23 July, 2007

The National Archives of Scotland

After our amazing visit to the National Library of Scotland we headed straight to the National Archives. The National Archives originally began as a repository built to house all the records of Scotland in the 1780s. It now consists of three separate buildings. The first building is the Robertson Wing used for public research with catalogs, computers, and microfilm - NOT originals. The second building was opened in the 1970s and is called the West Register House. This is a storage facility that also allows access to the public. The third and most recent building is the Thomas Thomson house, built in 1995. This building is primarily used for materials sorting and conservation so the public does not have access to it.

The National Archives of Scotland provide a number of services to the general public through their buildings and electronic sites. The General Register House, for example provides free access to records that date back from the 12th century to the present. Visitors can request digital copies of documents for a fee. Some of the resources include: catalogs, state/parliamentary papers, church records, wills, registers of deeds, taxation records, valuation rolls, family and estate papers, and private records. At the West Register House, visitors can find court and legal records, government records, business records, railway records, nationalized industries information, maps, and plans. The Education Officer of Archives gave us a number of great electronic resources provided by the National Archives:
http://www.scan.org.uk/ (Scottish Archive Network)
http://www.scottishhandwriting.com/ (a self-help guide to reading documents)

My favorite part of visiting the National Archives was being able to see and handle historically significant documents from centuries ago. We saw a letter from Mary Queen of Scots to her parents dated 1550, signed "Your Very Humble and Very Obedient Daughter". We were able to page through a handwritten cookery book from 1727, and journals of the Commissioners of the Union of the Kingdoms dated 1706. I was also interested to leaf through a 1914-1916 criminal case file on Janet Arthur (alias Fanny Parker) who was a Suffragette prisoner during this time period.

No comments: