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!

Tuesday, 31 December 2013


Much has been made of the revival of the custom called handfasting, perhaps too much. It is often repeated that this handfasting is for a year and a day. However, historically, handfasting tended to take place in outer regions where a minister might not be readily available.

In this circumstance, handfasting was used as a means of temporary betrothal until a minister could make his way to the area to perform the actual religious ceremony.  

The literary source for the "year and a day" originally comes from Sir Walter Scott. A year and a day was the period that a couple were to have been married in order for a spouse to have any claim of inheritable property in the event of the death of the other spouse.  

If, prior to the year and a day, either party chose to leave the "marriage", the relationship was considered null as was any future claim to inheritance. Any children who had been brought forth prior to the annulment were still considered lawful offspring of both parents. Further, neither partner could be prevented from seeking marriage to another person once the handfasting was dissolved. 

In a handfasting ceremony, the hands of both the bride and the groom are joined just as we see in modern marriage ceremonies today. The person officiating at the ceremony would then wrap the clasped hands in the end of his stole to symbolize the trinity of marriage; man and woman joined by God. This symbolic binding together in marriage later evolved into a the practice of wrapping the clasped hands with a cord or an embroidered cloth.  

The couple were then considered to be officially bound together and could live as man and wife. Once the minister made his way to the parish or area where the couple resided, then an official church ceremony would take place, sealing the marriage.

Happy Hogmanay!

Hogmanay is the Scottish celebration of the New Year. For nearly 400 years, Christmas in Scotland was not celebrated. The reason for this stems from the Protestant Reformation. The Church of Scotland, which is Presbyterian, felt that Christmas was by and large a Catholic celebration and as such was frowned upon. To all intents and purposes, Christmas was a regular day. People went to work and carried on about their business in everyday fashion. However, New Years Day was a public holiday and New Years Eve was, and still is, a major celebration. One church recorded, “It is ordinary among some Plebians in the South of Scotland, to go about from door to door upon New Year`s Eve, crying Hagmane." ~Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence, 1693.

The history behind both the celebration of and the name Hogmanay is up for debate. However, many feel that the celebration is carried on from Norse traditions which celebrated the arrival of the Winter Solstice. The fact that this coincides with New Years Eve came about with the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in the fall of 1752.

Hogmanay is steeped in tradition and ritual. Many Scots will take the time during the day on December 31 to clean the house and pay off all debts prior to the “ringing of the bells” at midnight. This ritual was known as redding (getting ready for the New Year). The reason for this was to clear out the remnants of the old year and welcome in a young, New Year with a clean slate. 

A few branches of the Rowan tree would be put above the door to bring luck. Inside was mistletoe to prevent illness to those who lived within. Pieces of holly placed around the house were thought to keep out mischievous fairies. And finally, pieces of hazel were gathered and placed around the home to protect the house and all who lived in it. Then all the doors of the home would be opened to bring in fresh air. Once this final piece of the ritual was completed, the house was then considered to be ready for the New Year.

Immediately after midnight, it is traditional to sing "For Auld Lang Syne", in a circle of friends whose linked arms are crossed over one another as the clock strikes midnight for New Year's Day: 

"Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot and auld lang syne
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o kindness yet, for auld lang syne."
Which translates to:

“Should old acquaintances be forgotten
And never be remembered?
Should old acquaintances be forgotten
and days long ago”.

Perhaps the most important and revered Hogmanay custom is the practice of 'first-footing' which dates back to the Viking days. This involves the first person to cross the threshold once the New Year bells have been rung. Superstition states that the “first footer” should be a tall male with dark hair. The darker the man's complexion the better, since no one wanted a Viking (raider) turning up on their doorstep - that could only mean trouble! A dark complected man represented luck for the rest of the year. In addition, the first-footer needs to enter the home carrying salt, coal, a coin, shortbread, whisky, and black bun. These gifts represent goodness and abundance for the New Year. The Coal for heat/warmth, the coin for financial prosperity, salt for flavour, shortbread for food and whiskey for good cheer. These gifts are then to be shared with the other guests so that the wishes for a good and prosperous year can then be spread around.

The gift of black bun (a rich fruit cake) harks back to the 1800s with the celebration of a winter festival called Up Helly Aa. Although Up Helly Aa is a festival of fire, and is still of prime importance in Shetland, the tradition of the fruit cake stems from the custom that the person getting the piece of fruit cake containing either a pea or a bean would then become the king or queen of the Up Helly Aa festivities.

