Friday, December 16, 2011

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year Wishes

Hello All -

I wanted to wish all our blog readers a very Happy Christmas and a very wonderful New Year in 2012.  This blog will probably be a bit quiet until after the new year, but will be ready to go again after a good rest this holiday season.

Until Next Time . . . .

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Heir Hunters Series This Evening BBC2

Hello All -

The series of Heir Hunters comes on our tv screens tonight at 7:00 pm on BBC2.  This is the first time that the show has been on prime time.  In the past it has been shown at 9:00 am on the weekday mornings.  This change from morning to evening can potentially expose the show to more folks.  Unfortunately, it looks like the episode is a repeat, but I am sure that there are those out there that haven't seen it.

If you haven't ever seen this series it is really fascinating.  It normally follows the stories of 2 or 3 cases of people who have died without leaving a will or no known kin, and then potentially finding the deceased man or woman's heirs after their research work.  The most famous of the companies in the programme is Fraser and Fraser.  It makes one stressful watching them trying to beat the competition to the found heirs.  You end up rooting for them to find them first after watching them going through all that hard work.  Of course, the other companies are working just as hard, but not seen on the tv.

It is an enjoyable series to watch.  It shows genealogy done from a different angle and using different techniques.  It also really makes one think about the importance of getting their "business" in order before passing on.  There are so many people that do not leave a will or some sort of information about their family.  Some probably think that they don't have anything to leave, but that really doesn't matter in the end.  It is about a person's loved ones and the memories of one's life that are more important than things. 

Until Next Time . . .

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Find My Past Episode 6 This Thursday

Hello All -

This Thurday at 9:00 pm on Yesterday Channel will be the latest episode of the family history series Find My Past.  This is the episode that really looks the most interesting in my opinion, which is the Jack the Ripper episode.  To view the preview of this episode just click on the link:

What makes this episode intriguing to me is that when you watch the documentaries, etc. about the famous serial murderer Jack the Ripper you don't think about the victims families.   You don't really think about that these poor, viciously murdered women may have descendents out there.  One of the participants in this episode is the descendent of Catherine Eddowes, and another is a descendent of one of the policeman during that tragic event.

Until Next Time . . .

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

London's The Place To Be On 24th-26th February 2012

Hello All -

You might be asking what is happening in London on 24th-26th of February 2012.  Well, perhaps the date may be a clue.  Yes, it is Who Do You Think You Are Live.  It is that time again, and it looks to be a good outing as in the previous years.  I went to it last year and had a great time.  When I wasn't there on any official business, I often would listen to the talks and wonder the stalls looking for any new items to buy.
Also, it was a great chance to meet up with fellow colleagues of mine who were there too.

The tickets are now on sale.  It is cheaper to buy your tickets in advance rather than at the door.  The early bird price is £15.00 for the day, but goes up to £20.00 at the door (this is for one adult).  Children under the age of 16 get in FREE.  There is a £2.00 transaction fee that applies to all orders.  There are also two day and three day costs if you want to attend the whole event.  There is even a beginner and plantinum classification too.  I will not go into all of the details here, but you can go to the website for more information and see what's scheduled for the three days.  It is still early days yet, so the schedule and celebs may change before the actual event.

To view the ticket prices and to advance order your tickets just click on the link below:

To view the event website itself just click here:
This will give you the schedules, as well as more details on things. 

You will not be bored attending this show.  There is so much to see and do.  It is an event for the whole family.  It is a place to learn something new, whether a true beginner or an experienced expert.

Until Next Time . . . .

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ever Thought About The History of Genealogy? There is Now a Book On It

Hello All:

I have just received in the mail today a new genealogy book.  However, this isn't any genealogy book.  This is a book about the history of genealogy.  Nope, no records or research tips and tricks type genealogy book, but one that is devoted to the study of the history of it. 

The book is called "Family Matters:  A History of Genealogy" by Mr. Michael Sharpe (2011 publication).  It is another great book by the publishers Pen and Sword (Chris Paton's books have been published by them too).  As I mentioned I have only just received the book in the mail today.  I have had a quick thumb through and it definitely looks like a great read to me.  Mr. Sharpe seems to have really done a great amount of work in putting this together. 

To quote the back on the book jacket, "Lankmark history of genealogy," "Puts family history research into a historical and social context,"  "Vivid descriptions of the careers of the pioneering genealogists over the past two centuries,"  "Historical insight into the extraordinary growth of the ancestry business."

Also, there is a brief blurb by none other than Dr. Nick Barratt, "This is a fascinating account of the rise of genealogy from a quirky hobby to a mainstream industry, lifting the lid on the personalities and politics behind the scenes."

The book retails at £19.99 and  US$39.95 from Pen and Sword.  Their website is  The book is available via the Pen and Sword website, or you can go to and it is available from there at the reduced price of £16.99.  I checked on US and the book will be available there on February 2012, but you can preorder at the price of  US$26.37. 

If outside the UK and you want the book before February 2012, you might want to buy directly from Pen and Sword.  In my opinion I think this book would make a great Christmas present for the genealogist in your life.  It is definitely different, fascinating, and not like any other genealogy book out there.  Well done Mr. Sharpe for doing a book like this.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Christmas/New Year Genealogical Research Discount Now On

Hello All:

I apologize for the shameless plug, but ....
With the Christmas and New Year holiday coming soon I thought I would give a quick mention about
the 15% Discount offer that I have going at McNicholl Genealogical Services.  I know some of you may be
trying to think of what to get as a present, and having a family history research project to give as a gift is always a fun idea. 

