Sunday, 30 May 2010

Broughty Ferry church damaged by lightning

The spire of St Stephen's and West Parish Church on Dundee Road in Broughty Ferry, designed in 1871, has been damged by lightning.

For more information see

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Records added to Fife FHS site

A huge thanks to reader Tunji Lees for alerting me to two new additions to the records section of the excellent Fife Family History Society website at

The first addition, Published Family Histories (, is a summary of various published family histories that the society has come across over the years.

The second is the Pathhead Feuars (Dysart) Lair Registers ( - you may have come across name variants in the form of 'tee names' in the north east, or nicknames and aliases in the Gaelic speaking communities, but have you ever come across the use of 'vulgo' names?! Check the database to find out more!

Two more excellent databases on a site that is already stuffed with them!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

BBC One to launch in High Definition

The BBC Press Office has announced that it will be launching a simulcast version of the BBC One channel in High Definition (HD) from this autumn. From the release:

The Autumn launch is the first stage in delivering BBC One in HD. The majority of programmes in the BBC One network evening schedule will be available in HD at launch, and by 2012 it is expected that the vast majority of all BBC One titles across all hours will be in HD.

So expect to see genealogical shows such as Who Do You Think You Are? and other series available in HD in the next couple of years...!

The full release is at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

ScotFamTree forum launches SFT Families facility

Regular readers of this blog will know that I occasionally gush wildly about the brilliant ScotFamTree forum (, a Scottish based genealogical discussion forum, television channel, online family history society and oh EVERYTHING*, all rolled into one! The reason is very simple - it won't stand still...!

(*Small caveat - they don't clean cars or weed gardens!)

The latest innovation on the forum is a feature entitled SFT Families, whereby full members can submit a GEDCOM of their family tree to the site, which can be converted into a searchable database for other members to see if they can find a connection.

To be able to participate, you need to be a Tier 2 member. Just to explain, there is a basic free membership, Tier 1, where you can past general enquiries, but Tier 2, which costs £8 annually, is where the goodies really are, and well worth signing up to.

The site has a user guide which can be consulted online at
sft-families-user-access-guide.pdf, but for full access and further details you'll need to sign up - full details are found on the thread entitled SFT Families. ScotFamTree currently has just under 3000 members, and I'd say this is probably just one more reason to join them in what is, in my opinion, the best Scottish discussion forum online - even if they don't clean cars or weed gardens!

PS: Their home page also has Pacman freely available to play - SFT even trumped Google! Just played a game whilst the SFT TV channel played a version of Caledonia in the background. Nice start to the day...! :)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Friday, 28 May 2010

Comainn eachdraidh gateway site - An Caidreachas Eachdraidh

A huge thanks to Sarah Egan for alerting me to her gateway site for many of the comainn eachdraidh (historical societies) based in Lewis, Harris and the Uists.

The site is located at, and represents the Federation of Historical Societies in the Outer Hebrides. The site hosts individual links to individual comainn eachdraidh, an events guide and the latest news - well worth a visit if you have roots in the Western Isles!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Changes to National Archives catalogue screen

There has been a slight change to the way that the catalogue of the National Archives (Kew) website operates.

For more, see

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Orkney and Shetland 2011 Census recruitment

Fancy working on the 2011 Census in Orkney and Shetland? From the GROS website in Edinburgh:

The next census is in March 2011. To help us carry out this project in Orkney & Shetland we are looking to recruit a Census Regional Manager.

We will also be recruiting the following census field staff in 2010-2011:

•Census District Managers
•Census Team Leaders
•Enumerators (census takers)
•Census Coverage Survey Area Managers
•Census Coverage Survey Team Managers
•Census Coverage Survey Interviewers

Field staff may need to travel therefore applicants must have access to a motor vehicle. Appointment is subject to providing a valid Disclosure Certificate.

As an equal opportunities employer, we welcome applications from all suitably qualified people and aim to employ a diverse workforce which reflects the people of Scotland.

For more on the Census Regional Manager post in Orkney and Shetland visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

History of Morsgail estate on Isle of Lewis

Comann Eachdraidh Uig has announced that author David S. D. Jones has published Morsgail: The History of a Lewis Sporting Estate, concerning the 14,000 acre estate extending from Kinlochroag to Hamnway and Loch Langabhat on the Isle of Lewis.

For more on the estate's story, the lives of those who were tenants under the Mathesons and Leverhulme, and the new book, visit the society's blog at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Discover my Past Scotland issue 20 on sale

The June issue of Discover my Past Scotland (issue 20) is now available to download in PDF format or to read online at There's whale hunting in the deep and spirit hunting in the dark!

