Welcome to Scottish Genealogy Tips And Tidbits

A wee bit of info to help you in your journey to discover your Scottish Ancestors and maybe even crack a brick wall or two!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

ScotlandsPeople Adds 1855 Valuation Rolls

We are starting to see more and more records coming online on the ScotlandsPeople website.

Today's release is the 1855 Valuation Rolls. This reflects the first year that valuation rolls were created, the same year that statutory registration began in Scotland. The website has valuation rolls in 10 year increments from 1855-1925. These provide a nice snapshot of where you ancestors were in between census years. They clarify whether the person listed was owner, occupier or tenant. It lists the proprietor of the property and then gives the yearly rent paid. 

To read more about the newest release: 

The 1855 valuation rolls are free to search. The images are 2 credits to view. 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Cracking the Top 10 on Three Lists!

Last week was a whirlwind of announcements and congratulatory messages as the Genealogy Rock Star Award winners were announced. In addition, I was trying to get ready for the BIFHSGO conference in Ottawa. As a result, I didn't get to share the full results (for ME anyway) from the various announcements last week. 

The awards are issued according to where your voters reside. 

I took SILVER in the Canadian Awards

I made the top 10 list for Scotland, England and Wales, placing 9th

I made the top 10 list for the British Commonwealth, placing 6th

I feel terribly honoured by the outpouring of support by the voters. And I feel deeply humbled by being on the same lists as some of the best in the genealogy world. 

Although the words seem over used, I really do mean it when I say:

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Top Ten Canadian Genealogists Are .....Well.... NOT CANADIAN

This has been a week of celebration in the Genea-World. The annual Rock Star Genealogy Awards have been announced. This is a "People's Choice" of Genealogy awards, thanks to John Reid of Anglo Celtic Connections (http://anglo-celtic-connections.blogspot.ca/). John has rounded up nominations across the genealogy globe, has hosted online voting, and most importantly, has tallied the results.

Some genies don't like the awards. They find them frivolous, not adding value to the profession, perhaps even 'tacky', But those of us who were nominated have been delighted. We have unabashedly engaged in self-promotion, have crossed our fingers, toes, eyes and waited with baited breath for the winners to be announced. What we also understand is that this "People's Choice" award, whether a nomination, a top 10 placement, or a win, adds credence to our genealogy repertoire in terms of getting speaking engagements. Attendees at such talks have spoken by their vote and have let the planning committees of the genealogy and local history societies know who is popular, who will draw a crowd to their event and who will be engaging enough to hold the audience's attention. So, thank you John, for allowing all of us this opportunity. 

The categories are International, US, Canada, UK (Scotland, England, Wales), Ireland, Australia/New Zealand and DNA. The winners in each category are announced according to where their voters reside. Not where the genealogist resides or where the area of specialty for the genealogist is.

The Bronze and Silver winners were announced on Monday. Results can be found here:

Gold winners in each category were announced on Tuesday. The results of the Genealogy Super Stars can be found here:

The genealogy world has been a buzz of congratulatory messages, accolades and thinly veiled humility from the winners ("oh my, I never thought...." "Really? Me?" "Oh gosh, thank you") Of course in reality we were all screaming "WE ROCK!!!" WE. ROCK!!

Over the rest of this week, John will share the "top ten" in each of the categories outlined above. Those nominated, but not awarded the top three coveted awards, are all hoping they placed in the top five but will take anywhere in the top 10. The placement on these lists adds a boost to their marketability. 

The top 10 for Canada were announced today and the results were nothing short of disappointing:

1. Dave Obee
2. Christine Woodcock
3. Dick Eastman
4. Thomas MacEntee
5. Chris Paton
6. Lisa Louise Cooke
7. Judy G. Russell
8. Kirsty Gray
9. Gail Dever
10. Maurice Gleeson

Don't get me wrong. These are among the top genealogists in the WORLD. Not just in Canada. The genealogy elite in many respects. Those we all rush to hear when they give talks, or host webinars. We devour their written advice on blogs, in magazines, quick guides, books. If my own sense of self-worth were not so incredibly (perhaps pathologically) intact, the fact that MY name is on this list should be incredibly surreal. Little old me. From Canada. And there's the kicker. Only 30% of this list of top 10 genealogists, held in such high esteem, are actually FROM Canada. And, if you take me out of the equation (my specialty is Scotland, after all), the showing for Canada is nothing short of shameful. TWO out of 10. TWO.

How does that work? Easy peasy when you look at the big picture, and when you contrast it with the other top 10 list announced today - that of Australia and New Zealand where 70% of the top ten are actually from the area.

