Being prepared for researching in Scotland will make for a much more successful trip. I have firsthand experience not only in assisting others to plan for their time in Scotland, but also in hearing the frustration of those who don't take advantage of planning ahead. Here's what you need to know in order to be successful researching your Scottish ancestors in your ancestral homeland.

Create a Research Plan

Take the time to create a research plan. Use a spreadsheet or create a chart with five columns:


Make a list of all of the documents you already have so that you don't waste time searching for them again. From here, think about what you already know.

What questions are still unanswered? What do you still need to know?

Looking at the documents you have and knowing what you still need to find out, what are the best documents for you to get that might give you the answers you need (see article on Breaking Through Brick Walls)

Where are the documents you want actually located? Archives? Library? Local Family History Society? Regimental Museum?

In the 'Notes' section you can write down the hours that the repository is open, any fees for researching, whether you need to contact them ahead and anything else that will be of assistance in your planning.



Creating an itinerary will allow you to set the pace for your time in Scotland. Think about the things you want to accomplish while in your ancestral homeland. Give yourself a break from the research and drink in the history, the culture and the beauty of Scotland. Take time to visit social history museums so you can gain a better understanding of the times in which your ancestor lived or what their occupations were like. Plan to visit their homes, churches, graves. Walking in the footsteps of your ancestors is such an overwhelming experience and one you will need time to process. It will connect you to your roots, your story and your homeland in a way you never thought possible and with such depth that you will find it hard to describe with mere words.