This month, John Hannavy counts the cost of living in Victorian Scotland, Caroline Makein looks at testaments and inventories, Wendy Glass looks at the whaling industry, Sue Wilkes investigates the history of the Douglas family, Ruth Symes looks at Edinburgh in the 1830s, and Katie Howard goes to Alloa to look for family history resources. As well as the regular news and reviews, yours truly well and truly loses the plot this month and goes ghosthunting with my wife at Inveraray Jail - did things go bump in the night or did we just keep bumping into things?!

There's all the usual events, Q&As, Bygone Days and more.

Forget the ghosthunting, if you're not convinced to have a look for just £2.50, I'll be REALLY scared!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Société Macdonald-Cartier Society

Following my recent blog post (thanks to Graham MacDonnell) on the events of May 12th commemorating the Scottish born Sir John Alexander Macdonald, Canada's first prime minister, I've been contacted by Immanuel Giulea, Executive Director of The Société Macdonald-Cartier Society.

Immanuel's organisation is a federally incorporated non-for-profit Canadian based society that has as its objectives to:

Increase the awareness of young Canadians about the roles and influence of Sir John Alexander Macdonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier during the Confederation period;

Increase their understanding of the central institutions of the Canadian state;

Encourage civic engagement and discussions about public policy and other issues related to Canadian democracy and society.

If you would like to know more about the Society visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Scottish Monumental Inscriptions update

From Twitter, a quick update on Scottish Monumental Inscriptions (, where Helen and her team have been busy bees!

Some CDs due out soon - Burntisland Kirkton old Churchyard and St Columbus Churchyard (on 1 CD). Forgandenny and Forteviot in Perthshire are also due soon, followed by Newburgh Cemetery in Fife and St Aidens, Broughty Ferry, Dundee.

More details soon!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Scottish Test Act 1681

Sheena Tait has been delving into the history of the Scottish Test Act of 1681, and unearthing the locations of some sources.

For more on Sheena's work, look at her blog post at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Scottish Overseas Missions exhibition

The National Library of Scotland is hosting a month long exhibition in the George IV building on the worldwide role of Scottish Presbyterian missionaries, from June 2nd to 30th. From its website:

Our June display focuses on Scottish Christian missions. It highlights the contribution that Scottish Presybterian churches made to the world missionary movement.

Letters, diaries, notebooks and photographs illustrate some of the work carried out by missionaries from Scotland. Stories include those of Robert Laws (Malawi) and Dr John Anderson Graham (Kalimpong, India).

Among the exhibits is the last known letter written by Dumfriesshire-born Jane Haining before her death in Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944.

Material on show comes from the papers of the Church of Scotland Overseas Mission Board and other related sources.

My family is stuffed with missionaries, though working through the English Presbyterian church rather than the Scottish. James Paton, brother of my great grandfather David, moved to London and had a family there in the late 19th century. His eldest son, Rev. William Paton, became the secretary of the International Missionary Society and worked for a time in the 1920s as a missionary in India. His sister Mary became a missionary and worked in China prior to the Second World War - she was rescued by a British destroyer dispatched from Hong Kong when the Japanese invaded in the late 1930s. William's son, Rev. David Macdonald Paton, also became a missionary, though as an Anglican minister, and also served in China, but was forced to leave following the Cultural Revolution. He didn't do too badly though, he ended up as one of the present Queen's royal chaplains and archdeacon of Canterbury Cathedral!

If you have missionaries in your tree, there are several useful sites outside of Scotland which might also help. The main gateway for records concerning missionaries is the Mundus website (, which lists over four hundred separate collections. The University of Southern California’s Internet Mission Photography Archive ( is also well worth consulting, as is the catalogue of holdings for the London based School of Oriental and African Studies (

There's also a display currently on at the library about how to ruin a good day's walk. It involves something called 'golf'...!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Deceased Online launches Aberdeen City burial records

And for all you Aberdonians, another major announcement today is the announcement of burial records for the city on Deceased Online (

From Aberdeen City Council's press release

In partnership with Deceased Online, Aberdeen City Council’s archive burial registers will go online from Thursday [27 May]. Aberdeen is the first city and only the second local authority in Scotland, after Angus Council, to place its burial records on the national database website

From tomorrow the records of Grove Cemetery, Nellfield Cemetery, Old Machar Cemetery and St Clements Churchyard will be available; providing details of almost 24,000 burials. A further five cemeteries including the largest St Peter’s will be uploaded over the next two months [June and July] to provide a database of an estimated 192,000 burials.