Many of the current traditions still taking place in Scotland to this day are centered around fire, and are a throw back to the fire festivals. In addition to Shetland’s Up Helly Aa, Edinburgh hosts a fire torch procession through the town from St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile, through the town and on up to Calton Hill. And in Stonehaven there is the fireball-swinging where giant fireballs made from rags doused in paraffin, swung on poles are paraded through the town's streets. These fire festivals date back to pre-Christian customs linked to the Winter Solstice and the fireballs signify the power of the sun to purify the world by consuming evil spirits.

The traditions live on even today. The gifts are still presented by the first footers, although not necessarily to the extent that they once were. But most of all, the new year is rung in with a good old-fashioned Scots welcome and hospitality. And each and every one is wished
“A guid New Year to ane an` a` and mony may ye see!”

Thursday, 26 December 2013

FREE Access to Ancestry.ca

Also as part of Start Your Family History Week,
Ancestry.ca is offering free access to records until Dec 29, 2013. http://search.ancestry.ca/search/group/favourite2013

30 Free Credits From FindMyPast

Today is the start of Family History Week. And to kick the week off, FindMyPast is offering 30 free pay-as-you-go credits. http://www.findmypast.co.uk/ 

You will need to register for an account, or sign into an already existing one, Next, click "subscribe" at the top right of the screen. On the subscription page, there is a yellow bar on the left side of the screen. Here, about the middle, you will see a box where you can enter a promo code. Enter XMAS13 and hit "apply"

The offer of the free credits is available until midnight January 2.

Enjoy the finds!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Index of Doctors in Scotland During WWI

The College of Physicians have made available the transcriptions of reports submitted by doctors at the outbreak of WWI. All doctors were required to register with the  Scottish Medical Service Emergency Committee. Those registration records have been transcribed and the transcriptions can be viewed at: http://smsec.rcpe.ac.uk/

The information provided:

Name of practitioner
Address of practitioner

Rank in Army if applicable

Sometimes there will be a reason why the physician was unfit to practice in the army and other times there will be a listing of his qualifications.

Friday, 29 November 2013


Day 1: Today is a day of arrival. It is a bank holiday. Banks, post offices and other government buildings will be closed. Tourist attractions and museums are open. We will meet in the hotel meeting room in the evening. Ian Walker of Borders Journeys will join us for those who wish to finalize their trip details with him.   

Day 2: Following breakfast, we will be taken to Scotland’s People Centre. Here we will enjoy a Family History Event, which is not only an introduction to the facility but also a workshop on Scottish Research as well. Coffee and tea will be provided during this event. You are free to research for the remainder of the day. 

Day 3: For the next two days, the group will be split into two. One half of the group will return to ScotlandsPeople Centre for a full day of research. The other half of the group will make our way over to the Scottish Genealogy Society. Here, we will take part in a Family History event to learn about the resources available at the Society and to assist in moving forward in our Scottish research. The SGS has MIs, burial records, census indices and directories. 

Day 4:  Today will be a reverse of yesterday. The group that went to the Scottish Genealogy Society yesterday will enjoy a full day of research at ScotlandsPeople Centre. The other half of the group will make our way over to the Scottish Genealogy Society for a Family History Event and tour of the Society.

Tonight we will meet as a group for a Ghosts and Graveyards Tour through City of the Dead Tours. This tour explores the rich history of the old town, and includes a tour of the underground vaults as well as a late night tour of Greyfriars Graveyard. The Graveyard part of the tour takes us within the confines of the covenanters prison. This area of the graveyard is normally locked. This tour is optional. For those wishing to join us, the fees will be covered.

Day 5:  Following breakfast, we will walk over to the National Library. Here we will be shown a presentation on what the Library has to offer then given a quick tour. You will require a temporary library card in order to research here. The card is free.

The weekend is open for anyone wishing to travel to their ancestral part of Scotland, or simply just to  sightsee.  

