Thursday, 13 August 2009

The National Archives of Scotland - 7/28/09

On the afternoon of July 28th I had the pleasure of visiting my first ever national archives! The National Scottish Archives are government funded specifically to archive and keep the nations records. Their goal is to preserve information, make this information available, and provide knowledge to the general public.

We visited the General Register House, which is the main building of the three located across the city and dates back to the 1780's. The newest addition to the three buildings is the Thomas Thompson House. The two joint buildings, comprising the Thomas Thomson House were built in 1994 and are designed to provide space for the national archives of Scotland. It is more high-tech and provides over 37 kilometres of environmentally controlled record storage, while the other houses a records reception and sorting area, staff offices and a purpose built conservation unit.

The NAS has over 70 kms of records from the 12th - 21st centuries. The organization is split into two divisions. Record Services handles government records, court and legal documents, and collection development. Corporate services takes care of accommodation services, financial and administration aspects. Over the years NAS has had to develop their services and keep up with emerging technology. They have done this by creating their online catalog, housing "virtual volumes", allowing access to Scottish wills from 1500-1901, and digitizing the Church of Scotland records.

The NAS has several different online tools to help out the patron. Scottish is a website that offers online tuition in paleography for researchers like historians and genealogists who have trouble reading manuscript historical records written in Scotland in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The Scottish Register of Tartans is a national repository of tartan designs. It is an on-line website database that allows people to search the many thousands of existing tartans and register for new tartan designs. This site also provides links to Scotland's tartan industry sources.

Of particular interest to me was "ScotlandsPeople", which is considered one of the largest online sources of original genealogical information. This database with almost 50 million records to access, allows people to start research and connecting their family histories from the comfort of their home, office, or library. This website offers sections on how to build your family tree, famous Scots, statutory records, old parish records, census records, wills & testaments, and a coat of arms search.

The National Archives of Scotland can be explored at
Scottish can be found at this link
You can find The Scottish Register of Tartans at
ScotlandsPeople can be found at

The National Archives of Scotland
*photo courtesy of

Interior section of The National Scottish Archives
*photo courtesy of

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