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Wednesday 27 May 2015

Published guides and sources

The National Archives of Scotland's publications

The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) has published a number of guides and source lists that may assist you with your research. These will be available in good libraries and some are still in print and can be purchased direct from our bookshop. Some older titles may still bear the NAS's former name which was the Scottish Record Office (SRO).

'The guide to the National Archives of Scotland' (Stationery Office, 1996) is a general guide to the records of the Scottish Kingdom before the Union of 1707 and to the records of the law of Scotland held in the National Archives of Scotland. It updates information provided in M Livingstone, 'A guide to the public records of Scotland deposited in HM General Register House, Edinburgh' (Edinburgh, 1905).

'Tracing your Scottish ancestors: A guide to ancestry research in the National Archives of Scotland' (Mercat Press, 3rd ed. 2003) explains the records which can be used to trace your family history held in the NAS, while Cecil J Sinclair, 'Tracing Scottish Local History in the Scottish Record Office' (Stationery Office, 1994) discusses the various sources which can be used to research local history.

The published 'Annual Report of the Keeper of the Records of Scotland' can be consulted for current information on the work of the NAS and the latest details of records accessioned and catalogued.

'List of gifts and deposits in the Scottish Record Office', 2 vols. (HMSO, 1971 and 1976) outlines the content of some of our collections of private papers.

I H Adams and L R Timperley, 'Descriptive List of Plans in the Scottish Record Office', vols 1-4 (HMSO, 1966-1988) describe the first 4999 plans in the NAS maps and plans collection.

The NAS and the Scottish Records Association publish 'Scottish Handwriting 1500-1700, a self-help pack' for historians and genealogists who have difficulty reading old handwriting in Scottish documents.

The NAS has also published the following texts, which uses facsimiles and excerpts from original sources:

'The Emigrants: Why they left, the journey, and life in the new country'
'The Scots in America: Economic and social links over three centuries'
'The Scots in Canada: Emigration and settlement'
'The Scots in New Zealand: Emigrants and settlers'
'A Jacobite Source List: A list of documents to be found in the holdings of the NAS relating to the Jacobites'
'Military Source List: Part One: A guide to sources on military history from the private collections of papers held in the NAS'
'Military Source List: Part Two: A guide to sources on military history from the NAS's holdings of government records'

Other record-related publications

Gordon Donaldson's booklet, 'The Sources of Scottish History' is a comprehensive guide to both records and works of reference. It discusses central and local public records, church records and their descendants, private records and other materials. It also describes bibliographical, biographical, topographical, chronological and other publications and contemporary narrative sources. It was initially published privately in 1978 and only later was it offered for public sale. Consequently it will be available only in larger libraries and in specialist history collections.

Two long-standing societies are still active in the field of publishing archival material.

The Scottish Record Society has published a wide variety of lists, indexes, transcripts and abridgements of individual records.
The Scottish History Society has concentrated on publishing longer editions of historical documents a list of which can be found on its website.

The output from both societies is available in many public and university libraries. These publications, and those of other Scottish historical and related clubs and societies, are conveniently listed in D and W B Stevenson, Scottish Texts and Calendars: an Analytical Guide to Serial Publications (Scottish History Society and Royal Historical Society, 1987).

Still of use for their lists of publications of Scottish state papers are C S Terry, 'A catalogue of the publications of Scottish historical and kindred clubs and societies and of the volumes relative to Scottish History issued by His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1780-1908' (Glasgow, 1909), and C Matheson, 'A catalogue of the publications of Scottish historical and kindred clubs and societies and of the papers relative to Scottish History issued by HM Stationery Office, including the reports of the Royal Commission on Historical MSS, 1908-1927' (Aberdeen, 1928).