And more specifically from Deceased Online:

Aberdeen City Archives will be making available approximately 190,000 burial records across 10 complete cemeteries: Allenvale Cemetery (1875-1966); John Knox Churchyard (1837-1894); Nellfield Cemetery (1834-1941); Nigg Cemetery (1878-1923); Old Machar Churchyard (1863-1950); St Clement’s Kirkyard (1855-1927); St Nicholas Kirkyard (1824-1965); Spital Churchyard and St Peter’s Cemetery (1769-1972); and Trinity Cemetery (1882-1940). Three of these (Nellfield, Old Machar and St Clement’s) are already online with the remainder due to be uploaded over the next 6-8 weeks. Deceased Online hopes to add more records for the area shortly and we will make announcements as soon as possible.

• The data available online from Thursday 27 May is:

Nellfield Cemetery, Aberdeen
7,813 burials, dated 22 December 1856 to 18 August 1892 are available as burial register scans in various formats with up to 23 entries per scanned page;

Old Machar Churchyard, Aberdeen
181 burials, dated 5 October 1863 to 30 March 1907, are available as burial register scans up to 38 entries per scanned page;

St Clement’s Churchyard
6,731 burials, dated 1 January 1855 to 1 February 1928, are available as burial register scans with up to 34 entries per scanned page.

Grove Cemetery
149 burials, dated 9 March 1905 to 21 November 1983, are available as lair register scans.

• For the purposes of the UK Data Protection Act, the names and addresses of funeral applicants, and grave (lair) owners for burials during the last 75 years have been withheld from publication.

That should keep you all busy for a bit...! :)

(Thanks again to Richard Gray)

UPDATE May 28th: The first batch of records are being rolled out over a couple of days. At time of writing some 8000 were already online, most will hopefully be online by end of play Friday or at latest Monday am.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire archives catalogues go online

The first of two major announcements today concerning Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire:

A major step in promoting public access to the historical records of the north east of Scotland will take place today when the archive catalogues of Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council become available online for the first time.

Researchers will be able to search 46 collections, consisting of 23,300 entries via the internet. Twenty of the collections are for Aberdeen City and the other 26 relate to Aberdeenshire collections. The most popular sources for family history, such as school records, parochial board/poor relief, burial registers, and Aberdeenshire militia records, are included.

A substantial amount of lesser known collections are represented including: building warrants; Commissioners of Supply; New Street Trustees; and a large number of burgh collections.

The Lord Provost of Aberdeen Peter Stephen said: “Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives exists to collect and preserve historical records relating to the City of Aberdeen and its locality and to secure significant modern records for future generation.

“By making these records available online will enable people from anywhere in the world to access this fascinating catalogue of historical documents.”

Aberdeenshire Provost Bill Howatson said: “The launch of the online version of the Archive catalogue is a major step forward in promoting public access to the historical records of the north east of Scotland.

”The use of modern technology to increase access to often very old historical records is wonderfully exciting and with the history of the City and Shire being so intimately linked, it is appropriate that the Archive catalogue is a joint venture between the two authorities.”

The catalogue is available to search at

And get ready for another major announcement in my next post...!

(With thanks to Richard Gray)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Homecoming 2014 officially confirmed

Scotland will be staging another Homecoming event in 2014. The First Minister Alex Salmond has announced that the event will take place to tie in with the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games.

For more on the story visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Facebook changes privacy settings

For those who have been concerned about privacy settings on social network Facebook, the site has now announced changes and a much simpler privacy settings control - for more, see

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Family History Monthly - Scottish special

The July issue of Family History Monthly (issue 184) is a Scottish special, so put on your kilt and whip out your caber! (I'm so sorry, I don't usually talk like that...)

In this month's issue Ian Maxwell provides a basic intro into how to trace your Scottish ancestors, Alistair Moffat pops up with an insight into the history of the clans (a good read - Alistair was once my boss from a three year stint I did at Scottish Television, and knows his stuff!), there's a Scottish research directory, top ten Scottish websites, editor Penny Law visits the Hawick Heritage Hub, whilst yours truly provides a Scottish themed Online section, with latest Scottish online developments and a guided step through the ScotlandsPlaces website.

For all you Sassenachs though, there's also a great deal of additional material. Shackelton's Antarctic Adventure is put under the spotlight, Bob Blatchford looks at the youth of today in comparison to a century ago, Dilip Sarkar goes in search of the Few, Keith Gregson examines what made our ancestors laugh, Nigel and Sue Wilkes look at the silk industry, Nicola Lisle tastes a bun from Bath, and Sharon Brookshaw looks at open air living history museums.

