Alloway and Southern Ayrshire FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Robert Burns Cottage, Alloway, Ayr
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Saturday, 4 October 2008

01 Oct 2008 - Mitchell Library visit

Wednesday, 1st October saw a group of sixteen members assembling in the Mitchell Library cafeteria for a session in the Archives Centre. It was a special delight to be joined by Mrs Cynthia Wilson, a member from Penrith, who had decided to make a day trip to Glasgow for this visit.

Dr Irene O’Brien, Senior Archivist at the Library, had set out a number of source books for us to see and examine and explained how these were particularly relevant to family historians, not only for the facts they contained but also for the additional personal details that could be gleaned from them. Although so much is now available on the internet, she emphasised the special thrill to be experienced from seeing an ancestor's actual signature or from finding out about the social and economic background to their lives. Of particular interest was the Poor Law books in which application was made for financial support. Dr O’Brien suggested that we keep in mind that often a request for such help could come not only from those permanently lacking any income, but also from those temporarily afflicted by penury because of lay-offs at work, illness or the loss of a wage packet coming in. There are several sources of Ayrshire records available, including more Sasines than are available locally, and we were encouraged to enquire to find out what would be available for the area we were researching. There is also a data base available and, better still, staff who are happy to help the less well initiated into modern technology!

This was a most interesting and informative afternoon enlivened throughout by the expertise and enthusiasm of Dr O’Brien.

Sheila Dinwoodie

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