Guest post by Trevor Thomson, Enquiries Assistant, Reference Services.
Part of the National Library of Scotland’s remit is to collect material about Scotland, by Scots or of interest to the people of Scotland by collection development and canny use of the legal deposit privilege.
From the perspective of genealogists with in an interest in Scotland, the National Library’s activities have created a vast and diverse collection of material some rare, even unique, and others more mundane but nevertheless enlightening.
One seemingly commonplace part of the collection is indexes of censuses, usually compiled and published by family history societies focussing on particular families or locations. These dedicated groups have trawled through the National Records of Scotland documents and listed all the available census details for the parishes of interest to them, usually for the years 1841, 1851 and 1861.
An example of such painstaking effort appears in the publications of Graham Maxwell Ancestry, who have recorded the information found in the first three national censuses for all the counties and parishes in the south east of Scotland. These are available to view free of charge in the Reading Rooms of the National Library and represent a useful enhancement to the records available at ScotlandsPeople. The records can be found on the library catalogue by doing an Author search for Graham Maxwell Ancestry.
But this is only a very small quantity of the material kept by the Library. The catalogue is always worth checking for a parish or village, no matter how apparently obscure, for books, pamphlets and maps that can enrich your understanding of your family’s past.