Monday, 31 August 2009

Petition to keep the National Archives open on Mondays

I've recently reported on the National Archives' plans to rationalise their costs following budget cuts from the Government with regard to the body's funding. One of the more controversial proposals has been to close TNA completely on Mondays. Needless to say, this has not gone down well in many quarters. The latest development is an online petition at the Number 10 Downing Street website, which reads as follows:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ensure Monday opening of the National Archives at Kew.

Recently the National Archives released a range of efficiency proposals that will alter part of its operations. One of these is to close the reading rooms on Mondays. It is considered that this idea is a very poorly thought out as it will affect many users such as academics and part and full time students who have commitments on other days and require Monday opening for their research. (Other commitments include jobs that support part-time study, lectures and conferences) As such this change could imperil both the quality of academic research in this country and students' careers. It is requested that the government block this proposal.

To view the petition and to sign it, you have just over three weeks - the deadline is September 23rd 2009. It can be accessed at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Forthcoming family history fairs

Just a quick reminder of two forthcoming fairs well worth the visiting.

The first is the National Family History Fair at Gateshead on Saturday 12th September 2009. Tickets are £4, and several Scottish vendors will be in attendance, including ASGRA, SAFHS and Shetland FHS, as well as dozens of soceities, family history magazines and more - there's further information on who will be there at

Also coming up is the Fife Family History Fair in Glenrothes on Saturday 3rd October 2009 from 9am to 5pm. For more on this, see my earlier posting in March,
Fife Family History Fair.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Your Family Tree 81 on sale

The September issue of Your Family Tree magazine is on sale with many fascinating features to keep you entertained whilst the weans are at school...!

Paul Reed kicks off the magazine with a new series on how to trace your war heroes, Stephen Thomas looks at school records, there's advice on courses to help you with your research, articles on computing accessories for your research, how to make a time capsule and a family history website, a region guide for Hull, book reviews, case studies and more.

Yours truly also gets well and truly stuck in this month, with articles on how to trace Welsh records and an in depth look at the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-19, which started in Britain in Glasgow. Of particular interest to those with Scottish ancestors, I've also written an in depth guide to Scottish land records, helping you to work out the advantages of and differences between charters and sasines, and all sorts of other feudal records!

All for £4.99 at a newsagent near you!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Latha Hiort - St. Kilda Day

Seventy nine years after the last islanders left the Scottish island of Hiort, the Government has declared today to be St. Kilda Day. St. Kilda is the English name for the group of islands west of the Outer Hebrides, including Hiort, the main inhabited island (the St. Kilda inhabitants were referred to as Hiortach in Gaelic).

For more on the story visit

A documentary entitled An t-Hiortach (The St. Kildan) airs tonight on BBC Alba at 22.00, following the last evacuated surviving islander's return trip to visit the island. A clip of the documentary is online at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Friday, 28 August 2009

Irish 1911 census now completely online

Well it took some time to get there, but the entire 1911 census for Ireland, all 32 counties, is now available at A huge congratulations to the National Archives of Ireland and Library and Archives Canada.

From the site, an update:

By end-September, we will be re-developing the site to include full transcription of all of the data on the household forms for 1911, including religion, occupation, relationship to head of family, literacy status, marital status, county or country of origin, Irish language proficiency, specified illnesses, and child survival information.

1901 Census material, with all data transcribed, will be launched between late 2009 and early 2010.

It looks like 1901 has slipped again to early 2010 - however, it is on the way, and it is free - a few more weeks will be well worth the wait I am sure!

(Thanks again Ina!)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Discover my Past Scotland 11 now on sale

The September issue of Discover my Past Scotland (11) is now on sale, and is packed with the usual goodies.

John Hannavy takes a look at the Schoolmaster's tale, Ernie Graham exams the role of the Scottish Fencible regiments, Sue Wilkes examines the Highland Clearances, Wendy Glass delves into the records of Scottish asylums, and Katie Howard visits the town of Falkirk to examine the local family history resources.

Yours truly provides all the latest news and reviews, as well as a guide to getting started with your Scottish ancestral research, whilst all the regular features are also present, including Bygone Days, expert Q&As, events listings and all the latest from Homecoming Scotland.

All of this for a mindboggling, recession beating £2.50 at!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Lost Cousins - free access for rest of August

The Lost Cousins website is providing free access for the rest of this month. From the site:

Completely FREE for the rest of August
26th August 2009

The LostCousins site is completely free for all members, new and old, until the end of August 2009.

With so many people visiting the site it's a great opportunity to find your living relatives - be sure to press the Search button after completing your My Ancestors page.

And whilst this offer can't last for ever, basic membership of LostCousins will continue to be free indefinitely!

(With thanks to JanGlaschu at the
ScotFamTree forum for spotting this).

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Scottish earldom up for sale

The Scotland on Sunday newspaper carried a story last Sunday regarding the potential sale of a Scottish earldom, reputedly for a price which may go up to half a million pounds.

In the days of old, when knights were bold, and people were freezing their buns off across the land, you could basically only be an earl if you had an earldom - the title was tied to the land. With the Abolition of Feudal Tenure Act in 2000, which took effect in 2004, feudalism was abolished, and any such titles (including barons etc) became just that - titles.

The actual earldom has as yet to be identified, but recent sales have seen the Earldom of Arran go for £200,000 and a baronial title in Skye for a million pounds. It is unclear from the article as to whether a set of scales comes with the purchase, in order to measure the relative values of money and sense...!

The full story is at the following link -
Rare Scots earldom up for grabs.

(With thanks to Ina Gibbons)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Medieval Music Score Found in Stirling Castle

When master craftsman John Donaldson discovered an intricate set of written binary notation on the wooden 'Stirling Heads' medallions from Stirling Castle, he soon realised he had stumbled onto one of the earliest musical scores ever written in Scotland, dating to between 1530 and 1544.

For more on the story visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Ancestry's World War Two databases - update

The following is the official press release from concerning the new WW2 databases I announced on Tuesday:


To mark the 70th anniversary of the start of WWII publishes records of more than 100,000 British Army POWs

Records include British and Commonwealth personnel imprisoned between 1939 and 1945 in Germany, Austria and Poland

Included are actor Michael Goodliffe, serial escapee Jock Hamilton-Baillie and George Henry Hubert Lascelles – at the time seventh in line to the throne
These POW records have never before been available online

For the first time, today launched online the British Army Prisoners of War, 1939-1945, a collection of records detailing more than 100,000 POWs captured during World War Two.

