National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

NRAS for Owners

NRAS for Owners

National Register of Archives for Scotland logoThe National Register of Archives for Scotland (NRAS) was set up in 1946 to compile a record of collections of private papers in Scotland, to encourage their care, and to make information about them available to researchers and others.


While landed families and law firms have generally proved to hold the most extensive and varied collections, the private individual is just as likely to own papers - everyday items such as letters, diaries, account books and photographs - which may throw new light on past events and contain information nowhere else available. The National Register of Archives for Scotland (NRAS) has to depend on the owners or custodians of such material making themselves known and asking for advice on the historical significance of their holdings.  

We can provide you with advice on all matters regarding the preservation and administration of your papers, including questions of deposit and access. The free NRAS booklet Archive Preservation Guidelines for Private Owners (381KB pdf) is also available in hard copy format on request. PDF files require Acrobat Reader. Download it free Get Acrobat Reader.


The staff of the NRAS can prepare a basic survey of your papers free of charge. This survey will then be added to the Register, and made publicly available at the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and The National Archives (TNA) in London.


All enquiries from researchers regarding papers listed on the Register are directed in the first instance to the NRAS, so that owners should not be troubled by unnecessary requests. Where owners are unable to provide adequately supervised access for researchers on their own premises, then arrangements can sometimes be made for a limited number of papers to be placed on short term temporary deposit with the NRAS for consultation by the researcher in the search room of General Register House. In these circumstances the owner is responsible for transporting the papers to and from Edinburgh. Alternatively, owners may wish to consider contacting a local archive who may allow the temporary deposit of papers.

We are unable to vouch for the integrity of individual researchers, and owners are advised to make their own enquiries if they wish.


The NRAS does not actively seek to acquire papers from owners for deposit in the NRS or any other archive; nor can financial valuations be given by staff. Advice on suitable places of deposit (whether in the NRS or elsewhere) will, however, be given on request.