Scottish Genealogy & Serendipity in Victoria

27 February 2011

I believe that serendipity happens a lot in genealogy and one of the things on my to do list for 2011 is to revisit my Scottish families and find out more about them. I first researched them in the late 1970s, and ad hoc since then.  However, there are many resources available now which are more accessible and easier to use so I might make better progress.

As part of my resolve I booked myself into the Genealogical Society of Victoria‘s Third Australasian Scottish Genealogy Conference in Melbourne on 16-17 April. The program has a great line up of local and international speakers and as I live just outside of Melbourne there is no real excuse not to go. It is on the far side of Port Phillip Bay from where I live, and will take  me a good hour or more to drive there each day, but it should be worth it.

Sheena Tait is one of the international speakers and is giving a number of talks and is one of the main reasons why I decided to book for the conference. So now for the serendipity moment.

Not long after having my booking confirmed, and talking about attending with others, I received the press release below from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies announcing that Sheena has just been appointed as the new Director of the Institute’s Scottish Certificate Studies Program. You can read more about Sheena and the Institute below.

For myself, I am looking forward to meeting Sheena when she visits Melbourne in April. I also expect the conference to attract a wide range of other well known Australasian genealogy identities who I am also looking forward to either meeting or catching up with. Please do come up and say hello if you are also at the conference.

National Institute for Genealogical Studies Announces Appointment of Sheena Tait as the New Director of the Institute’s Scottish Certificate Studies Program

(Toronto, February 25, 2011) Louise St. Denis, Managing Director of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies, announces the appointment of Sheena Trait as the new Director of the Institute’s Scottish Certificate Studies Program.

Sheena Tait, born of Scottish parents, grew up in Scotland. Just after Sheena’s father died, someone sent the family an article about her paternal grandfather proposing to submit to a genealogical magazine. This triggered the realisation that Sheena knew very little about her father’s family. The genealogical journey started.

Shortly after, work took Sheena south to England where, surrounded by—and learning—the English record keeping systems, she had to learn how to research at a distance and understand the Scottish systems, as most of her ancestors are Scottish. While in England, she met and married her husband – another Scot – and also researches his family. This provides different challenges from her own, including English links and seafaring ancestors.

In her early career, Sheena ran the computer systems for the military. However, her husband’s career as a serving military officer and the regular moves it involves made it impossible for her to continue her existing career.

About 10 years ago, she decided to combine her love of family history and the analytical skills developed through her work to start a new career as a genealogist specializing in Scottish and Anglo-Scottish research. As well as carrying out private research, Sheena lectures on a variety of Scottish topics, and was a regular contributor to the British-based Practical Family History and Family Tree magazines. Sheena is a member of both the Society of Genealogists in London and the Edinburgh-based Scottish Genealogy Society. Later this year, she will be one of the keynote speakers at the Third Australasian Scottish Genealogy Conference in Melbourne on 16 and 17 April 2011, organised by the Genealogical Society of Victoria.

“I’m delighted to take over as Director of the Institute’s Scottish Certificate Studies. I enjoy helping others discover for themselves the extent of their Scottish ancestry. There’s so much material that so many hobbyists don’t think of using. Hopefully, this will open up the doors to solving some of their brickwalls”, says Sheena.

Louise St Denis indicates that “The Scottish Courses are an integral part of the Institute’s programs. We are so pleased to have Sheena onboard. As a Director living in England, she will bring a different perspective to the record courses for Scotland. We are really looking forward to the first of Sheena’s course. This will be an in-depth study of Scottish probate records, and will be available in early June. I’d like to thank James Thomson for the terrific course on ‘Special Aspects of Scottish Research’, which will remain part of the Scottish program. Past students highly recommend this course.”

For those of you who are at the Who Do You Think You Are? conference in London from February 25th to the 27th, drop by the National Institute’s booth (#93) to meet both Sheena and Louise.

The National Institute also announced earlier this month that they will be offering a free course on Social Media in conjunction with their recent acquisition of GenealogyWise <>. If you are at the London fair, register directly at The National Institute’s booth (#93), and also receive a free T-Shirt! The course—entitled, “Social Media for the Wise Genealogist”—covers social media tools vital to today’s genealogical research, including social networking sites, RSS, bookmarking, and more. This course, written by Brenda Wheeler and Gena Philibert Ortega, utilizes Drew Smith’s book, Social Networking for Genealogists. “Social Media for the Wise Genealogist” begins March 15th, 2011. To register, visit the National Institute’s website at  <>.


About The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

The National Institute has been offering genealogy and history courses for over 11 years. They now offer over 200 courses in genealogical studies to help enhance the researcher’s skills.

For those looking to acquire more formal educational training, The National Institute offers—in affiliation with the Continuing Education Unit of the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto—Certificate Programs in the records of Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Scotland, and the United States, as well as a Librarianship Certificate.

Louise St. Denis

Managing Director

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

Toll-free in North America – 1.800.580.0165

Tel: 416.926.7254

Skype: louisestd

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