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A Recognised Collection of National Importance

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An introduction to family history

This section of the website includes

Advice on Researching your Family History

Very few official records remain of those who once worked in Scotland's shale oil industry. The handful of staff records that have survived can now be searched in our employment records database, however its coverage is extremely limited. Only a fortunate few are likely to find reference to their ancestor.

The site search on the home page trawls a different pool of information and provides a further opportunity to find reference to an ancestor. This might identify individuals named in newspapers or public documents; for example those involved in running companies, appearing in court cases, or victims of accidents.

You are likely to get most value from this website if you have already established your family tree through the usual family history research methods. Research tools such as registers of births, deaths and marriages, and census returns, are now available on line for modest cost. Both sources usually provide information on home address and occupation.

Given the home address, much can be deduced about the everyday life of your ancestor. Most employed in the shale industry lived in company houses that are listed in the villages pages of the gazetteer section of the website. This should provide maps, images, and descriptions that might indicate a pleasant life within a model community, or a squalid existance in a poorly constructed slum.

The occupation of your ancestor could often reflect their social standing, well being, or even their life expectancy. The terms used to describe trades and job roles in census and registrar documents are not always easy to interpret. The occupations pages of the website describes many common roles, trades and professions within the industry and aims to provide insight into their working life.

From the occupation and home address it is often possible to also deduce the place of work, either a mine or an oil works, and also the employer. The fluctuating fortunes of individual shale oil companies had a direct impact on their staff. Hard times or the failure of an oil enterprise often led to eviction from company housing and sometimes resulted in a wave of emigration.

We hope that this website proves to be a useful tool, adds flesh to the bones of your family tree, and stirs pride in your family association with this special Scottish industry. Although we are not resourced to conduct research on your behalf, we would be happy if you chose to share your research with us so we might suggest any further routes for development.


creative commons

We are happy to licence use of many images, extracts, and other resources of this website under a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial licence (Scotland). See full copyright statement. Such material should be attributed to Almond Valley Heritage Trust and, where practical, a hyperlink provided to www.scottishshale.co.uk.