The History of Leith

November 15, 2004

The Written Records and Memory of Scotland’s Capital

Edinburgh City Archives

1130 to yesterday

The archival records of Edinburgh are many things; unique, irreplaceable, trivial, priceless, fascinating, boring, copious, dirty, delicate, robust, leather bound, centuries old, yesterdays, published, unknown, significant and voluminous. Above all they are a hugely significant memory and resource of inestimable worth to Edinburgh, its inhabitants and its visitors.

Most aspects of Edinburgh history are illuminated by our political, administrative, judicial, business, personal, domestic, criminal, religious, social, legal and commercial archives. It is the primary task of the City Archives to rescue, preserve and improve access to these records, increasing their use and exploitation by all parties.

Whether you are interested in local history, Edinburgh’s buildings, people who have lived here, family history, a notable civic event or an educational project the City Archives may well be the best or only source of information; particularly if you have already examined the secondary sources of books and publications.

However, the large amount of records, their poor physical condition and limited facilities mean that using Edinburgh City Archives can be challenging.

Although we answer several hundred letter and telephone enquiries every year to consult the actual archives personal visits to the City Archives’ search room in the City Chambers are unavoidable.
Because it will help your research and we can only accommodate twelve people, prior notice of a visit is appreciated. All enquiries must be directed to the professional archivist on duty and any materials produced are consulted under their supervision.
All visitors to the City Chambers report to the main reception desk. They will issue a security pass and direct you to the search room.
There are no formal restrictions regarding access to the search room – once there the Archivist on duty is the responsible officer in such matters as issuing documents to children, use of laptops and mobile phones.
Some records are stored several miles away and can take three days to produce. For a variety of reasons certain records that one might reasonably expect to find here have not survived and other series are held elsewhere in the city.
Physical access to the search room is either by means of several flights of stairs or by a small lift; there is no alternative entry or exit for wheelchair users.
There is an induction loop in the search room.
All users must abide by the search room regulations – copies are displayed and available to all users of the public search room.
Limited photocopying service and photography by arrangement.
Bus and train stations are five to ten minutes away; there is no car parking but there is a secure bike stand.
Contact and Opening Hours
Please phone to check the search room is open before you visit. We are currently open from 9am to 1pm and 2pm to 4.30pm Monday to Thursday (not Friday).

Our address is: Edinburgh City Archives, Department of Corporate Services, The City of Edinburgh Council, City Chambers, High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1YJ

Our telephone number is 0131 529 4616. Our fax number is 0131 529 4957.

Other Facilities
Search the online directory Your Edinburgh for links to other useful information such as family and local history resources in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh City Libraries and Information Services
The Edinburgh Room has a large amount of material relevant to genealogists looking for ancestors with an Edinburgh connection. Edinburgh Room, Central Library, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EG. Tel 0131 242 8030 Fax 0131 242 8035.
National Library of Scotland
Contains information about the library’s collections, publications and exhibitions, as well as library services. National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EW. Tel 0131 226 4531 Fax 0131 622 4803.
Register General for Scotland
Apart from information about the materials held in Scotland’s General Register Office and how to access them, this website also provides a number of links to websites of interest to genealogists, with a particular emphasis on Scottish family history. New Register House, West Register Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3YT. Tel 0131 334 0380 Fax 0131 3114 4400.

Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry
This is a collection of resources on the internet, designed to assist those wishing to trace their Scottish Ancestry.

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