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



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Saturday, 7 May 2016

Poor Turn Out at NGS 2016

The setting seemed ideal for those of us struggling to find an end to winter. However, for genealogy enthusiasts, it wasn't much of a draw. 




The NGS Conference in Ft Lauderdale had a very poor showing this year. Apart from opening day, the Exhibition Hall was empty most of the time. I can't imagine many of the vendors were able to break even on costs, when considering booth rental, flights, hotel, shipping, meals. Unfortunately poor turnouts make them think twice about attending the following year. 

The consensus among those I spoke with - and believe me we had plenty of time to ponder - was that the new fad of live-streaming the talks makes it less desirable for people to want to attend in person. Sure they don't get to network, but much of that is compensated for on social media. And they don't get to visit the Exhibitors. Bit the savings on travel, hotel, conference fees and even the money they would spend at the vendor booths seems to be enough of a draw to simply sit back in their comfy clothes, with coffee in hand and attend from their favourite armchair, bed, deck chair. Its a win for the attendees and a huge loss for the vendors. It will also be a loss for the organizers who have the expense of venue rental, shuttle bus rental, speaker fees, speaker expenses. 

Are we doing ourselves a disfavour by allowing so many talks to be live-streamed? Or is this simply the way of the future for genealogy conferences? Perhaps they will all become virtual, with RootsTech perhaps being the exception, and vendors will simply pay to have advertising and links on the conference website. Goods can be shipped in a matter of a couple of day and subscriptions can be instantaneous. What the attendee misses out on, of course, is seeking advice from those in the know who can be easily accessed in the marketplace. 

It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. 

Are You Interested in Evidence Based Analysis?

Are You Interested in Evidence Based Analysis? If so, the University of Strathclyde wants to hear from you. A post graduate student is looking for input from genealogists regarding the Research Process Map created by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

The post grad student is looking for genealogists to share their understanding of and experiences using Evidence Explained as a standard for source citation.

There are 9 questions to the survey. All survey responses are anonymous. Deadline for submission is May 15. To take part in the survey, simply click: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JQV5SVQ


Friday, 6 May 2016

Reactivate Your Expired ScotlandsPeople Credits

Starting today, you have two weeks to reactivate any expired credits in your ScotlandsPeople account.

To reactivate your expired credits, use the voucher code spring2016. The code is case sensitive, so make sure your Caps Lock button is off. You have until May 22 to activate the expired credits, but once activated, they are good for a full year.

What are you waiting for? Start searching: http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/


The credit amnesty will run from 00:01 (BST) on Friday 6 May 2016 to 23.59 (BST) on Sunday 22 May 2016.

Summer Institute of Genealogical Studies

One of the best and most popular ways to learn about genealogy is through Institutes. Those in North America will be very familiar with value of genealogy Institutes. A full week of intense learning by specialists in the field. And a side order of great networking with others researching in the areas you are interested in.

The University of Strathclyde, the Scottish University that started the post graduate degree in Scottish genealogy, is hosting its second annual Summer Institute from June 27 - July 1, 2016.

The topics and instructors for this year are:


  • British Military Research with Simon Fowler
  • Irish Resources and Research Techniques with William Roulston and Gillian Hunter of the Ulster Historical Foundation
  • Practical Applications of Genetic Genealogy with Alasdair Macdonald, Debbie Kennet and John Cleary


Each course runs for the full five days, however, you can mix and match if you are struggling with narrowing down choices. 

For more information or to register, the website for the Institute is: http://www.strath.ac.uk/cll/cpd/genealogicalstudies/summerinstitute/


Saturday, 30 April 2016

In Depth Genealogist Magazine Sale for NGS

To celebrate attending the NGS Conference in Ft Lauderdale next week, the
In-Depth Genealogist Magazine is having a sale. For the ridiculously low price of $25usd, you get 12 digital issues per year PLUS access to the last two years of archived issues. The subscription is $2 per issue. You can't beat that for value. 

Offer runs May 4-8, so don't wait or you will miss this incredible value. 




I am honoured to be a writer for IDG and have a regular column Searching Your Scottish Roots. You can read current and past articles when you subscribe. 

Come and visit me in the Exhibition Hall at NGS, I will be in the booth right across the aisle from IDG. 

