Events, Talks and Visits

Events, Talks and Visits

We host a variety of events, talks and visits, including lectures on historical themes and records, introductory talks on family history, school workshops and visits by groups in further and higher education and evening classes in palaeography. The seminar facility at New Register House Dome can be booked for meetings and conferences.

Talks and visits

National Records of Scotland talks programme

All talks and events are free, except for ScotlandsPeople sessions as noted. They take place in General Register House or New Register House. See location map.  Places can be booked during office hours (Monday to Friday, 9.00 – 12.00) via the ScotlandsPeople booking line 0131 314 4300 (press option 1). For further information call the ScotlandsPeople Centre or email:

2 March 2017, 2.00 – 3.00pm
‘For King and Country’: Records of Military Service Appeal Tribunals, 1916-1918

Bruno Longmore (Head of Government Records, NRS)
Just over a hundred years ago, Britain's Liberal Government introduced military conscription under the Military Service Act, 1916.  Uniquely among combatants in the First World War, the men of Britain could apply for exemption. The Military Service Appeal Tribunal records for Lothian and Peebles 1916-1918 survive and are held in NRS.  Bruno Longmore  highlights the reasons why conscription was introduced, who was conscripted, why men appealed and what these records tell us about Scotland during WW1. New Register House

23 March 2017, 2.00 – 3.00 pm
Getting the most out of ScotlandsPeople

Iain Ferguson (ScotlandsPeople, National Records of Scotland)
Introducing some helpful hints and tips for ancestry-hunting on the ScotlandsPeople website. New Register House.

See below for Recent Talks

Talks and visits for groups in further and higher education

We deliver a limited number of specialised talks/workshops for groups of undergraduate and postgraduate students. To make enquiries, please contact: or telephone 0131 535 1384.

Schools programme

For information on school visits and workshops, visit the Scottish Archives for Schools website or contact our Education team at or telephone 0131 535 1384.

Evening Class

Archivists from the NRS run evening classes in palaeography on behalf of the University of Edinburgh's Office of Lifelong Learning. This practical course in Scottish Handwriting covering the period 1500-1700 takes place at General Register House.

New Register House Dome Seminar Facility

The New Register House Dome is a unique venue, purpose-built to house the Scottish birth, death and marriage records dating back to 1553. The Dome Seminar Facility can be booked for meetings and conferences.

Recent talks
The National Register of Archives for Scotland at 70

In autumn 2016 some of our talks were about private archives, to mark the 70th birthday of the National Register of Archives for Scotland (NRAS). The NRAS is the section of National Records of Scotland that since 1946 has been advising private owners of archives, surveying their collections, and helping preserve them and also make them available for research.

9 December 2016,  2.00 – 3.00pm
Caring for your family papers

Linda Ramsay, Head of Conservation in NRS, and her colleagues will provide advice on storing, packaging, handling and preserving your family papers, from letters and plans, to photographs and ledgers, including tips on what to do about damp, mould and insects. Come ready with your document dilemmas! (New Register House)

25 November 2016, 2.00 – 3.00pm
The Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry’s Scottish archives

Crispin Powell (Archivist to Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry). Crispin will talk about the rich archives still held at Drumlanrig Castle and Bowhill House, in addition to the pleasures and challenges of his role as the first professional archivist to look after the Duke’s collections in Scotland and England. Cataloguing, conservation and access are key elements of Crispin’s work, and he will outline the progress that has been made so far, and what plans he and the Duke have for the future. (New Register House)

22 November 2016, 10:00 - 12:00
Treasures from the National Records
Alison Lindsay (Head of Historical Search Room, NRS) talks about the records that NRS offers for researchers: maps, court records, kirk session minutes and other sources reveal the history of the ancient villages that now form part of the western suburbs of Edinburgh. (General Register House) This talk forms part of the Pentlands Book Festival, and places can only be booked via Eventbrite.

17 November 2016, 6:00 - 7:00pm
The National Covenant and the Scottish People
Dr Laura Stewart (University of York). The National Covenant of 1638 is one of Scotland’s most controversial documents: for some, an expression of the people’s right to choose their own religion; for others, a statement in religious intolerance whose influence has lasted into modern times. Although the text has been heavily debated by scholars, very little attention has been given to its reception. This talk examines for the first time how the Covenant was taken by the people in the parishes. It sheds new light on its contested meanings and offers fresh reflections on its significance for understanding Scottish political identity. Dr Stewart is author of ‘Rethinking the Scottish Revolution: Covenanted Scotland, 1617-53’ (Oxford UP, 2016). New Register House. 

