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 available for reference in our 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

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

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

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

And the following journals published by Edinburgh University Press

  • Innes Review
  • Journal of Scottish Historical Studies
  • Scottish Historical Review

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.

Special Collections

There are two small collections that have different access arrangements. They are included in the Library catalogue.

ScotlandsPeople Centre Reference Library

This collection is for family history researchers with seats in the Dundas Room and Reid Room. Library books are held in the Dundas Room. Volumes stored in the New Register House Dome can be requested using the green library slips. Please check the Library guide in your search room for details.

  • 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 available in the Dundas Room and Reid Room for quick reference.

  • Transcripts of pre-1855 birth, death and marriage registers held elsewhere and of some Old Parish Registers (useful if you are finding early entries difficult to read)

  • Transcripts of pre-1841 census and population records

  • Dictionaries of emigrants, university and school rolls, and military lists

  • Language and medical dictionaries, gazetteers, directories, the statistical accounts of Scotland and guides to occupations and names help you interpret information in the records

  • eLibrary - access to digital publications on the ScotlandsPeople Centre network. Please note that under licensing terms no printing or downloading is permitted.

    • 1851 seamen’s crew lists

    • List of the poor of Dundee, 1840

    • Maryculter parish registers, 1696-1855

    • Monumental inscriptions for Barry, Carmyllie, Dunbarney, Kilmany, Leuchars, Logie and Sidlaw

    • St Ternan’s Episcopal Church register of births and baptisms, confirmations, marriages and deaths and burials, 1729-1881

    • University of Edinburgh roll of honour, 1914-1919

  • Stand Alone Computer in Dundas Room - access to databases and digital publications that cannot be made available on the Centre network for technical or licensing reasons:
    • FamilySearch - International Genealogical Index - British Isles

    • Monumental Inscriptions for Dunbar, Edinburgh cemeteries and North Berwick plus the Carmunnock Parish Church images database

    • Pre-1841 census transcripts and indexes for St Cuthbert's or West Kirk, 1790 and parish of Dalkeith, 1834

    • UK-Info disk 2004 

 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 on two computers in the ScotlandsPeople Centre's Reid Room.

The catalogue has approximately 90% coverage. Volumes in the Directories, Folio and Government and Administration classes are being added as part of the retrospective cataloguing project.  Card indexes are available until the cataloguing is complete.

Please note that Library books are provided for reference.  They must not be removed from the search rooms.  No copying or scanning is permitted.