Friday, 29 April 2016

Viewing Images on the ScotlandsPeople Website

I am always getting emails and FB messages about not being able to view the images on the ScotlandsPeople website. Here is how to make it work seamlessly:
  • Log in to your account:
  • At the top right.click on "My Details" 
  • Scroll down the page to where you see a boxed in message
  • Scroll past that and you will see the option to choose how you view the image. 
  • Click the drop down arrow then choose "direct download" 
  • This will download the image as a jpeg
  • Click "update your details"



Sunday, 17 April 2016

New Irish Record Release for 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising

Findmypast releases a new record set to mark the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland. The records are FREE to search from April 17 - 27, 2016.

From the press release:

Findmypast launches online today the most complete collection of British War Office records  relating to the Easter Rising and Irish War of Independence from 1916-1921. The collection, digitised from original records held by The National Archives in Kew, reveals the struggles of life under Martial Law in Ireland, and demonstrates how events under the occupying military served to galvanise support for the rebels.  

Totaling more than 75,000 records, the collection will be free to access for ten days at Findmypast.ie from today, 17 April, in advance of the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising on 24 April 2016.
More than 3,000 people were injured or killed in a conflict which saw three civilians killed for every one rebel. The records reveal the impact that the conflict had on men, women and children across Ireland. There are eye-witness accounts, interviews with civilians and reports of the trials of the leaders of the Rising and their sentences of execution.

The once classified records shine new light on the subsequent period of Martial Law in Ireland which was declared by the Lord Lieutenant in 1916, including the War of Independence, when the British military assumed control of the executive, judiciary and legislative arms of the entire country.. The contents of the collection provide a picture of what life was like for ordinary citizens in Ireland during this turbulent time.

The 25,000 search and raid records show the efforts of the military and police to discover arms, ammunition and seditious material through thousands of raids as well as their search for individuals associated with Sinn Féin, Irish Citizen Army, Irish Volunteers and the Irish Republican Army. Members of the public accessing the records on Findmypast will find the names of the thousands of people who were detained and interned in prisons in Ireland, England and Wales and tried by courts martial, including the names of prominent nationalists and elected officials.

Military correspondence between the barracks in Dublin and the War Office in London grants new perspectives on the motivations and fears of the British Army leadership. The movements and actions of several key nationalist figures are also documented, including those of James Connolly, Eamon De Valera, Thomas Ashe, Joseph MacDonagh, Arthur Griffith, Padraig Pearse and Francis and Hannah Sheehy Skeffington and Countess Markievicz.

Key items from the collection include:

  •  Daily situation reports sent by the British Army from Dublin to London between 24 April and 12 May 1916 documenting events during the uprising
  •  A report from the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief confirming the execution of iconic Irish socialist and rebel James Connolly, who owing to injuries sustained in the conflict had to be strapped to a chair before being shot 
  • Court martial reports sentencing prominent nationalist, politician and suffragette Countess Markievicz to two years in prison for “assisting and promoting crime and murder” 
  • Witness statements from civilians caught up in the Rising 
  • Documents authored by Michael Collins seized from a safehouse used by the nationalist figurehead 
  • Details on raids of pubs such as the Brazen Head, hotels, nationalist club houses such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and thousands of homes 
  •  An urgent and secret warning from Sir C Spring Rice, British Ambassador in America, of gun running in Ireland 
  •  A telegram to the Prime Minister to report the expected surrender of the rebels from the Lieutenant General John Marshall
  •  Internment files including the personal letters from prisoners or their relatives testifying to their innocence 
  •  Details on the hunger strikes of interned prisoners 
  • Secret documents that reveal the British Military’s own concern with some of the behaviour of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC)

The collection was digitised in partnership with The National Archives in London and contains documents from their WO35 series, War Office: Army of Ireland: Administration and Easter Rising Records. Totaling more than 110 million records, Findmypast has the largest Irish family history collection available online.

Brian Donovan, Head of Irish Records at Findmypast, comments:
“These records constitute an extraordinary resource which will transform the search for answers about our ancestors' activities during 1916 and the years that followed. While those who fought were small in number, the war impacted on the lives of ordinary people in many ways. We’re extremely fortunate to have these records to help us make some sense of it.”