Our decision chart begins in the upper left-hand corner at Block 1, START HERE. Follow the arrow to Block 2, which suggests that you unearth all family resources such as documents and interviews with relatives. Then, if you have not discovered the native parish, follow the No arrow to Block 3.
Block 3 takes us into one of the largest genealogical resources in the world, the Church of Latter Day Saints, who have compiled the world’s largest genealogical collection. The Latter Day Saints (LDS) are more familiarly called “Mormons” and are quite willing to share their records with anyone. The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is just that, an index to their compiled records. The IGI is available through the branch libraries of the LDS Family History Library, which are located throughout the United States and Canada. Be advised that the IGI may have data that is incorrect because of the original submitter’s errors.
If the native parish is still unknown, go to Block 4, which asks is the immigrant arrived after 1855. That is an important date because it marks the beginning of Civil Registration records in Scotland. Civil Registration includes the official recording of births, marriages and deaths by government officials and the establishment of decennial census records beginning in 1851 for the most of Scotland. If the immigration occurred prior to 1855, the block diagram sends you to Block 12. Otherwise you are to examine birth, marriage and death registers (Block 5) and census records, available from the LDS library microfilms or from the Scottish Records Office, New Register House, Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 3YT.
Block 6 considers what to do if census records were found. It the record does not show the birthplace, one should attempt to determine if friends or relatives came after 1855. Block 8 suggests that the records of the persons identified in Block 7 be examined for the ancestor’s nativity. It this is not fruitful, request help from the Clan genealogist. (Please note – The number of requests for information can be high, and the society genealogist is a volunteer position. So, unfortunately at this time, requests for information are limited to Society members.) In the event that the ancestor was a member of a Mormon migration, the LDS maintains excellent records of those involved, and may be able to establish the place of nativity (Block 10).
Block 11 deals with immigration records, which are a study in themselves. The Immigration and Naturalization Service has good records since 1907, but you will need help finding the entries you desire. The LDS Family History Library has many immigration records on microfilm, but again, you will need assistance in finding what you seek.
Blocks 12 and 13 lead to published resources that may be helpful, such as family histories, genealogy magazines, county histories and biographies. Where does one find these books? This is when one consults the local librarian to discover the reference books that index these materials. Our experience indicates that the old county histories are full of family information.
Block 14 asks if immigration occurred in the period of 1800 to 1855. This is a period before Civil Registration, so we should look to records not based upon the parish of residence. The most likely to find would be military records, which are not Scottish, but British. Block 15 considers whether your inquiries suggest enrollment in the army, navy, merchant marine or the India service. If this is known, then one may know the regiment, ship name, or the location where served, for these are the categories in which the records are kept (Block 16).
Block 17 enumerates several record classes that may contain evidence of where the ancestor resided. Not listed is the Chelsea Hospital records of those retired on pension. These records are at the Public Records Office at Kew, England. If this category is non-productive, write to the sennachaidh (genealogist) for further assistance.
At this point, one should look for a record of the demise of the ancestor. Block 19 deals with the search for a death certificate, and Block 20, an obituary notice, either of which might contain a reference to the origin. To find these records, one must use reference books to determine in what jurisdiction the person died, or the name of the local newspaper or church publication noting the death.
Block 21 seeks to know the county of residence for the period of five to ten years after immigration, since counties were the most likely record keepers for long periods of time. It must be kept in mind that, even if the geographic location is known, county boundaries may have changed many times since the immigrant lived there. If the county is known, Block 22 suggests a search of American census records to pinpoint the county.
The importance of the county is that the court of that county is the most likely keeper of the naturalization record of the immigrant (Block 23). If no origin has been determined thus far, a wider net must be cast.
Many immigrants who were not naturalized, nor appearing on census rolls, nor appearing in obituaries, nevertheless served in military organizations, even militia forces, so one must search enlistment and pension records to catch sight of the immigrant (Block 25).
Compiled passenger lists of many vessels have been published, and one must consider them as a possible source of information. But, many, many ships have not been included in these lists (Block 26).
If all others have failed, one should try religious denominational records (Block 28). This is a great morass, since there are no universal guidelines concerning church records. If anything is found, consider yourself lucky, but do not overlook the possibilities.
If the immigration occurred in the 1700s, you should have a good idea by this time how the search should be conducted. In those cases of complete frustration, write to the sennachaidh indicating what efforts you have already expended without result. Perhaps there are resources in the Clan archives.