Tuesday, July 20, 2010

National Archives of Scotland

After Dunfermline, we visited the National Archives of Scotland. This is a government agency that maintains the records of Scotland. It is divided into two divisions: record services, which deals with government records, court/legal records, and collections development; and corporate services, which deals with finance and administration, conservation, reader services, and communications. The records at the national archives range from the 12th to 21st century and occupy 70km of shelving. They also maintain a digital collection, known as "virtual volumes", which are the digitized records that are accessible in-house and include access to Scottish wills from 1500-1901. Another interesting website they maintain is the Scottish Register of Tartans, which is, as the name would suggest, a "national repository of tartan designs". The site allows the user to search a tartan that's already been registered (using the name of the tartan, the type, or the designer) or to register a new tartan.

For our visit, the staff had pulled out several interesting examples of old records for us to peruse. One of these items was a lawyer's descriptions of cases. The librarian at the archive had been going through them to find examples of merchant ships being sunk by Germans during WWI. Because the ships were sunk and the cargo lost, the ships owners had to seek a lawyer so that they could be protected from legal action. Another interesting document they had pulled out for us was an old medical record listing a little bit of information about the patient and the patient's ailment. The space for "occupation" on this form was particularly amusing; we found one that simply said "nothing" and another whose occupation was listed as "poor scholar".

Image courtesy of scotsfamily.com

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