Information courtesy of Ruaraidh Wishart, Senior Archivist,
Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives.
You can find out the basic history of a family using a number of sources. Records of key life events can be found in:
- Statutory Records of Births, Marriages and Deaths (1855 onwards) - these are available at your local registrars office, and also online (for a fee) at www.ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk
- Old Parish Registers of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials (1553-1854) - these are available at your local registrars office, and on microfilm at the main local studies libraries in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City. OPRs are also available online (for a fee) at www.ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk
More detail about the family can be found in:
Census Records (1841-1911) - these can be a treasure-trove of information as they record the entire household at a given address along with their occupations, the relationship to the head of the household and their place of birth. They can also give clues to social history, such as the presence of domestic servants in a property, or provide evidence of over-crowding. While censuses have taken place every ten years from 1841 (with the exception of 1941) there is a one hundred year closure period on these records so those that are available span the period 1841-1911. Censuses from 1841-1901 are available at your local registrars office, and also on microfilm at the main local studies libraries in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City. Censuses from 1841-1911 are also available online (for a fee) at www.ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk.
Useful general sources for researching the area that your subject family stayed in:
Old Maps and Photographs - these provide an excellent visual representation of local areas. Maps and photographs of the same area from different periods in its history will show how it developed through time. Library services in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, as well as Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives hold local photographs, as well as good sets of old Ordnance Survey maps dating back to c. 1867 along with other more unique maps and plans. Scran ( www.scran.ac.uk) is also a good source for these, as is the National Library of Scotland, which has made a large amount of its map collection available on its website at www.nls.uk.
Local Studies Books - published books about your specific area that can guide your project can be found in your local library. The best place to start is on the library's online catalogue and / or speaking to the librarian.
Valuation Rolls (1855 onwards) - these were compiled for taxation purposes, and provide an annual record of taxable properties, names of proprietors and occupiers, along with the rateable value of each property. They are good for tracing the movements of your subject family between census years, but also good for seeing what's in the surrounding area, and judging how affluent the family / area was. They are available at Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives for the City of Aberdeen from 1855 and also survive (with gaps) for the counties of Aberdeen from 1859/60, Kincardine from 1862/63, Banff from 1877/78 and Moray from 1902/3. From 1990 they only list business addresses as rating of domestic properties was abolished. The main Local Studies Libraries in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City also hold incomplete sets as well. Complete sets from 1855 are held by the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Directories - trade directories list businesses that operated in an area, usually laid out in order of the type of business. Postal directories list domestic properties and businesses, usually laid out in 2 lists, by order of address as well as occupier. They are good for looking at what contributed to the economy of the area, picking up on unusual trades, looking at who / what was in the surrounding area of your subject family. etc. The Local Studies Libraries in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City have good sets of these for their areas. The National Library of Scotland has made a large number of these available online at its website www.nls.uk.
Old Newspapers - these are good for finding contemporary accounts of events that affected an area, and providing examples of adverts that might provide inspiration for creative art work. Library Services in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City have good sets of these on microfilm.
Contacts & Information
Heritage Education Partnership members are very happy to discuss education projects with teachers, and provide advice on less widely used sources that might help. They can be contacted at:
Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives - Old Aberdeen House, Dunbar Street, AB24 3UJ, T. (01224) 481775, firstname.lastname@example.org
Aberdeenshire Libraries - Local Studies: Meldrum Meg Way, The Meadows Industrial Estate, Oldmeldrum, AB51 0GN, T. (01651) 871219/871220 email@example.com
Aberdeenshire Registrars - have several offices throughout Aberdeenshire, but have a central website at aberdeenshire.gov.uk/familyhistory/registrars.asp and email address firstname.lastname@example.org
PDFs of the Paper Treasure packs can be found on www.nefa.net/nefajnr.
Details about other relevant organisations, such as the National Records of Scotland and the National Library of Scotland can be found on www.northeastscotlandroots.com>.