Friday, 7 March 2008

Capturing the history of Berneray

A long time ago I wrote about the importance of family, relations and ancestry to residents of the Outer Hebrides, elements of which are embedded in a persons name.

Berneray Historical Society have a long-term project underway to capture and catalogue the history of Berneray. Central to this is collecting geneology information about current, and previous, residents of the island.

This is, well, a massive project. Berneray has currently 124 permanent residents. But about two-thirds of those are connected through ancestry or marriage or some other complex genetic way. And once you start looking back to previous generations, it then gets really complicated. The project worker, Sue:


...has over the last few months built up a database of around 3,500 people [or, an average of 30 for every current living resident of Berneray], but that's just scratching the surface. The project is currently funded for two years, but thinking about sources such as:

  • the vast quantities of newspaper and media materials

  • information in people's heads and their attics

  • ephemera in various museums and other places on the mainland

  • other geneology work carried out by people with Berneray connections

  • the information held by the diaspora, especially in Canada, Australia and New Zealand

...the project will take many years to do completely - if it's possible to complete at all!

Some of the data is going into the Hebridean Connections database, which gradually links up all the inter-community information. The Berneray page in Hebridean Connections has some pictures on it taken by moi :-)

There's further information about this project online. If you have information of use, or have some kind of connection to Berneray past or present - especially if you are elsewhere in the world - then contact Sue.

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