Day 8: Arrangements can be made for you to attend the genealogy society in the area where your ancestors lived to provide you with the social history details you won't necessarily get elsewhere. If this is at a distance, you might want to also spend the weekend in the area to gain a better sense of who your ancestors were and then attend the local genealogy society on the Monday, prior to your return to Edinburgh. If you choose to stay locally, you can return to ScotlandsPeople Centre, the National Records of Scotland or the Scottish Genealogy Society. Or you can head to Glasgow to the Mitchell Library and the Glasgow Archives.

Day 9:  Following breakfast, we will return to ScotlandsPeople Centre for a full day of research. The evening will be spent at the Taste of Scotland Show

Day 10: Following breakfast, we will check out of the hotel so you can transfer back to Glasgow airport or move on to your next stop in Scotland.


Calling all those with names: DURIE, Dury, Duree, Durrie, Durry, DuRy, Duryea, Dourie, Dowrie.

The First Durie Gathering is to take place next year in Scotland and includes an exciting tour to span 4 days and 3 nights over the weekend 27th-30th June 2014. The aim is to bring Duries together from all over the world and to discover our roots by visiting Durie-related places.  For a brief note on the tour visit: http://www.duriefamily.co.uk/news/first-durie-gathering-2014 

For more information on the Durie Family Association please visit: www.duriefamily.co.uk or contact me secretary@duriefamily.co.uk



Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Historic Newspapers

I love old newspapers. The smell, the colour, the information contained within. One of my favourite moments when I travel to Scotland is visiting the National Library of Scotland and knowing the article I want has not yet been digitized. I wait with baited breath for the arrival of “the book”. A large, stuffy, oversized creation. It is bound in cloth and sealed with a knotted ribbon. Like a finely leaded crystal, it is carried in and laid upon its rest. I savour the opening. Carefully tugging on the ribbon, gently creaking back the cover, drinking in the scent and finally, finally, seeing the old pages. I scan, I read, I smile, I utter my amazement at my finds.   

Last year I was contacted by Tom Walker of Historic Newspapers. He was seekingassistance in promoting his company, Historic Newspapers. Would I be kind enough to view an historic newspaper and give a review? Our wires got crossed and a year later, Tom contacted me again. A short time later, an original 1888 copy of the North British Daily Mail arrived. All beautifully dressed in a red box. The paper is over-sized, discoloured with age (and wisdom?) yet not brittle. That wonderful scent of old ink is still there. It is even better than new car smell! The adventure could now begin.

I scanned. The price: One Penny! WOW. Just WOW.  

I can’t begin to tell you the genealogical gems contained within old newspapers. Information you could never imagine. Finding the information needs good detective skills, and what genealogist doesn’t have that? There are few sensational headlines the way we know them today. Major news stories are often enclosed in small hidden boxes on back pages or within the classifieds. But once found, the feeling of satisfaction is indescribable. And the knowledge of having another piece of the puzzle filled in helps chip away at those long standing concrete walls. 

In addition, the old newspapers give a first hand glimpse into the social history of our ancestors. We learn more about the times in which they lived. The important issues that concerned them on a daily basis. We see what their cost of living was. The items they coveted. What they did for entertainment. The laws of the times. The volume of information is almost endless. 

I encourage everyone who has not used an old newspaper as a genealogy resource to do so. You may not find your own ancestor, but the learning and depth of understanding you gain will be immeasurable. And if you decide to use Tom’s services, he is offering readers to Scottish Tips, Tricks and Tidbits a 15% discount. To get this discount, simply use the code 15TODAY when checking out. So, have a look: http://www.historic-newspapers.co.uk/
Make your purchase, save 15%  then sit with baited breath............



Saturday, 23 November 2013

New Publication of Death Notices from Moray & Nairn Family History Society

News of a new publication from Moray & Nairn Family History Society: Death Notices, Articles Concerning Deaths and Obituaries from the Forres Gazette, 1837-1855.   

The notices cover deaths in Forres, the near neighbourhood, the rest of the county, throughout the country and even overseas. Examples can be found of notices from Australia, Canada, India and other parts of what was to become the British Empire and also from the United States and more unexpected places such as Paris, Buenos Ayres, Gambia etc.
There are announcements of the death of the illustrious, the well-known and the humble. The shortest announcement may be one from December 1838 which simply states, “Died, at Elgin, last month, James Hay, Porter.” The longest announcement and obituary is probably that for the Rev Thomas Stark whose death is announced in the issue of February 1849 and whose obituary occupies many columns of the next issue on March 1849.

