting tv programme on BBC2 on Thursday nights called "History Cold Case." I think the series is over now, but I think you can still watch episodes of it on the BBC website, or on catch-up via Virgin Media Cable TV. Here is the link for the programme:

I only saw last night's episode - "Crossbones Girl." I must say that I really enjoyed this show. It is definitely a show that would be of great interest to family historians. According to the BBC website in a brief description of the show, "History series which sees skeletons of everyday people from across the ages analysed in staggering detail, opening new windows on the history of our forebears."

Since I have only been able to watch the last episode, I can't say much about the previous ones. However, last night's show really bought the skeletal remains into social context very well. They even may have found what this very young woman's name may have been - their discoveries fit quite well with the name found in the hospital and burial records. That is what I call quality and thorough research. The programme really brought this woman to life, even did a facial reconstruction of her skull to show what she may have looked like. By the end of the show you felt that you had a sense of who she was and felt sorry for her - she appears to have been a young prostitute suffering from syphilis who died very young (possibly 19 years old).

History Cold Case if a very well done programme and hopefully the BBC will do another run of it soon.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

ScotGen Awarded Top 100 Genealogy Sites!

Hello All -

Just a quick mention (and shameless plug) of our humble wee blog being awarded as one of the top 100 Genealogy Sites by I can say that this blog is in great company with the others on the list - top notch sites. See's blog site for the complete list:

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Too Many Family History Magazines in UK?

Hello All -

I know that this might seem a strange post after my previous one regarding the new Your Family History magazine being on the market now, but I will delve into this opinion of mine. I did think about all the family history magazines on the newstand when I saw this new one out on the shelves at the local W.H. Smiths. I will admit that I do like reading magazine, especially ones to do with genealogy and family history. However, are there too many out there? Are these magazines just overlapping each other in their content?

In the US there was the closing of the Ancestry magazine recently, and the closing of Everton's Genealogical Helper about a year ago or so. In the UK Ancestors magazine has just recently ceased publication in the last few months. Is it the bad economy causing this to happen, or is it just a saturation of genealogy publications on the market? I am not too sure to be honest -perhaps a combination of these and other reasons not mentioned.

In my humble opinion, I do think that there is a bit of a saturation of family history magazines on the market, especially in the UK - there are at least 4-5 different ones on the newstands now. Don't get me wrong, I fully support a free marketplace where anyone can publish any magazine they want and if the market supports it to keep it on the shelves that's great. I just sort of think some of the magazines, at least in the UK, seem to be all the same with a few exceptions. There really needs to be a real difference between these publications. For example, the new publication out that I just mentioned (YFH) focuses more attention on social history rather than just basic research and records, which is what many of the others focus on. There is nothing wrong with that, but there doesn't need to be 3 or 4 all doing the same thing.

I know that the editors of these magazines would argue that they are different from one another, but they don't seem to be in my experience of reading and purchasing these publications - however this is just my own personal view. I know that there is somewhat of a difference in style and context, but they just seem too similar to me.

For example, there has been times when I have seen one month a magazine will feature on wills as one of their main articles, then the next month another magazine will do a main article on the same thing. For me personally, I would like to see a vast difference in content and audience for these magazines. There could be the one for the beginner, one for methodology, one for Scottish content, one for Welsh content, one for the advanced genealogist, one for social history (YFH is doing this now), one for just computers and technology in family history, just to name a few ideas. Not to complain, but many of these magazines simply focus too much on English research and records - this is definitely needed, but there is no need for 3 or 4 doing this.

However, the marketplace will always dictate who survives and who doesn't. So far in the UK these magazines have survived, with the exception of one in the recent past.

New UK Family History Magazine on the Market

Hello All -

There is a new kid on the block in the family history magazine market - it is called Your Family History. It is edited by Nick Barratt, which in itself is a good reason to buy this magazine. What makes this magazine a bit different from the others is that according to Mr. Barratt's introduction article "YFH is different from other titles you might have seen in two important respects. Firstly, we’ve assembled a team of leading experts, researchers and historians to show you not only how to discover who your ancestors were, but also guide you into the rich local and social history that brings context to their lives. We will be featuring a range of topics each issue, linking your personal research with local and national heritage themes through our connections with English Heritage, National Trust and the world of archives.
However, what makes us unique is that we want to featureYOUR stories, YOUR discoveries, YOUR mysteries and YOUR documents."

