BIFSHGO 2023 Conference

Wouldn’t it be great to get inside the heads of our Scottish ancestors? Learn what made them decide to leave their homes? The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) is putting the spotlight on Scottish migration this fall at its third annual virtual conference on October 28/29. Mark your calendars!

This year’s event focuses on Scottish ancestry with particular attention given to the stories of migrants and the decisions that inspired waves of migration. The virtual format will give everyone around the world access to some of Scotland’s top historians and genealogy experts, and in the breakout sessions you will be able to connect with archivists and seasoned family historians.

Speakers include Christopher Fleet, Curator of Maps at the National Library of Scotland, Marjory Harper, Professor of History, The University of Aberdeen, Michelle Leonard, an expert in using DNA for genealogy, along with Chris Paton and Kirsty F. Wilkinson, both well-known professional genealogists and authors.

The conference will be of interest to anyone with Scottish ancestry. Whether you are starting out on your family history journey or have been on it for some time, there will be valuable and intriguing presentations and other features to enjoy. Since all of the proceedings are online, you can make a cup of tea and engage from home.

You won’t want to miss our “Conference Connect with Scottish Regions” interactive session, where archivists, genealogists and representatives from family history societies in regions around Scotland will be available for consultation. These experts are intimately familiar with local resources that may not be available elsewhere, and they are keen on helping you to get started or to break down a brick wall.

We’ll also have social time to reflect on what we have heard, pose questions that arise from our newfound knowledge and share ideas.

Conference registration gives you the five presentations, the Connect Session, and access to the presentation videos and handouts until 30 November. Visit our website for the full speaker and program details and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Registration is just $30 for BIFHSGO members and $40 for non-members. For details and registration, go to!

Family historians outside Scotland face the fact that some of our ancestors made the decision to leave their homes and move to a new place in Scotland, or a completely new country. Why did they do that, and how can we unearth their story? BIFHSGO’s 2023 conference will approach those questions from different perspectives. We are pleased to “bring” the experts from Scotland to Ottawa virtually.

Our keynote speaker, Marjory Harper, Professor of History, The University of Aberdeen and Visiting Professor, The Centre for History, The University of the Highlands and Islands, will tell us about “Two Centuries of Adventure and Exile: Voices from Scottish emigration.” She’ll probe the reasons why our ancestors picked up stakes and moved to different areas of Scotland, to other places in Britain, or to lands far away.

Christopher Fleet, Curator of Maps at the National Library of Scotland, will guide us on “Getting the Best Out of the NLS Maps Website.” His talk will focus on discovering where our ancestors were located through time by using the NLS maps website. Taking examples from the extensive collection, he’ll show us the most important maps for family history and related NLS resources for making the best use of them.

Michelle Leonard, an expert in using DNA for genealogy, will share tips for “Using DNA for Scottish Family History Research: Scottish case studies.” She will discuss several in-depth Scottish case studies that demonstrate what can be achieved when you combine long-established research methodologies with DNA test results analysis.

Kirsty F. Wilkinson literally wrote the book on Finding Your Scottish Ancestors. In this talk, she will reveal how to employ “Sources in Scotland for Tracing Scottish Emigrants” to find records of your emigrant Scottish ancestors, using a variety of examples from North America and elsewhere.

Chris Paton, a professional genealogist, family historian and author, has written extensively on sources for finding Scottish and Irish ancestors. In some cases, our ancestors left Scotland sometime after they or their ancestors moved to Scotland from Ireland. In his talk, “Tracing Irish Ancestors in Scotland,” Chris will explore both the Scottish records created by the state or Scottish churches and the records of religious and political conflicts, explaining how they can help to shed light on ancestral stories

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