I don't normally have discount offers, but I do try to offer at least one this time of the year.  This 15% special holiday offer is good from now until 31st of January 2012.  The offer is good for any research performed - either a special request, a single line (paternal or maternal) family research, or a double line (paternal and maternal) family research.  For more information about our services please see our website at:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The 2nd Episode of Find My Past This Thursday

Hello All:

The second episode of Find My Past tv series on Yesterday Channel in the UK is to be aired this Thursday at 9:00 GMT.  This episode is focused on the Titanic disaster and three ordinary folks who's ancestors were involved in one way or another with the Titanic on that tragic day.  Here is a link to a sneak peek of this week's episode:

I watched the first episode last week and offer a brief review of it.  This first episode of this newest family history series focused on the Battle of Dunkirk and its evacution to get the hundreds of thousands of soldiers back to Britain to escape the Nazi advance towards them.  And ultimately live to fight another day. 

The series follows three ordinary people and allows them to follow in the footsteps of their particular ancestor who was apart of the event.  One of the three had his grandfather who was one of the evacuees and the other two participants are their ancestor as part of the "little ships" who helped ferry soldiers back to the battleships, as well as carry soldiers back themselves to Britain.  The "little ships" played an important role in the whole campaign.  Without them it would be nearly impossible to get all the soldiers out safely.  There were some that did get killed by the German bombers or by a mine or torpedo.  One of the "little ships" focused on did get blown up while being tugged along back to the UK.

What makes this series special is that it does focus on the ordinary person and who their ancestor played a part in such an important event in history.  It really lets the participants in the show be a part of the historical event, giving them not only a historical account but what it must it been like, what the people must have felt and thought. 

What this series does not do is take the viewer into family trees such as what it done in Who Do You Think You Are?  Find My Past focuses solely on the one event and looks at it through the prism of the particular ancestor.  Sometimes in genealogy and family history we can focus too much on the name, date, and place but not delve too much into the history and social context of an ancestor.

Even though I have only seen the one episode so far I am really enjoying it.  You learn alot about not only the person's ancestor, but the historical event itself (factually and emotionally).  I am looking forward to seeing the rest of this series, this week's on on the Titanic will be really interesting.  What is also interesting to notice is that the participants in the series are relatively young (20s-40s) so far.  It is great to watch "younger" people be interested in family history.  It is always normally associated with an older generation, but this isn't the case.  It is something that is becoming more popular with people in their 30s and 40s.  This would actually make a good topic for another post.

I am hoping that this series will become popular and will kick start more interest in genealogy and family history as has WDYTYA has in the past.  However, I am very much the addict when it comes to anything genealogy and family history.

Until Next Time . . .

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hello All -

Thought that this was quite funny, and very true.

Rules for our ancestors
How to confuse your descendants

(1) Thou shalt name your male children: James, John, Joseph, Josiah, Abel, Richard, Thomas, William.

(2) Thou shalt name your female children: Elizabeth, Mary, Martha, Maria, Sarah, Ida, Virginia, May.

(3) Thou shalt leave NO trace of your female children.

(4) Thou shalt, after naming your children from the above lists, call them by strange nicknames such as: Ike, Eli, Polly, Dolly, Sukey.---making them difficult to trace.

(5) Thou shalt NOT use any middle names on any legal documents or census reports, and only where necessary, you may use only initials on legal documents.

(6)Thou shalt learn to sign all documents illegibly so that your surname can be spelled, or misspelled, in various ways: Hicks, Hicks, Hix, Hixe, Hucks, Kicks.

(7) Thou shalt, after no more then 3 generations, make sure that all family records are lost, misplaced, burned in a court house fire, or buried so that NO future trace of them can be found.

(8) Thou shalt propagate misleading legends, rumors, & vague innuendo regarding your place origination.

(A) you may have come from : England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales....or Iran.
(B) you may have American Indian ancestry of the______tribe......
(C) You may have descended from one of three brothers that came over from______

(9) Thou shalt leave NO cemetery records, or headstones with legible names.

(10) Thou shalt leave NO family Bible with records of birth, marriages, or deaths.

(11) Thou shalt ALWAYS flip thy name around. If born James Albert, thou must make all the rest of thy records in the names of Albert, AJ, JA, AL, Bert, Bart, or Alfred.

(12) Thou must also flip thy parent's names when making reference to them, although "Unknown" or a blank line is an acceptable alternative.

(13) Thou shalt name at least 5 generations of males, and dozens of their cousins with identical names in order to totally confuse researchers.

Find My Past TV Show This Week

Hello All -

Just in case you are starting to feel the blues after the final episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on BBC last Wednesday, there is a new tv show to help perk everyone up.  It is called Find My Past.  It will premier on the UK tv channel Yesterday this Thursday at 9:00 pm. 

This new genealogy/family history series is different from WDYTYA? in that it portrays the stories of ordinary folks - no celebs found anywhere.  Another difference is that it focuses more on historical events and how a particular ancestor was involved in it.  This first episode is all about Dunkirk during World War 2.
One of the ones that I am looking forward to is the one about Jack the Ripper about midway through the series (I think episode 6).  That will certainly be a very interesting one to watch.  But, I think all of them will be good.

To learn more about this series and what the various episodes will cover just take a look at their website at:  Also, there is a sneak preview on youtube at:

I wish this new series all the success and hope it will be a well received show by all.

Until Next Time . . .

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Cousins and the Online Genealogy World

Hello All:

It has been "long time, no blog" here.  Blogging seems to be taking the back burner at the moment as things get busy.  One of the things that has been keeping me busy is working on my own personal family history.  This tends to be shoved to the side for so long as my professional genealogy work goes on the forefront, but it is great working for and helping others with their family history and genealogical needs.