Here's the link to make a purchase: http://www.morayandnairnfhs.co.uk/news.asp

Friday, 22 November 2013

Call For Speakers - BIFHSGO Conference 2014

The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa has issued a call for speakers for its 2014 conference. 2014 is also the 20th anniversary of the Society.

The theme for each year's conference rotates UK countries, with this current year's conference focusing on Irish Genealogical resources.

The 2014 themes are:

  • English Genealogcial Resources
  • Emigration from the UK Countries
  • Genetic Genealogy

If you are a genealogical speaker and feel that you have something to offer others on any of the themes listed above, here is the link regarding proposal submissions:

The deadline for proposal submissions is January 31, 2014.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Looking For the Archives From a Scottish Business?

If you are looking for the archives from a Scottish Business (banking, brewing, furniture making, distilling, textile making etc) then have a look at the University of Glasgow Archives:


Note that the catalogues are available in PDF format, but the archival records are not. You will need to contact the University Archivist or a genealogist based in Scotland.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Edinburgh University WWI Roll of Honour

TheGenealogist has information and photos for members of Edinburgh University  who served and fell during WWI. They also have a section on Orders, Decorations and Dispatches.



Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Pipes & Sticks on 66

I have just been contacted by Trinni Franke regarding a movie that is to be released at Cineplex theatres across Canada on November 14 and again on December 1. The movie, Pipes & Sticks on 66 follows five "rock stars" of the piping world as they play a concert along the iconic Route 66 in the USA. 2400 miles!

The film stars Scottish pipers Willie McCallum, Stuart Liddell and Angus MacColl as well as drummer Jim Kilpatrick. Rounding out the quintet is American percussionist Mike Cole.

For a trailer and for information on the Cineplex nearest you that will be screening the movie, click here:

You can also follow the group on Facebook at:

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Two New Record Sets Released Today

Today was a busy day for launching records on both sides of the Atlantic. ScotlandsPeople released the 1920 Valuation Rolls. Like the other Valuation rolls, the images are 2 credits to view. A word of warning, the images are quite light, but seem to be more legible when you zoom in.

On this side of the Atlantic, Ancestry launched the now fully indexed 1921 Canadian Census. Apparently in an agreement with LAC, these will be free to anyone who logs on from a Canadian IP address. You need to have an account. You can create one for free.

Happy Searching!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

1920 Valuation Rolls to be Released Monday

Monday October 28th will see the 1920 Valuation Rolls made available online at ScotlandsPeople Start saving your pennies for the credits!

Friday, 25 October 2013

November is NaNoWriMo Month

November is National Novel Writing Month and is a great time to get started on writing your family history. While your family history is not a novel, you can get prompts and
support through the NaNoWriMo website. The goal is to have the story written in 30 days. What a great incentive to get that story written and ready to give out as a Christmas gift!
Here's the link:


Saturday, 19 October 2013

Argyll Estates Papers to be Digitized and Made Available Online

Anyone with ancestor in Tiree knows how invaluable Keith Dash's website is. He has painstakingly transcribed estate census records, OPRs and more to make tracing our Tiree ancestors easier: http://www.keithdash.net/

Keith has recently announced a new joint project that is taking place to digitize the Argyll Estate Papers with the goal of having these made available online in the future. It is anticipated that this will be a two to three year project. This is a joint project of the Argyll and Bute Council, Argyll Estates, and Dunollie House (in Oban). The Argyll Estates take in more than just Tiree, of course, and include Coll, Mull, Morvern, Kintyre, Cowal, Glencoe and points in between. Very exciting news for family historians with Argyll roots!

Here is the announcement from Keith's website:

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Index of Scottish Blacksmiths

This website is a personal index of all of the UK, however, there is a page specifically dedicated to Scottish blacksmiths. Click on the letter of the surname you are searching for:


Dictionary of Scottish Architects

The Dictionary of Scottish Architects is a database of biographical information and job lists for all architects known to have worked in Scotland during the period 1840-1980, whether as principals, assistants or apprentices. http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/

Looking for Your Trade Union Ancestor?

The largest collection of UK Trades Union records is available through the Modern Records Centre in Warwick. Few unions deposited their membership records with the Centre, but other records of genealogical significance are available, such as accident reports, compensation records and the like.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Jacobite Rebellion Ships Lists

Between 1650 and 1775, thousands of Scots were banished to the Americas for their political or religious beliefs or for crimes that they had committed. One example of this were the Jacobites who were expelled between 1715-1745. 