Who are the experts for the magazine: Dr. Barratt, Laura Berry, Dr. Julia Hofmann, Dr. Jessica Lutkin, Chris Pomery, Amber Strang, and Dave Annal. All have many years of experience in family history, and their specializations. You can go to the magazine website at to read more about these experts.

The first issue is out now. I have purchased this issue the other day, and it seems to be really good. It has a "How To" section, a "Casebook" section, "Social History" section, "Local Archives" section, "History Mysteries" section, "On The Web" section, and the "People's Archive" section, plus reviews of software and books on the market or soon to be coming on the market.

The layout and graphics are quite similar to Your Family Tree magazine, but Your Family History does things their own way in its content - as Dr. Barratt states in his introduction it is more focused on social history and you as a family historian, and not so much as a beginner's guide to doing basic research like the other magazines. Social history can be somewhat left out when first doing family history research, but this magazine puts it into the forefront and shows how vital it is in family history. It lets your ancestors be alive and not just a name and date and place - these folks had lived a life and it is important not to forget them in their historical context. As the saying goes - "putting flesh on the bones." This is what makes family history so much fun.

To find out more about this new magazine please view their website at Also, they are offering Dr. Nick Barratt's new book for free with every new subscription. That in itself is worth it. Dr. Barratt is one of the leading UK genealogists today, and his work is excellent. You can also go to any W.H. Smiths and other newsagents and booksellers to get a copy.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A Eureka Moment For One Paisley Buddy

Hello All -

Here's a nice story found in one of the local newspapers yesterday. It just shows that one should not give up searching even if at first you don't find anything - keep looking. Mr. Smith has searched his ancestry for a while now, and like many amateur family historians he stumbled upon an elusive ancestor in his dogged determination to search for him. Read the full story about his discovery in the Paisley Express link below.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Saving Ellis Island

Hello All -

The Save Ellis Island Foundation is in need of donations to help in their quest to rejuvinate the south part of Ellis Island. Their vision is to see the whole buildings and infrastructure of this part of the southern part of the facility to be restored and hopefully made into new facilities for the public to use. Fox News had a story on it yesterday:

The Save Ellis Island website and how to contribute to their cause can be found here:

I know that many, many Americans will have an ancestor(s) that made way to this place when he or she had their dream of coming to the United States to make a better life for themselves and their family. Ellis Island is a national treasure and a vital part of American history.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Beware the Family Tree? Hide the Skeleton or Not....

Hello All -

In today's UK Daily Mail there is an interesting article on finding those skeletons and unknown unpleasant facts about our ancestors lives in the family tree. You can read the full article here:

The fact of doing genealogy and family history is that it might uncover some unfavourable things about an ancestor's life. There is no need to hide it in my opinion. A person today cannot be responsible for what a person did years ago or many decades ago. An ancestor in the family that may have done a "bad" thing in their life is part of the history of the family.

I do understand that there are things that someone may have done that is quite shameful and embarrassing to other members of the family. It is up to your own judgement and personal discretion on whether it is out in the open or not. However, when performing research on the family and some bad things come to be discovered they shouldn't be swept under the rug and ignored - it has to be factual family history research. Dicretion and delicate handling of such information should be considered when writing up the family history book for others to read. If grandpa had an extra-marital affair with the woman next door, there is a way of presenting such information in a family history without being too confrontational or upsetting to others that may read the book. There is Sharon DeBartolo Carmack's book "You Can Write Your Family History" that has a good section about dealing with sensitive issues and how to write it in a narrative.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

US WDYTYA? Airs Friday - 5th March

If you haven't heard yet - the US version of Who Do You Think You Are is airing this Friday night on NBC. I know that many, many Americans are eagerly awaiting the first ever showing of this hit show - it is in the UK for a long time. Here is a segment of Lisa Kudrow on the Today show talking about the show:

The only think is, I wish that I could get to watch it, but I am in the UK - bummer. Who knows maybe they will show it on UK tv.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

An Interview with Dean Richardson of Genlighten

Hello All -

I have been given the pleasure of being interviewed by Dean Richardson of He had asked me a couple weeks ago to do a 9 question interview for his blog. If you have not heard of Genlighten before, it is a service that offers lookups in many different types of documents for folks through one of their "providers." Their website is if you are interested in learning more about them and the services they offer.

