Welcome, fellow genealogists! My blog will teach you about U.S. land records and United Kingdom research. My family has roots in Niagara County, New York; Norfolk, England; and northeast Germany.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wisdom Wednesday: Scotland’s People Website

ScotlandsPeople is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month. It is a huge site with over 90 million digital records and images. Even as the staff takes a moment to savor its longevity, there are plans to post records of wills from 1902 to 1925. Congratulations!

I have one Scotsman in my family tree, Andrew Bruce Stewart. If I could find his parents and birthplace I would be one happy genealogist.  ScotlandsPeople is the best website for me to begin my search. Its URL is www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. Since it is a pay site, The first things I want to know are what is available without paying and how much it will cost to search for my GGgrandfather.

First, I need to log in at the top right of the home page – no payment required. Just under the log in area are five tabs – search the records, about the records, help and resources, FAQs, and features. I click on the ‘about the records’ tab and select ‘records availability’ from the dropdown menu. There is a chart of what indexes and images are available on the website. There are few that are free, but don’t be upset.
ScotlandsPeople is notable because it has indexes and images of most of its records. It has the censuses from 1841–1911. Civil Registration began in 1855, and the site has indexes for birth, marriages and deaths (BMDs) from that date to 2009, which are called the Statutory Registers. Because of privacy laws, the actual images can be viewed as follows: births, 1855-1911; marriages, 1855-1936; deaths, 1855-1961. ScotlandsPeople has indexed records of Church of Scotland, called Old Parish Registers and some catholic church registers beginning in 1553 to 1854. The site has a Valuation Roll from 1915. A segment is called ‘Free Search Records’ and includes wills dating from 1513 to 1901 and coats of arms.

What is Free?
Like many sites, information about the databases, directions for using the site and general genealogy tutorials are free. I found a few interesting things.

There is detailed information about each record group held so click on the “Search the Records” tab and then ‘Old Parish Records’. There you will find a description of the records of the established church, the Church of Scotland. In the 3500 registers that have been deposited are the BMD records, baptisms, banns and burials before 1855. However, “Registration in Church of Scotland's registers was costly and unpopular, so many people did not bother to register events at all.” In the early 19th century, it was estimated that only 30 percent of the events in urban areas were recorded.
Under the tab ‘Help and Resources’, c lick ‘Getting Started.’ Near the bottom, you will see links to two topics I have posted about before. One is the Scottish Association of Family History Societies at www.safhs.org. It has a list of all the local societies around the country so you can contact or join the one that could be most helpful to you.

The last sentence on the screen states, ‘Handwriting help is available here.’  By clicking on the word ‘here’ you will be taken to a screen titled ‘Handwriting Help’ which is somewhat misnamed because it contains two links, only one about handwriting and the other vocabulary. The first link is to the Dictionary of the Scots Language (Dictionar o the Scots Leid) at www.dsl.ac.uk/dsl/index.html.  The following from their website:
“The Dictionary of the Scots Language (DSL) comprises electronic editions of the two major historical dictionaries of the Scots language: the 12-volume Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST) and the 10-volume Scottish National Dictionary (SND). DOST contains information about Scots words in use from the twelfth to the end of the seventeenth centuries (Older Scots); and SND contains information about Scots words in use from 1700 to the 1970s (modern Scots). Together these 22 volumes provide a comprehensive history of Scots, and a New Supplement now (2005) brings the record of the language up to date. These are therefore essential research tools for… historical or literary scholars whose sources are written in Scots…”

The second link is to www.scottishhandwriting.com. There is a one-hour basic tutorial along with three more specific ones in the category ‘tutorial’ in the list on the left of the home screen. Before leaving the main page, you might want to click on ‘this week’s poser’. The one for 5 Sep 2012 is a baptism certificate from Edinburgh which is quite challenging.
What is the cost?

The site runs on credits. You buy credits with your credit card, and when they are used up, you buy more.  The charges are detailed under the ‘About Our Records’ tab; click ‘charges.’
For seven Great Britain pounds (7 GBP), you receive 30 page credits that are good for one year. The Statutory Records, Old Parish Records, Catholic Records and Censuses cost one page credit for an index page with 25 results and five page credits for an actual image. The description of the process of charging for viewing an index page sounds complicated to me, but I haven’t used it yet.  I quote from the Scotlandspeople website:

·         Charges for index-searching are based on the number of pages actually displayed, not on the number of records retrieved.
·         Each time you do a search, you are told how many records have been found; each record refers to a specific event, ie a particular birth/baptism, marriage or death.

·         Before displaying the records, you have the opportunity to re-define, and narrow the search, without displaying the results.

·         If you decide to view these records, they are displayed in pages each containing a maximum of 25 records. One page of results costs 1 credit.

It is free to view the index to wills and coats of arms. Images of wills can be purchased with 10 credits no matter the length. A coat of arms image is 10 GBP per document.
ScotlandsPeople Centre
General Register House
2 Princes Street

A companion website answers questions for those who want to visit the Centre in Edinburgh: www.scotlandspeoplehub.gov.uk
I am going to spend time looking for Andrew Bruce Stewart now. If I find him or have insights on  using ScotlandsPeople, you will hear from me soon.

©2012, Susan Lewis Well

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