The archive holds government records dating back to the 1140's, before it was even made part of Britain. The original head of the archive was called the Clerk of the Roles and his job was established in the 1280s. The term was still being used even after scrolls had gone to the wayside but nowadays they just use "archivist". The building in which the archives are housed was constructed in the 1880s and meant to be used as an all purpose government building but was quickly filled up with the abundant materials of the archive.
The majority of Scottish citizens enjoy free access to the archives but there are fees incurred for legal teams wishing to use the archive as well as for people wishing to access the "Scotland's People" ancestry database. The fees are reasonable but in some ways it seems wrong that people should have to pay in order to access records pertaining to their own personal history. The service, despite the fee is widely used, both digitally and physically in house. As we walked through on our tour with archivist Dr. Clarke, there were a number of people using the reading rooms and researching their own family background.
Digital EndeavorsThe archives are fully embracing a move to digitization. They have digitized half a million family documents which can be viewed from anywhere in the world for a fee. In addition to that they've digitally imaged 200 years worth of property indexes in order to make access to this information easier and faster for all kinds of users. Their digital efforts are not limited to those on site at the National Archive; they've opened multiple genealogy centers all across the UK which allow people who can't travel to the archive easy access to family related materials. They have their own digitization lab on the premises which allows them to quickly and easily go from deciding which volumes to digitize to making it happen with little input and wait from middle men.
|The National Archives of Scotland: Photo by Jenny Collins|
The National Archives of Scotland is committed to protecting the heritage of the nation and bringing people closer to their past. It is a great facility and was an eye opening experience.