One of the things that has helped me get back into my own genealogy is the recent contact with cousins that I have known about, but not really met.  There has also been cousins that I did not know about.  We have been chatting via email and sharing information, family stories, as well as old family photos.  This has been such a great experience, and it is such a pleasure to be able to speak to them all through that wonderful invention the computer.

The ability to share information and photos online, email, etc. instantly with family relatives is what has been such a joy doing family history.  Especially with me living in a different country from my cousins and other relatives.  Being able to see the old photos that my cousins have shared with me has been fantastic.  Many of these I have never seen before.  There have been many times where I wished that I could see a photo of great grandmother or great, great grandfather . . .  but have not been able to see one until getting in contact with relatives online.

There are many forums, mailing lists, etc. for all sorts of family surnames, counties, countries, etc. that no doubt you will eventually become in contact with a long lost cousin or distant relative that you didn't know about or lost contact with.  This is also the place where you can bring your questions and lineages for help from these folks.  More than likely they would be researching the same line or lines as yourself.  They could very well hold the key to that elusive ancestor that you have been searching for for so long.  I am sure that a good number of folks already take advantage of the benefits of forums, mailing lists, ancestry public member trees, etc.  But, if not, I would strongly encourage you to do so.  It doesn't cost anything, and you never know who will find you and be able to answer your hard questions that you have been struggling with.
There has been so much that I have learned about my own family by reading these forums, etc.

Researching family history and genealogy is more than looking up names, dates, and locations in a book or online databaseses. It is about people, which can be one of the best resources out there in performing your research.  You will have a different perspective on the family from another.  Sharing your memories, old documents, photos, and information that you have researched yourself will help everyone in the family who cares about the history of the family.  The vast majority of the time you will know something or have something that someone else doesn't.

Until Next Time . . . .

Friday, August 19, 2011

New Series of WDYTYA? UK Now Back On The BBC - Some Initial Impressions

Hello All:

As some of you may be aware the latest series of the UK version of Who Do You Think You Are? has been broadcast now for the past couple weeks.  It has been a wee while since new episodes have been shown.  As I have mentioned previously in other posts I am a fan of this series, and was quite happy to see it back on the air. 

It has been two weeks (two episodes) in now and I haven't really made any mention or comments regarding it up to now.  Those that have watched the series in the past it is pretty much the same but obviously with different celebs.  The first week of the new series features June Brown from Eastenders and the second episode featured Harry Potter author J K Rowling. 

I found both of these stories to be very interesting.  They offered a glimpse into two type of ethnic research that I don't think have been shown before or not too much.  One was June Brown's Jewish roots.  What makes it different is that this was Sephardic Jewish roots.  This was a Jewish community that I have not heard about before.  It was a good learning experience watching June discovering this area of her family.

The second episode just aired last Wednesday night was that of J K Rowling's French roots.  What was impressive was that I felt that she was really interested in learning about these ancestors, and felt a connection to her own life as a single mother.  I think that she was really able to imagine and relate to their plight.  There was a sense of pride and sadness together throughout her discoveries into the family.  What was interesting was the topic of the Franco-Prussian War and how it literally changed the nationality of some of her ancestors.  Still living in the area of Alsace-Lorraine, but becoming German up until the end of WW1.  It must have been really strange - identified and born and being French, but now you are supposed to be German. 

Next week it is Lord Seb Coe's turn.  This one should be another good story.  So far I am really enjoying the episodes to the new series.  It must be pretty good as my husband even watched one of the episodes with me and found it interesting.

Until Next Time . . .

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Family History Show Podcast

Hello All:

There is a new podcast on Youtube about genealogy and family history called "Family History Show."
I have just watched the four videos of the first episode and it is really good and informative.  This new
podcast is by none other than Dr. Nick Barratt and "Your Family History" magazine Editor Laura Berry.  The show has really just gotten started and is very new.  I am hoping that it will be a great success.

One of the things that I like about it is that it is a video podcast so you can see and hear what's happening.
In this first episode Dr. Barratt interviews the last surviving Titanic passanger, who had since died in 2009.  There is also letters from viewers regarding royal ancestry, as well as the latest news in genealogy and family history in UK. 

This first podcast is a bit short (about 30 minutes or less), but hopefully once things get rolling there will be more content.  However, at the same time you don't want something that is too long.  I think an hour is a good amount of time without losing the viewer/listener.  Again, I wish this new podcast all the success.  It is great to see something such as this and one that focuses on British genealogy/family history.  But, I am a bit of a fan of anything genealogically on video and podcast.

To see the four segements of the "Family History Show" please click the links below.

The main "Family History Show" channel can be found at:
I can't really say when the next programme will be on, but just keep an eye out.  I am sure
it shouldn't be too long to wait.

Until Next Time . . .

Friday, July 01, 2011

A Couple Buddies in the US Civil War

Hello All -

With it being the 150th annivesary of the US Civil War I thought that it would be interesting to mention a couple of Paisley Buddies that were involved in this historic conflict.  Both men were born in Paisley and immigrated to the United States, but that is where the similarities end.

The first man was Alexander Gardner who was born in 1821 and immigrated in 1856.  He grew an interest in photography and met up and worked along side Mathew Brady.  What thrust Gardner into prominence is his work as a civil war photographer.  Some of the most famous battles he photographed - Antiedam, Fredrickburg, Gettysburg, and the seige of Petersburg.  However, what is probably considered one of his most famous subjects was photographing President Abraham Lincoln.  Not only that but photographing the President 4 days before his assasination by John Wilkes Booth.  Gardner would probably be considered the last person to ever photograph Lincoln alive.  He also photographed the funeral of Lincoln, and the execution of the conspirators of the Lincoln assassination.