Hugh Tornabene, a volunteer for the Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild has uncovered the passenger lists for the ships that were used to transport the Jacobites. He has transcribed the lists for the 10 ships that arrived in the Americas. There are another 8 ships that went to the Caribbean (Barbados and the Leeward Islands). 

Here is the website to view the transcriptions of the 10 ships (there are 13 lists, with two of the ships having made the voyage more than once) that Hugh has transcribed: http://immigrantships.net/jacobite/indexjacobite.html

Friday, 4 October 2013

Food Friday

While I was in Edinburgh, at the Scottish Association of Family History Societies in Galashiels in May, the Lothian Archives had stacks of postcards free for the taking. One of them is a recipe from the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh for an Invalid Fruit Tart. Here it is:

1 large or 2 small apples
1 piece of stale sponge
1 gill milk (translates to 5 oz)
1 egg
1/4 oz granulated sugar
1/2 oz castor (sugar not oil)


  • Wipe, peel, core and slice the apple
  • Put into a pan with dessertspoonful sugar and a little cold water
  • Stew until apples are pulp
  • Beat yolk of egg with one teaspoonful sugar
  • Add the milk
  • Put apple pulp into a pie dish
  • Cover with strips of sponge cake
  • Soak with the custart
  • Bake in a cool oven until slightly set
  • Fold the castor sugar into the stiffly beaten egg white
  • Heap on to pudding and dredge with sugar
  • Cook slowly until slightly brown

~ with thanks to Lothian Health Services Archives LHB1/89/4/1

Thursday, 3 October 2013

More Records From Maxwell Ancestry

The Maxwells continue to be busy finding, indexing and making available obscure records to assist in our family history research. These pertain in particular to the Borders area. I love the use of smaller databases for rounding out the history and social history of our ancestors, and I give a huge 'hats off" to Maxwell Ancestry for taking this on.

First, they made prison records available

Then it was Sheriff Court Paternity records http://www.maxwellancestry.com/ancestry/resources/courtsearch.aspx

Now it is OPR entries that have not made it onto the scotlandspeople website. (non-Church of Scotland entries, Kirksession entries not under the usual headins of baptism, banns or burials)

The link to the OPR indices is: http://www.maxwellancestry.com/census/default.htm
Scroll down to the OPR search options.

The indices are free to search. There is a small fee to get a full transcription of the record you are interested in.

Best of luck with discovering more about your Borders ancestors!

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Ancestry.ca Stops Sale of FamilyTree Maker Software in CD Format

Global Genealogy has an article about Ancestry.ca stopping the production and distribution of the CD format of their FamilyTree Maker software. It will only be available as a download - directly from Ancestry.ca of course.


I understand that we live in a tech world, but this one just reeks. Or maybe it's the straw that has finally broken this camel's back.

Ancestry is on the fast track to a worldwide monopoly on genealogy. First they take over the digitizing and indexing of the 1921 Canadian census. Yes, it will be free - as it would have been if LAC had managed the indexing. For now. Once the 1921 Canadian census is indexed by name, Ancestry makes the money on the backs of Canadians. Not cool since for every other census, we have had free access to these records. I'm not opposed to paying for records. I get the cost involved in scanning and the manpower involved in indexing. Not to mention the cost of the bandwidth to make the records available online. It's the principle on this one that irks me.

Then Ancestry "paired up" with FamilySearch to digitize/transcribe/index their records. That have always been freely available and we are told will continue to be on the FS website. But not on Ancestry. And there isn't a genealogist on the planet that hasn't found major transcription errors - even more so when the conglomerates fast track the process in order to have the the records first.

Next it was the purchase earlier this week of Find-A-Grave. Another free resource that is about to cost genealogists, thanks to Ancestry's quest for a monopoly.

Now they are discontinuing our option of purchasing a hard copy (CD) of our genealogy software. On the face of it, this seems inoculous. The software will still be available. By download. Directly from Ancestry. So, they are taking the middleman out of the consumer equation. No money for the distributor. No option for the consumer. And likely no option of paying for one copy and being able to install it in all of your devices. It will probably be a set fee for either one download or three downloads, but what happens when you upgrade your computer? Or when it crashes and you have to re-install?

