Family History

What to do at home
Things to bear in mind
Key Information sources
My Ancestor was ...
What to do at Home

Researching your family history can be a rewarding pastime. Based on our own experience, these are the main options we feel are available to you:

Buy a book

There are many published guides to researching Scottish ancestry in print. We recommend Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors (Edinburgh, 1999), details of which you can find on the National Records of Scotland shop . Two books by experienced genealogical researchers are: Kathleen B Cory, Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry (Edinburgh, 1996) and Rosemary Bigwood, Scottish Ancestry (Edinburgh, 1999).

Ask the family

You should exhaust your own family's 'knowledge base' of relatives, family papers, family bibles etc. In 10 years time Glasgow City Archives and the National Records of Scotland will still be here, but Aunt Jeannie might not be.

Join the club

Become a member of a family history society in Scotland. You may be able to benefit from work already done by fellow members via a society's register of members' interests. If you live abroad and become a member, a society may undertake limited research on your behalf. If you live in Scotland, family history societies offer advice and tuition, group visits to record offices, and an opportunity to talk about your family history with other enthusiasts and publish the results of your research. The two leading family history societies in Scotland are the Aberdeen & North East of Scotland Family History Society and the Glasgow & West of Scotland Family History Society . For information about other family history societies see the SCAN Directory .


Hire an expert

If you do not want to travel to the relevant parts of Scotland where the information about your ancestry may be held, you could hire a record agent to carry out research on your behalf. The Association of Scottish Genealogists and Record Agents (ASGRA) has many experienced and competent researchers. Some Scottish archives keep lists of record agents and researchers in their areas. Other Scottish archives offer a research service.

Cast your Net

It is possible to search birth, marriage and death records, census returns over the Internet, using the National Records of Scotland ScotlandsPeople site. This site also offers access to the wills and testaments of Scots between 1500 and 1900, digitised by the SCAN project and previously made available via the Scottish Documents site. Further indexes and sources are being prepared for internet access by archives and private societies in Scotland, so scope for online genealogy is increasing all the time. However, experienced researchers in Scotland have expressed doubts about the accuracy of family trees constructed using internet sources alone. For some other websites which offer advice and report news of developments in family history see our useful links page in the SCAN Directory.

photograph of clerk

Clerk recording details of family in Glasgow in 1886.
Reproduced with permission of Glasgow City Archives.