You can read the interview here:

I would like to thank Dean for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed for his blog.

Until Next Time

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rory Bremner's Ancestral Story in the Daily Mail

Hello All -

In the Daily Mail today (Saturday, 27th) there is an article by British comedian/impressionist Rory Bremner about his family history. Rory was one of the participants in the UK version of WDYTA. In the article he writes about his hero father during World War 2, along with his feelings and thoughts about his journey into finding his family roots.

Read the full article here:

The End of Roots TV

Hello All -

Just read on Dick Eastman's blog that Roots Television is coming to an end. You can read his post here:

It will be very sad to have it come to an end. It provided many great videos for genealogy. I enjoyed watching the interviews that folks like Dick Eastman would provide during the various genealogy conferences and other events. Even with the up tick in tv programs involving family history such as Who Do You Think You Are and Faces of America, etc. there is still a need for a place for people to put their own video creations online for other to learn and enjoy.

However, on the positive side, there are still places like You Tube that can sort of fill the gap in the loss of Roots TV. I hope that those who have been posting videos to Roots TV in the past will not give up on doing so. Roots TV was a great idea, and it will be greatly missed.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Neat Map Feature - Overlay Ordnance Survey Maps

Hello All -

If you are like myself and really like old maps and how they compare to today, then this is for you.

I was looking at the historical maps from the National Library of Scotland online and found their townplan map section - they offer Ordnance Survey town maps from Aberdeen to Wigtown with most Scottish towns in between. The years range from 1847-1895. What is exciting about this feature is that it allows you to overlay the old map with the new current map from Google. See the weblink below and have fun with this great tool - really fascinating to say the least.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Will The UK Census Become Extinct in 2011?

Hello All -

I saw a great post by one of my fellow colleagues Chris Paton regarding the 2011 census in the UK and the possibility of it being the last one taken. There is an interesting article about this found in The Times newspaper
This article was linked by Chris as well.

This would be a dissappointment for at least the genealogy community. I know that taking a census is an expensive undertaking by the government, but it has been around since 1801. It is also can be viewed as unreliable as some people will try to be "funny" or feel it an invasion of their privacy and will give the wrong information on the questionaire. However, there are many who will be responsible and give the right information. If one looks at the previous public census returns from 1841-1901 in Scotland (1911 in England & Wales), these have incorrect information as well. However, for the most part the information will be fairly reliable.

The census is a valuable resource for the family historian and genealogist. It will be a very sad day if the UK government decides to scrap it. No doubt there would be something to take its place. You hope that they don't think about doing this in other counties such as the US. However, in the US the census is used more as a political tool to decide how many Congressman there will be, statistical analysis of the country, just to name a few. Also, it is required by the US Constitution.

It will be interesting to see if this happens or not - hopefully not. There are still honest people out there who will take the census seriously and not use it as a joke or an invasion of privacy. It has been taken for years, what is the big problem now?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

If You Are In North Carolina on March 15th ....

Hello All -

I received an email from the North Carolina Genealogical Society about their upcoming presentation in Raleigh, NC. If you are interested in Irish and Scots-Irish ancestry this looks like a must see event. The Ulster Historical Foundation is one of the premier authorities on Ulster Ireland and the Scots-Irish. So, if you happen to be in North Carolina on the 15th of March this would be a good event to go to. The information regarding it is below:

The North Carolina Genealogical Society presents "Our Irish and Scots-Irish Ancestors" with Fintan Mullan and Brian Trainor of the Ulster Historical Foundation, Monday, 15 March 2010 at the North Carolina Archives Auditorium, 109 East Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601 (directions).

Fintan Mullan has been Executive Director of the Ulster Historical Foundation since 2001. He is a non-executive director of the Irish Family History Foundation, a board member of the Northern Ireland Publications Resource (NIPR), a member of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Readers Forum, and a non-executive director of the International Society for British Genealogy & Family History. He has spoken widely in the United States about Irish family history research, and has also spoken in Canada, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. He was educated at Queen's University Belfast where he received a bachelors degree in Irish Politics and Philosophy and a masters degree in Organization and Management. Brian Trainor retired as Research Director of the Ulster Historical Foundation in 2006 and now works part-time as a consultant for the organization. Formerly Director of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland and Chairman of the Irish Manuscripts Commission, he has also held a lecturing post in history at Queen's University Belfast and a fellowship with the Institute of Historical Research in London. Educated at St Columb's College in Derry, and Queen's University Belfast, he holds a 1st Class Honours degree in History, has been awarded a Doctorate of Letters from the University of Ulster, and holds Doctorate of Law from the National University of Ireland.

