And now we have the second stage!
In July 2012 Northton Heritage Trust launched the first stage of our database of island families on www.hebridespeople.com – a database of all the emigrant families we have been able to trace from the Outer Hebrides. This has been very popular with family tracers, especially from overseas.
Now it is the turn of Harris!
For the first part of the main database – we have uploaded all the information we have gathered over the years about Harris families. These begin in about 1750, and go up to people born in 1920 – the cut-off date set by Data Protection. At the last count it contained records for 18509 persons, and more are always being added.
All you need to start research is a name – and some idea of a date of birth would be useful. Type in the name – but remember that names and spellings have to be standardised to make the database searchable. This will call up all the persons of that name in the database, with the date of birth – approximate of course if you are working before the commencement of formal records in 1855.
From this you can select the entry you want, and this will then call up information on date and place of birth, parents (where known), spouse, marriage date and place, and death date and place.
This gives fairly full information about the person, but the web-site can take you much further. Each family has a unique reference number, so you can next call up family notes, which give a summary of the family history, with links to other related families. The notes are based on the families as they appear in the census of 1851, working back as far as possible and forward to 1920. The amount of information will of course vary according to the size of family and whether they remained in Harris.
You may also like to try a family sheet. These are hand-written A4 sheets, showing the descendants of the head of the family, with details of the male lines, and cross-references to the sheets for the spouses of daughters. These begin with the head of the household in 1851, but of course he or she could have been born as early as the 1760s! Bill’s printing may be a little idiosyncratic at seems, but you will soon get used to it!
Each family has a unique reference number, which appears at the foot of the first information page, and by clicking this you will get a list of all the other persons in that family, and then can then call up details of as many of these as you wish.
There is also a gazetteer facility which gives access to a short summary of the history of each township and others in the immediate area.
Altogether, the database presents an unparalleled amount of information about families from the Isle of Harris, at what we consider is a very reasonable cost.
The next stage will be to add all the families from Point in Lewis, and other areas until the database is complete.
And I do think that complaints about bias in the choice of the first two areas are most unfair!
The project is funded by HIE, LEADER Innse Gall, Heritage Lottery Fund and Comunn na Gaidhlig. The website has been created and managed by Reefnet Ltd.