Research Your Scottish Ancestry

Robert WilbanksHoliday Family Gathering

by Robert M. Wilbanks IV, B.A.
Chief Genealogist & Historian, C.S.A.

In this column, I regularly provide insight on how to research our ancestors, family, who have come and gone before us. We work to find this family, learn who they were and discover their stories. It is an adventure, and for most of us it is very exciting to learn their stories, who they were, where they came from, where they went, and how they lived, etc.

However, when you really think about it, it is, in a certain way, rather sad that we need to go to such effort to discover that which was lost to us.

When families migrate, and distance themselves from family and their homeland, over time family names, stories and traditions can become forgotten. So today we go to great lengths to discover the people and information that were lost to time, and the stories that were never shared and passed down through the generations.

In addition to researching our family history, joining ethnic and cultural organizations like The Caledonian Society of Arizona, or the German-American, Irish-American, or Italian-American Societies, etc., is another way we can recapture and reconnect to the culture and traditions of our family that were lost to us. However, as great as genealogy research and these ethnic cultural organizations can be, there is really no substitute for the most important resource of your family and cultural history and traditions . . . that being todayís living family.

This year, 2020, has been a difficult year. As we approach the Holidays, and begin to close out the year, we will be reflecting on 2020, and looking to 2021 with hope. And of course, during this time we will be reflecting on and spending time with our family. The Holidays is a time for Family. The Holidays is about Family. It is a time to engage with those loved ones who are still with you.

So rather than writing about genealogy research techniques and resources in this monthís column, I would instead like to greatly encourage you to engage with your family this season. More importantly, I would like for you to learn or share your family stories and traditions; receive them from your elderly family members and/or pass them on to the younger family members.

What are your Family Stories? What are your Family Traditions? Are they Scottish? German? Uniquely American? Do you have family recipes to pass down? What do your children know about your parents? What do your grandchildren know about you? What do you really know about your children or grandchildren?

Donít only pass on the histories and traditions of the previous generations that you may have discovered in your research. Also share your own stories, your own life experiences, such as your time in college or the military, world travels, meeting your spouse, your wedding, your honeymoon, your career, etc.

Additionally, donít just share them orally. Write them down. Or perhaps even recording them in audio or video media. Especially consider video-recording the elder family members as they tell you their stories. Their and your stories do matter, both old and new. Pass them on. Donít wait. Take the time today, and tomorrow, to share all the familyís yesterdays.

I would like to share with you a 3-minute video that was recently brought to my attention that is very moving and should bring home my point of this writing. I hope you will take the time to watch it. It is in Spanish with English subtitles. Carefully pay attention to the subtitles, and be sure to watch the people as well.

Wishing you a very Happy Holidays, and a most successful, healthy and prosperous New Year to you and all your family.

This is another of a series of articles in which I show you the basics of searching for your family history, discussing the use of family records, public records, and online resources nationally and internationally, etc. The previous articles are now available on the Genealogy Section of this website.   See “Genealogy” in the menu options at the top of the web page.