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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-09475: Stuart McMillan (Greenock and Inverclyde)

Scottish National Party

Date lodged: 30 May 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what support it offers to people in the Scottish diaspora who are keen to trace their family history.

Answered by: Fiona Hyslop 12 June 2017

Fiona Hyslop: The Scottish Government offers a resource for people wanting to carry out their Scottish family history research through the ScotlandsPeople website at www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk. The record collection available is comprehensive and offers access to the main genealogical records which are the births, deaths and marriage records (there are restrictions in place for records deemed to be modern day). The open census, wills, valuation rolls and a variety of other family history related records are also available to search for free and view on a pay-per-view basis.

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) launched an extensive upgrade to its ScotlandsPeople genealogy website during September 2016 with a fresh look and several new features that now allow their customers to more easily locate and view the digitised records. For the first time customers can search across the extensive collection of around 140 million indexes of the digitised record sets at no charge and there has been a 13% increase in the number of sessions since re-launch. A new digital service was also introduced as part of the ScotlandsPeople upgrade enabling customers to order official certificate copies of birth, death, marriage and census records on-line using ScotlandsPeople.

The free index search has been welcomed and usage of the website has increased by over a third. The emphasis for the new website was to make it intuitive so that people could carry out research themselves without the need for assistance. Although customers can contact us using our customer contact form and we do provide assistance. We also have a ScotlandsPeople Facebook and Twitter account to keep our customers around the world up to date with developments and help with searching.

In addition the ScotlandsPeople service is also made available on site in NRS and in Local Family History centres located throughout Scotland so visitors to Scotland can easily start or continue their family history journey when they visit. NRS works with VisitScotland to advertise these services and connect with the Scottish diaspora more generally.

For family history related records that have not yet been digitised and made available on ScotlandsPeople, there is also the option of carrying out research searching NRS archive catalogues and making enquiries by post, e-mail or telephone.

I hope that this gives you a better understanding of the service available worldwide.