The collection includes records for all British Army personnel held in Germany, Austria and Poland during World War Two. They were compiled by the German military authorities under the 1929 Geneva Convention, which requires opposing forces to notify each other of captured combatants.

As one of the few World War Two sources currently open for public inspection because of the 30-year rule1, this collection is a valuable resource for anyone looking to trace British and Commonwealth soldiers captured during the war. Very few World War Two records are currently available to the general public because the release of individual records is still restricted under the rule.

The vast majority of the records are for British army personnel, although records for hundreds of Canadian and Australian troops are also included. The collection however does not feature the thousands of Airforce men shot down over Europe, who were recorded elsewhere.

The camp in which a soldier was imprisoned would depend on where they were captured and their rank. The Stalag (base camps) held general personnel, whilst the Oflags housed officers only. The most famous camp included is the notorious Oflag IV-C, situated in Colditz Castle, a high security prison for officers who had become a security or escape risk, or regarded by the Germans as being particularly dangerous.

Included within the 100,000 POW records are the following famous prisoners:

Desmond Wilkinson Llewelyn – the English actor most famous for playing ‘Q’ in the James Bond films served as a lieutenant with the Royal Welch Fusiliers during WWII. He was captured in 1940 and held at Oflag IX-A/Z in Germany for five years

George Henry Hubert Lascelles – the Viscount, 7th Earl of Harewood, KBE, currently 40th in line to the throne and 7th at the time of his capture. Viscount Harewood was incarcerated in Colditz Castle from 1944 until the end of the war

JRE (Jock) Hamilton-Baillie – ‘Jock’ Hamilton-Baillie was a serial escaper from German prison camps, getting beyond the perimeter of five separate camps before being sent to Colditz – where he nearly escaped dressed in a tight-fitting black burglar’s cat suit

The conditions the prisoners faced in these camps varied greatly, with western forces receiving better treatment from the Germans than their allies in the East, particularly the Russians. British officers often did not have to work in their camps while soldiers were compensated if they did.

However, conditions were far from comfortable, with the most frequent complaint being the scarcity of food.

In addition to the POW records, has also published online the UK Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945, featuring the records of all British Army personnel killed in action during World War Two. Included are those who died of natural causes, wounds and disease.

The ‘Roll of Honour’ contains more than 170,000 names and was compiled between the end of 1944 and 19492. Details include the perished soldier’s name, rank, date of death, service number, birth place, residence, branch at enlistment and regiment at death. Well-known names in the collection include Ronald and Anthony Cartland (real names John and James), the brothers of Dame Barbara Cartland.

The brother officers were killed in action just one day apart, during the British Expeditionary Force evacuation of Dunkirk in May 1940. John was also a famed politician who just before the war made a prophetic speech in the House of Parliament stating that “we are in a situation that within a month we may be going to fight – and we are going to die” – both statements of which came to pass.

Daniel Jones from comments: “The unwavering spirit of British Prisoners of War was astounding, with many trying to escape their captors at every opportunity in order to rejoin the war effort.

“This collection of records will be a way for people to find out more about the heroes in their family.”

(With thanks to Ancestry)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

National Archives - new car parking charges

The following news comes from Roger Lewry, the archives liason officer for the Federation of Family History Societies (in England and Wales), concerning the controversial proposal to charge car parking fees at the National Archives at Kew:

The National Archives has announced its proposed car park charges to come into effect from next January. The daily rate is £5. Annual season tickets will range from £75 to £350 depending on vehicle emission levels. Full details can be found at

At the users forum meeting on 20 August there was considerable doubt cast on the validity of the thinking behind the determination of these charges. It would appear that motorists are being asked to contribute towards more than just the costs associated directly with the car park. For example, the upkeep of the surrounding grounds has been included. This seems unreasonable, especially as TNA states that it does not intend to view car parking as a revenue stream.

Comments on these charges or any of the other proposed changes can be sent by email to

(With thanks to Roger)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

WW2 British Roll of Honour and POW databases - Ancestry

Ancestry has released two new important military databases for World War Two on its website at

1) UK Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945

This database contains the Roll of Honour – a listing of British Army casualties from World War II (WWII).

The original data comes from the National Archives records series WO 304, War Office: Roll of Honour, Second World War. This Roll was compiled from various War Office records between 1944 and 1949. Originally the data was encoded onto cards using a Hollerith Machine (a unit record machine), the original print outs of which are kept at the National Archives. The cards have since been decoded and transcribed by the Naval & Military Press and published on CD.

Information recorded on the Roll of Honour includes:

•Name of soldier
•Initials, titles, and decorations
•Enlisted rank
•Rank at time of death
•Enlisted Regiment
•Regiment at time of death
•Theater of War or country where wounded or died
•Death date

2) British Army Prisoners of War, 1939-1945

This database contains a listing of World War II British Army prisoners of war. Information provided about them includes:

•Army number
•POW number
•Camp type
•Camp number
•Camp location
•Record office
•Record Office number

The Geneva Convention of 1929 established the rules for the treatment of prisoners of war that were used in World War II. Over 100,000 soldiers of the British Army were captured during this war and placed in prisoner of war camps. There were two types of POW camps run by the Germans that soldiers of the British Army were assigned to. These were:

•Oflag – camp for officers
•Stalag – camp for enlisted personnel

There were separate camps for navy, aircrews, and civilians. The German camps were named according to a numbering system, beginning with a Roman numeral representing the military district the camp was located in. Following the Roman numeral could be a letter. This letter represented a specific camp within the military district. If the camp was a sub-camp, “/Z” was then appended to the end of the number. If the camp was a main camp, then the “/H” was appended to the end of the number. You will see this nomenclature in the “Camp number” field of this database.

Both databases were previously available on CD from Naval and Military Press.

(With thanks to the Anglo-Celtic Connections blog)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Monday, 24 August 2009

Ernest Levy passes away

The prominent Jewish Rabbi Ernest Levy OBE passed away yesterday. A former prisoner in seven separate Nazi concentration camps in the Second World War, inlcduding Belsen, Levy survived the war and moved from Hungary in 1961 to settle in Scotland. Ever since he had been a regular speaker at Holocaust memorial events, and a prominent member of the Scottish Jewish community.