Also published are the following:
'Accounts of the Masters of Works: for building and repairing royal palaces and castles'
2 volumes, 1529-1649. Edited by Henry M. Paton et al. [Edinburgh, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1957-1982]

'Compota Thesaurariorum Regum Scotorum Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland' also called 'Accounts of the Treasurer of Scotland'.
13 volumes, 1473-1580. Edited by Thomas Dickson et al. [Edinburgh, HM General Register House/Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1877-1978]

'Rotuli Scaccarii Regum Scotorum. The Exchequer Rolls of Scotland'.
22 volumes, 1264-1600. Edited by John Stuart and George Burnett et al. [Edinburgh, H.M. General Register House, 1878-1908]

'Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum. The Register of the Great Seal of Scotland'.
11 volumes, 1306-1668. Edited by John Maitland Thomson et al. [Edinburgh, Scottish Record Society, 1984]

'Registrum Secreti Sigilli Regum Scotorum. The Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland'.
8 volumes, 1488-1584. Edited by M. Livingstone et al. [Edinburgh, H.M. General Register House/Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1908-1982]

'Acta Dominorum Concilii. Acts of the Lords of Council in civil causes'.
3 volumes, 1478-1503. Edited by George Neilson et al. [Edinburgh, H.M. General Register House/Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1839-1993]

'Acts of the Lords of Council in Public Affairs'.
1 volume, 1501-1554. Edited by Robert Kerr Hannay [Edinburgh, H.M. General Register House, 1932]

'The Register of the Privy Council of Scotland'.
16 volumes 1545-1691. Edited by John Hill Burton et al. [Edinburgh, H.M. General Register House/Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1877-1970]

'The Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland'.
11 volumes with two volumes of indices and 1 later suppressed volume dated 1124-1707, which contains various items of parliamentary business, including minutes, orders of council and session and some statutes omitted from the previous 11 volumes. No publication details.

General bibliographies and works of Scottish history

There is no single bibliography of writings on Scottish history, but two publications from the last century cover much of the ground for the years before 1960: A Mitchell and C G Cash, 'A contribution to the bibliography of Scottish topography' (2 vols., Scottish History Society, 1917) and P D Hancock, 'A bibliography of works relating to Scotland 1916-1950' (2 Vols., Edinburgh, 1959-60). This can be supplemented by the information about subsequent publications given in the 'Bibliography of Scotland' at the National Library of Scotland.

There has been an explosion in the writing of Scottish history in the last forty years and there are now several excellent modern histories of Scotland, containing full bibliographies. All are currently in print.

The standard treatment is still the Edinburgh History of Scotland in four volumes:

AAM Duncan, Scotland: 'The making of the kingdom' (Edinburgh, 1975)
R Nicholson, Scotland: 'The later middle ages' (Edinburgh, 1974)
G Donaldson, Scotland: 'James V to James VII' (Edinburgh, 1965)
W Ferguson, Scotland: '1689 to the present' (Edinburgh, 1968)

This can be supplemented by 'The new history of Scotland' in eight volumes:

AP Smyth, 'Warlords and holy men: Scotland AD 80-100' (London, 1984)
GWS Barrow, 'Kingship and unity: Scotland 1000-1306' (London, 1981)
A Grant, 'Independence and nationhood: Scotland 1306-1469' (London, 1984)
J Wormald, 'Court, kirk, and community: Scotland 1470-1625' (London, 1981)
R Mitchison, 'Lordship to patronage: Scotland 1603-1745' (London, 1983)
B Lenman, 'Integration, enlightenment, and industrialization' (London, 1981)
S and O Checkland, 'Industry and ethos: Scotland 1832-1914' (London, 1984)
C Harvie, 'No gods and precious few heroes: Scotland 1914-1980' (London, 1981)

There are a number of other good general histories:

M Lynch, 'Scotland: A new history' (London, 1991)
TC Smout,' A history of the Scottish people, 1560-1830' (London, 1969)
TC Smout, 'A century of the Scottish people, 1830-1950' (London, 1987)
TM Devine, 'The Scottish nation, 1700-2000' (London, 1999)


'The Scottish national dictionary'.
10 volumes. Edited by William Grant et al. [Edinburgh, the Scottish National Dictionary Association Limited, 1931-1976]

'The concise Scots dictionary'.
1 volume. Edited by Mairi Robinson et al. [Aberdeen, Aberdeen University Press, 1985]

'A dictionary of the older Scottish tongue from the twelfth century to the end of the seventeenth'.
12 volumes. Edited by Sir William Craigie et al. [London, Oxford University Press, 1837-2002]

The 'Dictionary of the Scots language' (DSL) website comprises electronic editions of the 'Dictionary of the older Scottish tongue' (DOST) and the 'Scottish national dictionary' (SND). A link to the website is available in the Other Websites menu on the left hand side of this page.

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