Sunday, August 29, 2010

National Archives of Scotland - 07/20/10

The National Archives of Scotland opened to the public in 1788, and is possibly the oldest archive in the world that is still being used for it's original function. The building was designed by Robert Adam and construction began in 1774. In 1787 the records began to be moved into the completed building.

The NAS is a government agency which includes two divisions, the Record Services Division and the Corporate Services Division, overseen by the Keeper of the Records of Scotland. There are 3 buildings, 140 staff members, 8 websites, and over 70 kilometers of records. There are around 250,000 records and 12,000 visits every year. Records include church records, wills and testaments, registers and deeds, family estate papers, private records, court and legal records, photographs, maps and plans, railway and government records.

Of the three buildings, the General Register House was the first. It opened in 1789 and includes a Historical Search Room where the public comes to access and request records and Scotland's People Centre used for heritage purposes. There is a statue here of King George III, and the librarian joked with us that he was the king that "you Americans got rid of." The West Register House was the next to be built in 1811. It includes the West Search Room and is a 15 minute walk to the other end of Princes Street. The third building is the Thomas Thomson House which opened in 1994. This is where extra materials are stored and has shelving up to 10 feet high. The Conservation Department is located here, as well.

Recent developments at the NAS includes an online catalogue (OPAC), "virtual volumes", access to Scottish wills from 1500-1901, digitization of the Church of Scotland records, the Registers Archives Conversion Project, and the Valuation Rolls Project. Several websites are affiliated with the NAS including:

I got to take a close look at some applications and registers at sea which showed the dates of births, deaths, sicknesses, and types of work performed. I also saw cookery books, letters home, and other family records.

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