However, his career was not without controversy.  A century later, photographic analysis suggested that Gardner had manipulated the setting of at least one of his Civil War photos by moving a soldier's corpse and weapon into more dramatic positions.

To read more about Alexander Gardner and to see some of his photographs just look at his Wikipedia entry at:  Below is a photo of the man himself.

Our next Paisley Buddy is Captain John S. Maxwell.  Captain Maxwell was born in Paisley in 1832 and immigrated as a young man in 1852.  "He was a laborer on the first Atlantic cable before 1861. He served in the military between Apr 19 1861 and Apr 12 1865 in Confederate States of America.  John enlisted in the Confederate army at Martinsburg, Virgina. According to his military record he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in January 1862, and wounded three times during the war.

By June 1 1864 John was in the Confederate Navy, and as a member of the Confederate Torpedo Corps, Captain John Maxwell and another man were responsible for planting a clockwork torpedo on a Union transport at City Point, Virginia on August 9, 1864. They were able to penetrate the Union lines and get to the wharf area, where Maxwell persuaded the sentry that the Captain of the ammunition barge had ordered him to put aboard the box he was carrying. After seeing the box delivered on board, Captain Maxwell retired to watch the results. When the torpedo exploded an hour later, it started a chain reaction, spreading fire from the barges to the storage buildings on shore, and even to General Grant's headquarters, causing much damage and considerable confusion. He was a blacksmith after the war in 1865 in Richmond, Virginia. He was a presbyterian in 1865 in Richmond, Virginia at the Second Presbyterian Church.

He resided at Robert E. Lee Home for Disable Ex-Confederate Soldiers between Mar 1908 and Aug 17 1916 in Richmond, Virginia. He also helped build this institution. He resided at 2406a East Marshall Street between Aug 17 1916 and Sep 21 1916 in Richmond, Virginia. This was the home of his son-in-law. He was buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Lot 88, Section R, Richmond, Virginia. He was a member of the Knights of Pythias, being five times Chancellor, a member of the Knights of Honor, and was the oldest Grand Lodge officer in the state, having been an officer since the lodge was organized."  [source:].

There is a interesting article regarding Capt. Maxwell at:  Here is a photo of an older Capt. Maxwell:

Not bad for two Buddies.  I think in any part of history in the United States and perhaps elsewhere there is a Paisley Buddy involved.

Monday, June 27, 2011

2011 SAFHS Conference Report

Hello All -

As I had mentioned in a previous post, I attended the 2011 SAFHS Conference in Edinburgh on Saturday.  I was mainly there in a more official capacity in that I was helping to man the ASGRA stand most of the afternoon.  However, I did go in the morning to get a chance to see all the vendors and all the goings on beforehand. 

This was my first conference to attend, so I can't really compare it to previous ones.  However, I had been told by some folks that it was a larger crowd than last year.  The vendors were on three floors, and the talks were given on the basement level of the Adam House where the conference was held.  I didn't get a chance to listen to any of the speakers, but no doubt that they would have been interesting, and have heard that many people did enjoy them. 

One of the things about going to a SAFHS Conference is that it is not in the same place every year.  I think last year it was in Livingstone and then this coming year it is to be in Dundee.  The various family history societies host each year's conference.  It is a pretty good idea to do things this way as it doesn't get boring being in the same place time after time.  Also, it gives the hosting society a chance to "show-off" a bit as host.

The thing that I enjoy most is patrolling the vendors for new books to buy.  I wouldn't be a good genealogist if I didn't.  And, this conference didn't fail.  I was able to land my hands on the very hot off the press book by Andrew Nicoll called "Scottish Catholic Family History: A family historian's guide to Catholic Parish Registers and Cemetery Reords for Scotland and the Bishopric of the Forces."  I know it is a long title, but what a great book.  I have had a quick look at it and it is a very excellent book to own.  It not only gives a listing of the parishes and years of their records, but also explains the documents themselves, called "Understanding the Records."  It is not a bad price for it either at £10.00.  For me, and I know of other colleagues that have bought the book during the conference, this book is a definite one to have on the shelf.

Another great thing about the conference is that it is a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues.  Genealogy can be a bit of a solitary experience, but it is events such as this that everyone can have a good talk and a laugh as well as talking about things in the industry.  It is a great chance to meet all sorts of folks.  I think genealogists are perhaps some of the most friendliest people about.  But, I suppose I am biased.

Until Next Time ....

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

SAFHS 2011 Conference This Saturday - Be There or Be Square. . .

Hello All:

It is time once again for the annual SAFHS Conference.  This year the SGS is hosting the event in Edinburgh.  The conference will be held this Saturday, 25th June from 9:30 am - 4:30 pm at Adam
House, 3 Chambers Street, Edinburgh.  It is in downtown Edinburgh so you might think that the parking will be a nightmare.  But, according to the conference website at,  parking can be found at the following locations:

"Where to park for the SAFHS Conference -

Edinburgh Parking is a site that has details of carparks, parking and charges.

The nearest car parks to Adam House, Chambers Street are carpark 3, 9 and carpark 13.

Carpark 3 is in Blackfriars Street which connects the Cowgate to the High street and is one way.

Carpark 9 is in the Travel Lodge Hotel in St Mary's Street but has only 21 spaces.