The Herald has covered the story at
Scotland Mourns Death of Holocaust Survivor, whilst Jim Murphy, MP for East Renfrweshire, has paid tribute to him at his personal site at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Ulaidhean, BBC Alba - Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

I've just watched an interesting half hour documentary on BBC Alba about Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. The programme was the eleventh episode of a series called 'Ulaidhean' ('Treasures'), presented in Gaelic by Derek MacKay and Kirsty MacDonald, and was basically a half hour tour guide around the museum.

Very interesting - Jacobite mementos, talismans to fend off the 'evil eye', an upside down portrait of Cromwell, and many other interesting artefacts with interesting tales behind them. It can be watched again if you live in the UK through the BBC iPlayer at

Well worth watching - for those without Gaelic it is subtitled in English! The next episode focusses on Mull Museum, and will be on Friday 28th at 8.30pm, BBC Alba.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Scottish Coal Mining Heritage Conference

Thanks to the Scottish Association of Family History Societies (SAFHS) newspage for the following:

Scottish Coal Collections Conference

Friday, 25th September 2009

At the Scottish Mining Museum, Lady Victoria Colliery, Newtongrange, Midlothian, EH22 4QN

With the collieries gone, much of Scotland's remaining coal mining heritage is held within libraries, museums and archives. Come and be part of the discussion on the way forward for Scotland's Coal Mining Collections.

This is a free one day event with lunch and refreshments, exploring Scotland's coal mining history and discussing ways of making better use of coal mining collections.

For further details and to book a place please contact:
Maureen Hardiker, Scottish Mining Museum,
Lady Victoria Colliery, Newtongrange, Midlothian, EH22 4QN
Phone: 0131 663 7519

or at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Friday, 21 August 2009

Family Tree Builder 4.0

My Heritage has released an updated version (4.0) of its popular Family Tree Builder software, which can be downloaded at

It's completely free, and really stands up to some of the family tree programmes that you can buy, it's very user friendly. Just be aware that it installs its search page as the home page on Internet Explorer, so you'll need to reset your home page. But it is a very nifty bit of work.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Who Do You Think You Are? Australian series online

The recent Australian series of Who Do You Think You Are? is now online at

The celebrities included are Dennis Commetti, Jack Thompson, Geoffrey Robertson, Ita Buttrose, Kate Ceberano and Catherine Freeman. I must admit I haven't heard of any of them, but the third and fourth editions have Scottish connections. Worth checking out!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Who Do You Think You Are? overnights for the series

Martin Freeman's foray into his family history on Who Do You Think You Are? netted
6.02 million viewers, or a 27.9% share at 9pm-10pm last night, slightly up on last week's episode (Source: Digital Spy).

The overnight viewing figures for the whole series were therefore as follows:

Davina McCall 6.43m (26.6%)
Chris Moyles 5.40m
Kate Humble 4.60m (20%)
David Mitchell 4.06m (17.4%)
Kim Cattrall 5.87m (25.3%)
Martin Freeman 6.02m (27.9%)

These figures are unconsolidated, ie no account taken of those who recorded it to watch it later, on the BBC iPlayer or the repeat transmission, so the figure for each will rise.

So it looks like it came with a flourish, ended on a flourish, and bizarrely collapsed its audience share right in the middle of the run. A real pity, as I personally think Kate Humble's programme was by far the best!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Free access to 1930 US Federal census

Sorry folks, I thought I had already posted this and just realised I hadn't! is giving free access to the US Federal Census for 1930 until the end of August, so 12 days still to go. You need to register, and then they will let you play! The 1930 census is the most recent census available, and very handy if your Scottish ancestors were USA bound!


Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

ScotFamTree AGM video online

The recent AGM for the ScotFamTree discussion forum was video recorded by one of the forum mods, TC1, and has now been placed online at its new TV channel. There's snippets of the lectures, including a cracking talk from Evelyn on the forgotten women of in Scotland's historic records, the domestic wives, and talks from Tireetam and JanGlaschu on aspects of textile and apprentcieship records, there's dancing bananas, raffle draw galore and to top it off, the full karaoke version of the "Song of the Clyde"!

The video can be watched online at - click on the On Demand tab and then 2009 SCOTFAMTREE AGM.

Good craic was definitely the order of the day!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

More records access at the ScotlandsPeople Centre

If you are planning on visiting the ScotlandsPeople Centre, you will be happy to know that you can now use the Irish BMD indices and US Federal Census records via FamilySearch's Records Search pilot website on the centre's computer terminals. The site, located at, required Adobe Flash to use, which has now been licensed and installed.

A big thumbs up to the ScotlandsPeople team for adding a resource that will be of immense assistance to those with Irish ancestry.

(With thanks to Dee Williams at ScotlandsPeople)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

New Elizabeth Cross medal awarded

The first new medal to be named after a monarch since the creation of the George Cross in 1940 has been awarded to Karen Upton, the widow of Warrant Officer Sean Upton, who was killed in July on active service in Afghanistan. The Elizabeth Cross recognises the loss of the next of kin of men and women who have died whilst fighting on behalf of the Crown.

For more on the story visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Family and Local History Handbook 12

It's almost that time again folks - the release of the much anticipated Family and Local History Handbook 12...!

The book is the latest edition of one of the most useful British genealogical guides in print. At its core (more specifically, in its yellow pages section at the back!), the Family and Local History Handbook carries the essential genealogical directory for the UK and beyond, with details on all the key family history societies, archives, libraries and more that will ever be of use to your research - some 5000 contact details.

But the book provides much more than just phone listings and web addresses. The greater part of the volume carries articles from authors across the UK on various topics of interest to your family history. If you ever wanted to know about sources for Welsh genealogy, the family history of Stan Laurel, the Wiltshire Society of Apprentices, the General Strike of 1926, the history of the Weavers of Perth, hunger marches, army regimental numbers, how to search the papers of landed families in Ireland, the Women's Land Army, Scottish parish listings and so much more, this has to go tops on your Christmas card list for Santa (though rumour has it that he is so busy reading it that Christmas might actually be cancelled this year). There's murder, crime, charity, the power of the press, love and sex (i.e. in the Enlightenment!) - the full list of articles is available at

Packed with useful tips and stories from authors across the country, it is a book that you can read from cover to cover and dip into again and again and again.

Here's the better bit. The book is not officially being released until November 2009 - however, if you are at the National Family History Fair at Gateshead on September 12th, you can pick up your copy early at Stand 26! Priced at just £9.99, you can also order your copy in advance now at Get it now before the rush!

