This guide has been produced by University of Dundee Archive Services for use by family historians. The guide is designed to provide basic assistance to researchers wishing to use our collections to find out more about their ancestors and be of general help to anyone wanting to explore the histories of their families in Tayside and Fife.
If there is anything you are still unsure of after reading the guide then please look at our website http://www.dundee.ac.uk/archives, e-mail us at email@example.com or telephone us on 01382 384095.
Handy Hints for Getting Started
Before you start your research we suggest that you do the following:
Write down the facts you already know about your family history. Start with yourself and work back. Dates and places of birth, marriage and death are most important.
Talk to family members, especially elderly relatives, to find out as much as you can. Remember, however, that memory on its own is often fallible.
Collect documents (birth, marriage and death certificates). Look out old photographs and search your own and family attics for letters, diaries and mementoes that might contain clues.
Where to Look Next
Aside from the University of Dundee Archive Services the following are good places to start your research:
The official online source of parish register, civil registration and census records for Scotland. Includes Scottish births from 1855-1906, marriages from 1855 to 1931 and deaths from 1855 to 1956; access to Old Parish Registers (OPRs); the censuses of 1841-1901.
General Register Office for Scotland
Holds birth, marriage and death certificates in Scotland from 1855 to present.
Address: New Register House, 3 West Register Street, Edinburgh EH1 3YT
Tel. 0131 314 4433
Local registrars often provide a chargeable service to help family historians trace their ancestors’ birth marriage and death certificates.
Other websites including Familysearch http://www.familysearch.org and Scots Origins http://www.originsnetwork.com/SOWelcome.aspx allow free access to search databases of genealogical information, please note that these are not always 100% accurate so a degree of caution is advised when using them.
A number of other groups and individuals have compiled lists of information useful to genealogists and put it on the internet. While some of these websites are excellently researched others are not so well compiled and users need to carefully consider whether the website is reliable. Ideally it is always best to consult original records if it is possible to do so.
Local Record Centres and Local Libraries
The archives and central libraries of many local authorities are usually happy to offer assistance to members of the public engaged in genealogical research. Some have specific units set up to help family historians. Most hold on microfilm the Old Parish Records (OPRs) for their local area. These are the records of the Established (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland and contain details of baptisms, marriages and burials prior to 1855. Please be aware that for earlier periods especially, there can be many gaps in these, particularly in regard to the recording of burials. Microfilm copies of the Census Records for 1841 – 1901 for local parishes are also held. (Note that copies of some of these microfilm records are also held by University of Dundee Archive Services.) Libraries often have copies of local newspapers going back many years, which are particularly useful for obituaries as well as birth, marriage and death announcements. They also may have copies of old electoral registers which can be useful for confirming where people lived.
Local Authority Archives also often hold a series of other records useful to genealogists including:
- Copies of wills, testaments and personal estate inventories.
- Archival records of Kirk sessions and trade guilds.
- Court deeds.
- Property Sasines and land rentals.
If you are planning to visit an archive or a library it is always a good idea to phone in advance to confirm opening hours, availability of documents and any special requirements the archive has. Note also that access to records held by archives and libraries may be restricted.
Forfar DD8 2SZ
T. 01307 468644
Dundee City Archives
Archive & Record Centre,
21 City Square,
Dundee DD1 3BY
T. 01382 434494
Dundee Local History Centre
Dundee DD1 1DB
T. 01382 434000
University of Dundee Archive Services
Haig Business Park,
Markinch KY7 6AQ
T. 01592 413256/41
PERTH and KINROSS
Perth and Kinross Council Archives
A K Bell Library
2-8 York Place,
T. 01738 444949
Perth and Kinross Local Studies
A K Bell Library
2-8 York Place,
T. 01738 444949
Tay Valley Family History Society
The Research Centre
179-181 Princes Street
Tel. 01382 461845
The Tay Valley Family History Society is a member of the Scottish Association of Family History Societies (SAFHS) and is a centre for family history research in the Tay Valley area (the former counties of Angus, Fife, Kinross and Perthshire). They hold a large library of genealogical and local history material and offer guidance and assistance to members and visitors.
UNIVERSITY OF DUNDEE ARCHIVE SERVICES
We are located in the basement of the Tower Building which is situated on the Nethergate. We are approximately ten minutes walk from Dundee railway station. A map showing where we are can be found on our website.
Monday- Wednesday 9am-1pm & 2pm-5pm*
Thursday Closed All Day
Friday 9am-1pm & 2pm-5pm
Please note we close at 6pm during University Semester time.
Anyone is welcome to make use of the University of Dundee Archives, but readers are asked to bring some identification with them on their first visit.
It can occasionally be necessary to close at short notice and this, combined with limited reader space, means that it is always advisable to make an appointment, either in person, by telephone or by e-mail.
Readers are required to abide by the search room guidelines, which will be issued to them on their first visit.
Items may not be removed from the archives under any circumstances.
RECORDS WE HOLD:
Microfilms of OPRs and Census Records for Dundee and parts of Forfarshire (Angus). Please contact us for more specific details.
Some Valuation Rolls for the counties of Angus and Fife. These show the owners of properties.
Calendars of Confirmation 1876-1936. These give the name and address of the deceased, date and place of death, testate or intestate, date and place of confirmation or granting of probate, names of executors or next of kin, value of estate
Family and Individual’s Papers
We hold the papers of a number of families and individuals who have lived in the Tayside and fife areas. Particularly interesting records we hold include:
- Papers of the Cox family (who owned Camperdown Works in Lochee) including family trees from the seventeenth century and photographs of family members.
