Hebridean Connections – a pioneering digital archiving project based in the Outer Hebrides – is extending its coverage to include the island of North Uist. This follows a decision by Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath (North Uist Historical Society) to join the project as its eleventh full member.
Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath (CEUT) will add selected historical and genealogical records from its extensive archive to the Hebridean Connections website. The newly created records will be interlinked with existing records on the site, enabling users worldwide to access previously unavailable information about North Uist, but also to explore connections with other areas.
“We are delighted to welcome Comann Eachdraidh Uibhist a Tuath as the latest full member of our project,” commented Donnie Morrison, chairman of Hebridean Connections. “North Uist is an island with an exceptionally rich history, and the addition of this new information will add significantly to the value of our website as a resource for family historians, researchers and others.”
“We have witnessed the enthusiasm with which our neighbours on Berneray have embraced the Hebridean Connections project, and this was a major factor in our decision to join,” added Isa MacKillop of CEUT. “While nothing can replace a visit in person to our museum and archive at Taigh Chearsabhagh, the Hebridean Connections website provides a route by which we can make selected information available to interested parties worldwide, enhancing their knowledge and experience of our island.”
The connection with the adjacent island of Berneray is a particularly important one as far as CEUT is concerned. For example, the society’s very active junior branch is involved in a project to compile family trees for people recorded on local war memorials, identifying links to the current generation. This work involves 40 members of senior classes at three local schools, who are fully engaged in the planning of all CEUT’s exhibitions. Where the family histories extend to Berneray, these young people will be working with the Hebridean Connections team and using the website in its current form as a research tool.
In parallel with this research, the work of training CEUT volunteers to enter additional information onto the website will begin. The Hebridean Connections team will be providing the necessary support, with local representation from Berneray-based Sue Wilson, who is the project’s training officer for Uist and Barra as well as a volunteer for Comunn Eachdraidh Bheàrnaraigh (Berneray Historical Society).
While much of the new information is likely to centre on family histories, there is scope to create a range of interlinked records covering places, historical events, archaeological sites, stories and traditions, and several other subject areas. Furthermore, a range of media types are supported, including text, images, sound files and video.
According to Tristan ap Rheinallt, project manager for Hebridean Connections, feedback from existing website users highlights the value placed on this additional content as a means for people not only to identify their ancestors but also to understand how they lived.
“We look forward to showing volunteers on North Uist the different ways in which they can take advantage of our website to showcase their information,” he said. “We would also be interested in talking to any other organisation, large or small, that might have an interest in adding historical records or images to our site. We would provide the required support and it would all be free of charge.”
Picture: Lochmor at Lochmaddy pier in the 1960s – one of many historical images in the CEUT archive.