And don't forget that you can buy Volumes 1-10 on a new CD format as the Family and Local History Handbook Omnibus from the publisher, as well as Volume 11 in paperback format. Details again on the website.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Voyage of the Vampire - the sister's story

In March I announced on this blog that the Hawick Heritage Hub was about to release online a 19th century diary of mariner George Henry Scott Douglas, of Kelso, in the form of a daily blog (see Hawick to Unleash the Voyage of the Vampire). Now there's to be a sequel (well, sort of!):


The private and personal diary of Hannah Charlotte Scott Douglas.

April 1st this year saw the launch of the Voyage of the Vampire by the Heritage Hub in Hawick. The online blog featuring the diary of George Henry Scott Douglas of Springwood Park Estate by Kelso continues to unfold in real time with his daily adventures around the Greek Islands and Turkey in 1846 with his ship The Vampire. The Scott Douglas collection, which was given to the Heritage Hub by Ian Abernethy, also includes another delightful diary which was written eleven years later by George’s sister, Hannah Charlotte Scott Douglas. In complete contrast to her brother George’s stories of shooting, fishing and exploring foreign lands, Charlotte ’s is an eventful, emotional journey from a young lady’s heart.

Her diary begins with accounts of her daily life in Edinburgh where she lives at 38 Melville Street with her stepfather Mr William Scott Kerr and his family. As a young lady of the aristocracy, her life consists of attending lectures and concerts, going to parties, visiting friends and taking singing lessons. Throughout her daily scribblings, however, there is often reference to her dreadful secret which eventually reveals itself and is the driving force behind many of her life choices.

The diary will be launched online on Monday 17th August along with her brother’s on the Voyage of the Vampire website and will be revealed weekly in narrative threads every Monday until December. Charlotte ’s Jane Austen-like language and thoughts are funny, sad, poetic and at times surreal. There are marriage proposals causing family rifts and contracts to be drawn up to protect Charlotte and her fortune as well as gripping tales of blackmail, destruction, disapproval and deceit.

Should be fun!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Sorenson adopts new Y-DNA reporting standard

Salt Lake City based Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation is the first major DNA test supplier to announce the adoption of a new industry based standard for reporting the results of a Y-DNA test. At present, different companies report their findings in slightly different ways, often meaning that the results have to be converted when matching a DNA result against the result from another company.

For more info, see,927808.shtml

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Monday, 17 August 2009

V&A to move to Dundee?

Plans to move a branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum from London to Dundee seem more likely today following a show of support from the Scottish Government. A final decision by the V&A is expected in October.

For more on the story visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Highland Council Archives - temporary closure for relocation

Both the Highland Council Archives and its Genealogy Service will be closing temporarily in order to facilitate the move to new facilities in Invernesse. The following is the press release:


The Temporary Closure of Public Service in Inverness.

The Highland Council’s Archive Service will relocate to the new Highland Archive & Registration Centre, Inverness following the handover of the new facility to the Council on 21st August.

While the transfer of the archive collections, staff and equipment is taking place, it will be necessary to close the existing service maintained from Inverness Library as follows:

· The Archive Searchroom will close on Friday 28th August.

· The Council’s Genealogy Service will close on Friday 25th September.

Following relocation to the new facility, it is expected that both services will re-open to the public on Monday 26th October.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause to our readers.


The public services in our area archive centres in Caithness, Lochaber, and Skye & Lochalsh will continue to function normally, although the service in Skye will also relocate to new premises later this year.

(With thanks to Simon Fowler at
Ancestors magazine)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Saturday, 15 August 2009

ScotFamTree annual meeting 2009 - report

I'm just back from a thoroughly enjoyable day in the Ayrshire town of Stewarton, where the ScotFamTree forum was holding its annual meeting for 2009. It was fantastic to see so many folks there, with people from all over Inverness to Ayrshire, and also from further afield, with two people from Australia, one from Germany, and more.

Amongst the talks given was a fascinating insight into Scotland's Craftsmen, the Journey from Apprentice to Master and Beyond from Tireetam, the equally interesting The Wark' the Weavers: 19th Century Scottish Textile Workers from Janglaschu, and Herstory, from Evelyn, a brilliant look into the role of the women that you never see recorded amongst the histories of the great and the good, but who were the very backbone of Scotland.

TC1 also gave a very impromptu but fascinating slide presentation of a unique series of old postcards depicting Dumbarton, as well as a preview of the edited version of an interview recorded at the Glasgow Police Museum last Tuesday (see
New Glasgow Police Museum Open). Site moderator JockTamson, when introducing the video, informed everyone that the museum is looking to raise funds to pay its running costs for the next two years - if you wish to make a donation, details are available at

A last minute technical hitch meant that plans to stream the meeting live on the ScotFamTree Channel had to unfortunately be abandoned at the very last moment, but the lectures were recorded and will be making their way onto the channel in the very near future. Do drop by to have look - if only to see what Evelyn gets people to do when they see a banana onscreen...! (Don't worry, it's legal!)

A throroughly enjoyable day, and a big thanks to all behind the scenes.

UPDATE (17 AUG): The interview at the Glasgow Police Museum is now online at the ScotFamTree TV channel.

UPDATE (19 AUG): The AGM video is now online also.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Friday, 14 August 2009

Documents Online unavailable Sunday 16th August

From 8.00am on Sunday 16th August, both the Documents Online and Electronic Records Online services at the National Archives at Kew will be offline for essential maintenance. The services will be back up and running on Monday 17th.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

More British overseas marriage records online

From the National Archives at Kew:

The overseas marriage records of more than 38,000 people have been added to the online service at BMD Registers. Searching the records is free, but there is a charge to download images of the original documents.

The records cover British subjects marrying abroad and come from various sources worldwide. They include marriage registers from British churches abroad and records of marriages of British soldiers in France, Flanders and Holland during and after the First World War, many of whom had been prisoners of war.

The records were previously only viewable on microfilm at The National Archives as the RG 34 series.


Some British subjects who married abroad sent evidence of their marriage directly to the Registrar General for safekeeping, including a Mr Christopher Tatham who married in Colombo in 1867. He sent the documents because the original in the church register was, 'I believe subject only to the old and very unsafe regulations of the Island of Ceylon.'