Carpark 13 is accessed from Viewcraig Gardens just off Holyrood Road and has 297 spaces.

The easiest way to access all three carparks from Chambers Street is to go to the east end of the street and straight across into Infirmary Street and down to the Cowgate.

On street parking restrictions are in operation in Chambers Street Monday - Saturday 08.30 - 18.30.

Parking charges are £2 per hour up to a maximum of 4 hours.

On street parking restrictions will stop at 18.30 on Friday.

The nearest free on street parking on Saturday is located in roads to the east of the Pleasance and to the south of the Meadows."

Of course your best option is, in my opinion, taking the train into Waverley Station in Edinburgh is your best bet.  It is not far of a walk to the conference.  The website should have a map of the location, but you can also use good old Google Maps as well to find how to get the conference facility. 

There will also be offered 3 FREE lunch time talks with Q & A sessions.  Please view the conference website for more details.  As for the main conference itself, the speakers and topics are thus:


08.30 Registration
09.30 Book Stalls Open
09.45 Welcome & Opening Ceremony
10.00 CITY - Richard Hunter - "Edinburgh its Archives and Inhabitants"
11.00 CHURCH - Dr Tristram Clarke - "Scottish Episcopal Church Records".
12.00 Lunch
14.00 CHURCH - Andrew Nicoll - "Roman Catholic Archives"
15.00 CENSUS - Duncan MacNiven, GROS - "The 1911 Census".
16.00 Raffle Draw & Closing Speeches
16.30 Close of Conference & Stalls

As for myself, I will be there, but in a more official capacity.  I will be helping the man the ASGRA stand throughout the day.  Hope to see as many people at the conference as possible.  The ASGRA stand will be on hand to help those who have questions about their research (stuck or just need some advice on where to go next, help from professional researchers, etc.), or just wanting to get started.  We are a nice bunch and won't bite, so don't be shy about coming over to talk.
It looks to be a very interesting day of genealogy, more specifically Scottish genealogy.  There isn't very many Scottish genealogy events held, so usually the SAFHS conferences are one of the bigger ones to attend.  I can't say that it will be anything as big like WDYTYA in London, but the SAFHS conference is Scottish specific and focused, which is a rarity. 
Hope to see as many folks as possible be able to make it on Saturday.  It should be a good day out for anyone.
Until Next Time . . .

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bee Gees Star Comes to Paisley for Ancestry Search

Hello All:

It has been a wee while since I have posted anything here on this blog.  It has been a busy time and not much time to blog over the past few weeks.

In the local newspaper there is an interesting article about the upcoming series of the UK WDYTYA?.
What has been drawn into attention as there was a mention of Robin Gibb of the popular 70s band the Bee Gees in the local paper about his appearance in the upcoming series.  It is not certain when the new series will be aired.  My fellow colleague and fellow blogger Chris Paton has also made mention of the series in his blog.

The Bee Gee's star Robin Gibb has been reported to have been seen in town doing research into
his ancestry (Paisley Library and Museum), in which he is to be one of the new celebs to be featured in the newest upcoming series of WDYTYA.  I can't say that I have seen him in town, but I am sure his appearance in Paisley would have been a stir and made heads turn.  To read the full article just see the link below.

I look forward to seeing the new episodes when they come out (whenever that is).  I also couldn't say who the other participants will be this time round.  There hasn't been any concrete times or dates for it as I know of.  We will certainly keep everyone posted.

Until next time ....

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

1911 Scottish Census Now Available

Hello All -

Just a quick note to let everyone know that the 1911 Scottish Census returns are now available for public viewing after its 100 year wait. I have already taken it for a test drive and everything seems to be working ok with it and no delays, etc. The information is from the enumerator's books and not the household schedules, which haven't survived.

In brief, the information is on two pages. It may pose a problem if trying to print, but I am sure that there are enough clever folks out there that can work around this. Also, a bit different from the previous censuses is that it gives an overwritten number in the marital status section such as 1 for single male, 2 married male, 3 widower, 4 single female, 5 married female, 6 widow. It will also state the number of years married, number of children and number of children living. This can be very useful in trying to locate marriages and children's births and those who have died as children (babies or infants). There is also more mentions of adoption in the household relationships, which can really be a big help to researchers.

As I say I haven't really explored too much of it as of yet. So, I can't really give too much more detail about the newly published 1911 census for Scotland. However, it is great that it is finally here for everyone to look at and research their family with. It is a bit of a let down for us Scottish genealogists that the publications of the censuses lags a bit behind the publishing of the England/Wales census returns. But, it is here now and I am sure everyone will be delving into this new resource.

There is a good discussion about the new 1911 census by my friends and colleagues Chris Paton on his blog at, and Audrey Collins on her blog at I will close for now as I know that some of you will be anxious to get a chance to have a look at the new census.

Until Next Time . . . .

Thursday, March 17, 2011

2011 Scotland Census Form Through The Door

Hello All -

Well that's me just received my 2011 Scotland Census form to fill out. I think the
few people that are happy to fill it out and being forthcoming with their answers are genealogists and family historians.

My husband and I haven't yet filled it out, but it is the size of a small book in the number of pages. I don't think that our ancestors had to fill in this much information about their households. It makes me think about what our Scottish ancestors may have thought then they got the knock at the door or the form through the door.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Who Says Cooking and Genealogy Don't Mix

Hello All -

I have read an interesting post by Dick Eastman and a couple other folks about a tv program in the US called Top Chef. You might wonder why genealogist are interested in a cooking show. Well, in this latest episode of TC one of the challenges was to cook a dish that represents the contestant's heritage. The contestants were to travel to Ellis Island in New York City. Megan Smolenyak worked behind the scenes to research the five remaining contestant's family history. One of the interesting things about it was the two of the contestants were related (distant cousins from Italy). It is good to see genealogy being seen in other areas. I wouldn't have expected it on a cooking show.