All the usual regular features, and there's five copies of my book Researching Scottish Family History up for grabs, as well as £100 worth of ScotlandsPeople vouchers in this month's competitions.

"Alba nam beanntan ard..." (going all Runrig like now!)

£3.75 from all Scot fearing vendors*... (*and Scottish vendors)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Monday, 24 May 2010

Tay Valley FHS to offer free genealogy help at Glamis Castle

From Tayroots:

As part of a programme of family history taster sessions at must-visit venues across Angus and Dundee, Tayroots will be providing free assistance with ancestral research at Glamis Castle on Thursday, June 3, 2010.

During the one-day event, the Tayroots team will be helping visitors to Glamis Castle find out more about previous generations of their family and the lives they led.

As well as providing information about how to access the wealth of ancestral history resources in the local area, the Tayroots team will also be handing out the newly-launched Tayroots Pass, which provides special offers and discounted admission prices to historical attractions in the Angus and Dundee area. The Tayroots team will be joined at Glamis Castle by members of Tay Valley Family History Society, which focuses on families with ancestral links to Angus, Fife, Kinross and Perthshire.

The June 3 Tayroots Family History Taster Session will be held in the Exhibition Room at Glamis Castle.

For more information about Tayroots, visit

(With thanks to Wendy Glass)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Dunblane 1832 Electoral Roll online

A transcription of the 1832 Electoral Roll for the parish of Dunblane has been posted online at

(With thanks to Colin Mayall)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Bah humbug - Murdoch Press not impressed

James Murdoch is not a happy bunny about the fact that the British Library is partnering with Brightsolid to digitise 40 million pages of the institution's newspaper collection over the next ten years. Reported in the Guardian, our friendly neighbourhood Media Murdoch stated the following:

"The case of the British Library goes even further. Just yesterday, the library announced the digitisation of their newspaper archive – originally given to them by publishers as a matter of legal obligation.

"This is not simply being done for posterity, nor to make free access for library users easier, but also for commercial gain via a paid for website. The move is strongly opposed by major publishers. If it goes ahead, free content would not only be a justification for more funding, but actually become a source of funds for a public body."

He also describes the move as "controversial". Not for this humble researcher...!

It just so happens that Murdoch is also in talks with Google about possible compensation from the internet company for aggregating News International media content on its site. So there.

The full story is at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

National Archives of Scotland - photography trial

As announced recently on this blog (see Cameras at the Ready on May 11th), the National Archives of Scotland is holding a trial period for photography at West Register House. The institution has released further details now about the three month trial at

The key conditions:

The Search Room Officer must be consulted on every occasion to determine whether there are any copying restrictions and ensure that the material is robust enough for this process.

Flash photograph and tripods are not permitted

Sound must be switched off at all times

Care should be taken to avoid disturbing other readers

Items must be handled with care at all times and laid on the tables, or camera stand provided, for copying.

Only standard Search Room weights and supports should be used to hold records in place. Folding, smoothing or any action which may damage the record is forbidden.

Anybody wishing to use the service must also abide by copyright rules, as noted in the online leaflet.

Spot on, NAS!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Friday, 21 May 2010

Your Family Tree 91 on sale

The latest issue of Your Family Tree (number 91, June 2010) is on sale with 'Genealogy Advice You Can Trust'! (Says so on the cover, and I know the editor, he never lies!)

This time round, Adam Rees explores the future of the National Archives in a cost cutting era, Paul Reed looks at military photographs and portraits, Audrey Linkman looks at historic photos of athletes, Ian Waller examines farming records, there's an article on genealogy fairs, another on how to trace Welsh ancestors, a look at Lincolnshire, and a brilliant piece on the rise and fall of child labour by Sophie Jackson. Yours truly has co-written a feature on time saving tips (with Andrew Chapman), and another piece on online records for research in the Republic of Ireland (Northern Ireland is covered next issue). There's also the usual regulars of case studies, surname explanations and more.

Free with this issue - not only the usual data CD, but a fifty page supplement sponsored by entitled Before 1837 The Essential Guide. 1837 was obviously when civil registration started in England and Wales, but the booklet actually covers the whole of the UK, and I've contributed fetaures on parish papers, wills and migration, but there's also material on the website, newspapers, diretories and college lists, criminal and court records, the nobility and gentry, published trees and Ancestry's World Archive's Project. Normally I'm not a great fan of such supplements, as they are usually tiny wee things, but this one is the size of a book and an absolute cracker - literally packed with useful info. The mag is £4.99 from all nice shops...