Personally I am tiring of Ancestry's drive for a monopoly. I believe in consumerism. Including a healthy sense of competition. This isn't happening the the world of genealogy consumerism.

Historic Newspapers Offers 40 Free Credits on FindMyPast

Old newspapers are the best way to round out your understanding of the social history of your ancestors. They give you a glimpse into the times in which your ancestor lived.

FindMyPast is offering a £5 voucher (worth 40 credits) when you make a purchase from Historic Newspapers.

Historic Newspapers offers the largest collection of original newspapers from the UK dating back to over two centuries. These make wonderful unique, commemorative gifts for the family historian, history buff, special friend or relative or for that hard to shop for person.

Historic Newspapers also has special collection editions including Victorian Era newspapers, Napoleonic Era newspapers and my personal favourite, the Jack the Ripper Collection.

With every purchase from Historic Newspapers, you receive a free decade book. These are reproductive copies of top stories from the decade corresponding to or closest in decade to the year of the original newspaper purchased. The decade books span 1920-1990.

Here is the link to the Historic Newspapers website:

Here is the link to claiming your 40 credits from FindMyPast with purchase:

Happy shopping; Happy reading!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Using Google+ For Genealogy

Google+ is Google’s social platform. It rolled out in 2011. It started in Beta, of course, and was by invitation only. I was fortunate enough to be given an invitation and have to say I LOVED what I found. Google+ seemed to be far more intelligent than Facebook. Of course that was primarily because of the Beta testing and also because of the way I had (have) set it up. I only use Google+ to connect with fellow genealogists. I connected with 250 of them in the first two months! 250!  

Here’s the how-to: 

You need a Google account, of course. If you have Gmail, then you already have a Google account. I love Google because of its simplicity, so the one sign in for all things Google is ideal for me.  

Once you have your account set up, you can start finding people that have similar interests. To do this, use the Google search bar at the top of the home page. Type in “genealogy” then add those people to your circles.  

Circles are groupings of people. You can group people into similar interest groups.
Genealogy, photography, writers, horse lovers, whatever you choose. No one can see what your circles are called, so make them user friendly for yourself.  

The Google+ settings are more privacy friendly than Facebook. I can decide for each post who sees the information. I can choose to leave some people out (like my employer). Now you are ready to start posting. The nice thing about the genealogy piece is that most people use the Google+ platform to link to their blog posts, announce training they are running, webinars that are upcoming, and other things that are generally of interest. When you create a post, you choose at the bottom of the post WHO you are going to share the information with. If you want to speak with someone privately, just type their name in there rather than the name of the circle. This will still show up in your “stream” (the equivalent of a Facebook news feed) so you don’t have to go looking for the private conversation under some other tab or column. Do yourself a favour and DON’T check the box that offers for you to also share by e-mail since that essentially spams the same group of people. They will pick up your post in their stream. They don’t need it again in their already full inbox.  

Google+ also has video-conferencing built in. These are called hangouts. They are really cool. I remember when this was first launched there was a record for the longest on air hangout. It went on for nearly 50 days! Hangouts are a great way to connect when people are co-presenting a webinar, organizing a conference or sharing family tree info on the same ancestors. The maximum number that can be in on a video hangout at one time is limited to 10. But the nice thing is it is free. And it has better connectivity, with less down time, than Skype. If you don’t use the video part, you can have up to 100 people. Free! 

Since Google discontinued the use of Google Reader, the idea is for people to join Google+ and read blogs from the posts that are entered there. Google has also changed the way the page is laid out and it is now a double column screen. I personally find this more distracting making it harder to concentrate on one post at a time. My genealogy circle is now over 1200. Who would have thought?  

Google+ is a great way to connect with other genealogists, to share ideas in more than 140 characters and without the ideas getting lost in Facebook drivel. Give it a try. Find me, circle me, add me to your genealogy circle. Make sure that you have "genealogy" in your profile and I will add you to my genealogy circle as well!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Great Craic

Have just finished a very busy round of talks over the past five weeks. I must say that whenever the Scots diaspora or Scots descendants get together, there is always great craic.