If you haven't seen this episode you can view it here: (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4)

The program links have been put into four segments. Part 2 is really where you can see the contestants learning about their ancestry.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Back From London: A General Summary of WDYTYA Live 2011

Hello All -

Well, I am back from my WDYTYA Live experience in London over the weekend. I must say that I had a fantastic time over the three days. There was so much to see and so many lectures to attend. I didn't really get a chance to see as much as I would have liked, but nevertheless I had a great time. From a professional point of view, I was able to network with my fellow colleagues and meet those who I have known about but not met before.

It was real treat to me Dick Eastman, Chris Paton, Jan Gow (of NZ), Ian Marson (AGRA Chairman), Eileen O'Duill (APG Intl. Exec. Comm. from Ireland but American expat like myself), Kathy Hinckley (APG Executive Director), Laura Prescott (APG President), Alvie Davidson (APG Exec. Comm. from Florida), just to name a few.
Everyone was just very nice and friendly.

I spent most of my three days volunteering on the stands of ASGRA and APG. I got to speak with quite a few folks that wanted some advice on Scottish genealogy, and giving information about the APG and ASGRA for those that were interested. The time went by quickly, and at the end of the day nursing sore feet from standing and walking about all day. I probably shed a couple pounds during the three days.

This year was the first year that ASGRA had a booth. They were sharing it with AGRA and Origins. ASGRA is the credential organization of Scotland for those in professional genealogy. They are similar to AGRA in their aims and goals, but more for the Scottish professional and also that the records and research required is a bit different. There were 5 in total that came from ASGRA, including myself, down to London. We gave alot of help and advice for those who have Scottish ancestors, and also helped to promote the organization to a wider audience.

Also, making their debut this year was the Association of Professional Genealogist (APG) who are headquartered in Colorado, USA. The APG is a professional organization for those in the genealogical field or industry. It is not a credentialing body, but they do hold their members to a code of ethics and standards. Also, they are worldwide in their membership. There are over
2, 200 members from all over the globe - USA, Canada, NZ, Australia, UK, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Spain, even Japan and South Africa. I think that they were very popular if the steady flow of people visiting their stand gives any indication. I think that those who came from US and those from the Administration were very pleased with their reception.

On Saturday evening the APG had a dinner/get together for their members at the Pizza Express after that day's show was over. It was a great time had by all, and it was great to chat with colleagues from all over Britain, US, Europe, Canada, Ireland, etc.

The lectures were all day long for the three days. From what I could observe they were very well attended. Some of the more popular ones had folks standing outside the barriers to listen.
I am sure many people learned alot, and also got those who were thinking about genealogy to get started in it on their own family.

Sunday was fairly quiet compared to Friday and Saturday. Many commented on this, but I think that overall the event was well attended even if the numbers were a bit down from previous years. One theory could be for the lighter turnout is that the WDYTYA series in UK has not had a new season yet, but this is just my opinion. Usually whenever a new series of WDYTYA the ratings do very well, and there tends to be a increase in interest in family history.
Don't know really, I am sure that the event people will figure it out for next year.

Overall, I thought that the event was great and I had a enjoyable time. I hope that those of you who weren't able to go this year can make it in 2012.

Until next time ....

Saturday, February 12, 2011

WDYTYA Live coming to London in 2 Weeks Time

Hello All -

Just received my WDYTYA Live tickets in the mail today. I have never been before, so this will be something to look forward to. I am not too sure how much I will get to see while there as far as the talks and vendor stands go. I will be volunteering at the APG and the AGRA/ASGRA stands at various times while there. It will be an exciting time. I am hoping to network with my fellow professional colleagues during my time there. Being a professional genealogist can be a solitary pursuit at times, so it will be great to meet up with others in the profession.

If you are planning to come please stop by for a chat. It should be a great three days of genealogical indulgence, as well as possibly turning newbies into genealogy junkies which tends to happen once the "bug" bites.

See you all there hopefully. It is a event not to be missed. It seems to get bigger and better each year.

Daily Telegraph & Sun. Telegraph 19 and 20 Feb. Issues

Hello All -

Be sure to get a copy of the Daily Telegraph or the Sunday Telegraph (19 and 20 Februrary) because they are going to have a FREE, yes FREE, Tracing Your Family History: The Essential Step-By-Step Guide with CD-Rom in these two days issues.

This is a special promotion in conjunction with the upcoming Who Do You Think You Are? Live in London on the last weekend of Feb. (25-27). I don't normally read the Telegraph, but I will make sure that I get a copy this next week end.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Need A Genealogist? Hire Locally

Hello All -

With all the hub-bub surrounding the termination of Ancestry's Expert Connect service early this month (known to be happening in last week of Jan.) it got me to thinking about the things to look for when hiring a professional genealogist.

Anyone interested in becoming a provider could have signed up to be on Expert Connect, whether an amateur or professional doing research for a living. There is nothing wrong with a amateur researcher doing work for someone, but it is important that they know what they are doing and have had some experience themselves at doing genealogical research. This post really isn't about delving into the topic of professional vs. amateur genealogist, but rather the importance of hiring a local genealogist for perform work for people.

