Friday, February 25, 2011

“Ancestors on the Move” from Digging Up Your Roots

It’s been snowing in my neck of the woods for hours and hours and hours. In fact, I couldn’t even see the houses down the street until about 9:30 this morning. The schools and the libraries area all closed, but not the mall. So since I’m, for all intents and purposes, snowed in, I thought I would file a report on the most recent episode of Digging Up Your Roots, “Ancestors on the Move” on the subject of immigration and emigration.

The usual suspects, host Bill Whiteford and Bruce Durie of the University of Strathclyde were joined by Marjory Harper of the University of Aberdeen. Marjory was the external examiner for my PhD dissertation.

They opened with some stats on the Scottish Diaspora, which is thought to number anywhere from 28-100 million people throughout the world. It stand to reason, I think, that it is this sizable group of people that the Scottish Government hopes to reach during Homecoming 2014 and the studentships recently announced at Edinburgh University. While emigration is often associated with the Highlands of Scotland, they rightly pointed out that most emigration actually occurred from the Lowlands. That being said, so many people have left Scotland that nearly every family in the country has one relative who emigrated.

Three stories focused on Scots who had ancestors who migrated abroad. First was the story of Colin McLaughlin who went to the United States about 1800; next we learn about a young man from Perth who was a temporary migrant in the Americas (North and South) in the early twentieth century before returning to Scotland; then comes the story of Simon Fraser who appeared to have abandoned his wife for Australia. The comedian Ro Campbell related a the story of his Scottish ancestors who were transported to Australia. Stephanie Bower wanted to know more about her German ancestors who changed the spelling of their surname in 1918. Also joining the fun is Peter Bailey, chairman of the Families of British India Society, who discusses emigration to India.

I thought the stories they shared were quite interesting. I won’t say more, because I don’t want to spoil them if you’ve not heard them yet. For those who are new to Scottish genealogy and/or Scottish emigration, there is just enough historical background to put the stories in context, but not so much you'll be overwhelmed. However, if like me, you are a specialist in some aspect of the Scottish diaspora, you might be a tad bit disappointed, especially if something you think is important is missed out. But it is a 55 minute radio program aimed at a general audience, not the specialist. So, listen, enjoy and let it inspire you to write article or maybe even a guest post for this blog.

The podcast of this episode is available for another three weeks or so. Go here to download it and here to see extras. The program's blog, written by Bruce Durie, is here.  The last episode will be broadcast on Sunday, 27 February.

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