As the popularity of family history continues to grow, so too do its tools: archive collections expand, their indexing improves, new books and magazines are published, and websites proliferate. But how accessible and costly are all these sources? How useful and readable are they, how relevant and reliable? How should they be interpreted? How does genealogy interact with other disciplines?
Orkney represents a fascinating microcosm of these wider issues. Sagas recount the ancestry of local Vikings of the 9th century. Contemporary records have helped to unravel pedigrees spanning 20 generations; they suggest at least one farm has been inhabited by the same family since 1492; and they can help trace the ancestors of 19th century migrants to North America and the Antipodes.
Problems of access and interpretation have been eased by catalogues, databases, digital images and guidance now available in many libraries, at the Family History Centers of the Church of the Latter-day Saints, and on the "web".
But there is still no substitute for personal visits to the vast archive collections in Edinburgh and Kirkwall, and to see first-hand where your ancestors once lived, maybe even the ruins of the old croft.
This is the first book to focus on tracing Orcadian ancestry. A practical guide that assumes no prior knowledge of technical terms, it is written for both novice and more experienced genealogists.
The text identifies websites, libraries and archives where sources for Orcadian genealogy can be found. Details are included to help choose which sources are appropriate to where you live and how much time and money you may wish to spend. Up-to-date guidance is given on the background, use, limitations and interpretation of the various indexes and records now widely available that relate to the most useful sources: censuses, births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, gravestones, testaments and land-ownership.
For more zealous readers the text then addresses the copious records of churches, courts, employers, estates, schools, and local and national government that are less readily accessible but nevertheless can reveal fascinating glimpses of Orcadian ancestors as pupils, communicants, electors, employees, landowners, tenants, taxpayers, paupers, jurymen, witnesses, litigants, criminals and sinners.
Comprehensive appendices list numerous archive references and explain local weights and measures, udal and feudal law, systems of land-ownership and tenancy, and local naming customs. A glossary, bibliography, index, examples and cross-references help make this book an indispensable companion to everyone interested in Orcadian family history.
Much of the book is also relevant to students of Orkney's rich local history: sources are identified that can ascertain the owners, tenants and rental values of Orcadian landholdings through four centuries.
- 1. Access to Sources
- 2. Research Principles
- 3. Handwriting, Language and Technical Terms
The Records and Their Use
- 4. Census Returns
- 5. Hatches, Matches and Dispatches
- 6. Transfers of Land-ownership
- 7. Census Substitutes
- 8. Other Sources
- 9. Orkney’s Topography and History