The Seallam! Visitor Centre in Northton, south Harris is a commercial family history research service which operates under the Cò Leis Thu?/ Hebrides People brands. The resources are based on the extensive research carried out over many years by Bill Lawson and the late Chris Lawson and the centre holds comprehensive genealogical archives for the whole of the Outer Hebrides including St Kilda. Virtually every household in the Outer Hebrides in the last 200 years has been researched, and a resource bank of over 30,000 family tree sheets has been gathered, together with details of many families who emigrated to Canada, USA, Australia, etc. There are also exhibits exploring the social and natural history of the Hebrides and their island communities.
Sources: Census returns 1841-1901 (1851 and 1901 now indexed), Old Parish Registers (Church of Scotland and Roman Catholic), Estate Papers (including Rentals), Emigration Lists Government Papers and other published sources. Information can also be obtained from Civil Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Oral Tradition: Written records are generally late and of variable quality in the Western Isles, but oral tradition was always strong here and, since it is preserved in Gaelic, which is still in normal usage here, it is more comprehensive and often much more reliable than many more formal sources in English. Oral tradition includes patronymics, song, story, and preservation of family relationships.
Emigrant Families: Many visitors to the Islands are disappointed in tracing their families here due to lack of information of the family after emigration. Useful data would include the island of origin, the place of original emigrant settlement, local census entries, family naming patterns etc. With information of this type, it is usually possible to trace the village from which a family emigrated, and to make links with relatives remaining there.