Canadian genealogists are not well promoted in the genealogy world. Those of us who are promoted and well known, have engaged tirelessly in self-promotion. We have not been held in esteem by our own genealogy society. The Ontario Genealogical Society is the largest in Canada. They have an annual conference. The "headliners" are rarely ever Canadian. Ok, Dave Obee might be the exception to that statement. But give Dave his due, he has been in the biz for a very long time.

This past May, the headliners for the conference were from the U.K. and the U.S. The conference for 2016 has already been announced. The headliners are, again, U.S. Why? No, really, WHY?

No offence to my U.S. or U.K. colleagues. As I said, these are the genealogy elite. Some of them, I even consider to be my friends. (The ones I don't are because they have no clue that I even exist, and to consider them friends would be unfair to them). 

Why is it that the OGS doesn't spend the effort in promoting their own? The handful that have been well promoted in the past are promoted because they already worked hard to make their mark. ONLY after they have tirelessly promoted themselves to make a mark in the genealogy community, will the OGS think, "oh, maybe we should give them a try. BUT not as a headliner. We need to hedge our bets, so let's import the main speakers and fill in with our own". Making us wonder if we are really just an after thought. 

Contrast the OGS conference, with the BIFHSGO conference this coming weekend. Out of 11 speakers, 6 are local. LOCAL. Sure, none of us are headlining, but some of us get equal time to those who are headlining. BIFHSGO actively promotes and supports their members. They have their own members speak at their monthly meetings. This builds confidence, allows exposure and gives back to the members. The exposure to the talent that is among the membership really IS a benefit of membership. 

OGS, take a page out of BIFHSGO's book. Look to your members. The people who PAY to be in your organization. Support them. Promote them. Let them shine. When you do, they will make you shine in return. It's a win-win. 

The 2017 conference is in Ottawa, for the 150th birthday of Canada. The conference theme is: Our Canada - Your Family: Building a Nation. PLEASE OGS, don't insult the intelligence of the Canadian genealogists by importing speakers. Look locally to members who excel in their knowledge of:

The Loyalists
French Canadian Research
Scots Immigration
Scots-Irish Immigration
British Home Children
Eastern European Immigration

The people who are the fabric of OUR country. The people who built OUR nation. The people we proudly call our ancestors. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

Drum Roll, Please.............I Took SILVER!!

The Bronze and Silver medalists for the Genealogy Rock Star Awards have been announced, and to my surprise I took Silver in the Canadian Division. Fair chuffed given this was the first time I was nominated!

As I said when I learned I was nominated, just being on the list with some of the best in the Biz was already a huge honour. And once again I am in fantastic company among the other Silver and Bronze medalists across the globe. Here are the other winners: 

I was delighted with some of the feedback from those who voted. And I owe a huge debt of gratitude to each and every one of you. 

Now we all sit with baited breath wondering who will get the coveted Gold in each category. Roll on tomorrow!

Monday, 7 September 2015

Vote for Your Genealogy Rock Star(s)

Voting for the Genealogy Rock Star Awards is now OPEN 

Genealogy Rock Stars are:

".... genealogists are those who give "must attend" presentations at family history conferences or as webinars. Who, when you see a new family history article or publication by that person, makes it a must buy. Who you hang on their every word on a blog, podcast or newsgroup, or follow avidly on Facebook or Twitter?"

You can vote for as many as you like. As John Reid says, this gives Societies, Organizations, and Conference planning committees the chance to see who they might want to have speak for them - genealogy speakers that will draw a crowd AND provide valuable information on their topic of expertise. 

The votes are tabluated according to the country you acknowledge you are from on the first page of voting. You don''t have to limit your vote to genealogists in the country where you reside. 

Ready?   Set?


Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Guess Who Made the List of Genealogy Rock Star Nominees?

You know those days when life throws absolutely every curve ball it can your way? Well yesterday was one of those days. No air conditioning on the hottest day. Moving kids to college with a million things going wrong. Deadlines that had to be met and a wee voice in my head screaming how much happier it would be if I took a day to do nothing. 

After a looong day, I arrived home and retrieved my phone - yeah, it had decided charging wasn't on the agenda for yesterday either. Just as I picked it up, I received a message from my Genea-buddy, colleague and friend Kirsty Gray. I have to say, Kirsty & I haven't known each other long, and we don't chat every day, but somehow those times when we do connect seem to be the time when we are most in need of a pick-me-up, a helping hand or a comforting shoulder. Genea-intuition? 

