The first stage of the HebridesPeople project, which is being led by eminent local genealogist Bill Lawson of Northton Heritage Trust and Seallam! Visitor Centre, was the publication of a comprehensive emigrant database. This was followed by records for families connected with individual parishes on the Isles of Harris and Lewis, including Berneray, St Kilda and Point. Records for other parishes will be added gradually over the next few years.
Uniquely, in addition to births, marriages and deaths records, the database provides access to family notes and family sheets – all hand-written by Bill – giving users an opportunity to extend their research beyond individuals into entire families. Summarised histories of each township are provided through a gazetteer.
Bill says: “Emigration from the islands has been prolific over the centuries, and there is huge demand from family historians and ancestral tourists for information relating to relatives”.
“By bringing the information together in one central database and making it accessible online, we’re aiming to make the process as seamless as possible for researchers. By supplementing the records with a history timeline, maps, images and a gazetteer, we’re also hoping to inspire many more visitors to come to the islands to experience the places where their ancestors lived and worked through the centuries”.