National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Reference Library

Reference Library

The National Records of Scotland’s Library collections are made available for reference in the search rooms as an aid to research in the records.

Main collection

The main collection is held in General Register House. It covers the following subjects:

  • Archives and conservation
  • Bibliography
  • Biography
  • Dictionaries
  • Directories
  • Ecclesiastical history
  • Economic, social and cultural history
  • Family and clan histories
  • Government and administration
  • Heraldry
  • Law
  • Military history
  • Scottish history
  • Scottish Record Office and National Archives of Scotland publications
  • Topography
  • Transport

Some reference books are held on open shelf in the Historical Search Room, Alcove, Index Room and Catalogue Room but most books and journals are available on request.

You can also access the following digital resources in the Historical Search Room

  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • Histpop - the online historical population reports website (for access to annual reports of the Registrars General up to 1919 and the 1801 to 1931 census reports)
  • Innes Review
  • Journal of Scottish Historical Studies
  • Scottish Historical Review
  • Statistical Accounts of Scotland online 1791-1845

A full set of the Registrar General for Scotland's statistical publications (including the census reports) and a small collection on the history of ecclesiastical and civil registration are held in the New Register House Dome.

ScotlandsPeople Centre Reference Library

This small Library collection is available to family history researchers with seats in the ScotlandsPeople Centre. It includes:

  • Monumental Inscriptions for burial grounds throughout Scotland as well as a few in England, Ireland, India and Sri Lanka of Scottish interest - an index of places is provided for quick reference;
  • Transcriptions of pre-1855 birth, death and marriage registers held elsewhere (including private registers and Congregational, Scottish Episcopal, Free Church, Methodist, Quaker and Roman Catholic records), lair records, newspaper birth, death and marriage notices and some Old Parish Registers;
  • Transcriptions of pre-1841 census and population records;
  • Dictionaries of emigrants, university and school rolls, military lists and guides to occupations and names;
  • Language and medical dictionaries;
  • Gazetteers, directories (including Post Office directories for Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow) and the statistical accounts of Scotland;
  • e-publications can be accessed on the stand alone computer which provides access to FamilySearch and UK-Info disk 2004:
    • 1851 seamen’s crew lists;
    • Pre-1841 census transcripts and indexes for St Cuthbert's or West Kirk, 1790 and parish of Dalkeith, 1834;
    • List of the poor of Dundee in 1840;
    • Maryculter parish registers, 1696-1855;
    • Monumental Inscriptions for Dunbar, Edinburgh cemeteries, North Berwick and burial grounds in Angus, Fife and Perthshire plus the Carmunnock Parish Church images database.

The books are currently being held in the New Register House Dome. All ScotlandsPeople Centre Reference Library material is included in the Library catalogue. References have the suffix SPC.

Stats Library at Ladywell House

The Stats Library holds a set of the Registrar General for Scotland's statistical publications;  annual reports of the Registrars General of England and Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland;  census reports;  Scottish and international statistical reports on population and health;  and journals of the Royal Statistical Society.

If you wish to make an appointment to do research in the Stats Library please contact Statistics Information Services by:

Library Catalogue

You can search the Library catalogue in the Historical Search Room and in the ScotlandsPeople Centre. It has approximately 90% coverage of all the Library collections. Volumes in the Directories, Folio and Government and Administration classes are being added as part of a retrospective cataloguing project. Card indexes are available until the cataloguing is complete. 

Please note that Library books are provided for reference as an aid to your research in the records.  They must not be removed from the search rooms. You may take notes but we ask you not to copy or photograph pages.