Many people in East Tennessee have roots that extend across the Atlantic to Scotland, but finding information about those Scottish links may seem difficult or impossible. If you know, or even suspect, that you have ancestors from Scotland, then you’re in luck with gaining some assistance in that search for family.

A genealogy workshop, “Scottish Genealogy on Both Sides of the Pond,” will be offered at the Blount County Public Library on Friday, May 20, from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.  The workshop is sponsored by the library and the Blount County Friends of the Library.

Registration Information:  Cost for the workshop is $25, with an option of a boxed lunch for an additional $10.  Make checks payable to the Blount County Friends of the Library (BCFOL).  The registration form is available on the library website at or at the Reference Desk or at this link registration form  The registration deadline is Thursday, May 5, and money and registration must be at the library by that date.  Enrollment is limited and will be on a first come, first served basis.

Workshop Topics:   Ann Blomquist, Graeme Mackenzie, and Rev. Tom Gilliland, will present a workshop on Scottish genealogy for beginners and active family historians. Each has researched and written about genealogy.

Workshop topics will include

  • “Beginning Genealogy” by Ann Blomquist. Participants in this beginning genealogy session will learn how to organize their family information, how to manage their records, what genealogy software will do, learn how to search free online sites, and will hear about DNA.
  • “Tracing Your Emigrant Ancestor’s Forebears: Genealogical Research in Scotland” by Graeme Mackenzie, Scottish genealogist. Mackenzie will look at the sources for researching ancestors in Scotland, both online and in person when visiting Scotland. Guidance on how to use them will be illustrated with examples from Graeme’s own family, and research he has done for clients over the last 25 years.
  • “They Went Thataway: Migration Routes of Our Ancestors” by Ann Blomquist. This presentation covers the reasons our ancestors migrated, how they traveled, and the trails and routes they took as they “removed” to new lands. Participants will see a variety of migration maps available in print and online and will receive a handout of sources.
  • “Clans, Septs and Surnames in the Highlands of Scotland: Genealogical Research Issues in the Gaidhealtachd” by Graeme Mackenzie, will address issues relating to genealogical research in the Highlands of Scotland, where membership of clans and septs, and the use until the late 19th century of the Gaelic language, creates particular problems around the use of names. Particular attention will be given to identifying the various English names that came from certain Gaelic given names, and the slippery nature of the surname in the Highlands, following its late adoption in that part of Scotland, and the influence membership of a clan or sept can have on the surname(s) used by individuals.
  • “You Can’t Get There from Here: Finding Your Scots Roots” by Tom Gilliland. Using the search for his Scots-Irish ancestors as an example, Gilliland will focus on ways of discovering family roots in Ireland and Scotland. Genealogy can be challenging even within the bounds of one nation. Scots-Irish Americans by definition have to navigate the records of three nations. The destruction of many Irish records adds to the complexity of the search. This case study will attempt to provide suggestions and resources for making the connections between the United States, Ireland and Scotland. In addition to locating resources the presentation will offer guidance on the use of “educated guesses” to focus research on family history.


Workshop Presenters:   Ann Blomquist  is the author of 13 genealogy books including family genealogies, transcriptions of court records and vestry books, and store account books. She teaches genealogy sessions on a variety of topics. As the administrator of the First Families of Tennessee project for the East Tennessee Historical Society in Knoxville, she handles the applications about early ancestors here before statehood. All of these early settlers came to east Tennessee along primitive migration routes.

Graeme M. Mackenzie is Chairman of the Association of Highland Clans & Societies (of Scotland) and Seanachaidh (historian & genealogist) for Clans MacKenzie and MacMillan. He’s a trained historian, with a Masters Degree from the University of Cambridge, and has been a professional genealogist, specializing in the Highland clans and families of Scotland, for the last 25 years. He is a member of the Scottish Ancestral Tourism Group [SATG] and the Scottish Clans and Families Forum [SCFF], bodies convened by the Scottish government to help the descendants of emigrant Scots find out about their ancestors and to visit Scotland. Graeme has travelled extensively during the last decade in the USA and Canada, speaking to clan societies, appearing at Highland Games, and lecturing to Scottish interest groups, local history societies and genealogical bodies. In 2014 he spent a month touring and speaking to similar bodies in New Zealand and Australia. Having written extensively in the past about particular clans, Graeme has published in the last few years more general works, such as “Genealogy in the Gaidhealtachd: Clan and Family History in the Highlands of Scotland” (Inverness, 2013) and “Highland Clan and Family Histories: A Guide to Published Histories, Genealogies, Family Trees, and some MS Sources” (Inverness, 2015). Both of these publications provide practical help and useful information for people researching ancestors that came from the Highlands of Scotland – the sort of information Graeme will be providing during his presentations at the Blount County Public Library.

Rev. Thomas Gilliland was raised in Western Pennsylvania and has served congregations in that area as well as in New Zealand. He retired from Clover Hill Presbyterian Church in 2013. He has been researching his family history for most of his life. He is married to Kathleen Christy, Information Services Manager at the Blount County Public Library, and they have three children.  Gilliland studied Gaelic in Nova Scotia and did family genealogy research in Londonderry and Belfast. Author of United Presbyterian church history, “Truth in Love.”

This workshop is sponsored by the Blount County Public Library and the Blount County Friends of the Library. The library is located at 508 N. Cusick Street, Maryville.

Blount County Public Library, located at 508 N. Cusick Street, Maryville, where services are an example of your tax dollars at work for you.

For further information about library programs or services, call the library at 865-982-0981, ext. 302, or visit the website at . To sign up to receive a monthly calendar by email, go to the library’s Home Page and type your email address in the box at the top right that says “Email for library news.”