A new genealogical database is now available for family and ancestral research at the Centre. It combines civil registers of births, marriages, and deaths along with census information from 1851 to 1908, and it covers both Westray and Papa Westray. Visitors to the Centre can conduct searches based on personal names, farm names or locations, or dates (for example, of marriages).
The database is still being improved, and at present the birth, marriage, death data and the census information need to be searched separately, but by the summer of 2010 all the data should be linked so that they can be explored in a single search. Because of restrictions imposed by the General Registrar's Office in Edinburgh, the amount of data that can be viewed at one time is restricted, data must be copied by hand, not printed or downloaded, and data less than one hundred years old cannot be viewed. But this is the first time that the General Registrar's Office has allowed otherwise unrestricted local access to such data.
The database has been developed in collaboration with scholars at the Pennsylvania State University's Department of Anthropology and Population Research Institute (www.pop.psu.edu) in the U.S., with financial support from the U.S. National Science Foundation. Continuing improvements are being made to make the database more 'user-friendly' and to simplify searches.
Pictured left: Dr Patricia Johnson (standing) and Dr James Wood working on the database. Both are professors at Pennsylvania State University Anthropology Department (www.anthro.psu.edu).