May 2011

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The website ScotlandsPeople, run by Brightsolid, has a multitude of government records you will not find anywhere else online. They say “it is the official Scottish genealogy resource.”

ScotlandsPeople has lately undergone a revamp and have now released the 1911 Scottish census.

It is a pay per view website but the rates are reasonable. The cost of 30 credits is 7 GBP. This is about $11.00 CDN at the current exchange rate. It costs one credit to view one index page which contains 25 entries. It then costs 5 credits to view an image. If the correct image is found right away that would cost you about $2.20 CDN for each image. It is free to register on the site.

You will find the Statutory Registers for births, marriages and deaths. The indexes for all the registers cover 1855 through 2006. The images for births can only be viewed up until 1910, the images for marriages up until 1935 and the images for deaths up until 1960. At New Year another years images are released for the registrations.

Statutory birth registrations for 1855 include information on the child (date, place and time of birth, full name, sex), the parent’s (names, maiden name of mother, father’s occupation, ages, birth places, usual residence, date and place of marriage) name of informant and the informant’s relationship to child. Also included is information on the child’s siblings. This proved too much information for the registrars so in 1856 they stopped asking for the details of the siblings as well as the parent’s ages, places of birth and date/place of their marriage. The marriage question was added again in 1861.

The information gathered for the marriage registration in 1855 included full name, age, marital status, occupation, usual residence, date/place of marriage, name/occupation of father, name/maiden name of mother, names of witnesses and officiating clergy. You can also find place of birth, number of former marriages of each spouse plus the number of children from each of those marriages. The birthplace and former marriage questions were stopped after 1855. They started asking the place of birth question again in 1972.

Death registrations for 1855 include the date, time and place of death, deceased’s name, sex, marital status, age and occupation, cause of death, duration of last illness, doctor’s name and details of the informant. The place of burial, name of the undertaker and last time the doctor saw the patient alive were included on registrations up until 1860. You will not find a place of birth or the names of any children after 1856. Between 1856 and 1861 you will not find the spouse’s name.

Register of Corrected Entries or RCE (after 1965 it was Register of Corrections, Etc.) refer to changes on registrations. If any changes were made to an entry after it had been completed a note would be made in the left or right hand margin of the register. They could not alter an original entry so the note was necessary. These corrections had to be approved by the sheriff. You can view copies of the RCE to registrations for the cost of 2 credits. Please read their section on help with RCE’s prior to viewing them.

Another record source is the Minor Records. These are records relating to birth, marriage or death for those Scots living outside of Scotland. These are great. I found a marriage in the late 1800s of a military person getting married in a Roman Catholic Church in Gibraltar in Malta. He was Protestant but was given dispensation to marry in the Catholic Church. Notes relating to this are found on the marriage entry.

You can search indexes and images for the Old Parish Registers. It must be noted that this is only for the Established Church of Scotland. Please check the Extant Records to see what areas and years are covered by the OPR’s.

These records can be minimal but you may come across some interesting information. You might get some of the following information for a birth/baptism: child’s name and baptism date, father’s name and occupation, mother’s name.

A bann/marriage record includes the name’s of the couple and place of residence, occupation of the groom, sometimes the name of the bride’s father. Marriage records in Scotland can be tricky especially with the Irregular Marriages. A marriage may have taken place with no official record of it recorded anywhere.

The death/burial records are very sparse. You must read the section on OPR death records that describes what years are available for each parish before you begin your search.

In the Catholic Parish Registers for Scotland you can find records dealing with: births/baptisms, marriages, confirmations, deaths/burials, communicants, sick calls, status animarum, converts, first confessions, and seat rentals.

These cover all parishes in Scotland that were in existence by 1855. About 700 registers have survived some as early as 1703 but most are within thirty years of the 1790s.

Census records can be found from 1841 through 1911. Each census year has its own criteria. In 1841 the ages were rounded up or down to the nearest 5, relationships to head of household were not given, birthplace was within county or not and occupations were recorded in an abbreviated format.

The 1851 census distinguished between households, family relationships to head of household were shown, a more detailed birth place was given, ages were recorded as given, marital status was asked and notations for blind, deaf or dumb were made.

The 1861 to 1901 censuses asked similar questions to the 1851 census. In 1911 there were additional questions asked: number of people in the household, marital status, duration of marriage, children born alive, children still living, industry or service with which the employee/employer is connected, nationality if born in foreign parts and whether they were totally deaf, deaf and dumb, totally blind, lunatic, imbecile or feeble minded.

You can search the Wills and Testaments for free but it costs you 5 GBP to view the image. You can find wills, inventories and other records related to probate.

There are sections on the website to help you with your research such as deciphering Scottish handwriting, a glossary of terms, and the way people lived. You can find out more under Research Tools. There are more suggestions under the Help section on ScotlandsPeople. You may feel like joining the Discussion and User Groups associated with ScotlandsPeople.

This weekend visit the website and see what you can find out about your Scottish ancestors.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the Ontario Genealogical Society’s 50th Anniversary Conference. The conference was a buzz of activity and for me it started on the Friday morning when I presented a session called “A Brickwall Chisel: The Cluster Research Project.” There was a good turn out and that left me free for the rest of the day to attend sessions and browse the marketplace.

The marketplace was always active. Patty McGregor of Lock, Stock and Barrel sells books and ephemera. I got a small cookbook called Christmas Cookies and Candies. I am rather well known for my Christmas baking so this is a good addition to my collection. Thank you Patty.

The Archives of Ontario was well represented by Tim Sanford and Charmaine Sommerfeldt. Tim has just written a book with Patrick Richard Carstens called “Searching the Forgotten War – 1812 Canada.