Natalie Cottrill in 2004 wrote a very good article about hiring a professional genealogist and in one of the paragraphs says, "when selecting a professional genealogist, make sure that he or she has the special research skills needed to accomplish your goals. For instance, if your research is in France, then it is important to hire a professional genealogist with experience researching within the French culture, language, and records. You don't necessarily need to hire someone who lives in France."

I would definitely agree with most all of this, but where I differ in the statement is "you don't necessarily need to hire someone who lives in France." In my opinion I think it is important to hire someone who lives locally in the country or state that you need research done. It may not be completely necessary, but it definitely helps. I know that it may not be always feasible for one reason or another, but having a localized research performed by a local genealogist should be one of the things to look for when deciding to hire someone to do a project.

Don't get me wrong I know that there is a lot of information that can be accessed via online, FHL in Salt Lake City, etc. However, you can't replace having a person in the actual location that information is needed from. I know that there are folks living in places that know and understand cultures and histories of other countries that they don't reside in. However, that doesn't mean that they are readily able to access all the records for that place. Not everything is online or at the FHL. When things are online, how accurate are they if they are not the original document image? Many types of information found online can be incomplete abstractions or inaccurate transcriptions.

When the case does arise that a person is hired to work on a family history project for a specific area and from the research it is discovered that the person or family is from another place (state, country, etc.) most likely the hired genealogist will get help from another genealogist located in the place needing to obtain information from. For example, a genealogist is working on a family in California and through the research investigation comes to find that the family ancestors were originally from New York. The genealogist in California will need to ask a genealogist in New York to obtain original documents for them if they are not able to obtain them themselves. There isn't really any way around this. You need to go where the records are. In the end, a local researcher will always be needed one way or another.

There is a load of competition out there for genealogy research for hire. There are professional genealogists all over the world, almost every state in the US, most every province in Canada, etc. When making the big decision to hire a genealogist there are many things to think about -competency, professionalism, adhereing to codes of conduct, knowledge and skills of specialist area, analysis, experience, etc. One of them should also be the location of the genealogist to where the research is needed.

Until Next Time

Friday, January 28, 2011

UWS Family Histories Course Correction

Hello All -

Just a quick note to say that the Family Histories module at the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley will be held on Mondays 6-8 pm each week for 10 weeks. It was to be on Thursdays, but their has been an instructor change which means the day has also needed to change due to scheduling conflicts.

I am pleased to see that the university is doing this course. I wish it great success and a great turn out of students. Maybe there will be further advanced courses that they will do if this turns out well for them.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

University of the West of Scotland Offers Family History Module

Hello All -

Just read in the Paisley Daily Express today that the University of the West of Scotland (formerly known as Paisley University) will be conducting a new module on Family History starting on 3rd February. It is scheduled to last for 10 weeks - held on Thursdays for two hours each week. I can't remember the times, but I think it is in the evening. These courses will be conducted on location, so unfortunately this is not going to be an online study option.

If anyone is interested you can contact the university (Lifelong Learning Academy) at 0800 027 1000 or email them at You can also go to the university's website at (it will be in the part time study section/lifelong learning section).

Not much time left to apply so those interested will need to hurry.

Until Next Time ...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Universal Source Citation System for Genealogists

Hello All -

One of the things that I have been thinking about is a need for a universal source citation system for genealogists/family historians. What I mean by universal is a recognized system for citing sources that is world-wide. The thought came to me after doing my BCG portfolio and also finding out about how other people do their citations. These thoughts are purely my own opinion, and are not really meant to cause a big debate.

I cannot really speak about how other countries do things, apart from the US and UK. However, from working in these two countries as a genealogist the citing of sources is not the same. The USA and possibly Canada trend toward the Chicago Manual of Style, which is the basis for Elizabeth Shown Mills' two books on the subject, "Evidence: Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian" (1997) and "Evidence Explained" (2007).

In the UK (at least some parts of Scotland) source citations trend toward the Harvard System (sort of an APA style). This is from what I have been led to believe is the main system taught at Univ. of Strathclyde's Genealogical Studies course. However, if I am wrong on this please let me know as I don't want to give out wrong information. Personally, I have been using Mills' books (Chicago Style) for my own work, but it is just what I have been used to so I stick with it.

There are few other styles of citation as well that are used in other academic disciplines such as MLA, Turabian, AMA, APA, etc. In my opinion, I am one that thinks genealogy is an academic discipline too. Some may think it as just a past time or hobby, but in my view it is not much different from studying pure History in university or college. But, I digress.

However, I do realize that there are some who are only interested in doing family history as a hobby. That is fine, but to make one's work credible the sources should be cited. If down the road a person would like to publish their work either as a simple manuscript, self-published such as My Canvas or Blurb, or having a publishing company do the work, it is very important to have the documents and other sources cited as others will be reading it. I know that citing one's work can be a pain, but it is necessary and serves a purpose.

I think as a genealogical community worldwide there should be a universal citing system that can be agreed upon and used by all researchers. This could be either the Chicago or Harvard Style or perhaps something else. I am not too sure that Mills' books are that known in UK and other parts of the world apart from US and Canada. But, that is just speculation on my part. I personally am not fussed by which system is used. My main concern is to have a universal system that we can all agree upon worldwide. I think it would make things easier for everyone is we are all the same in our citing in reports, essays, articles, etc.

In my opinion, I think that genealogy is becoming more recognized as an academic study. We are seeing more and more classes and courses being offered at colleges and universities and online. And as most academic disciplines there should be a proper system in place to cite sources recognized universally. It shouldn't matter if one is from US, UK, Australia, or France.

Well, I suppose I better leave it there. I just thought I would tell my thoughts and observations on the subject.