He was right to be concerned, because this document is the only one in the whole collection to come from Ceylon. He also helpfully enclosed a Statutory Declaration with details of his and his wife's ancestry.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

WorldVitalRecords - free access offer extended

According to a post in the Your Family Tree magazine forum, the free access to World Vital Records offer (see WorldVitalRecords free access) has been extended to August 18th.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Thursday, 13 August 2009

British Government ignores BMD access petition?

In Scotland, we are currently the only British nation that is allowed online access to our BMD records, in the form of digitised and indexed images of births to 1908, marriages to 1933, and deaths to 1958, via the ScotlandsPeople Centre. A recent online petition to the British Government to make BMD records for England and Wales similarly available online from 1837 to 1908 (their statutory registration commenced 18 years before us) has now received a response at the 10 Downing Street website.

Thank you for your e-petition which calls on the Government to provide full and open access to the registers of birth, marriage and death between 1837 and 1908.

The Government understands that many family researchers want to have full and open access to the information in historic birth, death and marriage registers and accepts that the current legislation is overly restrictive with these records.

Under current legislation - the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 and the Marriage Act 1949 - access to the information in birth, death and marriage registers is only possible by means of a certified copy (certificate) of a particular entry, when that entry has been identified from the index and the statutory fee paid. There are other pieces of legislation which allow for the release of information in birth, death and marriage registers for specific purposes, e.g. statistical data, but there is no power to provide full and open public access.

The Government proposed in 2003 a wide-ranging set of reforms to the civil registration service in England and Wales. These proposals included an intention to digitise all the records with historic records being accessible to view on a database, possibly with a small charge, but without the need to purchase a certificate. It did not prove possible to introduce the necessary legislation by a Regulatory Reform Order as we had intended and there has not been a suitable opportunity to legislate since then. Nevertheless, we remain committed to modernising the way in which these records can be accessed and the Registrar General keeps this under active review.

In other words, this looks suspiciously like the metaphorical two fingers from the Government in action here!

The Northern Irish GRO in Belfast is planning a system along the ScotlandsPeople model which is hoped to go online in 2011 (see Northern Irish BMD certs to go online 2011?), but I don't see why English and Welsh genealogists, and indeed the general public, should be discriminated against on the same issue, as they have as much of a right to see their ancestral records as we have, and pay the same taxes we do. Many Scots will be similarly affected, having relatives and ancestors from south of the border.

(With thanks to T-J at the Your Family Tree magazine discussion forum).

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Kim Cattrall rescues WDYTYA

From Digital Spy:

Kim Cattrall's appearance on last night's Who Do You Think You Are? saw a huge increase in the show's ratings, according to overnight viewing figures.

The 9pm show, in which Sex And The City star Cattrall returned to Liverpool to explore her family history, pulled in a respectable 5.87m (25.3%) for BBC One.

It beat David Mitchell's episode, which drew 4.06m (17.4%) last Wednesday, but failed to top the series high of 6.43m (26.6%) for the first episode, featuring Davina McCall.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

FindmyPast - 1901 census complete

For those with relatives down south, the following from FindmyPast may be of interest:

1901 census completed for England & Wales - 24 counties added

A brand new transcription of the 1901 census with newly scanned high-quality images is now complete on The final 24 counties and other UK territories have just been added comprising over 5.6 million new records - so you can now search the census in full at This new transcription has already helped researchers to find many individuals whose names have been wrongly transcribed in earlier versions.

The new additions are:


Cumberland, Devonshire, Durham, Northumberland, Westmorland, Worcestershire,


Anglesey, Brecknockshire, Carnarvonshire, Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Glamorganshire, Merionethshire, Montgomeryshire
Monmouthshire, Pembrokeshire, Radnorshire


Guernsey and Adjacent Islands, Isle of Man, Jersey, Royal Navy at Sea and in ports abroad

More new census records available soon

The completion of the 1901 census brings a crucial step closer to a full set of 1841-1901 England and Wales censuses. The 1851 census - the only remaining incomplete census - will be available in full within the next few months. recently added records of 180,000 individuals from the Manchester, Chorlton, Salford, Oldham and Ashton-Under-Lyne registration districts, previously never filmed and missing from all other versions of the 1851 census. These pages were severely water damaged many years ago by flooding, some so badly that no writing was visible and many were too fragile to be scanned. Volunteers
from the Manchester and Lancashire Family History Society (MLFHS) transcribed the records. Using the latest ultraviolet equipment the team was able to see writing that had not been visible in natural daylight, and to recover text invisible to the naked eye.

Over the coming months a full set of high-quality 1881 census images will be added to the transcriptions already available, thus completing the 1841-1901 census collection on

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

2011 English and Welsh test census

In March 2009 there was a test census in Lewis, Harris and Edinburgh, in preparation for the 2011 census, to be formally recorded in March 27th 2011. There were 50,000 households to be enumerated, but I haven't heard since how that actually panned out (I assume it happened!).

However, in England and Wales, there will also be a test census on October 11th 2009 in Lancaster, the London borough of Newham, and the Isles of Anglesey in Wales (Ynys Môns). The questions for this census, which are unlikely to change, can be read online at - a nice sneak preview of things to come!

UPDATE: Here's the Scottish equivalent!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

WorldVitalRecords free access

WorldVitalRecords is offering free access until tomorrow (Aug 13th) to its entire online collection:

PROVO, UT, August 11, 2009 -, an online family history resource, today announced the addition of the largest number of records to be released in a single day since the site launched in 2006. To commemorate this milestone, for the first time WorldVitalRecords is offering free public access to its entire online collection of historical and genealogical records beginning August 11 and continuing through August 13, 2009. The public will have unlimited access to more than one billion records in over 11,000 databases from around the world including newspapers, census, birth, marriage, death, immigration and military records; family trees; stories and publications; and yearbooks.

Worth having a look!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Ancestry's Members Connect service

From our friends at

I’m pleased to announce that an exciting new feature called Member Connect is now live on

Member Connect is a feature on that members discover and stay in touch with other members who also happen to be researching their ancestors.

Within your Ancestry Member Tree

If you have a family tree on you’ll find a tab on each of your ancestors’ profile pages called Member Connect. Within this area you can find others who also have your ancestor in their public family tree and you can then choose who to connect with. You then have the option of comparing your family tree with theirs, giving you the opportunity to update your tree if you learn something new about your ancestor. You will then be notified about the changes they make in their tree in the future.

