Monday, 5 June 2017

Genealogy Beyond the Internet

Every week more records are added to the hundreds of genealogy websites. Find My Past release new records every Friday. We add records as we index them and sites like Ancestry add their own records and index records from a large collection of other websites. Never has it been easier to research your family tree online.

The reality is however that what is online is just a drop in the ocean of the records that are available. In fact, the records that are not online are often the more interesting records.

We have indexed a small proportion of Scottish prison records but there is a lot more work to do! The National Records of Scotland hold some fascinating records, such as property records and deeds which can hold the key to unlocking your family history.

Sometimes though, in the records we have available, we have a clue. If we stop and think about the records we have easy access to we can open up a world of further possibilities.

Here’s an example. A client came to us recently because she noticed from the 1871 census that two of her relatives were in the Mossbank Industrial School. This was a tantalising piece of information, why were the boys there? How long where they at the school for? So many questions.

We were able to tell her that the records of the Mossbank Industrial School are held by the Glasgow City Archives at the Mitchell Library. Sadly there is no online catalogue but their website states that they have got records of pupils.

We were commissioned to go and investigate. We found that very detailed records survive for the school. The two lads were admitted in 1870 and are described as ‘Destitute’. We located another volume of records, this time discharge records and these were the most fascinating. On leaving the Industrial School regular information was sent back and recorded in the register. Here are a couple of entries I liked. “Doing Well, is employed in Mills. Stays with Father at Innerleithen. Had a letter on 23rd January 1874.” “Still doing well. Heard from him on the 31 March 1876”.*

I just love these wee piece of information. From the lads being released on licence in November 1873 right through to 1876 we can see that they did well; where else could we find these details?

The next time you are researching think about what the census is telling you, ask questions and try to find the records to answer them. If you need some help just get in touch and we can help. The above research was done for just £25. Hiring professionals doesn’t have to break the bank but could help you break down a brick wall. 

*This information is taken from items D-ED7/146/5/2 and D-ED7/146/3/1 both of which are held by the Glasgow City Archives.