Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Smart Searching on ScotlandsPeople

We have all been in that situation, made a 1911 census search on ScotlandsPeople only to have five or more options that could all be our ancestor!

You can save those precious credits by making some smart searches.

Although you can add a ‘Forename of other person on that census page’, which can be helpful, this is not so helpful if you are searching for Johns, Marys and Williams as the chances are those names are on quite a lot of Scottish census pages!

When you get your list of results you are given Surname, Forename, Year, Gender, Age, Ref, RD Name and County/City.

The first five columns are self-explanatory, but what about ‘Ref’ and ‘RD Name’, what do these mean?

‘Ref’ is reference, this is displayed as a number, e.g. ‘569/ 1/ 7’. The first number which in this case is 569 represents the Registration District (RD) which is in this case Kilmacolm.

Over time some places grew rapidly and the registration districts were divided, when this happened we may see a district number like 572/2 which is Barrhead and Levern.

Returning to our original example of ‘Ref’ 569/ 1/ 7, the 1 represents the enumeration book and the 7 represents the page. 

Why is this useful? All members of a standard household will be either on the same page or on the page before or following. 

How can this help? Let’s say you find a John Smith in Kilmacolm, he’s the right age but you are not sure it’s quite right. Refine your search, take out the forename and age but look for all ‘Smiths’ in the district of Kilmacolm. 

Once you get the search results up look to see who has the reference ‘569/ 1/ 7’. Also, watch out for ‘569/ 1/ 6’ and ‘569/ 1/ 8’ in case the family splits over two pages!

You have now effectively recreated the family group and you can easily work out if this is ‘your’ John Smith before you spend those credits. 

This is going to be particularly helpful for the 1911 census as it is not available on other websites. If you are struggling to find people in earlier census years use websites like Freecen and ScottishIndexes to make free searches, or if you have a Findmypast or Ancestry subscription use their search to identify the family then go to ScotlandsPeople to see the original image.

Monday, 22 February 2021

Conversations, photographs and documents; taken out of context they can all be misunderstood!

We’ve all been in that situation, having heard a conversation and got the wrong end of the story. The same can happen with documents. We look at an entry half way through a volume and misunderstand what we are looking at. 

There was an example this morning in our group, a member asked why a 1902 list of Glasgow voters were all women. Good question! It seemed odd, and there were some ideas as to why this may be, but how would we get to the truth?

I went to Ancestry where we can view the records (https://www.ancestry.co.uk/search/collections/61020/) and found the entry that was mentioned in our group. I then paged back to the start of the section to read the heading which read, ‘Supplementary list of persons other than Parliamentary Electors entitled to vote in the election of the Town Councillors for the City and Royal Burgh of Glasgow’. These women were therefore only permitted to vote in certain elections. Their male counterparts will have already been listed in the other lists. Interestingly this list is not all women. There are some men but predominantly women are listed.

What do we learn? Don’t take a record out of context. If you can, page through to the start of the volume or section. Find out who created a record and why. Read other entries to see the whole picture.

Join our Facebook group to join in the conversation. www.facebook.com/groups/scottishindexes