When viewing historical records

When you are viewing the image from a historical record on the site there will be a Member Connect section about that record of your ancestor. It will show comments from other members about that record, as well as a list of people who have added corrections to the record (and a link to see those corrections). There will also be a list of any other members who have already saved a copy of that record on (to their public family tree, for example). Helpful links to related message boards will be listed along with other members researching a similar surname and location.

To watch a short video illustrating how Member Connect works, click

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

CANMORE database goes interactive

The rather brilliant CANMORE database from the Royal Coimmission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland has gone fully interactive as of today. Here's the release:


A national online database that holds information on and images of more than 280,000 of Scotland’s buildings and built archaeology opens its files today (Tuesday, August 11) so that members of the public can add their own knowledge directly to its archives.

RCAHMS1 is the national collection of images and items about Scotland’s built heritage. The Edinburgh-based organisation maintains a searchable website allowing interested people quick access to archive materials about the built heritage throughout Scotland, ranging from ancient archaeological sites to the latest architectural ventures.

From today, its main web-based archive – Canmore - will become interactive for the first time. Members of the public can add detail to any of Canmore’s 280,000 places of interest and upload copies of their own photos to share with other users. The innovative project has received Heritage Lottery funding to develop the system.

RCAHMS project manager, Siobhan McConnachie said:

“The RCAHMS online database gives access to a lot of information about Scotland’s built heritage and it is completely accessible to the public. The collection ranges from drawings and photographs of prehistoric sites such as Skara Brae, to iconic modern structures such as the Falkirk Wheel as well as a huge range of material on our everyday buildings from villages to cities across the whole of Scotland.

“We know from the work that we do and the people we meet while doing it, that many people have a wealth of information they would like to share with us that will add to our knowledge of a building’s past or images that will help tell a story.

“We decided that our determination to be as accessible as possible meant making it as easy as it could be for people to contribute their information, stories or reminiscences in a way that could be retained, shared and added to.

“Since we have already developed a responsive digital web archive, it seemed a logical and exciting step to open it up to the public in this way,” she said.

Contributions can be added on Entering information is as easy as adding to an online conversation.

“The interactive elements will be self-monitoring. We expect that the majority of entries will come from people who are enthusiastic about Scotland and its culture, and how its story is told through our built heritage,” Siobhan McConnachie said.

A huge thanks to both Barbera Fraser at RCAHMS and Simon Fowler at Ancestors magazine)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

New Glasgow Police Museum open

I've just returned from a visit this morning to the Glasgow Police Museum ( which tells the story of Britain's oldest police force. The museum has recently re-opened to the public following a move to a new venue at 30 Bell Street, in Glasgow's Merchant City, across from the Old Fruit Market, and on the first floor.

Under the care of curator Alastair Dinsmor, the museum has a fantastic collection of material pertaining both to the force, and to the international history of policing, and is well worth a visit if you have ancestors who were in the police, or an interest in the force's history. The website gives a taster of things to see and do at the museum, but if you want a closer look, keep an eye on the ScotFamTree TV channel in the next few weeks, as forum moderators Alex Airlie and Tommy Crocket were also there today to record an interview with Alastair for a short feature on the museum, the first of many exciting new projects being brought to both their forum's members and to the general public.

The museum is open seven days a week - full details on its website.

(With thanks to Alex, Tommy and Alastair)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Derry records database soon to come online

The ScotFamTree forum has another useful story concerning database records for County Londonderry in Northern Ireland, which have been innaccessible for a time due to the closure of the Derry Genealogy Centre:

Derry Genealogy Centre, over a period of 20 years, created a database of over one million records, dating from 1642 to 1922, which were extracted from the major civil and church registers of County Derry and Inishowen, County Donegal. This database includes: pre-1922 civil birth and marriage registers; the early baptismal and marriage registers of 97 churches (38 Roman Catholic, 24 Church of Ireland and 35 Presbyterian); headstone inscriptions from 118 graveyards; and major census returns and census substitutes from 1663 through to 1901.

The 1901 census records for each member of the household: their name, age, religion, education (i.e. if they could read or write), occupation, marital status, county or city of birth (or country, if born outside Ireland) and if a speaker of Irish.

However, further details can only be viewed on Derry Genealogy Centre’s database (only indexes, not full details, are held on Derry Genealogy Database contains a partial transcription, detailing names and residences, of all people recorded in the 1901 census returns for the city and county of Derry.

Unfortunately Derry Genealogy Centre, and as a consequence its database, is currently closed (although you can still search the indexes at no charge at However, a proposal to resume the Derry genealogy service by Heritage and Museum Service of Derry City Council has recently been approved. This means that the birth, marriage and death database built up by Derry Genealogy Centre will soon be made available online on the website of the Irish Family History Foundation at

The full story is at

(With thanks to SFT and PinkThistle1)

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Belfast's Clifton Street cemetery records online

I've just discovered from the ScotFamTree forum site that records for Clifton Street cemetery in Belfast are online at

The cemetery was a mixed burial ground for both Catholics and Protestants, created in 1797 - the site also has a fantastic history of the area.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

TNA Scottish records podcast online

A podcast from Audrey Collins on Tracing Scottish Ancestors via records through the National Archives at Kew is available online at

(If you think the PCC wills are irrelevant to your Scottish needs, think again!)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Jedburgh poor law records on CD

The following comes from the Southern Reporter newspaper in the Borders:

A Poor way of Life

For those who have studied the 19th century or read the works of Charles Dickens, The Poor Law might be represented by the grim illustrations of the 'Poor House', by Phiz and George Cruikshank.

The Poor Law was the means of providing food, accommodation, financial assistance and, latterly, care to those in need from the middle of the 19th century.

This system replaced the parish support mechanism and recognised that the industrial and agricultural revolutions had led to great population movements and drift within Scotland, making the parish support no longer able to cope without assistance.

The Poor Law created a plethora of records covering details on those who applied for assistance in specific areas, case studies, details on inspectors and much, much more. In many respects it saw the beginnings of local government as we know it today.

When the Heritage Hub in Hawick started to digitise a number of these records for the Borders, they soon realised the scale of the work and agreed that the Borders Family History Society could assist in indexing the records and transcribe the most useful data. The work is now under way and the first publication covering Jedburgh from 1852 to 1874 is available.

Apart from the obvious interest to the local historian, the publication opens up a new horizon for the genealogist, providing details on people’s movement between the censuses, descriptions of illnesses suffered, domestic circumstances and more. Uniquely, the records provide details on people not born in the Borders, but who lived or died there.