Until Next Time ...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My BCG Experience

Hello All -

As I mentioned in my previous posts (not too far back from today) I was going to talk about my experience with applying for my CG with the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG). I received my portfolio along with the judges comment in the mail roughly a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to digest everything before reporting back. I know that there are some who are going through the process, or are thinking about going through it sometime in the future.

I wanted to share a bit about my experience with those who may be interested, as I know that I was keen to know of other folks' experiences that had gone through it. I can only really speak on my own behalf on these matters, as I know that everyone has a different story to tell on this.

I had in the past been curious about the BCG certification process, but I found it to be a bit intimidating. However, at that time, I knew that I would not be ready for it. I thought it would be best to wait a few more years before I went for it to get more experience.

I initially sent my preliminary application in September 2009. Before, this I purchased the Standards Manual and the Application Materials. This is a must purchase for anyone applying - the application materials mainly, but I would not even try to send an application without having the Standards Manual as well (reading and studying it completely backwards and forwards).

Before I sent away my preliminary application, I started to do some work on my portfolio to get a head start on things. I wanted to be familiar and comfortable with the process and standards needed. It would mean less pressure on me by not being on the one year "clock."

I then sent away my application and then waited for the BCG to send me their document for transcribing, etc. Because, I live in the UK it was a bit longer to wait for correspondence back and forth. Once received in the mail, I got seriously started on work.

To briefly describe the application parts, there are seven parts to the BCG portfolio application. First is the Genealogist's Code that is to be signed by the applicant; secondly there is the background resume; thirdly there is the document work (BCG supplied document) to transcribe, abstract, analyize, research focus, etc.; fourthly there is another document work but this one is applicant supplied document that goes through the same process as the BCG supplied document.

The average wait time for an applicant's results are 5-6 months. However, I waited a bit longer to get my results back. The unfortunate holdup was that there was a loss of my portfolio in the mail between Judge 2 and Judge 3. They do warn that this can potentially happen. I was very glad that I made a copy of my portfolio before I mailed it away. This is a very important piece of advice I can give to any potential applicant.

It was now December and still no further word from the BCG. Then, unexpectedly, I received an email from the BCG office to welcome me to their ranks. This would be around 20th of December. It was a very surprising early Christmas gift. I think that I was in utter shock for most of the day after getting word, as I thought that I hadn't done as well as I could have.

Now, the dreaded judges critiques. This is probably the most frightening aspect of the application process. Some of the comments can really sting and it helps to have a thick skin. It is very easy to take the negative comments to heart and feel a bit down in the dumps about your work. I know that reading the criticism that I received was a blow to the old self-esteem. I read the criticism over and over again to get to grips with what the judges were saying. After mulling it all over and having time to reflect on things, I knew that the judges were just doing their job and wanting to point me in the right direction to be a better genealogist. I can now really appreciate their comments and will definitely learn from them when it comes time to renew in 5 years time.

It was interesting to see the three judges' range of comments. The second judge really tore the portfolio to shreds. One judge would find something acceptable, then another judge will find the same thing done poorly. It is really in the eye of the particular judge what meets the standards set by the BCG Manual when it comes to an applicant's work. I think though for my portfolio the judges were for the most part in agreement on most things. Thankfully, many of the marks were "Meets Standards" with a few "Partially Meets Standards" in the mix. The mistakes I did make were stupid, careless ones. If I took a bit more time with it and not been in a rush to get the portfolio out the door I think it would have been a better application. It is important to really focus on the little things and pay careful attention to detail.

In the end, I am glad that I went through the application process. It was a stressful and nerve-racking experience. It is definitely an education in itself. I realized how much I have learned. The judges remarks will definitely be a big help for next time.

Why Genealogy Is More Than A Hobby

Hello All -

Upon reading many of the other genealogy blogs that I like to read each day, there was one that really struck a cord with me. The blog is from James Tanner's Genealogy Star. He had an entry entitled "The Heart and Soul of Genealogy." I think that his writing on this subject is worth sharing to others as it really hits home why some people become so "addicted" to genealogy and family history. Why some people cannot let go of finding that elusive ancestor. Genealogy is more than just names and dates, but it is your ancestor's life. Also, it comes back to who you are yourself (who am I and where did I come from ... types of questions).

It makes historical events become more personal and more interesting when an ancestor can be placed at a particular time and place. For example, one of my g, g, grandfathers was captured at the battle of Island Number 10 by Union soldiers during the US Civil War. I had never heard of this battle before (it wasn't one of the more major ones that are better known), but when I learned of this from his service records, I immediately went to look for further information about it.

I think I will leave it here and let you read Mr. Tanner's words yourself, as I don't think I could really say it any better.

Until Next Time ...

Sunday, January 02, 2011

New Year Means New Fee Increases in Scotland

Hello All -

Hope everyone had a good Christmas and are settling into the new year well. For my first post of the year is a bit of important news regarding fee increases across the board from the Scottish GRO, etc. So, it looks like doing research in Scotland will cost us a bit more for this new year.
The General Register Office for Scotland has issued a news posting on their website about the
new fee increases, along with a pdf of the listings of the fees themselves.

In turn, this is going to affect everyone - those who are amateur researchers as well as those who work in the profession as professional genealogists, who will have to put the increase into their costs of working with a client.

This is unfortunate for us all, but there isn't much that can be done. The government has spoken. It is hoped that perhaps when things get better economically things will not increase any further for a good while, but I suppose this is wishful thinking on my part.

Sorry to have to bring such a damper on the new year, but I felt that it was important to notify folks of the new fees happening here in Scotland.