Thanks to the following for the wonderful events they have organised and invited me to take part in:

One World One Family: http://www.oneworldonefamily-theevent.com/  A very busy day with records crowds at both talks. Some of the attendees will be joining me in Edinburgh in May to do research on site. Already looking forward to next year's talk.

Niagara Celtic: http://www.niagaraceltic.com/  A beautiful setting for their annual festival where I was able to take part in the Celtic College.

Haliburton Highlands Genealogy Group: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~onhhgg/ What a brilliant group of people. A thoroughly enjoyable evening. I am looking forward to meeting up with some of them again at the Symposium next summer - stay tuned for details as they unfold!

Perth County Branch OGS: http://perthcountyogs.org/  Another terrific group of people. It was so much fun to share with them and hear their stories in return.

Looking forward to the next round of talks. Can't wait to see what enjoyment they bring. Gotta love a gathering of Scots!

Monday, 16 September 2013

Paternity Cases From Scottish Borders Sherriff Court

The Maxwells have indices of more records available online. This time it is the paternity cases of the Scottish Borders Sherriff Court, specifically Jedburgh.


If you find your ancestor listed in the index, a link takes you to a shopping cart where you can purchase the full record for £10.

This is another terrific example of the documents genealogists are making available online. Thank you, Graham and Emma!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Niagara Celtic Festival

If  you are in the area of Olcott NY today, come indulge yourself in your Scottish heritage at the Niagara Celtic Festival & Highland Games. I will be speaking at the Celtic College this afternoon at 2:45 so drop by and say "hello"

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Using Twitter for Genealogy

The first question might be “just what is Twitter anyway?” Well, simply put, Twitter is a social media venue that allows access to instant information. The information is shared in small bursts of conversation known as tweets. These tweets are limited to 140 characters in length. A message that is Short and Sweet. That’s a tweet.  

Twitter is a great way to get information on newly released genealogy records, connecting with genealogists  all over the world, discovering new resources (who is digitizing records and making them available, who is creating new research facilities, who is holding conferences or workshops.). Twitter can be a valuable resource to genealogists of any calibre.

Here’s how you can get started: 

First, you need to create an account. To do this, go to the Twitter website: http://twitter.com  Here you will find the sign up box. You will be required to enter your full name, email address, and to create a password. Once done, hit the “sign up for twitter” button. Next, select a username. Choose something that is unique to you and that will make it easy for others to identify you. Mine is @genealogytours because my business arranges genealogy tours to Scotland. ALL Twitter usernames have the @ symbol at the beginning.
Finally, click the “create my account” button. Once you have done that, Twitter will send you a confirmation email. When you receive that, click on the link in the body of the e-mail to confirm your that you really did want to sign up. You will be re-directed to Twitter.   

From here, you can begin to “follow” tweeters who might be of interest to you as you research your family history. You can do this in the search bar at the top of your homepage. Simply type in the things you are looking for “Scottish genealogy”, “England genealogy”, “Irish Genealogy”, “Welsh genealogy” etc. You can also look for people you think might be able to provide information that will be helpful to you as you research. Type in their names and a list will be generated. You do not need to know their Twitter user name for this part. Twitter will show them via their first names. Once you find who you are looking for, click on their user name, and once on their homepage, you can choose to “follow” them. This means that any tweets they issue will be automatically shown in your stream on your homepage. You can follow as many people as you want. If you are more interested in learning than in communicating, you don’t ever have to tweet. The real benefit of Twitter lies in being able to access real-time information that matters to you.

You can follow conversations by reading through your stream or by clicking on the “view conversation” link at the bottom of a tweet that has been replied to. If “view conversation” does not show, there is no conversation to follow. Like Facebook, you can upload pictures. On Twitter, they will show as a weblink. One picture is usually sufficient and unlike Facebook, pictures are used to punctuate a point, not to share the fun at the party you attended on the weekend. 

One of the buzz words associated with Twitter and that is now starting to show up on Facebook is “hashtag” No, its not an illicit drug, but rather a way of tracking topics. If you use a hashtag (#) in front of an acronym or phrase,  in the search bar, you can then follow all conversations to do with that topic. This is a nice way of weeding out other, less relevant information. This is particularly helpful if you want to follow along on “as it happens” events like the airing of new #WDYTYA episodes. It is also how news reporters are able to give up-to-the-second reports on such issues as the #bostonbomber or the #ohio kidnapping case.

Happy Tweeting!