If you are new to YFT, there is also a 228 page special on sale entitled Get Started in Family History exclusively available at WH SMith. It reprints some of the magazine's earlier articles, with many updated - there's a detailed piece on the ScotlandsPeople Centre, for example, which I've updated for it, and many others from other writers, again covering the whole UK. If you can't find it in WH Smith, you can order it from, priced £12.99.

Surely that's enough to keep you going for a while...?! :)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

More on British Library/Brightsolid newspaper announcement

It's such an important development, they made a movie...!

(With thanks to Ben Sanderson)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

TreeView 2 from The Genealogist

Long term readers of this blog know that I really rate both Family Historian 4 and My Heritage's Family Tree Builder. There's a new one on my list now - TreeView 2.

TreeView 2 is found on the The Genealogist website at You may not be too familiar here in Scotland with The Genealogist, because most of its records are predominantly English and Welsh based, though there are some Scottish items, such as a Landowners list from the 1870s etc. However, if you've not visited before, it is worth it alone to see the new programme. At the moment, both the old version of TreeView is on the site, and the new version 2, which is in beta mode, but they are very different in look and feel - once version 2 comes out of beta, the original will be phased out.

I could go into a lot of detail about what the site has to offer, but you'll find it all in the programme's Help section, very helpfully detailed, which is all you can ask for from a help section really! I'll leave you with this thought though - remember Family Tree Maker (version 2006), before it turned to the Dark Side for a couple of years...?! TreeView is similar in some ways to that in friendliness, but with many modern social networking bells and whistles, though minus features such as family history reports. But it is completely free - and for a freebie, it's actually rather superb...

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

DIGROS problems at ScotlandsPeople Centre

Edinburgh's ScotlandsPeople Centre ( has announced that it is currently experiencing intermittent problems with its old DIGROS computer system, located in the Dundas Room. If you have made a booking for a seat on this, or are a long term ticketholder, you may wish to change your booking for a seat on the new ScotlandsPeople Centre network until it has been resolved.

(With thanks to Dee at ScotlandsPeople.)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Mass digitisation of historic British newspapers to commence

Just remember the following when you read this folks - Brightsolid is based in Dundee...! :) Here goes...

British Library and Brightsolid partnership to digitise up to 40 million pages of historic newspapers

* Mass digitisation to make millions of newspaper pages available online and in the Library’s reading rooms

* Innovative deal will help safeguard the future of the world’s greatest newspaper archive

The British Library’s Chief Executive, Dame Lynne Brindley, will today announce a major new partnership between the Library and online publisher brightsolid, owner of online brands including and Friends Reunited. The ten-year agreement will deliver the most significant mass digitisation of newspapers the UK has ever seen: up to 40 million historic pages from the national newspaper collection will be digitised, making large parts of this unparalleled resource available online for the first time.

Spanning three centuries and including 52,000 local, regional, national and international titles, the British Library holds one of the world’s finest collections of newspapers. Each year the Newspaper Library at Colindale is used by 30,000 researchers in subjects ranging from family history and genealogy to sports statistics, politics and industrial history. This vast resource is held mainly in hard copy and microfilm, necessitating a trip to the north London site for people wishing to use the collection.

The partnership between the British Library and brightsolid will enable the digitisation of a minimum of 4 million pages of newspapers over the first two years. Over the course of ten years, the agreement aims to deliver up to 40 million pages as the mass digitisation process becomes progressively more efficient and as in-copyright content is scanned following negotiation with rightsholders.

Delivering the keynote speech at the Westminster eForum this morning (Wednesday 19 May), Dame Lynne Brindley outlined how the partnership will transform access to this vital part of the national memory.

“I am delighted to announce the British Library’s partnership with brightsolid to embark upon the most significant programme of newspaper digitisation this country has ever seen,” said Dame Lynne. “Historic newspapers are an invaluable resource for historians, researchers, genealogists, students and many others, bringing past events and people to life with great immediacy and in rich detail. Mass digitisation unlocks the riches of our newspaper collections by making them available online to users across the UK and around the world; by making these pages fully searchable we will transform a research process which previously relied on scrolling through page after page of microfilm or print. brightsolid have an excellent track record of digitising archive materials and making them available to new audiences – I look forward to announcing the web service resulting from this partnership, which will launch and then steadily grow from next year.”

