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!

Friday, 30 March 2012

Finding Your Roots - Rounding Out the Process

Genealogy buffs in North America will be planning their evening around t.v. time, tuning in to the latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are. So much has been written already about this program, both good and bad. While I have been frustrated this season by the "sameness" of all of the stories, I really enjoy watching the story unfold. I like that the show makes people aware that we can't find everything online. We actually have to go to the archives or libraries to get the information about our ancestors. We may need the help of the archivists to understand the documents. And we may need a history lesson to understand the reasons why our ancestors did the things they did. Personally, I'd like to see the clippings that never made it any further than the editor's floor. Not for the "bloopers" so much as to see how many documents were actually consulted before the right person was found.

Last week, a new genealogy t.v. series started, "Finding Your Roots" This one runs on PBS and the format is quite different. Professor Gates does the work and the traveling and then shares the story with the celebrity. I love this for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most important is that by seeing where Professor Gates goes and who he talks to, we get a better sense of the work that is actually involved in putting a family history together. It rounds out the genealogical process. We see the parts of the process that get left on the cutting room floor in WDYTYA?

I also like that Professor Gates provides the celebrity with their story in a format that can be "shared and heired" A tangible legacy for current and future generations so that the story that accompanies the documents, newspaper clippings and photographs doesn't get lost over time.

Weekends are a great time for genealogy enthusiasts. There are meetings and conferences to attend, time to dedicate to the hunt and now, reality tv shows that we can actually get absorbed and learn as we watch.

Happy Weekend, Everyone!

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

1915 Valuation Rolls Now Available on Scotland's People

A few days ago, I mentioned that the Valuation Rolls for 1915 had been digitized and were being uploaded to the Scotlands People website. These are now available and searchable. According to Scotlands People:

"...the Valuation Rolls provide a fascinating snapshot of Scotland during the First World War, and will be a valuable resource for family history researchers.

What Do the Rolls Contain?
The rolls record the names of owners, tenants and occupiers of each property, unlike the full lists of family members to be found in the censuses. Usually the named person is the head of the household, but sometimes a husband and wife might be listed. Frequently, the wife is the named tenant of rented property. 

Why Were the Valuation Rolls Set Up?
The Valuation Rolls were created so that the authorities could set local rates. The purpose was to assess property by its annual rental value. This was either the value of the rent paid by the tenant, or a notional rental value if the owner occupied their own property. The burgh and county assessors did not list properties individually that were worth below £4 annual rental value."

As a special introductory offer, Scotlands People is allowing these records to be viewed for just 2 credits instead of the usual 5. You still need to use a credit to view the index after the search and before viewing the actual record. No word on how long this introductory offer will last.

Here is an example of the 1915 Valuation Roll for Shotts, Lanarkshire, showing my grandfather as proprietor of a house and shed, valued at £4.10. He very nearly didn't make it into the Valuation Rolls! I guess that shed helped put him on the registers and has helped me to track him  after the 1911 census!

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Meaningful Birthday Gifts

Once people get to a certain age, gifts get less meaningful. I will always remember my aunt telling me that the last thing she needed was another china mug or another dust collector. When I am giving gifts to my older relatives, I always try to give something that is both unique and that evokes memories. Scrapbooks, personalized calendars, DVDs, photographs.

This year, I received fewer gifts - another rite of passage. But they were much more meaningful. I received a new set of luggage for my upcoming research trip to Scotland

A home made birthday cake. Dinner with the family. Breakfast at my favourite restaurant

And today, I received a gem from my soul-sister. We have been friends for 30+ years. Together through relationships, kids, death of pets, changes of houses, death of parents. You name it. We are both estranged from our biological siblings and it is great that we can reminisce together about our families when we were younger since we were both involved with each other's lives way back when. I managed a few years ago to get her hooked on scrapbooking - although when I first started she was pretty sure I had crossed over that fine line between genius and insanity. Then I got her hooked on family history and together we discovered a whole new passion for sharing our past and our memories. She is far more gifted than I am when it comes to crafts. She gave me a very meaningful gift - a FAMILY TREE

My husband doesn't "get it" but then he doesn't get my passion for chasing dead relatives either. The kids know it's meaningful because it is made by Aunty Amber. But for me, it is one of the most cherished gifts I have ever received. It is hanging in a place of honour and I feel truly blessed with the memories and emotions that it evokes. Thank you, my friend.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

1915 Valuation Rolls Coming Soon to Scotland's People

Word this morning that the 1915 Valuation Rolls are being added to the Scotland's People website. This means that they will soon be searchable and should lend to assisting you find your Scottish ancestors after the 1911 Census.

Happy Searching!!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Join Us in Scotland

One of the things that we have learned from the Who Do You Think You Are series is that not everything on our ancestors is available online. Remember that large document on Reba's English ancestors from the 1600s? Or the marriage register that awaited Martin Sheen in Italy? Or the newspaper articles on Blair Underwoods gt gt gt grandfather Sauney, the conjurer?

What did these episodes all have in common? The celebrities had to travel to their ancestral homeland to find the information they were seeking on their ancestors. This helped them put their family history together.

Come and join us in Scotland and dive into the records that await in both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Come to Scotland. Find your ancestors. Discover your heritage.