The first session I attended was “Townlands, Boundaries and Barriers” by Nuala Farrell-Griffin. Nuala provided wonderful advice on working with townlands and the different boundaries within Ireland. Knowing the different jurisdictions of the townland your family originally came from in Ireland is vital to Irish research.

After lunch it was time for a little research at the Hamilton Public Library. Their Local History Archives is a great resource. You can now find a promotional film called “Portrait of a City” online. It features Hamilton as it was in the 1940s.

Jane and Kathy are always found manning the table for the Halton Peel Branch of the OGS. Kathy had gone for a walk and I stopped to chat with Jane.

The last session of the day was by Marian Press who always gives very informative lectures. This session was entitled “Wikis: Developing Genealogical Information Tools.” She inspired me to go in and create a wiki page on the Family Search Wiki. Now if I can only find the time.

In the evening I attended the Houston Lecture. This year’s presenter was Brian Gilchrist and the title was “Looking Forward by Looking Back: the changing face of genealogy and family history: 1960-2060.” His lecture was entertaining and thought provoking.

Saturday started off early with the Opening Plenary with Stephen Young speaking on “Descendancy Research: Branching Out on Your Family Tree.” After the OGS AGM the sessions started.

My first session was “Using FindMyPast.co.uk for Finding Your Immigrant Ancestors” with Paul Blake. FindMyPast was one of the sponsors of the conference. After lunch I attended “The Scots-Irish: the who, the what, the where & when” with Maggie Loughran also of FindMyPast. The last lecture of the day was another entertaining one with Nuala Farrell-Griffin called “Shhh! It’s a Secret, it’s a Locality File.” Then it was time to put my feet up before going to the Banquet where the speaker was Dick Doherty and his topic was “Serendipity: A Lighthearted Look at Genealogy.”

The next morning I presented “Maiden Aunts of the Twentieth Century: the forgotten generation of women.” This session was on the large number of women who remained single after the First World War and how they affected society, the world and your family history. I also had one of the last sessions of the day and presented “The Whys and Wherefores of Scottish Emigration” which provided some background as to why the Scots emigrated and where they went.

Then it was time for the Closing Plenary with David Obee and “Blogs, Posts, Tweets and Apps.” At the closing plenary the OGS announced a partnership with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. The first announcement was that the branches would now have the ability to hold online meetings. More items will be announced throughout the year.

The conference was a success and I am still recovering. Next years conference is being held in Kingston Ontario from June 1st to 3rd and the theme is “Borders and Bridges: 1812-2012.” See you all there.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

The Ontario Genealogical Society Conference is being held May 13-15 in Hamilton Ontario. There are three days full of lectures and a marketplace.

I will be presenting three lectures at this year’s conference. “A Brick Wall Chisel: the Cluster Research Project,” “Maiden Aunts of the 20th Century: the forgotten generation of women” and “The Whys and Wherefores of Scottish Emigration.”

If you are in the area please come by and say hello.

There is still time to register and more information can be found here.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

In Canada Victoria Day is celebrated on the 23 May this year. It is a long weekend and the unofficial start to summer. It is the time of year when vacations are planned and visits to family can be part of those plans.

This summer holiday season why not take the time to visit a local historical society and do some research on the history of the area where your ancestors lived. Researching the local history of the region can add substance to your family story.

If you are unable to visit these places then see if you can find them online and if not then find an address to write them a letter.

The one thing to remember about historical societies is that they are not usually open on the weekend or holidays. Some may be open only a couple days a week. The Oakville Historical Society is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00 – 4:30 pm.

If the historical society is not open then go and visit the local library. Their hours are a little bit more regular but some libraries shorten their hours during the summer months.

The first week of May make a list of the places where your ancestors have lived or came from originally. See if there are any places that are close together and can be visited during a few days break at some point in the summer.

You may not be able to take a full two weeks holiday at once but can manage a few days off at a time. Why not avoid the traffic on the weekend and go mid week instead. You can sometimes get some great deals on accommodations during mid week.

Now that you have the list let’s find out what historical societies and libraries are in the areas of interest to you. The second week will be spent on Google and possibly on the phone finding out what is available in the towns where your ancestors lived.

Maybe your ancestors did not live near a town. Then look for a historical society that might cover a township. In the Oakville area we also have the Trafalgar Township Historical Society which covers the whole area not just a specific town.

If neither of those options exists then you might find a county museum or archives. In Halton we have the Halton Region Museum where you can go and do some research.

If you can not locate something in your specific area then go further afield. A town may be found in one region but you might find more information in the neighbouring region. This is especially true if the area borders another town, township or county.

The third week of May is time to organize. Make a list of the hours and contact information for each historical society, library and museum that you want to visit.

Do they have online catalogues? If so then search them before you leave so you have a better idea of what is available. If they do not have online catalogues then give them a call to see if they can help you. If they can not help you it is better to know before you go. They may also be able to point you in another direction to find more information.

If the area is small they might put you in touch with a local historian or a person in their organization who is very familiar with the area. If so then you can arrange an appointment to meet with them when you are there.

When you visit the historical societies, libraries and museums it is always welcomed if you leave a donation after your visit. These organizations usually survive by donations and membership fees. Libraries are working under ever dwindling budgets so do not forget them. Most of the information you will receive is free so a donation to show your appreciation is a good thing.

The fourth week of May it is time to plan your summer sojourns. Get maps printed for the areas you want to visit. Go online and find accommodations and restaurants in the area. See if there are other activities, exhibitions, or attractions that you can visit while you are there.

The important thing is to remember to have fun. It is your vacation after all.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research