Digitised material will include extensive coverage of local, regional and national press across three and a half centuries. It will focus on specific geographic areas, along with periods such as the census years between 1841 and 1911. Additional categories will be developed looking at key events and themes such as the Crimean War, the Boer War and the suffragette movement. The aim will be to build a ‘critical mass’ of material for researchers – particularly in the fields of family history and genealogy.

brightsolid, a subsidiary of Dundee-based publisher DC Thomson, was selected following an EU procurement process. brightsolid has previously delivered the highly successful project in partnership with The National Archives (TNA) and owns the leading family history resources and brightsolid is taking on the commercial and technical risks of the project, with no direct costs to the British Library. The firm will digitise content from the British Library Newspaper Library, which it will then make available online via a paid-for website as well as integrating it into its family history websites.

This resource will be available for free to users on-site at the British Library and copies of all scanned materials will be deposited with the Library to be held in the national collection in perpetuity.

Chris van der Kuyl, Chief Executive of brightsolid, said: “We’re delighted to be working with the British Library on such an exciting project. Digitisation will mean that those people who haven’t previously been able to access the physical resource will now be able to access it from anywhere at any time. In particular it is an important resource for the genealogy community, which we are closely involved with through our brands and, helping them to bring to life how their ancestors lived. It will also offer a unique insight into major events and key periods of historical interest.

“We’re also closely linked to the publishing community through our parent company, DC Thomson and we very much see this project as a collaboration with the industry. In fact we are already in dialogue with some rightsholders and expect this to continue throughout the project. As a business, our core strength is in building innovative online businesses around people and places, and this project fits perfectly within our expertise. We are looking forward to working with the British Library on this project and developing this hugely important online resource.”

Along with out-of-copyright material from the newspaper archive – defined in this context as pre-1900 newspaper material – the partnership will also seek to digitise a range of in-copyright material, with the agreement of the relevant rightsholders. This copyright material will, with the express permission of the publishers, be made available via the online resource – providing fuller coverage for users and a much-needed revenue stream for the rightsholders.

David Fordham, President of the Newspaper Society said: “This initiative is a hugely significant and exciting development which will unlock many of the great newspaper treasures that lie within the millions of pages in the British Library Newspaper archive at Colindale. It represents a particularly exciting opportunity for regional newspapers which have a long and rich heritage and capture changing times in local and regional areas across the centuries. I look forward to watching the project develop and hope that it makes a major contribution to the industry.”

The successful appointment of brightsolid as its newspaper digitisation partner will help the British Library to fulfil its strategic goals of long-term preservation of and access to the national newspaper collection. The Library’s newspaper strategy aims to secure the future of this unique resource by moving the hard-copy collections from the current building at Colindale to a purpose-built storage facility in Boston Spa, West Yorkshire. Access to the collection will be provided via microfilm and digital copies made available at the Library’s main site at St Pancras.

“The success of our 19th Century British Library Newspapers website demonstrated the public’s huge appetite for digitised historic newspaper content,” added Dame Lynne. “Our new partnership with brightsolid will enable us to deliver a huge increase in the amount of digitised material available – transforming access and searchability for users on and off-site and reducing wear-and-tear on our often fragile collection items. It will help the newspaper collection to remain relevant for a new generation of researchers, more used to accessing research information via their laptop than travelling to a physical location.”

She concluded: “The British Library’s newspaper archive is one of the world’s great newspaper collections. Through this partnership with brightsolid we will make millions more pages accessible – and to many more people.”

* Comment - looks like the British Library has now realised that making stuff available to academics first is ignoring the true potential of its holdings. The British Library is our library - not that of academia. So major kudos to the British Library - and well done to Brightsolid.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

BBC drops US WDYTYA (for now)

Well it was supposed to be on a few weeks ago, and there was a huge preview article about it in last month's Who Do You Think You Are magazine, but the June issue of the same magazine has now confirmed that the BBC will not now be showing the American version of the Who Do You Think You Are television series as originally scheduled. As usual, there is no announcement from the BBC on when it may now be shown. As someone who used to work at the Beeb, I gave up years ago trying to work out the mentality of BBC schedulers! In the absence of any news from the BBC, it could well be that the US series could get its UK debut on the Watch channel later this year after all, as announced by the channel recently in March. We'll have to watch this space...

To be honest, that would probably be a good move - I've seen a few episodes already, and having been designed around commercial breaks, it will probably work better on Watch, which also runs commercials. It certainly whizzes past much faster than the UK editions!

The summer series of the UK version is apparently still on though. For the moment...!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

FamilySearch - online film ordering service

FamilySearch (the Genealogical Society of Utah) has launched an online microfilm ordering service, to save you having to visit your local family history centre to make such an order. The service is online at, but the society advises checking first that your local branch does not already hold what you are looking for - e.g. Paisley's centre has a good deal of Irish material in stock.

