Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research: Scottish Course – Over

Last week twenty-four adult learners from across the country gathered at Samford University in Birmingham Alabama to learn about doing Scottish research. See the June 4 blog entry for a full list of topics. Old friends reconnected, new friendships were made and all learned from the wealth of experience in the class. Here is a photograph of the class participants taken on the Friday morning on the steps behind out building.

The Scottish track was one course in ten that brought nearly 300 instructors and students from across the US and Canada. If you want to improve your genealogy skills check out the institute at next years event June 8-13

Book Review: The Scots – A Photohistory

The ScotsThe Scots: A Photohistory. By Murray MacKinnon and Richard Oram. Published by Thames & Hudson, 500 Fifth Ave., New York NY 10110. . 2003 hbk, 2012 sbk. 224 pp. Illustrations, index. Hbk $40,  Sbk $21.95

If you have ancestors living in Scotland after the invention of photography in 1839 you will like this book. The introduction to the book creates the big picture highlighting the major events in Scotland during the nineteenth century: repression, clearance and revival in Gaelic speaking areas; highland life and the 1886 Crofters Act; the rise and decline of industrialization and urbanization in the Lowlands; issues within the church with schism and revival to irrelevance; shifting politics from conservatism, to liberal and radical.

The following chapters portray: people; places, coastal and rural life; work and industry; transport; sport and leisure. The majority of the images are sepia-toned albumin prints, but most 19th century types of images are included. The images selected are the best of the best in terms of clarity, composition and quality.

It was for the abundant excellent images and good captions that I purchased this book. The surprise was the quality and clarity of the accompanying text. The authors do an excellent job of describing how and in what ways life was changing in Scotland. The authors show the interconnectedness between events and the ripple effects of changes in society. One example is the 1843 Disruption of the Church of Scotland destroying the seamless join between Church and State; resulting by 1845 in new parochial boards being created to administer poor relief and by1861 the Church losing its legal powers over schools.

This book is a pleasure to read and to look at. It is highly recommended if you have Scottish ancestry from the 1830s up through the end of WWI.

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research: Scottish Research Track

Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, June 9-14 at Samford University, Birmingham Alabama.

I am excited as next week I get to teach a whole week course on Scottish Research. IGHR as it is more familiarly known is the longest running Genealogical Institute in North America, and possibly the world. It has been operating for over 45 years. There are 10 education tracks running simultaneously. Courses for England, Scotland and Ireland are offered on a three year cycle. I coordinate and teach the English and Scottish courses, while David Rencher, the Chief Genealogical Officer for FamilySearch teaches the Irish course.

This will be an intense week for the 25 adult learners in the class. 19 lectures with computer class time over the 4.5 days of the Institute.

•    Scotland — Definitions, Sources, Repositories and Processes
•    Scottish Emigration to North America
•    History of Scotland
•    Scotland — Internet: Commercial Sites
•    Scotland — Internet: Free Sites
•    Find the Correct Place: Maps and Gazetteers
•    Civil Registration
•    Making Sense of the Census
•    Church Records for B/M/D
•    Kirk Session and Poor Relief Records
•    Inheritance: Wills and Executries
•    Inheritance and Transfer of Land/Buildings
•    Burghs and Their Records
•    Occupation Records
•    Scots in the British Military (2 sessions)
•    Overlooked Sources: 17th and 18th Centuries
•    Overlooked Sources: 19th and 20th Centuries
•    Planning your Trip to Scotland

Think about IGHR for your future educational needs as it is too late to register for this year


Book Review: Tracing Your Huguenot Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians by Kathy Chater

I gave four lectures last weekend in Rochester, New York and got a number of questions about tracing Huguenots in England and Ireland, thus I thought appropriate to share this review.

Tracing Your Huguenot Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians by Kathy Chater
Tracing Your Huguenot Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians by Kathy Chater

Tracing Your Huguenot Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians. By Kathy Chater. Published by Pen & Sword Family History, 47 Church Street, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S70 2AS, UK. £12.99. US Distributor: Casemate Publishing, 1016 Warrior Road, Drexel Hill, PA 19026. US$24.95. Australia sales from Gould Genealogy and History. AUS$29.95. 2012. 152 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover.

Between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries many thousands of Protestants fled religious persecution in France and the Low Countries (modern day Belgium, Netherlands and Luxemburg). They settled in the German Protestant States and the British Isles, some permanently while others later migrated to North America, the West Indies, South Africa and Australia. The book opens with a very good summary of the wars and religious conflict that led to these migrations, reminding us just how important religion was in the lives of our ancestors.