While the budding genealogist may set out with high hopes of finding ‘noble roots’, the reality is usually different, but no less fascinating. The Poor Law touched and helped people from differing backgrounds at a time of great change. These records might help you piece together the last pieces of your own family jigsaw puzzle.

The Borders Family History Society team, led by Peter Munro and guided by Rachel Hosker of the Heritage Hub, have done a brilliant job in producing this fascinating CD publication.

It includes index and illustrations covering more than 1,000 named people and more details are available on the society’s website,

CD price £12, plus UK postage of 47p. The CD can be purchased directly from the society at Borders Family History Society, Whitberry, Todlaw Road, Duns, TD11 3EW

Incidentally, the Borders FHS team has a short video on its home page describing why it does monumental inscription work (recording gravestone inscriptions at Linton in Roxburghshire) - this can also be viewed at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Friday, 7 August 2009

Archive CD Books Ireland - 3 for 2 offer

Archive CD Books Ireland is offering a 3 for 2 offer from now until August 23rd - buy three publications and get the cheapest free. The company sells both books on Irish and British genealogy, so well worth a look!

For more information visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Plummeting figures for Who Do You Think You Are?

Despite the fact that the current series of Who Do You Think You Are? has had some strong editions, including Davina McCall, Kate Humble and David Mitchell, and just one real turkey (Chris Moyles) the series has been sharply losing viewers over the last few weeks.

Davina McCall's opening episode was watched by 6.4 million viewers, followed by a sharp drop the following week with Chris Moyles edition to just 5.4 million, the third lowest figure since the series moved to BBC1 in 2006. Kate Humbles' third programme was down again to 4.6 million, whilst David Mitchell's Scottish foray was watched by just 4.1 million people, prompting television trade magazine Broadcast to say that Mitchell was 'murdered by ITV1' (a play on the fact that Midsummer Murders was watched by 5.8million viewers).

At the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show in February of this year I obtained the exclusive news from Wall to Wall Television that the series had been recommissioned for a further eight editions, to be broadcast in 2010 (details on some of those thought to be lined up have subsequently been listed at the Wikipedia article on the series). But is the series now becoming a tired brand?

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors - 5th edition

If you are planning to visit the National Archives of Scotland and want to find out more before you go, the most definitive guide to the institution's holdings is back in a new improved fifth edition. Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors - The Official Guide is about to be released by Birlinn Ltd (, priced at £12.99.

With a new section introducing the ScotlandsPeople Centre, and all the key sections on NAS records having been given a spring clean - not to mention the brand new "it really is much nicer looking than the last edition" cover - this is definitely one to get a hold of before it sells out...!

A full review will be forthcoming in
Discover my Past Scotland magazine.

(With a huge thanks once again to Birlinn)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Search old SGNE news posts

This blog has been going about a year and a half now, with about 800 news stories covered in that time, and you might be thinking that it's a bit naff not being able to search through old blog posts for that story about whodumwhatyemacallit, or the other one about thon thingymajiggy that was going to revolutionise your family tree.

Search for old stories in the new search tool thingy on the right hand side of this page.

It's white! It's rectangular! It searches! It, err, doesn't do much else - but it works...! :)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Glasgow University graduation records go online

First Glasgow University graduates searchable online

Details of the earliest graduates of the fourth oldest University of the English speaking world are available online for the first time.

The University of Glasgow Story at provides access to the details of the 13,000 people who graduated from the University of Glasgow from its foundation in 1451 until 1896.

Lesley Richmond, Director of Archive Services said: "This is a fantastic resource for family historians. University Graduates to 1896 opens up the University’s archives to researchers around the world so that research that would have previously required contact with Archive Services can now be carried out online."

The very first graduates of the University were Nicholaus Bully, Michael Levinstone and Alexander Levinstone, who all graduated Bachelors of Arts in 1451.

University Graduates to 1896 provides access to other notable ‘first’ graduates from the University, including Alexander Sinclair, the first international graduate. Alexander, who graduated Masters of Arts in 1461, was born in Orkney in the 1440s when it was under Norwegian rule.

Other notable graduates include: James McCune Smith, the first African-American to practise medicine in the United States of America, studied at the University in the 1830s, graduating with his medical degree (MD) in 1837. The thirteen women who graduated from the University from 1894 until 1896, including Marion Gilchrist, the first female graduate, who graduated with her medical degree (MB CM) in 1894.

Alongside the records of the University’s eminent and well-known graduates are the records of the men and women who studied at the University and went on to make a significant contribution to their local communities.

To support the records of their graduation, Archive Services are working on building up biographies of selected graduates. Basic biographical details are available for a number of graduates from the seventeenth centuries onwards, allowing researchers to build up fuller pictures of their ancestors lives.

Archives welcome details from descendants of these graduates to help them provide additional biographies online.

(With thanks to Simon Fowler at Ancestors magazine)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Brightsolid acquires Friends Reunited site

From our friends at Brightsolid...


brightsolid today announced it is to acquire Friends Reunited Group from ITV plc for £25 million. The completion of the deal is subject to clearance by the competition authorities.

brightsolid is a fast growing online innovation business owned by DC Thomson, one of the largest privately owned media and publishing groups in the country. A key part of brightsolid's strategy is building businesses that link "people and places" on the internet.

Friends Reunited is the original social network with 20.6 million members. It was launched in 2000 to put old school friends back in touch with each other and swiftly became a British media phenomenon. Sister site Genes Reunited was launched in 2003 and is currently the UK's largest family history website with over 9 million members worldwide and 650 million names listed. Together with Friends Reunited Dating, the group attracts three million unique users per month.

The acquisition of Friends Reunited Group would create Britain's leading genealogy business by bringing together Genes Reunited and (which operate the official 1901 and 1911 Census websites respectively in association with The National Archives) and ScotlandsPeople in partnership with General Register Office for Scotland, the National Archives of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon.

Chris van der Kuyl, CEO brightsolid, said: "We see the acquisition of Friends Reunited Group as an exciting opportunity to provide new focus for and build on the iconic status of the Friends Reunited brands. Between them these brands attract over three million unique users per month. This also marks another step forward in the future strategy of brightsolid, widening its offering to the consumer marketplace, in particular by creating Britain's leading genealogy business."

