Did you know that an estimated 40 million people worldwide are of Scottish descent? For every single Scot here in our native land, there are thought to be at least five more overseas who can claim Scottish ancestry.
Tracing our ancestors is an exciting thought, but many people don’t know where to begin. But it’s actually a lot easier than you think, sometimes we just need a little guidance.
Talk to your elders
Talking to your elders is an important step to tracing your family tree. Being older and closer to the generations you are trying to trace, your elders likely already have a wealth of knowledge that can kickstart your research. You should ask your parents, grand-parents or even great grand-parents questions about your family history and if possible, find out full names, maiden names, birthplaces, locations, addresses, ethnic background and where relatives are buried. Knowing this information is a great place to start and can save a lot of time.
Gather old photographs, letters or documents
Next, you’re going to want to gather old photographs, letters or other types of documents such as birth, death or marriage certificates that could benefit your search. We’ve all got old items like these stuffed away in a suitcase somewhere in our attic, but if you don’t, again, speak to your elderly relatives who would be more likely to have these and involve them in the process if possible. Who knows what you might find! It’s often the case that old photographs, letters or documents are dated which can be incredibly helpful as it’s hard evidence of a date you can trace back to.
Make use of online resources
Nowadays, tracing our family background is easier than ever thanks to a whole range of online resources, from websites to online registers. Ancestry.co.uk is one of the most popular genealogy websites which allows subscribers to trace their family tree and connects them with other relatives around the world who have also subscribed. There’s also the ScotlandsPeople website, the official Scottish genealogy source consisting of more than 100 million entries. For a small fee, users can access Scotland’s official registers of historical births, marriages and deaths.
Walk in the footsteps of your ancestors
Finally, take your research a step further and visit Scotland for yourself to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors. This is one of the most fulfilling stages of your research as it allows you to experience at first hand where your ancestors came from. Using the information you have gathered, you could visit the exact addresses your family came from or you could even connect with relatives who are still alive. There are several historical sites in Scotland that will give you an insight into how your ancestors lived, from museums and castles, to real ancient battlefields.
Best of Scotland Holidays can help you trace your ancestors with our Walk in the Footsteps of your Ancestors package. This 11-night tour takes in some of the locations where history has been made and where events which have shaped the lives of Scots have taken place. This tour is entirely customisable to suit your requirements.
You can find out more about this package via the enquiry form on our website or contact us directly to speak to one of our travel experts.