Kirsty was congratulating me on my nomination as a Genealogy Rock Star. WHAT? Then I thought she was wanting me to congratulate HER. No, she was congratulating me. She even sent me the link to John Reid's blog, Anglo-Celtic Connections: 


Kirsty had alerted me to the fact that the nominees were listed alphabetically (sort of) so I scrolled down to the bottom to make sure she wasn't pulling my leg. Sure enough! I scrolled back up and read the criteria to make the list:

Rockstar genealogists are those who give "must attend" presentations at family history conferences or as webinars. Who, when you see a new family history article or publication by that person, makes it a must buy. Who you hang on their every word on a blog, podcast or newsgroup, or follow avidly on Facebook or Twitter?

Yes! I totally rock every one of the criteria! (Did I mention few Scots have self-esteem issues?) Then I read through the list. WOW! To be on the same list as many of the genealogists nominated is a huge honour in and of itself. Truly it is. 

And to see some of my good Genea-buddies on the list was a real treat. The friends I have come to know through this mad passion of ours. Friends I get to hang out with at conferences and workshops and chat with online. People I can reach out to and who will reach back. Friends that, when I am at a conference with them, I get to witness attendees coming up to them and complimenting them on their work, their talk, their helpfulness. That makes being their genea-buddy all the more enriching. We truly do share in each other's successes and enjoy when the others get the spotlight. 

So, the contest is ON. The voting starts September 7. I can't wait to see the winners in each category because I know that no matter who wins, the title will be well-deserved. 

Thanks to each and every one of the nominators for putting together such a fantastic list, and for including me among some of the best in the biz. I am truly honoured. 

Friday, 28 August 2015


The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa is hosting its 21st annual conference Sept 18-20 at Ben Franklin Place in Ottawa. The focus of this year's conference is Scottish research. Other prominent topics are Technology and Genealogy and Photographs and Genealogy. 

Friday sees pre-conference seminars.

AM SEMINARS (9:00 - 12:00):


MAUREEN TAYLOR                              
Learn to help identify family photographs using ten easy steps, like researching photographers, dating costume clues and comparing facial characteristics. Topics include: 
  • · What Photographs Can Tell You about Your Family
  • · Exploring wrong information in the family album
  • · Family relationships
  • · What was important to your ancestors
  • · Identifying the Images
  • · Basic photographic history for genealogists
  • · How to find out when a photographer was in business
  • · What clothing has to say
  • Techniques to Date and Interpret Your Family Photographs

While many people want to know more about their Scottish heritage, they often don’t know where to begin. Knowing where to look is usually where we falter. Fortunately, researching our Scottish ancestors is a fairly easy task. This seminar will get you started with researching your Scottish ancestry and will help you make the most of your research. Topics include:

  • · Starting your search
  • · The ScotlandsPeople website
  • · Scottish naming pattern
  • · Scottish marriages
  • · Catholic parish records on Scotlands-People
  • · Scottish Family History Societies
  • · Scottish clans
  • · Connecting with others.

FRIDAY PM SEMINARS (1:30 - 4:30)


During this hands-on workshop you will use some of your own family history to create a visual timeline of two or more families. The timeline can be used to show overlapping events of the families, highlight critical areas of missing information and set the families’ personal events in relation to local and/or world history.

You will become familiar with the basic elements of Excel and PowerPoint and in
particular the mechanics of displaying information in an organized manner. Hopefully, creating the timeline will also uncover some previously unknown or not obvious element in your family story. Some registrants will have the opportunity to present their Excel timeline spreadsheet or PowerPoint slide show to the other participants.

Requirements: Bring a fully-charged laptop and power cord with Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint (or very close equivalent) with you. You will also need to bring information on two or three families in your family tree covering the same 50- or 100-year span over one or more countries. Information can include, but not be limited to birth, baptism, marriage, death, immigration, war service, occupation(s) and census records. Digital images of as many supporting documents as possible and digital photographs of the family members will also be important.


ScotlandsPeople is the website that provides you with actual images of the statutory records for Scottish research. This is a pay-per-view site using credits. If you don't know how to use the website effectively, you can waste a lot of credits, spend a lot of money and endure a lot of frustration. In this seminar, you will learn how to get the most success out of your ScotlandsPeople searches. Topics include: how the credit system works, how to narrow down your search, which records are the most relevant, where to find past search results, how to trace female ancestors, where to get help, and what to do when you can't read the documents.

Speakers for the main program of the conference include:

Thomas McEntee
Chris Paton
Maureen Taylor
Christine Woodcock
Janet Few
Sher Leetooze
Shirley-Ann Pyefinch
Gloria Tubman
Gail Dever
Dena Palamedes