Registration is $15 for members, $20 for non-members. For additional information, including web or US Mail registration, please visit the homepage of the North Carolina Genealogical Society website:

Friday, February 05, 2010

YFT Collectors' Pack

Hello All -

Just bought the new Your Family Tree Collectors' Pack - what is that you ask?
It is Your Family Tree magazine March 2010 which also includes another magazine that is
called Computing for Family Historians and a cd of over 30 family history
programs for your computer (worth £150 as the cover states).

As I say I have just bought it and haven't had time to got through it in any way, but
it look like good stuff. YFT always puts out really good information and is in my
opinion one of the best British genealogy magazines on the newstand. If you haven't
done so already, go out and get your copy - retail price at £5.99 which is a good price
for what you get.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

WDYTYA Live 2010 Coming Soon to London

Hello All -

Here is a date for your diary - February 26-28, 2010 in Olympia, London, England.
Yes, that means Who Do You Think You Are Live is on again for another full packed couple
of days. If you haven't been to this show before, it is well worth it to try to make the trip to London. It seems like each year it gets bigger and better. In the February issue of the magazine WDYTYA it has a several page brochure of what's on and the various workshops happening, the celebrity appearances, just to name a few things off the top of my head. It should still be on the newstands as we speak. If you can't get ahold of the magazine, just go to the website to see
all the goings on, as well as being able to purchase your ticket(s) to go. They are currently offering 2 for 1 tickets.

While you are in London, go check out the Society of Genealogist, which has a great library and offers many great lectures and other events at their facility. See their website at

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Digging Up Your Roots Episode 3 at Noon, 17th Jan.

Hello All -

Just a reminder to listen to the next episode (episode 3) of Digging Up Your Roots today at noon
on BBC Radio Scotland.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy to Receive the Happy 101 Award

Hello All -

Just received the Happy 101 Award. Many thanks to Earline Hines Bradt of Ancestral Notes blog for the honour.

The responsibilities of receiving this award include naming ten things that make you happy and then passing it along to ten friends. Ten things that make me happy are (in no particular order):

1. Being a genealogist and all that goes with it

2. My family and friends

3. Working on the computer (doing family history of course, other things too)

4. Books/Reading - nonfiction

5. Cooking - not French Chef quality, but good homecooking

6. Hill Walking in the Scottish countryside

7. Taking day trips in the car

8. My faith

9. Being from Texas and my southern roots

10. Being in Scotland in the Summer months and not in Texas

The ten people I would like to honor with this award are - ones that I think have not been honoured yet (please excuse me if the award has been given to you already):

Thank you again for the award - it makes me very happy.

Family Tree Going Back to Medieval Kings and Adam & Eve?

Hello All -

I was having a look on one of the many genealogy blogs that I like to read, and found a great entry about family tree going back to Adam and Eve and Medieval genealogy in general. What a great thing to discuss. So often I have found online genealogies on the various websites that let folks upload their trees, and have found the William the Conqueror and all the various medieval Kings and Queens and then all the way back through to Biblical times to end up with Adam and Eve. Myself personally, I do have my own view of being an Adam & Eve descendant, but I will not share it here.

The blog that I was reading was from Genealogy Star by Mr. James Tanner of Mesa, AZ. He makes such great points on this issue and he has a few good links on the topic too.

One of the links was to the ProGenealogist blog regarding the issue of medieval genealogy.
This is an excellent post for those interested in medieval lineages in Britain.

Now for my two cents worth:

I cannot agree more with the issues discussed from just the two web links I mention above. As mentioned in the links, these type of medieval family trees were made originally for nobility and royal families. It is very unlikely to be proven, unless it can be documented, that John Doe or Jane Doe is a direct descendant of William the Conqueror, etc.

It is so important to be careful with things like this. It is extremely difficult to trace yourself back to such royal families, etc unless there are the sources to prove it. I really wish that those few people who have put their family trees (those who claim to have medieval royalty, etc. ancestors) on these public upload sites would seriously review their content and amend it - unless they have the documentation to back it up.

