Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from SGNE

It's been one heck of a year here at SGNE! When I first started this blog this time last year, I wasn't really sure what I was hoping to do with it at first. Working as a genealogist in Scotland, and with a background at the BBC, I felt that there was a lot happening in Scotland that the genealogical community here was not aware of, not just in Scotland but further afield, and so this blog was created to basically help spread the word. I have been truly humbled by the support I have received for this from around the world, including the family history magazine community here in Britain, family history societies in the UK, Australia and America, records providers, and more. So to all of you, a big thank you, and rest assured, the work will continue next year!

Twenty years ago, if you were interested in genealogy, you would invariably have to pay a substantial fortune to pursue the hobby. The internet has truly revolutionised that, not just in making content more accessible, but in creating a sea change with regard to its acceptability as a hobby worth pursuing. History was always perceived to be written by those who won the wars (and often created them), controlled the economy and the laws, and shouted at us from the pulpits. Now we can read about the history that matters - our own ancestry - and in this regard, the whole area of history has become increasingly democratised. As a wee boy at school, first in England and then in Northern Ireland, I had to learn some of the most dreariest topics in my history class, but in the last decade my understanding of Scottish, Irish and British history has gone through the roof simply because I have identified where my family story actually connected to it. Family history can help define your identity in a way that no flag or anthem ever could, and long may its popularity as an ever growing hobby continue!

Fast as the revolution in accessibility to our heritage records is, do alwasy bear in mind that some material on the internet can at times be innaccurate, so if you are planning to research your family history, always check the provenance of the sources, and never accept someone else's tree just because they say that it is correct! Do use your local family history societies also - the Scottish Association of Family History Societies is the umbrella group for those here in Scotland (, and is doing some amazing work, including the newly updated graveyards CD, which identifies over 3500 burial spots and crematoria, and where to find records relating to them.

Not everything is online, and you may find that at times you will need to hire professional help. At Scotland's Greatest Story we charge by the hour (not a standard "£300 for one line" etc, which could return info on ten generations or just two generations) and we keep you appraised of progress throughout the research process, with no job too small. If you've hit a brick wall, we'd be happy to evaluate it. In the last year I've personally helped many people, ranging from a member of the House of Lords to my local butcher! Everyone' story is just as interesting as the last. If you haven't caught the latest issue of Family History Monthly, there is a competition where we are offering a free day's research in Edinburgh, so you have to be in it to win it!

Finally, in the next week or so I will post a list of some of the big developments heading our way next year, but in the meantime, Nollaig Chrideil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ur - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Scotland's Greatest Story
Professional family history research & genealogical problem solving

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