To see what can be ordered up, use the society's online Library Catalogue at For details of your local Scottish (and other) family history centres, see

(With thanks to the SAFHS news pages)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

FFHS Competition

I've just noticed that the English based Federation of Family History Societies is offering 5 copies of my book Researching Scottish Family History as a prize for their competition this month - very decent of them! :) To enter, visit - the question is dead easy, but while you are there, also well worth a look at the society's e-zine!

Meanwhile, I've now submitted the text for my next book on genealogical internet resources for UK research which will be available from Pen and Sword in the very near future - more details in due course!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

More Irish records on FamilySearch

FamilySearch ( has added more irish records to its Records Search Pilot pages. The following have been added:

* Ireland Births and Baptisms 1620-1881
* Ireland Deaths 1864-1870
* Ireland Marriages 1619-1898

All come from the British Isles Vital Records Index - full coverage of what is available can be discovered at

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Monday, 17 May 2010

1901 Irish census to launch 3rd June

The 1901 Irish census will be released online on June 3rd, according to the Derek Mooney show on RTE's Radio 1 today, and as reported today on Rootschat. The census will be made available on free of charge, and unlike the previous 1911 census launch, will be released in its entirety in one go.

Thanks to the anonymous poster on an earlier thread of this blog for the tip off!

UPDATE 18 May : This is now confirmed on the NAI site itself.

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Teachers certificates 1851 on Original Record

An interesting update today from the Original Record website, which may be of use if you have a teacher ancestor in mid 19th century Scotland:

Teachers' Certificates
The Committee of Council on Education awarded certificates of merit to teachers throughout Britain, and published annual lists of those qualifying in the previous years. Masters and mistresses are listed separately, with surname and initials, and school at which teaching, post town or county, and grade of the certificate: each of the three classes of certificate being subdivided into three. There are five separate lists for masters and mistresses:

1. Teachers in schools in connection with the Church of England; male students in the Training Schools of the National Society, and of the several Diocesan Boards of Education; and female students in the Training Schools of the National Society (Whitelands, Chelsea), the Home and Colonial School Society (Gray's Inn Road, Holborn), and the Salisbury and York and Ripon Diocesan Boards of Education.

2. Teachers, in England and Wales, of British, Wesleyan and other Protestant Schools, not in connection with the Church of England;

3. Teachers, in England and Wales, of Roman Catholic Schools;

4. Teachers of schools in Scotland, in connection with the Established Church; male students in the Edinburgh and Glasgow Training Colleges; and female students in training schools.

5. Teachers of schools in Scotland, not in connection with the Established Church; male students in the Training Schools of the Free Church (at Edinburgh and Glasgow); and female students in training schools.

This is the list, corrected to 1 January 1851, published in 1851.

To access the records visit

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Pharos and SoG launch new skills certificate programme

For those with English and Welsh interests who wish to professionalise their skills somewhat, a major new development from Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd and the Society of Genealogists:

The Society of Genealogists & Pharos Teaching & Tutoring today announced a new joint programme, the distance learning Certificate of Family History Skills and Strategies (Intermediate).

The Society of Genealogists, in conjunction with Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd is now bringing its popular classroom programme to the Web. Following successful pilot courses last year, the Society and Pharos have teamed up to make available a full course of instruction, with assessment, to any interested genealogist anywhere in the world. First modules in the Skills and Strategies programme will be offered in September 2010. It will be possible to complete all 10 modules in an 18 month period.

The modules are listed here in alphabetical order:

Apprenticeships & Guilds
Employment Records
Lists & Sources from Georgian England
Migration in the British Isles
Military Ancestors
Nonconformity in England and Wales
The Poor, the Parish and the Workhouse
Victorian Crime & Punishment
Wills and Administrations
17th Century Sources

Tutors include the well-known authors and genealogists, Gill Blanchard, Liz Carter, Else Churchill, Simon Fowler, Sherry Irvine, Michael Isherwood and Stuart Raymond. All have made significant contributions to the world of family history and bring a wide array of records knowledge and teaching experience to the online classroom.

The Skills and Strategies course is suitable for genealogists who have had at least two years experience in family history research in England & Wales and have mastered the fundamentals of census, civil registrations and parish registers but who now wish to move on to new records and a greater understanding of research methods and skills.

Students choosing to take all ten modules as a full programme with assessments leading to the Intermediate Certificate can sign up now at an introductory price of £450. This represents a saving of £42.90 on the full listed price. Each module is monitored by the Society to ensure excellent standards of content and teaching.

Students may, alternatively, choose not have work assessed and to take any arrangement of individual topics. Courses taken individually without assessment cost less.