11 November 2016, 2.00 – 3.30pm
‘Something Sensible for a Change’ : The National Register of Archives for Scotland, 1946-2016

Dr Alison Rosie (Registrar of the NRAS) outlines the history of the NRAS and what it does to help owners and users of archives today. Bring along your own documents for an opportunity after her talk to find out more about them and get advice on their care and preservation. (New Register House)

2 November 2016, 2.00 – 3.00pm
The Argyll Papers
Alison Diamond (Archivist for the Duke of Argyll). Professor Allan Macinnes (Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Strathclyde and expert on Highland history), has described the Argyll Papers held at Inveraray Castle as ‘one of the most important private archives in Britain.’ Alison will talk about the archives, their history and content, and the current focus on raising the profile of the collection and making it more accessible. She will speak about the forthcoming partnership project with Argyll and Bute Council, Written in the Landscape, which will catalogue collections of family papers and conserve the maps and plans held at Inveraray Castle, working with local communities and heritage centres throughout Argyll.
(New Register House)

22 July 2016, 2:00 - 3:00pm
Getting the most out of ScotlandsPeople

Iain Ferguson (ScotlandsPeople) will give a presentation, including hints and tips, on searching the records on the ScotlandsPeople search system. New Register House.

7 July 2016, 2:00 - 3:00pm
An introduction to the NRS maps and plans collections

Jane Brown, Head of Maps and Plans, National Records of Scotland, explores the rich variety of maps and plans held in NRS, the largest collection of hand-drawn plans relating to Scotland. New Register House.

29 April 2016, 2:00 - 3:00pm
Getting the most out of ScotlandsPeople

Iain Ferguson (ScotlandsPeople) will give a presentation, including hints and tips, on searching the records on the ScotlandsPeople search system. New Register House.

18 March 2016, 2:00 - 3:00pm
Getting the most out of ScotlandsPeople

Iain Ferguson (ScotlandsPeople) gave a presentation, including hints and tips, on searching the records on the ScotlandsPeople search system. 

25 February 2016, 2:30 - 3:30pm
Lord Mar's plans: their context in early eighteenth-century Scotland and Europe

Margaret Stewart (University of Edinburgh) explored the fascinating architectural and landscape drawings of John Erskine, 6th earl of Mar, the Scottish Secretary turned Jacobite leader and exile, which are held in National Records of Scotland.

12 February 2016, 2:00 - 3:00pm
Using the National Records of Scotland for family history

Dr Tristram Clarke (National Records of Scotland) gave an introduction aimed at those who are ready to explore our records beyond what is available via ScotlandsPeople. 

15 January 2016
Italians' Count in Scotland: the 1933 Census, Recording History

To complement our exhibition Family Portrait: the Scots Italians, 1890-1940, Dr Terri Colpi explored the census of Italians in Scotland preserved for 80 years in the Italian Consulate. Through this unique archive she reveals the stories of generations of Italians who made Scotland their home from the late nineteenth century onwards, as detailed in her book 'Italians' Count in Scotland: the 1933 Census, Recording History' (2015).

4 December 2015
The National Library of Scotland map collection and how it can assist family/local historians

With around two million cartographic items, the National Library of Scotland map collection is the largest in Scotland and one of the biggest in the world. Craig Statham (Maps Reading Room Manager, National Library of Scotland) gave an overview of the collection and how maps are an important resource for family and local historians.

10 November 2015
Death in Childbirth: Past attitudes to this tragic loss

Professor Rosemary Mander (Emeritus Professor of Midwifery, University of Edinburgh) explored the impact of the death of a mother with reference to a number of artefacts and historical records, particularly from the archive collection of the National Records of Scotland. The free public talk complemented our exhibition 'Safe Delivery: A History of Scottish Midwives'.

4 November 2015
The 1915 Midwives (Scotland) Act: Whys and Wherefores

Dr Lindsay Reid
To complement our exhibition 'Safe Delivery: A History of Scottish Midwives', Dr Lindsay Reid presented a free public talk to commemorate the passing of the Midwives Act (Scotland), 1915. Historian Dr Reid was a midwife for over thirty years, in practice in hospital and community, education, research and writing.

8 October 2015
Putting Health into Family History

Lothian Health Services Archive (LHSA) is one of the largest medical archives in the UK, home to records from NHS Lothian hospitals and their predecessors, along with a wealth of unique resources on the history of health in the Edinburgh region. Archivist Louise Williams explored how family historians can use hospital and medical records in their research, giving an introduction to the material that LHSA holds and how records can be accessed.

21 August 2015
Trace was a new, site-specific, group-vocal acoustic performance work created by sound artist Deb Marshall in response to the vast, neo-classical Adam Dome at General Register House as part of Edinburgh Art Festival.

7 August 2015
Kurt Schwitters' 'Ursonate'

The Ursonate , a vocal piece by artist Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948), was performed by Florian Kaplick as a 'Finnisage' to the exhibition 'Germans in Britain'.

21 July 2015
German Roots and Routes in Contemporary Britain

Professor Ullrich Kockel (Professor of Culture and Economy, Heriot-Watt University) presented an ethnographic and personal reflection on how Germans in Britain have experienced everyday life and belonging in Britain. This talk complemented the exhibition 'Germans in Britain' .

2 June 2015
'To know man's life, keep death still in your eye': learning about everyday life in nineteenth century Scotland from the civil registers of death
Dr. Eilidh Garrett (Department of History, University of Essex) explored the different life experiences of Scots in two contrasting areas, Skye and Kilmarnock.

12 May 2015
Using the Dictionary of the Scots Language
An introduction to the online Dictionary of the Scots Language by Ann Ferguson (editor, Scottish Language Dictionaries).