Before You Get Started

Making a family tree or/and researching family history is fun but it is also time consuming and tough work. You need to know where to look for key information and you need a great deal of patience because it can take months or even years to actually get somewhere. Scotland has a very good system of records but if you want to progress as smoothly as possible, you need to start off well. So before you head to the archives, you are recommended to:

Gather your family records. Go through old photographs, letters, postcards and other documents. Determine who is who, make a draft of family tree and write down everything you know about your family in order to determine where the trail gets lost.

Visit/contact your relatives. Grandparents, aunts and uncles are excellent sources for family history. They will tell you the same old stories for a hundredth time but if you ask the right questions, you can learn a lot of things you didn’t know before. Also, if anyone then it is your relatives who can tell you who are those people on your old family photos.

Go through the information you have gathered. After talk to everyone you can remember, go through the information you have gathered and don’t worry if there are any inconsistencies. Memory fades with time, while everyone has their own view of a particular event or person. Write down what you know about your family and ancestors, and be sure not to leave anything out no matter how incredible it may sound. Your older relatives may have a better memory than you think.

Take time to educate yourself on genealogy and family history research. It is very important to know where to look for particular information if you want to find your Scottish ancestors. So visit a library and borrow some books on genealogy and family history research. Online resources are very helpful as well.

Make a plan. When you organise the gathered information and learn how to trace your ancestors, make a plan where you will start and how you will proceed. Make places and sources where you are most likely to find your ancestors a priority but always have a backup plan in case they turn out to be elusive.

Prepare for setbacks. Don’t despair when you come to a point when all trails seem to end. Tracing ancestors can be very challenging and most people face setbacks at some point. What to do? Go through what you know and places you have been but failed to come any further. At the same time, review your plan and think on places where you haven’t looked yet. It may also help to connect with other people who have traced their Scottish ancestors because they may give you valuable information.