Tracing Your Scottish Roots
Genealogical research begins with your own extended family. Living relatives can be a big help in filling in the branches on your family tree. If you have old family photographs, your elderly relatives can help you identify the faces of the people in them. It is also likely that relatives may have saved important documents, such as obituaries, a family bible, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, apprenticeship papers, college graduation papers, military service records, business papers, immigration documents, diaries, address books, letters and postcards, or newspaper clippings.
It's recommended that you approach this task as intelligently as possible, and utilize all of the modern technology available. Digitize information, scan photos and documents, and organize everything on your computer (and perform frequent backups, too!). You can build your family tree right on your computer, and keep all of your information impeccably organized. One of the best software programs for this task is Family Tree Maker. Once you have entered the information for individual relatives and ancestors, you can use Family Tree Maker to print out family trees and a wealth of family history reports in an instant.
As your search progresses, you may discover that a branch of your family tree connects to one of Scotland's more prominent clans. This could entitle you to certain armorial rights under Scotland's heraldry laws. Once you have petitioned for armorial rights and your petition has been granted, you can proudly (and legally) display a coat of arms as a member of one of Scotland's premier clans. See the article Scottish Heraldry and Arms for more information.
Many useful books have been written that cover how to search for your Scottish ancestors; these books go into a lot more depth than we can present here. By consulting one of these volumes, you may be able to save considerable time and money in your search. The website AnIrishChristmas.com features listings of recommended Scottish genealogy books.