I have the pleasure of introducing you to Christine Woodcock and her blog, Scottish Genealogy Tips And Tidbits described as, “A blog to assist those researching in the Scottish records to gain ideas of where to look or how best to search in order to further their ancestral journey.”
Christine also has a genealogy business called Genealogy Tours of Scotland. Her tours provide an opportunity for anyone with Scottish ancestry to spend 10 days in their ancestral homeland, research onsite gaining access to records not available online, and to discover their own Scottish heritage in the process.
Christine, please tell us a little about yourself.
“I was born in Scotland. My mum was one of 21 children. Once I was in school full time, our trips to Scotland decreased in frequency, but we always had a steady stream of company from Scotland right from mid May to mid September. My mum and dad’s friends here in Canada were all Scottish and our house was the gathering place for card games, parties, celebrations, fun. I was completely immersed in Scottish culture, perhaps more so than I would have been had I grown up in Scotland. My parents were so keen to maintain as much of their heritage as they could and that has been passed along to me. I try to do the same with my kids.”
How did you get started in genealogy?
“My maternal grandfather fathered 21 children. My mum and my gran were the storytellers of the family. Every summer we had tons of company from Scotland and with each visitor, the stories were told and retold. Mum died suddenly and 8 months later, Gran went to join her. I was suddenly in a panic that the stories would be lost for my children and future generations. So, I put together a family history book – essentially a record of my grandpa’s descendants where some of the stories could be recorded and saved for those of us still living.”
When and why did you start your genealogy blog?
“In Dec 2009, I was sitting in a genealogy talk listening to someone talk about blogs. The idea to create a blog to share research tips for those researching Scottish ancestry was born that day. I started the blog a few days later.”
How did you choose the name for your blog?
“I wanted it to reflect that the blog was a place for ideas for researching in the Scottish records.”
What are your tips for new bloggers?
“As soon as you get your blog up and running, make sure to submit it to Geneabloggers. You will be amazed at how quickly people start to take notice of what you have to share. Also, make sure your content is original. Even if you are sharing the same idea as ten other people, make it somehow unique to you. People don’t want to read a blog that essentially regurgitates what others have already said on their blogs.”
How much time do you spend on family history research?
“Oh I think any of us who have moved into the professional realm rarely get the chance to research for ourselves. I love when a new record set gets released because it gives me an excuse to research my own ancestors in hopes of learning about the new information being provided.”
Who is your favorite ancestor(s) and why?
“Wow, there are a few. My 3x great grandmother who lost her husband and son in a coal mining accident is a heroine. I can’t imagine how she managed to survive the devastating loss, but she did. My great uncle who left Scotland and ended up in California, and who I am fairly certain was poisoned to death by his second wife is always an interesting topic of conversation. My grandpa for providing the impetus and my granny and mum for nurturing the desire to preserve the stories.”
“Time and time again, I am amazed at how tenuous any of us being here really is and it is all thanks to the courage and fortitude of our ancestors. It really is a matter of survival of the fittest.”
How has genealogy improved your life?
“I am living my dream. I get to help others learn about the Scottish records and to discover their Scottish heritage in the process. I get to travel home every year and reconnect to my history and heritage.”
What do you love the most about genealogy?
“I love speaking. Whether in person or in a webinar. I love the energy that it gives me, knowing how excited people are going to be when they learn something new.”
Besides major websites like Ancestry and FamilySearch, what research tool or source has been helpful in researching your family history?
“For Scottish genealogy, you really need to use the ScotlandsPeople website. It is the only website where you can view the actual images. The others are transcriptions or indexes only. There is a wealth of genealogical information in the Scottish records, so it is really, really important to access those documents.”
What interesting connections have you made through blogging?
“I managed to break through a brick wall and learned what became of my great uncle. He emigrated from Scotland, leaving a wife and two young children behind. No one seemed to know what happened to him. In researching his story, I learned that he died fairly young. I believe he was purposely poisoned by his second wife. I did a blog post on my findings and his grandson found it through a Google search. This has made a connection with a part of the family we had lost contact with many, many years ago.”
What do you think is the most interesting change in the past ten years in genealogy/family history?
“The easy, online access. Not just to records, but to other genealogists, webinars by presenters we can’t travel to hear and blogs that allow us to learn more about our passion and how to become accomplished at it.”
What is on your genealogy bucket list?
“I would love to connect with the Scots diaspora in North Carolina and Boston. This was the entry point for the first Scots pioneers in the new world. There is so much I would love to share with the descendants about Scottish research.”
If you wanted to leave a message for future generations, what would you tell them?
“Preserve your stories. Don’t let your grandchildren and great-grandchildren wonder about your life. Write your stories down for them to know first-hand what your life experiences were. Being connected to our past helps us build strength of character, a deeper appreciation for the lives we have now and a pride and respect for family.”
When did you start your genealogy-related business?
“I started toying with the idea early in 2010 and launched the business later that same year.”
What was your motivation for starting your business?
“Having been born in Scotland, and having traveled back and forth for my entire life, it was beyond my ken to think that others who had roots in Scotland hadn’t had the same experience. And so, Genealogy Tours of Scotland was born. Every year, I get the honour of accompanying groups of genealogy researchers to Scotland where they can immerse themselves in their Scottish ancestry.”
Blogging is just one aspect of social media. How important has social media been to the growth of your business?
“Incredibly important. Twitter helps me stay on top of what is new, what conferences are coming up, and any calls for presentations. Facebook helps me connect with potential tour participants or people who might be looking for a speaker. Blogging provides an outlet for sharing what I do with others. Pinterest is fun but I haven’t really mastered it as well as other genealogists have. And Google+ keeps me connected to other genealogists.”
What types of products and services do you provide to customers?
“When not traveling or planning tours, I lecture, write, edit newsletters and am a self-proclaimed ambassador for both genealogy tourism and for Scotland.”
Do you have any advice for someone who wants to start their own genealogy-related business?
“Find a niche. Something that you can offer that others can’t. It may be client work in a specialized record set, lectures in a specialized area of genealogy learning or organizing visits to specific archives. The need is there and you will have greater success if you are able to provide something that researchers need and that other professionals can’t provide. Once you are up and running, STICK WITH IT. There are so many pitfalls in the beginning. Don’t get discouraged. Find a mentor to keep you motivated. And then market, market, market to get yourself and your special skill set known.”
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Please take a moment to head over to Christine’s blog, Scottish Genealogy Tips And Tidbits, and leave her a comment, letting her know you stopped by. Thank you Christine for telling us about yourself and your blog. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you better.
© 2015, copyright Jana Last. All rights reserved.
Jana Last is a wife, mom and grandma living in sunny California. She loves family history and enjoys learning about her ancestors. She started her family history research in 1996 after the death of her maternal grandfather. She is the author of three blogs and a website: Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog, Grandpa’s Postcards, Jana’s Place and Jana’s Genealogy and Social Media Hub. Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Jana via email at email@example.com.