You will be glad  you did!

Researching Your Scottish Ancestors

I will be giving a talk on Researching Your Scottish Ancestors at the Country Hills branch of the Kitchener Public Library on March 19th at 6:30 pm. I hope you will join me.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Genealogy In Time

I am all about functional. Databases need to be searchable, easy to use and provide results. Websites need to be easy to navigate and get me to where I want to be. Software needs to be user-friendly and simple enough a baboon can use it.

I am one never  to download toolbars. Ever. But I recently downloaded the Genealogy In Time toolbar. I think my favourite part is the revolving blog titles that appear and take me to news I never would have found otherwise. One click and I get to read the blog. It saves me scrolling through thousands of blogs on GeneaBloggers. Genealogy in Time does that for me.

Genealogy in Time also has its own FREE search engine. I have tried using Mocavo. It's alright, but gave me a lot of my own information. They recently updated a lot of their UK records, which is my area of interest. So, I tried it again........not so much. I recently received the Genealogy In Time newsletter and decided to give the search engine a try. What a wealth of information came back to me. Unbelievable the records that were there that I have never seen before.

Genealogy in Time beats Mocavo hands down. It is easy to use and produces real results. Its also completely free. No promises of finding better information if I pay to see it.

I'm all about functional. Genealogy in Time toolbar and search engine are functional. Give them a try.


Happy searching!

More on the Scottish Naming Pattern - Diminutves

In a previous post, I explained the Scottish Naming Pattern. Now lets add diminutives into the mix. For instance:

Ellen, Helen, and Eleanor are often used interchangeably. For the most part, Ellen is the diminutive of Eleanor. Ellen is the common pronunciation of Helen. Nellie can also be the diminutive for Helen or Eleanor.

Jean and Jane are often used interchangeably. This gets complicated when you have a daughter of each name. Janet is often also referred to as Jane but can also be Jennie or Jessie.

Mary and Marion both often get referred to as May, Mamie or Maisie while Margaret usually goes by Peg or Peggy, but can also be referred to as Maggie or Meg.

Catherine, Kathleen and Kate are generally one and the same.

Isabel and Isabella are one and the same but may be also be known as Bella, Belle, Sibby or Tibbie.

Elizabeth rarely is Elizabeth, usually being Betty or Bess, but perhaps also Beth, Lizzie, Elsie or Libby.

For men, the diminutives are also readily used. John may be Ian, Iain, or Jock.

George may be Jordy, Geordy or Dod.

James may be Jamie, Jimmy or Hamish.

As the saying goes, "Keep calm and carry on!"

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Fife Voters Rolls Available on Ancestry.co.uk

Ancestry.co.uk has added the Registers of Voters for Fife into their searchable database. These are for scattered years from 1832-1890. They also have the Registers of Voters for Dunfermline from 1856-1871.

A word on the purpose and research uses of the Registers of Voters from Ancestry's website reads:

"Electoral registers, or registers of voters, are lists of individuals who are eligible to vote during the time the register is in force (usually one year), and genealogists use them to establish a place and time of residence. Many voters on the lists in this database became eligible to vote after parliamentary reform passed in Scotland in 1832 expanded the country’s electorate from about 4,500 to 65,000 voters by lowering the property requirement for franchise to £10. Subsequent legislation would further extend suffrage in Scotland, though women would not be given the vote until the 20th century.
The registers of voters in this database come from several areas in Scotland:
  • Burgh of Burntisland, 1864, 1894
  • Burgh of Dunfermline 1859, 1869, 1871
  • Burgh of Dysart, 1832
  • Burgh of Kinghorn, 1832, 1892
  • County of Fife, 1832–41, 1846, 1861–62, 1862–63, 1863–64, 1864–65, 1878–79
  • Western District of Fife, 1860
Records can be searched by place of residence, register year, and name. Records may also include occupation, street or street address, whether a proprietor or tenant, description of property, and a name of a village, farm, or property."

These records can often prove useful in placing your ancestors in between census years.


As always, Happy Searching!!

A New Year Means New Records

Don't forget that a new year means new records are available online at Scotland's People. This means that the statutory limitations for release have changed and the following are now available online without the need for ordering the certificates from the GRO:

1911 Births (100 years)
1936 Marriages (75 years)
1961 Deaths (50 years)


Credits can be purchased for £7. This will give you 30 credits or 5 document views (perhaps less if you need to view more than one index) and the credits last for a full year - not that mine ever do!

Happy Searching!

Child Migrants and British Home Children

I have just finished watching a brilliant DVD called Oranges and  Sunshine. This is the story of Margaret Humphreys who first exposed the Child Migrant Scheme of children being systematically deported to Australia. The DVD is based on Margaret Humphreys' book Empty Cradles, which I read a number of years ago when I was first researching British Home Children.

The DVD is very true to the book, but allows a much more rounded view of the personalities of the child migrants as well as deeper emotional responses from both the child migrants and from Margaret herself.
The DVD is available from Amazon UK for about $8 but is only available in the PAL format. It needs to be played in a computer on the media player which will convert to the North American NTSC format. Hopefully it will soon be available on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca, making it more readily playable on a television.