Andy Baker, MD Friends Reunited adds: "We are delighted that brightsolid can see the great value and future potential in the Friends Reunited Group. brightsolid is an innovative online group and by bringing our companies together this way we can build the Friends Reunited business to offer something new and different to our customers. We look forward to working with Chris and the team to develop the business further."

brightsolid is led by digital media entrepreneur CEO Chris van der Kuyl, who joined in October 2007. The broad reach of its online innovation means The Friends Reunited Group will also benefit from brightsolid's resilient data centre and managed hosting services.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Sleat kirk session records - Who Do You Think You Are?

A good episode of Who Do You Think You Are? tonight, with the revelation of a set of kirk session records for the parish of Sleat on Skye still held in private hands.

The NAS catalogue only has records listed in its catalogue for 1882-1914 for Sleat session records - I hope they might try to follow this up, if they haven't already done so, to see whether the records could be borrowed for possible conservation and/or digitisation! Clearly the records are privately owned, and there is no obligation to loan them to the archive - but for anyone with similar records gathering dust somewhere, please do think about contacting your local archive or the NAS in Edinburgh to see whether copies might be obtained.

If you do, I'm sure Scotland will love you even more than it already does...! :)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Burns Monument Centre at Kilmarnock

In March I wrote about the media launch for the new Burns Monument Centre in Kilmarnock, which I was lucky enough to visit a week before it officially opened - see Burns Monument Centre media launch.

Today was the first day that I actually carried out some research in the centre, and I have to say, it gets a big thumbs up! The research room is nice and compact, with all the relevant microfilms easy to hand, microfilm viewers that work, and all sorts. In due course the centre will be providing access to the same computer system currently in operation at the ScotlandsPeople Centre, though this is likely to be towards the end of the year.

Well worth a visit!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Events at the National Library of Scotland

Details of further events at the NLS...

The Original Export: Stories of Scottish emigration

This exhibition continues its run until October 11th. From the NLS website at

Journey alongside Scots emigrants, who left their homeland in search of a better life. Find out how they managed to form new communities abroad, while retaining a strong sense of Scottish identity. 'The Original Export' exhibition runs from 26 June to 11 October 2009.

Drawing on personal letters and journals for inspiration, our summer exhibition explores the experience of Scottish emigration over the past 300 years.

Colourful brochures and posters reveal how and why Scots were attracted to seek new lives overseas. Music, song, poetry, film, maps, and artefacts bring our collections to life.

In addition, the NLS is also hosting a one day Sikh Heritage event in September:

Gardner Sahib

23 September 1-2pm

Join us for a special event, as part of the Anglo Sikh Heritage Trail, on Colonel Alexander Haughton Gardner. How did a man born in America to Scottish parents come to be a key member of Maharajah Ranjit Singh's army?

Drawing on historical accounts of the time, Eve Haddow will explore this colourful character and examine Colonel Gardner's role in the Punjab, both as soldier and eyewitness.

Booking and further information on the ASHT site.

Lots to do, so little time to do it...! :)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

National Library of Scotland - more maps!

One thing Scotland is certainly not short of is a good online map! However, if you disagree, have a wee juke at the following from the National Library of Scotland:

We have added to our website 13,000 Ordnance Survey 25 inch to the mile maps, dating between 1855-1882. This takes our collection of online maps from around 6,000 to 20,000.

These maps are the earliest and most detailed mapping of all Scotland's inhabited regions. They give good details of features such as buildings, streets, farmland and rivers. The series includes all Scottish towns, villages and cultivated rural areas.

For a small fee, we can supply high-quality images and striking colour printouts of the maps. Just contact

In addition, the library has also announced the following:

Some early maps, with a Homecoming theme, are on display in the Map Library. The maps focus on the Scots military commanders, Sir George Murray
(1772-1846) and Sir John Moore
(1761-1809), and related military mapping from the Peninsular War.

This year is also the bicentenary of both the Battle of Talavera and of La Coruna / Corunna, and we have colourful plans of both of these battles on display.

These exhibits can be seen in the Map Library for the next few months.

Now if all else fails, and you still can't find your way around our beautiful land, just remember that the sun rises in the east in the morning and sets in the west at night. (What do ye mean, "what's the sun?!")

Professional genealogical problem solving and research

Monday, 3 August 2009

Emigration from the Outer Hebrides conference

Another quick plug for the Island Book Trust's 3 day conference in September on Emigration from the Outer Hebrides. From the society's site:

The Island Book Trust’s big event of 2009, to mark Scotland’s Year of Homecoming, will be a 3-day conference from Thursday 10th – Saturday 12th September at Leverburgh Community Hall in South Harris. This follows a number of very successful conferences organised by The Book Trust which have brought together knowledgeable speakers from different backgrounds to further understanding and enjoyment of the history of Scottish islands in their wider context – see for more details.

This year’s conference will bring together outstanding speakers, local people, visitors to the islands, and descendants of families who left the Outer Hebrides over the last 250 years to consider the remarkable story of emigration from the islands to places such as Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Patagonia. Set in the beautiful surroundings of Harris, the event will include, in addition to the more formal programme, films of emigration, a major exhibition on emigration by the internationally-known genealogist Bill Lawson, a session with short contributions by emigrants or their descendants, after-dinner sessions featuring a ceilidh and songs and recordings of emigration, visits to places in Harris from which emigrants left, and a competition for local school-children on the theme of emigration.

There will also be an opportunity for a limited number of those attending the conference – on a first come, first served basis – to visit St Kilda following the conference on 14 or 15 September. The main venue for the conference will be Leverburgh Community Hall, with sessions also in the Rodel Hotel and the Seallam! Visitor Centre, Northton.

The keynote address to start the conference will be given by Professor Tom Devine of Edinburgh University, an eminent authority on Scottish emigration. He will be followed by an array of other excellent speakers covering different aspects of Hebridean emigration. A wider context will be provided by a contribution from the West of Ireland. An exhibition and new publication drawing on a unique emigration database compiled by Bill Lawson and owned by the Northton Heritage Trust will coincide with the conference. The conference will be closed by Linda Fabiani, Minister for Culture in the Scottish Government.

Like all Book Trust events, the aim is to bring people together from widely different backgrounds in a community setting to ensure an enjoyable and instructive occasion. Meals and accommodation will be arranged as part of the conference fee for those who require this. A booking form is attached. For further details please phone 01851 820946 or email Alayne Barton at

For more information on the full programme of events, see

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