FAMILY HISTORY FESTIVAL BEGINS
As part of this year’s Homecoming Scotland celebrations, families with links to Angus or Dundee will be able to find out more about their ancestors at the Angus and Dundee Roots Festival, which starts on September 26.
Dr Nick Barratt, the historian who helped bring family history research into the limelight with the BBC’s ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, will be opening the Roots Genealogy Workshop which is being held on Monday, September 28, at The Wighton Centre, Dundee Central Library. This free, all-day workshop, which starts at 10am, will give anyone interested in researching their family’s history the chance speak to experts from local archives and national organisations, including Scotland’s People, as well as highly-experienced family history researchers.
“People often think of researching family history as being an online activity but, although the internet is a great starting point for a family tree, a website can’t give you the essence of your ancestors and the communities where they lived,” said Nick Barratt. “So many people don’t realise the wealth of resources on their doorstep which will provide access to original material and expertise that will help uncover important and vital information about their family.”
During the Roots Genealogy Workshop, there will also be opportunities to learn how to access the burial records of all the graveyards in Angus through Deceased Online. If you prefer to carry out graveyard research in person rather than online, guided tours of The Howff and Kirriemuir Cemetery will take place on Tuesday, September 29, at 10am.
The Festival will also include an all-day tour of the Angus Archives at Restenneth, near Forfar, where 800 years of written, printed and photographic records can be accessed. “The Angus Archives are a treasure trove for anyone researching their family tree,” said Fiona Scharlau, Senior Archivist at the Angus Archives, who will be one of the archivists providing help and advice during the tour.
During the Angus & Dundee Roots Festival, there will be a series of expert lectures about local and family history, including talks on the Dundee whaling industry, Dundee’s little-known World War II submarine flotilla, how to use the Dundee archives, the families of Angus and the McLarens, a local family of architects. In addition, on Tuesday, September 29, in association with Literary Dundee and the University of Dundee, the work of Robert Burns will be celebrated at Dundee Rep and will include readings, song and the launch of a new book.
The Angus & Dundee Roots Festival Local History and Genealogy Fair on Friday, October 2 will provide a host of opportunities to delve into the history of local families and the communities where they lived. Local and national organisations and experts will be attending this event, including Tay Valley Family History Society and Scotland’s People, who will be providing advice and limited free access to www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk, one of the largest online sources of Scottish genealogical information.
The Angus & Dundee Roots Festival will also be celebrating the music bygone residents of Angus and Dundee played, danced to and sang along with. The Festival features traditional music sessions, and a Ballads & Bothy Ballads concert. As the Roots Festival closes, the Homecoming Hootenanny at the Bonar Hall, Dundee on Friday, October 2 launches the Fest’n’Furious weekend of workshops and concerts.
“Finding out about your ancestor’s day-to-day lives and placing them in their historical context is a crucial stage in bringing your family back to life,” said Nick Barratt. “That’s why events such as the Angus and Dundee Roots Festival are so useful as they provide opportunities to access historical records and obtain information and advice from the experts in this field.”
For more information about the Angus & Dundee Roots Festival –including the full programme and how to reserve places on tours and book tickets for events - visit www.tayroots.com .
(NB: The Deceased Online records refer only to Angus at present, though hopefully Dundee's records will also see the light of day on the site - I was at the launch for the Angus records last week, and the site is a real boon for those with ancestors from the county! See Deceased Online and Angus and Dundee Roots festival bash at Glamis - I suspect a lot of Dundonians will be envious...!)