Reference Centre, Planning, Website Review
High marks to Scotlands' People for bringing together all of the first-stop resources that should be used in Scottish genealogy research! The content is brilliant! Portions of the technical offerings are brilliant! The cost of accessing images on the site is well within reason and must be commended and in this respect, evidently, the purveyors of Scotland's People have rightly determined that if the cost of images is kept reasonable, more profit, in the long-term, will be realized. However, this website has lost one full point, with me, solely on two important user-cost issues.
One has to understand that I have used this site, according to my search profile, dozens of times since March 2003. I have repeatedly purchased credits on Scotland's People because I fully appreciate that they have made the images very reasonable to access, cost wise. However, I would have purchased more credits during the past year had the search results been free to view. The ability to view all search results would, I believe, encourage one to view more images. And, so, the revenue that may be lost on one aspect of the site - viewing the search results - would quickly be recouped through another avenue - viewing the images.
Currently, to search the indices of births, marriages, deaths, census, et cetera, one must purchase a minimum of 30 page-view credits at a cost of £7.00 Sterling. To purchase 60 page-view credits one must pay £14.00. To purchase 90 page-view credits one must pay £21.00 and so on up the scale of page views and cost. In other words, there is no incentive to the user to purchase more than the initial 30 page-view credits as there is no expected reduction in price for purchasing the next level of page views as one would expect to find in purchasing other subscriptions at the monthly, then the discounted quarterly, semi-annual and annual fee rates. So, for these financial reasons Scotland's People has lost one full point with me.
On the upside, purchased credits remain active for one (1) year from the date of purchase. Any unused credits remain in your account beyond the 1 year expiry term. However, to make use of those credits you must re-activate them through the purchase of further credits before being able to read search results or view images.
On a search, your credit account is deducted by 1 credit for each page-view of search results. Five credits are deducted for each original digitized image that you view. Five credits to view, save and/or print out a statutory certificate of birth, marriage or death, or a census page is absolutely within line. I have no difficulties with this particular aspect of their pricing. It is the 1 credit that is used for every page of search results viewed, beyond the first free page, that is the issue for me. Searching for events that occurred involving ancestors with unusual forenames and surnames is not too costly. However, when one has to plow through upwards of 14 pages of search results on a search for a William Young in 1891 Scotland, the page-view credit reduction becomes onerous.
Yes, there is a facility that will allow one to focus a search. However, on the search for a popularly named individual, that facility really doesn't offer much of a benefit to the researcher. The advanced search facility could use a revamp to permit a search, not only by specific county, but also by a region rather than by the currently structured registration districts. At this time, it is possible to search the individual registration districts for, say, the city of Edinburgh, but one would have to know in what part of that city the ancestor resided at any particular point in time. There were multiple registration districts covering the whole of the city of Edinburgh and it is quite feasible that each registration district would have to be searched in turn. Combine this problem with the fact that each page-view of search results reduces the available credits and one can see that most of one's credits could very well be expended quite quickly while viewing search results.
Despite its pricing drawbacks, the content on this website deserves attention from every Scottish ancestor hunter. At this time, there are available the following records:
- Statutory Births 1855 to 1913 - index and images;
- Statutory Marriages 1855 to 1939 - index and images, some destruction of original certificates did occur so there are several years of marriage certificates that are not available - the years are posted on the website;
- Statutory Deaths 1855 until 2012, but only deaths up to and including 1963 are available to view on this site. Beyond that time an order for a hard copy of the certificate must be placed on the website;
- Register of Corrected Entries or Register of Corrections, etc.
- minor records comprising births, deaths and marriages of Scottish persons outside Scotland. Images of Minor Record births are available here on ScotlandsPeople up to 1913 subject to the following:
- Air Register (from 1948) records births on UK registered aircraft anywhere in the world, where it appears that one of the childs parents was usually resident in Scotland.
- Consular Returns (from 1914) comprising births registered by overseas by British consuls relating to persons of Scottish descent or birth.
- Foreign Returns (1860-1965) Register of Births of children of Scottish parentage in Foreign Countries, based on evidence submitted by the parents and due consideration of such evidence.
- High Commission Returns (from 1964) relate to the returns of children born of Scottish descent in certain Commonwealth countries.
- Marine Register (from 1855) records births on British-registered merchant vessels at sea, where it appears that one of the child's parents was usually resident in Scotland.
- Service Returns (from 1881) include Army Returns of births of Scottish persons at military stations abroad (1881-1959) and Service Departments Registers (from 1959) incorporating births outside the United Kingdom of children of Scottish residents serving in or employed by HM forces.
- census 1841 through 1911 - index and images;
- Old Parochial Registers of christenings, marriages, banns, proclamations and deaths or burials - indexed with images.
- Catholic Registers of births, baptisms, marriages, banns, deaths and burials, communicants, confessions, confirmations, seat rents, sick calls, and Status Animarum the earliest dates of which vary widely throughout the 1700s.
- The Lands Valuation Rolls for 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1920 and 1925 listing every house or piece of ground, along with the names and designations of the proprietor, tenant and occupier, and the annual rateable value.
Please note, that the 1881 census and the Old Parochial Registers may be available, on microfiche or CD-Rom, for a free search at a Family History Centre near you. Additionally, the 1841 through 1881 census index can be searched for free on Family Search.
To search the minor records indexes for births, go to the statutory births search form and select Minor Records from the Counties/City/Minor Records drop-down list. The screen will refresh with the available minor records displayed in the District drop-down list.
There is also now a few "free search" records accessible via Scotland's People. Just be aware that you will have to pay to view the actual document.
- Soldiers' Wills
- Wills and Testaments, and
- Coats of Arms
In closing this web site review, I wish to elaborate on the search profile. I have never run across a pay-per-view website that has gone to such great lengths to assist a visitor to not duplicate a previous search. This is an excellent addition to this site and provides a goodwill enhancement to the value of one's credit purchase. Accessed through one of several links in the topmost menu bar, one can review all of the search results that they have amassed since their first visit. This is one of the ways in which I was able to determine the number of visits I have made and the date of my first pay-for-view foray into the website. One can review every single page of previous search results without the need of buying new credits and without the fear of losing purchased credits. One can also recall every image that has been viewed. So if you lose your initial copy there are no worries. You simply have to go back to the site, call up your search profile and hit the "View Image" button, again. A timeline feature allows one to add search results and viewed images to a separate database in their search profile so that it is possible to track the evolution of a particular aspect of one's research. The search profile facilities are a much welcomed invention.
All things being considered, I am a solid fan of this website and will continue to pursue my Scottish ancestral research, as far as permissable, through the resources of Scotland's People. I can highly recommend this site for Scottish ancestral research.