To find out more or sign up for this great learning opportunity, visit

Information about the course and a link for bookings can also be found on the Society of Genealogists’ website at

Helen Osborn, Managing Director of Pharos Teaching and Tutoring Ltd, said today “We are very pleased to continue and build on our collaboration with the Society of Genealogists. We know that many Pharos students are interested in working towards a certificate that acknowledges their achievements and that others are looking for a wider range of choice in online programmes. The Skills and Strategies course meets those needs, offered by organizations and teachers with shared standards of excellence.”

Else Churchill, Genealogist at the Society & tutor on the new programme, said today “The Society of Genealogists is delighted join forces with Pharos to offer the highly regarded SoG courses and education programme to a wider audience than can attend the Society’s classes in London. The Skills and Strategies course will offer a practical opportunity for family historians to take their research further and to develop their own expertise and understanding of genealogical sources and techniques.

(With thanks to Else Churchill at the SoG)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Merchant navy WW1 medal cards online

Over 155,000 cards recording the award of campaign medals to merchant seamen in the First World War are now available on DocumentsOnline. These record the award of the British War Medal and the Mercantile Marine Medal. The cards are from the catalogue reference BT 351 (BT 351/1/1 and BT 351/1/2).

For more see

MT 9/1404 Silver War Badges awarded to First World War merchant seamen should also be added later today.

(With thanks to Simon Fowler)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Report on Sir John A. MacDonald event

From Graham MacDonnell of the Great Glen Genealogical Research Centre:

The event commemorating Sir John A. Macdonald's Highland roots and contribution to the development of the Dominion of Canada that held in Kincraig and Dalnavert Farm (near Feshiebridge) was well attended on Wednesday, May 12 with over 60 people.

Fergus Ewing, Minister for Community Safety attended and spoke briefly at the Kincraig Community Hall. Needless-to-say, the Scottish Government Communications Department had their machine well-oiled as the event got both pre- and post-event publicity in a wide range of newspapers and television news outlets.

While the event, conducted by the Badenoch and Strathspey Local History Group, was designed to emphasise the Scots-Canada connection, focusing on Sir John, the media picked up on his role in the creation of the "Mounties", otherwise known as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which was formed in 1885 and then known as the Northwest Mounted Police, whose mandate was to put down a rebellion by the Metis people, led by Louis Riel, who only wanted rights like the white, Anglo-Saxon males that led the country. That undertaking was a very small part of Sir John's contribution to the development of Canada as we know it today. Due to media simplification, most summarised the venue as being the home of Sir John's parents, when it was the birthplace of his mother (1778)and birthplace of his first wife (1809).

Yours truly met Minister Ewing, the Deputy High Commissioner from Canada - Claude Boucher - and retired University of Edinburgh Professor Ged Martin, who is the foremost academic expert on Sir John. James Hunter from the Centre for History, UHI Millenium Institute in Dornoch, was there with some of his staff, who gave a number of presentations on lesser-known Scots who have contributed to the development of the American west as well as to the Canadian west. Insights were presented in the extent of Gaelic in Nova Scotia and the Scots culture throughout the Maritimes.

(With thanks to Graham)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Edinburgh libraries offer Ancestry library edition

Edinburgh libraries are now offering access to's library edition - much the same as the home edition, but without DNA Ancestry and some of the other peripheral parts of the full site. The Scotsman Digital Archive is also available.

For more information see the library's Electronic Resources page.

(With thanks to Kirsty Wikinson via Twitter)

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)

Scottish genealogy workshop in Toronto June 18th 2011

The Toronto branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society is planning a Scottish genealogy workshop on June 18th 2011 at North York Central Library, with the library co-sponsoring the event.

Yours truly has been very kindly invited to attend as a speaker for the day, and I am provisionally planning to give talks on the nature of the Scottish church, house and land history, and the Scottish weaving industry (focussing on the trade in Perth). There will also be other speakers, with plenty of other topics to focus on, so should be a great and packed day for anyone researching their Scottish ancestry!

The last time I was in Canada was in 1999, when filming the Celtic America TV series for Scottish Television. On that occasion, although predominantly working in the US, I managed to make it to Nova Scotia on three separate occasions (including a very nice wrap party at the Lower Deck pub in Halifax after three months filming!), and Quebec on another occasion, staying at the Chateau Frontenac, but was only able to visit Toronto en route, seeing nothing more than the airport - so very much looking forward to remedying that!

There will be more information on this in due course, but as it is being announced today at the society's annual conference, I thought I would give you the heads up from this end also - I look forward to seeing you in Toronto next year!

Professional genealogical problem solving and research
Researching Scottish Family History (New book)