This content keeps getting copied from one place to the next, and doesn't get vetted. I know that the web is a public place to share all sorts, but lets be responsible about it. I am all for putting a person's researched family tree online. It is a great way to share your information with potentional relatives who share the same families. But, only put it online once the research has been done to a good standard and proved with the documentation supplied. Mistakes can be made in family history, but that is ok as no one is perfect. Even the most recognized genealogists in the field make mistakes. The main thing is if a mistake if found correct things as soon as possible especially if it is online.

This should be the case for all genealogy put up online for the whole public to view. It is in a sense irresponsible and careless genealogy to just put trees online without any regard to its accuracy. It is not my intention to hurt anyone's pride or feelings - it is just as a professional genealogist myself I want everyone who pursues genealogy either as a pastime or a profession to do things the proper way. I have discussed this on various occasions on this blog, and feel that it is vital to do family history research by the best of standards. This means doing research by the GPS - genealogical proof standard.

I can see how some people just starting out in doing family history would fall into the trap - it is very easily done. But, I think once a person has matured in their research capabilities and become more familiar with the methods and techniques of sound research than they will know that these types of online trees are suspect. It can be very attractive to be descended from famous historical figures (medieval, biblical, etc.), but in my opinion it is best to just let your ancestor be who they are - famous or not. All ancestors have their own sense of importance in one way or another; they may not be flashy but they belong to you.

I don't know how many of you have seen this (it is an old piece posted in 2000), but thought it a very good satire by Roy Stockdill:
(Note: please understand that Mr. Stockdill's intent of his old post was for a laugh and should not be taken seriously).

I hope that I haven't stepped on any toes here, but I have to vent on the issue.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Digging Up Your Roots - Episode 2 online

Hello All -

If you happen to have missed episode 2 of Digging Up Your Roots on BBC Radio Scotland you can listen to it (also if you did hear it on the radio you can listen to it again) on the Radio Scotland website:

The 3rd episode will be on this Sunday at noon on Radio Scotland. This episode will feature
Pickling in rum, a mysterious death in the USA and inheritance battles - Bill Whiteford and Bruce Durie explore how death can shed light on an ancestor's life.

If you haven't been listening to this series I would encourage you to do so. It is not very often that you get a Scottish genealogy programme on radio or tv. It is also very educational and interesting to hear the readers stories.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mitchell Library Workshops & Talks

Hello All -

Just a word to let you know what is happening this month of January at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow genealogy-wise:

Family History Tours

Come along and learn more about our library resources for family history.

14 Jan 2010
2.30pm – 3.30pm

Family History Advice

Getting a bit stuck with researching your family tree? Not sure where to go next? Why not book one of our advice sessions. Sessions are free, last 30 minutes and are available on the dates below. To book, please phone 0141 287 2999.

20 Jan
2pm - 4pm

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Diggin Up Your Roots BBC Radio Scotland

Hello All -

Just in case you may not know, but BBC's Radio Scotland has just started their new series of Digging Up Your Roots. The first episode was last Sunday 3rd January. However, if you missed it, you can still hear it online at
There are only 4 days left to listen to it online - the BBC iplayer only plays shows for about a week after they have aired. I think they also have it as a podcast too.

The next episode is this coming Sunday 10th January at 12:05 pm. Some of this show's features will be: A Jacobite prisoner who married a Cherokee Indian and a Scottish Earl and his Italian musician. Bill Whiteford and genealogist Bruce Durie tell tales of Scottish migration.

Golden Rules of Genealogy

Hello All -

First of all let me wish all of you a very happy New Year and I hope it will be a good 2010 for everyone. To get a good start to the new year, I want to touch again on sound family history research.

For my first post of the new year, I thought I would mention a great idea I found from another genealogy colleague online called "The Golden Rules of Genealogy" by Lisa Lee of Got Genealogy?. I thought this was a fantastic idea. I think that the "rules" given by Lisa are a good rule of thumb for all who wish to research their family history - it is simple and to the point.
You might even want to print these rules out and have it handy to look at when needed - especially when going out to do research.

I know that I tend to go on a bit about this sort of topic (sound research techniques), but I find that it is so very important - it is the back bone of any kind of credible research. I know that everyone wants to get it right when doing their research on their family, and you can if you follow good, sound research techniques. The rules that Lisa lists are easy to remember and follow, and once you get the rules into practice it will become second nature.

To view Lisa's "Golden Rules of Genealogy" please view her website at