National Archives of Scotland


On our third day in Scotland, July 28, we visited the National Archives of Scotland, in Edinburgh. Margaret McBide, head of Education and OutreachThe National Archives of Scotland were created to preserve, protect, and promote the nations records. Some of their main goals are to be inclusive and accessible to the people of Scotland and the rest of the world. There are 160 people on staff, 8 websites and 3 buildings throughout the archive's system.

The 3 buidings are the General Register House (1745), which houses materials that are too fragile to be in the general collection, West Register House (1971), which includes a modern search room for the public, and the Thomas Thomson House (1995), which is dedicated to storage and conservation efforts. Since the National Archives of Scotlnd is one of the United Kingdom's depositories, the collection is constantly growing. Even with three buildings, the librarians and archivists are concerned about space and thinking of cutting edge solutions to the problem.

Record Services and Corporate Services are the two major divisions of the archives. The Records Services division contains government records, court/legal documents and collections development. The Corporate Services division includes conservation efforts, reader's services, accomodation services, financial services, administration, information, communication, and technical services.

The National Archive of Scotland hold materials from the 12th century until today. The collection includes registers of deeds and sasines, as well as marriage certificates. These items can help people who are doing geneological research confirm some of the details of their ancestors' lives. Many items have been digitized and are available on one of the archive's websites. The websites have links for the novive and the expert geneaologic researcher, which is important because the learning curve is very steep.

My experience at this archive was very memorable, because the holdings are so unique, nd we were able to handle them. This is also the first time that we were asked to wear gloves while handling some of the materials. In other places, we were not allowed to touch things, indicating their importance, or we could touch things that had been laminated, which indicates the high frequency or accessibilty of the item. In this case, we were carefully handling items that most people don't get a chance to.

I was impressed by the newpaper clippings that detailed the treatment of the jailed British suffrettes. There were also transcripts that desribed the Burke and Hare, the infamous Scottish body snatchers, trials. There was also a handwritten ledger that showed how much land individuals had purchased and how much they owed on it. These are mundane items that may even exisit in 2010, but because they were preserved from their time period, it gives us a great insight into the past. The availability of these items invigortes the history. Any teacher could say that women could buy land in 1932 is one thing, but to see a womans's names on a ledger and her consistent payments is quite another.


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