Scottish Migration Documentary Film

$850 of $18,000 goal

Raised by 13 people in 25 months

"Why They Left: A Scottish Migration" is a documentary film that tells the story of the first large group to migrate to the United States, the Scots. Film website:

 We are in the stages of putting the film together and are in need of your donation to pay for the usage of images, help with film editing, illustrations, sound editing and so many things. Every donation is very much appreciated. Thank you for your help!

Most people think of the romantic Highlands as the place our ancestors came from. And many did. But the purpose of this documentary is to explore where the majority of Scots migrated from - the Lowlands of Scotland. Most Americans of Scottish descent don't know where their ancestors came from, why they left, and on what ship and where they arrived. These details have been lost to the generations. This film tells why the Scottish Lowlands became so crowded, and what life was like there. The reasons that caused people to leave everything they knew, climb aboard a crowded and dirty ship, and sail in unspeakable squalor for many weeks to start a new life, penniless, in an unforgiving land.

 One man, William Gregory, left his family's carpet factory in Kilmarnock in 1807. He boarded a wooden sailing ship and sailed to America. William found work and a home in Alexandria, Virginia.  Letters written home to his family in Kilmarnock and letters to America tell the story of this family.

Ellen Hamilton shows us the cities of Kilmarnock in Ayrshire, and Greenock at the mouth of the River Clyde, where so many people left from, never to return. The busy Ocean Terminal port in Greenock has changed since the late 1700's, but it is still a vibrant port today for shipping containers and tourist ships.

Hamilton interviews the Scottish author Derek Alexander in the 400 year old, beautifully preserved Newark Castle, by the River Clyde, to learn about how how that area became a major seaport for Glasgow.

 Lance Malamo, head of the Office of Historic Alexandria talks about how Alexandria started out as an important seaport town and place where Scottish migrants started their lives in America.

Americans of Scottish descent were interviewed at a Scottish Games in Virginia to find out how much they know of their family's past.

We are in the stages of putting the film together and are in need of your donation to pay for the usage of images, help with film editing, illustrations, sound editing and so many things. Every donation is very much appreciated. Thank you for your help!

(We are working on  teaming up with a Non-profit organization, so that your donation can be tax deductible! Yellow Dot Designs is not a non-profit organization so for now your donations will not be tax deductible. Hopefully this will not dissuade you from supporting the project!)

If you would like to sponsor the film and have your name or logo displayed in the film and all our materials, then we have some great perks for you!
Call Ellen at 703 - 519 - 3857 to see the Film Treatment and business and marketing plan. Thank you!

Visit the Film Website:


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Hi, the latest Film newsletter went out on February 8th. It talks about the 6th Earl of Mar, or John Erskine, whose ancestor built a huge mansion on the Clyde River in the 1800's. Mar Hall is now a hotel. I like to visit the building when we are in Scotland. It has a beautiful view out to the Kilpatrick Hills across the river, and a very nice high tea. I may use the image of the Earl in his ridiculous outfit (!) in the film, to represent the aristocracy. Here is the link to the newsletter:
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Very pleased that the video of my interview by On The Go with AAUW is up again, and viewable!
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2 New Articles in the papers!
Article in The Zebra
A reporter from The Zebra newspaper came to our Tea fundraiser in September and took some pictures of me telling the story of my film project, "Why They Left: A Scottish Migration." She wanted to get a better understanding, so Amanda Socci came back to my house later. Over tea and shortbread I talked for two hours! I knew the story would likely be printed in The Zebra in December. It was too long for the November issue. The publish date was December 3rd. I went to bed the night before, excited to see what Amanda wrote the next day. At 1:30am I happened to be up and peeked out the front window, and there on the wet sidewalk was a newspaper, gleaming in the street light. So I pulled on my robe and went out, got the paper and read Amanda's whole article. What a thrill, and thank you to the Zebra for covering my story!
Here it is:

Article in Alexandria Living Magazine
In November I found myself talking to a photographer from our city's newest publication, Alexandria Living Magazine. It was a celebration of a new business opening on Alexandria's waterfront. We got talking about the film project, and she said the magazine might be interested in doing a story! A few weeks later, the phone rang and I spoke to Isabelle Baldwin, who quizzed me for about half an hour. Here is the link to the resulting article.
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Alexandria-Kilmarnock Connection!
William Gregory's family lived in the center of Kilmarnock in a house they called "the Strand Foot House." This Summer while in Kilmarnock, Scotland, I took this photo of Strand Street.

I always thought "The Strand" in old town Alexandria was an odd name for a parking lot which runs perpendicular to the Potomac River, from South Union Street to Strand Street. I suspect that William Gregory and possibly other immigrants from Kilmarnock may have had something to do with the naming of this street in Alexandria.

William wrote to his older sister Susan from Alexandria in 1863:
Dear Susan, I have a distinct remembrance of the Strand Foot House and all its rooms - our Mother's chamber where we locked ourselves in once, ...
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$850 of $18,000 goal

Raised by 13 people in 25 months
Created January 25, 2017
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5 months ago
Dan Simonds
6 months ago

Wishing you all the best with your project!

6 months ago
Daniel Gillis
6 months ago

My ancestors left Loch Morar in the highlands for Cape Breton Isle Nova Scotia in 1826. Very interested in your work.

Lon Jones
8 months ago

A very interesting topic. My curiosity is stoked. So less time ice skating, more time film making to bring in the highly anticipated product :).

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