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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 11:35 GMT 12:35 UK
Web family archive branches out
ScotlandsPeople website
The website has already proved hugely popular
A website to help trace family trees is expanding to put Scotland at the forefront of online genealogy.

The ScotlandsPeople site contains 43 million records, ranging through from 1513 to 1954.

Massive record books and microfilm files of births, deaths and marriages have been transferred as digital images from Edinburgh's New Register House.

Now wills and testaments have been added to the website for the first time, helping complete the picture.

Paul Parr, Scotland's deputy registrar general, said: "It's peoples identity and it's peoples history.

It is the biggest family archive in the world, it allows people to access information back to the 1500s
Margaret Curran
Executive minister

"There's a saying that a population has no future if it can't look to it's history and we have the repository here and we want to make that repository more accessible, which is the purpose of the website."

The Scottish Executive minister responsible for the archive, Margaret Curran, said the move was a first for Scotland.

She said: "It is the biggest family archive in the world, it allows people to access information back to the 1500s."

Ms Curran said it had proved highly useful for ancestors of Scots spread throughout the world, particularly in the US and Canada.

Mike Reynolds, from Gauldry in Fife, has been tracing his family history for the past 18 months using ScotlandsPeople.

'Addictive' hobby

He said: "It's very much like trying to solve a mystery, you become very, very hooked on it.

"You will get phases where you gather information very, very quickly and suddenly there's something there that you won't get past.

"That becomes a challenge, you become more and more determined and it's very addictive."

His wife Anne also uses websites to trace her family tree south of the border, but she said the Scottish resources were better.

She added: "Mike can get to see a certificate, whereas I have to take a guess, then send away for it, costing about 8, and then I have to wait nearly two or three weeks before I get it."

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