The book focusses on the communities within Great Britain and Ireland. It clearly identifies and summarizes the history, development and decline, of the specific Huguenot and Walloon communities in London, Kent, East Anglia, the West Country, Ireland, Scotland and the Channel Islands. Ms. Chater continues by suggesting a research plan with issues to consider. This is not necessarily easy for the wealthy tended to choose to assimilate joining the Church of England, seeking business and education opportunities, while the poor needed the support of their own community. The Huguenot communities could easily be connected with the Church of England or the Dissenting Churches (Congregationalists, Baptists, English Presbyterians) and often with specific occupations so a broad research perspective is required. A nice research checklist is provided of both specific and general sources, with chapters for each. The chapter on specific resources is very valuable addressing: denizations and naturalisations; returns of strangers; Huguenot church records, going beyond the church registers; poor relief and charity records; schools; charity apprenticeships; friendly societies; wills; other foreign churches. What is nice is that these records are not usually high on the priority list for researchers and so their importance and specificity for this community is valuable. The chapter on general sources points to more commonly used records, but again highlights what to look for that might clearly identify people from this community.

The closing chapters address how to research Huguenot communities with individual European countries, and the rest of the world, including briefly North America. The bibliography includes a complete listing of all titles in the Huguenot Society Quarto Series and New Series, plus how the titles have been combined and reissued on CD-ROM, along with a select bibliography.  Compared with other volumes in this series the bibliography and guidance for further research is one of the weaknesses in this otherwise up to date research guide. For example, though the chapter on the religious wars and Edicts in Europe that created this migration is well summarized there is no guidance in the chapter or the bibliography for researchers who want to know more. It should also be pointed out that when discussing the European Huguenot churches mention is made when the records have been microfilmed by the Family History Library, while no mention is made of which British Huguenot church records have been filmed.

This is a useful, up to date, practical guide for anyone who has, or thinks they have, Huguenot ancestors in the British Isles. It provides social and contextual assistance along with guidance on what records have survived, where to find them and how to use them.

Genealogy at a Glance: English Research (or Irish or Scottish) – How to purchase in Australia and New Zealand

Genealogy at a Glance - English Research by Paul Milner
Genealogy at a Glance – English Research by Paul Milner

I have exciting news for Australian and New Zealand researchers. As I lecture in Australia there is strong interest in Genealogy at a Glance series of laminated help sheets published by Genealogical Publishing Company. I wrote the English Research guide and have a few remaining copies but expect to sell out of them at my next venue in Perth on Saturday. Brian Mitchell wrote the guide for Ireland, and David Dobson wrote the guide for Scotland, all copies sold out.
Here is how to purchase them directly from the publisher at a much reduced price from the one listed on the company’s website.   These are 1st class international postage paid prices, especially for my blog readers:
1 Genealogy at a Glance        $20
2 Genealogy at a Glance        $35
3 Genealogy at a Glance        $50
You can order via email to
You can mail an order to:, 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Ste 260, Baltimore, MD 21211, USA
You will need to provide either a check in US currency or credit card information.
I apologize to the participants in Brisbane who wanted to purchase additional Genealogy at a Glance laminated folders and I hope you will be happy with this arrangement that I managed to make with the publisher.

Book Review: Discover Scottish Land Records

Bg-cov-2012Dec-Discover Scottish Land Records

Discover Scottish Land Records. By Chris Paton. Published by Unlock the Past, P.O. Box 119, St. Agnes SA 5097, Australia. 2012. 68 pp. Illustrations, index. Softcover. AU$20

I liked this book, a lot, and can highly recommend it for those seeking to put their Scottish ancestors on the ground in Scotland, and find the associated records. The book focuses on place. It even encouraged me to go back to my own book, A Genealogists Guide to Discovering Your Scottish Ancestors, to remind myself what I had discussed and what I had not.

The book begins by discussing where your ancestors were. It examines the records you may already be familiar with, such as: vital records; parish records; census records; street directories; phone directories; electoral registers; valuation rolls; burgh assessment rolls; earlier tax and valuation rolls; and newspapers. In each of these record groups the goal here is to identify where your ancestors were living or working, so looking for specific street addresses or names of farms, etc. The book moves on to put those places into context using maps, the Statistical Account of Scotland, gazetteers, etc.

It is the next two sections of the book addressing land tenure and inheritance that I thought were especially good, taking me further into my understanding of Scottish records and importantly bringing me up to date on how to access these materials and learning  what has changed legally within the last decade. The section on land tenure begins with a very good overview of how Scottish laws have developed over time, describing feudalism and the use of charters. This provides the context for how and why the records developed the way they did. There is a good discussion of sasines, liferents and trusts, Registers of Scotland, Register of Deeds, rental records, the role of the tacksman, and ultimately the end of feudalism in 2004 (yes, you read that correctly  – 2004). The chapter on inheritance explains: the differences between moveable and heritable estates; apparent heirs (not the same as the English phrase – heir apparent); the Services of Heirs, with the differences between Special Services (special retours) and General Services (general retours), giving examples from the indexes; the concept of Precept of Clare Constat; and then a good explanation of the different types of heirs that you may run across in the records. The book concludes with a good glossary and a brief bibliography.

If you have found your Scottish ancestors in the basic record groups and want to go to a deeper level in your research and seek your ancestors on the land then I can highly recommend this slim but well written, practical guide to these records.