- Papers of the Baxter family (who owned Dens Works) including family trees of John Baxter of Tealing and his descendents and photographs.
- The lineage of Guthrie of Craigie and Torosay and Guthrie of Guthrie.
- Papers relating to the Berry family of Tayfield.
- Photographs and papers relating to the family of the Torrance family.
- Family tree of Professor John Anderson.
University of Dundee Archive Services hold the following collections of material formerly held by solicitors:
- The Thornton Collection of Manuscripts and Plans
- Ogilvie, Cowan & Co, Solicitors, Dundee
- Shiell and Small, Solicitors
These collections contain various legal papers relating to different companies and individuals. They include some useful genealogical records such as family trees, trusts and deeds. Please see our online catalogue for more details.
The Glasites were a small protestant group founded in the early eighteenth century by the Reverand John Glas, formerly minister at Tealing (near Dundee). Eventually there were Glasite congregations scattered across Britain. Robert Sandeman, the son-in-law of John Glas, exported the faith to America. We have some details of membership for Glasite congregations both in the local area and in other parts of Britain, as well as for the Sandemanian Church in North America.
Records of Brechin Diocese of Scottish Episcopal Church
The Brechin Diocese covers the Dundee, Forfarshire and Kincardineshire areas. In the records we hold there are a number of baptismal registers including:
- The baptism register of Rev. David Rose containing note of baptisms in Birse, Careston [Caraldston], Dunlappie, Edzell, Fettercairn, Glenmuich, Lethnott, Lochlee, Menmure, Navar, Strathcathro, 1723-1735.
- Baptism records for St Mary's Church, Broughty Ferry 1888-1946
We hold the records of the former Tayside Health Board (THB) including the majority of the surviving records of several major hospitals. Records of particular use to family historians include:
- Patient Records for hospitals including Dundee Royal Infirmary, Perth Royal Infirmary, King's Cross Hospital and Arbroath Infirmary
- Patient Records for mental health hospitals including Dundee Royal and District Asylums (Liff), Perth District Asylum (Murthly), Murray Royal Hospital and Sunnyside Hospital
Note however that researchers are not normally permitted to access patient records which relate to a person who has died within the last 100 years. Access to other medical records is restricted in accordance with the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998.
We have a large collection of records relating to staff and students of the University of Dundee and its predecessors (University College, Dundee and Queens College, Dundee) from 1883 to the present. This includes some material relating to the University of St. Andrews. We also have records relating to other institutions that have merged with the University over the years including Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and the Dundee College of Education. Please be aware however that access to some of these records is restricted in accordance with our data protection policy. Items that are particularly helpful to family historians include:
- Nineteenth Century Matriculation Registers
- Graduation Programmes
- University Calendars
- Student Newspapers
University of Dundee Archive Services hold the records of a number of major businesses that operated in Dundee and the Tayside area in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Unfortunately many of these records give little information about the names and details of workers other than senior staff.
Some records which do feature some employees’ names include:
- James Allison & Sons (Sailmakers), wages books for period 1890-1957
- J. & A.D. Grimond Ltd Register of accidents 1896-1935
- Cox Brothers’ Monthly Wages Books 1893-1921
- Memoranda of agreements between companies in ‘The Titaghur Group’, and their European employees in India 1913-1965
We hold several Dundee Directories from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These can be useful in so far as they provide a list of streets with the names of the people who lived their and an alphabetical list of people who lived in Dundee, with details of their occupation and residence. However the drawback of the directories is that they were not very thorough in who they included and as result a large number of people who lived in Dundee seldom or never were listed in the directories. They also sometimes failed to remove people after their deaths or update their addresses.
We hold an extensive collection of local history books, including many designed for family historians.
Our searchable Online Catalogue http://22.214.171.124/ is an ongoing project which provides detailed descriptions for many of the items in our collections.
Our website also contains source lists which identify a variety of items that may be of interest to genealogists.
Useful tips and points to remember
- People may use more than one name during their life-time (not only women on marriage)
- The spelling of names can change over time – the further back you go the more likely there is to be inconsistent spelling - this is equally true of ‘official’ records and applies to both forenames and surnames.
- Census Records often have inaccurate ages. This can be deliberate, but was often accidental: people celebrated birthdays less in the past!
- If a child died in infancy it was not uncommon for the same name to be given to a later sibling.
- Middle names can often give a clue to the person’s mother’s or grandmothers’ maiden names.
- People were often inconsistent as to whether or not they used middle names on documents.
- Until the mid twentieth century children were usually born at home, not in a hospital.
- The address a person was listed at on a census is the place they were staying the night the census was taken and was not necessarily their usual place of residence.
- Spellings of place names change. Also current spellings of these names may not reflect local pronunciation (eg Anstruther is often called ‘Ain-ster’ by locals).
- Names of villages and streets can change over time.
- Parish names do not always reflect the largest place in the parish or the modern area that goes by that name.
- Boundaries of counties and cities change over time. For instance Coupar Angus Parish was in Forfarshire until the mid nineteenth century when it became a part of Perthshire. Similarly Broughty Ferry was originally part of the Parish of Monifieth and only became part of Dundee in 1913.
- If using electoral roles you should be aware that before 1918 not all men had the vote in local or national elections. Also while no women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections, some women did appear on the register from the late nineteenth century as they could vote in local polls.