Monday, 5 August 2013

Class 9: National Archives of Scotland (15/07/2013)

Photo courtesy of NAS website

After studying in London for a little over two weeks, the time came for our class to venture outside of the city we had grown to love and explore. Luckily, our LondonAway trip had us set to visit Edinburgh in Scotland. Having visited here last year, I was personally stoked to come back to this amazing city and learn about some of the libraries and archives.

Our first stop in Edinburgh was the National Archives of Scotland ( Margaret McBryde, the education officer, showed us all around this magnificent building and taught us a little bit about its history. For instance, the National Archives is a newer name for the building. It was originally called the National Records of Scotland (NRS), but due to a merger with another company and being in the midst of a transitional time, the name has been changed. Additionally, this building is only one of three that house records. Where we were was the archives that the public can come into and request materials, the other two are where records are stored.
Entrance into the National Archives

After learning about the history of the building, Ms. McBryde gave us a PowerPoint presentation about what happens in the National Archives. This department is responsible for all types of registration, like marriages, deaths, immigrants, etc., and statistical functions for the Scotland registry, including demographic information and census data. Also found here, physically and on-line, are records about all family histories having to do with Scotland. The archives do offer multiple on-line resources and workshops available for the public to use. There are even 2 hour free sessions made available to help patrons look up and use electronic records. Ms. McBryde gave us a few examples of the databases available, like the General Registrar Office of Scotland and the Scottish Archive Network, that can be used by anyone. I was tempted to use some of these resources and look up information on my grandfather that was born in Scotland just to see how all of these sites worked. It was pretty amazing to learn about all of this.
 Later on in the tour, Ms. McBryde let us examine and look at a bunch of historical records. In front of me were old deeds, church records, maps and plans, court/legal documents and other pieces of paper from hundreds of years ago. There were papers from the Jacobite Rebellion, the will of Robert Burns and a document from 1673 that served as evidence that golf was played in Scotland around this time. The oldest record on site is believed to be from 1120 and is from King David I. There was also a document from 1673 that served as evidence that golf was played in Scotland around this time. The coolest thing, in my opinion, were the criminal records that we saw. There were examples of old school mug shots (which also serve as early examples of photography) and records of how prisoners made it overseas to new places. There used to be a system used where each criminal came with a receipt and that was what was presented after they got to where they going and became proof that they reached their final destination. Seeing those was really cool.
Photo courtesy of NAS website

Our class concluded with a brief tour around the actual building. It was on this walk that we learned about how patrons could access archives, how they acquired reader's tickets and what rooms they were allowed to use to search for information. Overall, this tour was so informational and had so many fantastic things to learn and see. Ms. McBryde was an amazing educator and I couldn't be any happier with our first day in Edinburgh.

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