Additional Information Sources
While the holdings of historical genealogical information have been centralized into three main sources – The General Register Office for Scotland, the National Archives of Scotland, and the Church of Scotland – there do exist other sources of information about Scottish ancestors.
LDS Family History Centers. Despite the country from whence your ancestors hailed, it seems that all roads in the vast world of genealogy eventually lead back to Salt Lake City. The Mormon Church may have a local branch Family History Center near where you live, so you may be able to search their holdings without leaving your home base. You may also be able to access their holdings through their genealogy site, www.familysearch.org. Here's what the LDS has:
- Census records – copies of the census returns for the whole of Scotland on microfilm, plus CD-ROM access to the 1881 Census index.
- OPRs – access to the International Genealogical Index (IGI), compiled from parish registers and other sources of births/baptisms and marriages. Deaths records are not included.
Sources Covering Specific Localities
As an early step in your research, it is well worth your while to consult www.genuki.org.uk/big/sct/ for regional information on Scottish genealogy resources, broken down by county and parish. Local sources may have information that is unobtainable anywhere else, as well as records specialists available to assist you in your search.
Local Registrars. Every administrative district of Scotland may be a source of records for their area. If your family tree is rooted in one specific area, it may be more convenient to search locally than to make a pilgrimage to the GROS in Edinburgh. Local registrars may hold local area civil registrations and may offer access to indexes for the entire country. Likewise, local registrars may hold census returns for their own area and access to Scotland-wide indexes for the 1881, 1891 and 1901 censuses. When it comes to Old Parish Registers, the local registrars may offer countrywide OPR indexes as well as images of the actual documents for the local area.
Local Authorities. The records of cemeteries that are still in operation are the responsibility of the local authorities. Contact them for any death/burial records that are not available elsewhere.
Local Archives. Local archives can be a rich source of varied information for their specific areas, including burial records, school records, church records, deeds, sasines, business-related records, family documents, and estate papers.
Local Libraries. Libraries will typically hold microfilm copies of 1841-1901 census returns, as well as the 1881 name index for their own area on microfiche. For OPRs, you may find the index on microfiche and images on microfilm for the local area. Libraries may also be a source for newspaper articles, obituaries, gravestone inscriptions, burial records, trade directories, voter rolls, military records, shipping records, local maps, and collections of historical photographs.
Family History Societies. There are may societies dedicated to preserving historical information for their given locality. These societies are playing a key role in developing local indexes of surnames and variants, which are of critical importance when searching 19th-century census returns and other records. Depending on the area, you may find among their holdings microfilm copies of local census data for 1841-1901; CD-ROMs of the 1881 census national index; the OPR index on microfiche, and the images on microfilm for their own area. Another project the local family history societies are particularly keen on is the documentation of headstone inscriptions from the local graveyards and other local genealogical information of interest to the society's membership.
One Final Note
In closing, we at the Celtic Network hope this genealogical primer has been useful in helping you get started tracing your Scottish roots. You can find more detailed information on Scottish genealogical searches in the many authoritative books that have been written on the subject. The website AnIrishChristmas.com features listings of recommended Scottish genealogy books.
Best of luck with your search for your Scottish ancestors!