Tuesday, 4 February 2014

A visit to the Scottish Genealogy Society

On Friday, 31 January 2014, the Scottish Genealogy Network (SGN) visited the Scottish Genealogy Society (SGS) in Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh. Their premises are centrally located, not far from the railway station, the National Library of Scotland and Edinburgh Central Library. We were all made very welcome in their warm, newly refurbished building.

The visit began with us seated around their study tables where we were given a short history of the Society and told a little about their library. The Society was founded in 1953, which was before other local Family History Societies got going in Scotland. The SGS has therefore always had the goal of helping people trace their family tree all over Scotland, not just in the Edinburgh area.

The SGS has 3 public computers where you can access subscription websites such as ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk for free. These computers are also where you can access other internet sites of genealogical interest and digital resources such as some monument transcriptions (MIs).

Today we may automatically turn to Scotland’s People to look for an OPR birth, but as it is a pay-per-view website most of us are on the lookout for ways to reduce our costs. The SGS has two ways to help. Firstly you can buy reduced cost credits for them which you can either use on the premises or take home. Secondly, you can view the records for free in their building, by looking at the OPRs on microfilm. They have a  complete set covering every parish in Scotland! This could be particularly useful if you are working on a common name within one parish.

The SGS also has a vast collection of MIs, covering not just Scotland but also some for Cumbria which I thought was very useful. They have handy reference folders, known as the “Black Book”, so you can easily see what they have for the area you are interested in. The SGS has also made the “Black Book” available online. The Black Book contains details of all the Scottish Genealogy Society's holdings relating to Scottish deaths and burials.

After our initial introduction we split into two groups and took a tour of the library, eager eyes looking at the labels on filing cabinets to see what we could use in our own research. Every now and again a member of the group would say, “oh, that’s useful!”.

We were taken up a few steps and round into an aladdin's cave of history books and genealogical resources. In rolls stacked up to the ceiling they have a collection of family histories donated by current and past members, who having carefully researched their family history have now donated a copy to help others of the family who follow. Again an index to these is available in the library and online.

I could go on and on about the amount of resources they have but perhaps the best thing is to stop now and let you look at their website or visit in person if you are able to.

Take a look at their membership page to see member benefits and join online, membership starts from just £20!

The next meeting of the SGN will be in London as many of us will be attending the Who Do You Think You Are? Live event. In March we are looking forward to visiting the John Gray Centre, Haddington. If you work as a professional genealogist in Scotland and wish to join our group, e-mail our secretary, Emma Maxwell, for more information: scotsgenenet @gmail.com

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