About the archives

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives exists to collect, preserve, promote and provide access to the historical records of Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council, together with other significant records relating to North East Scotland. By doing this, the Archives aims to support the culture, heritage, economy, and communities of North East Scotland; and the ongoing business of Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeenshire Council. 

Introduction to Aberdeen City & Aberdeenshire Archives YouTube video

Lunchtime talk about Aberdeenshire's Archives

What we do

We provide an important service to members and officials of Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils while maintaining public access to our collections through our searchroom services and outreach activities.

We ensure that the records are housed in secure accommodation under suitable environmental conditions on our two sites - the Town House and Old Aberdeen House. Fragile material is protected and stored appropriately and conservation of documents is undertaken by specialists when required.

The records are sorted and catalogued by us and made available to the public in the searchrooms. Our Online Catalogue has detailed descriptions of many of our collections and is continually updated so remember to keep checking back. Collection level descriptions of some of our records are also available on the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN).

For more information about how to access our records or obtain copies, see our How to access our records page. Search room staff are available to help with queries during opening hours, or you can Contact the Archives with your queries by phone, email or letter. If you're unable to visit we offer a paid research service. Details of our charges are available via our Table of Fees or on request.

We have also been involved in a number of Collaborative Projects to open our collections up to new audiences. 

We are happy to discuss further deposits of records of historical significance. Please see our Advice to depositors for more information.

News & events

To keep up to date with our news and events, you can;

Reports and policies

Our annual reports detail the work Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives have undertaken during that period.

2020/21 and 2021/22
2018/19 and 2019/20
2016/17 and 2017/18



Frequently asked questions

Our Old Aberdeen House office is open Monday to Wednesday from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Our Town House office is open Wednesday to Friday from 9.30am to 4.30pm: on Wednesdays the office is closed over lunch.

The Archives houses the records of Aberdeen City Council and its predecessors dating back to the twelfth century. In addition, the Archives currently administers the records inherited by Aberdeenshire Council at a local government re-organisation in 1996. The Archives also hold the Assessor’s records for the Grampian Joint Valuation Board.

Our collections also include the records of local businesses, churches, charities, voluntary organisations and individuals. Some records are held under the Charge and Superintendence of the Keeper of the Records of Scotland.

Our major holdings are:

  • Local authority records for the City, including those relating to the burghs of Aberdeen, Old Aberdeen and Woodside
  • School and education records
  • Burial records for City cemeteries
  • Architectural drawings and papers relating to many (but not all) City buildings
  • Registers of shipping and sea fishing vessels for the Port of Aberdeen
  • Burgh Register of Sasines (including Town Clerk’s Protocol Books) from 1484 - 1809
  • Kirk Session records for St. Nicholas, St. Clement’s, St. Clement’s Free, John Knox, Langstane and Greyfriars parishes - original Church of Scotland records for Aberdeenshire, Banffshire and Kincardineshire can be found at the National Archives for Scotland
  • Congregational, Episcopal and Methodist Church Records for a number of congregations in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
  • Private records of individuals and businesses
  • The surviving records of local government administration in the former counties of Aberdeen, Kincardine and the part of historic Banffshire now in Aberdeenshire
  • Valuation Rolls and Registers of Electors

Please note that we do not hold or have access to census records, Old Parish Registers, or birth, marriage and death certificates. These can be accessed via the pay per view website Scotland's People or by visiting your local Registrar.

Some of the burial registers we hold for Aberdeen City have been digitised and are available to view at Deceased Online.

Kirk Session Records for the whole of Scotland can now be accessed in either of our searchrooms. This follows a collaborative project between the Church of Scotland and the National Archives for Scotland.

We have no plans in place to digitise the rest of our collection at present. Our Online Catalogue is also available, and we have a number of electronic lists on our Catalogues page.

We offer free advice and information about our records and how they may be used to answer your query.

If you are unable to visit the archives, we can do 15 minutes research for free, and offer a paid research service for up to an hour's additional research, charged at £25.00 per 30 minutes (inclusive of VAT).

Free parking is available on-site at the Old Aberdeen House office, while the Town House office is served by City Centre fee-paying car parks.

No, readers tickets are not required at present. However, identification may be required to access certain records under the Data Protection Act. Please consult us for further information.

As spaces are limited, it is helpful if readers book a seat in advance, particularly those readers coming from a distance or who intend to work in either office for several days or weeks.

We do not hold, or have access to, birth, marriage or death certificates. The best to find historical information is by using the pay-per-view site Scotland's People or by visiting your local Registrar (if resident in Scotland).

We do not hold, or have access to, census records. The best place to find these is online at the pay-per-view site Scotland's People. Please note that both Aberdeen City Libraries Local Studies and Aberdeenshire Libraries Local Studies can provide access to census records on microfilm, as can the Aberdeen and North East Scotland Family History Society.

While access to most records held by the Archives is free to the public, users of certain classes of records for commercial purposes will be subject to charges (details available on request).

Charges are applicable for various services such as photography, copying and research carried out by members of staff on behalf of an enquirer. Please see our Table of Fees for further information.

We can provide copies of archives, subject to copyright law and the condition of the document. Copies will only be made on completion of our Copy Request Form (supplied by staff) and receipt of the appropriate payment.

We do permit the use of personal digital cameras within the searchrooms for a fee. You will need to purchase a Self Service photography pass (available per image, day, week, month or year) and complete a Copy Request Form (available in the searchroom). Please be aware that flash photography is not permitted.

All of our copying charges can be found on our Table of Fees. Please note that we cannot always offer a same day copying service.

Our staff will be happy to tell you which collections would best answer your enquiry and show you how to use the finding aids in the searchroom.

Because our documents are irreplaceable, we do not let them leave the Archive searchroom. If they are not too fragile or subject to copyright and other restrictions, we may photocopy individual items, or you may be allowed to photograph them.

We offer a range of outreach activities, which includes visits to the archives. These can be done either during the day or in the evening depending on how busy we are. A tour of the archive building will take place, followed by an exhibition of archive material.

We are also happy to come to you and provide talks on various topics of interest, though we are unable to bring original documents with us. Again, this can be during the day or in the evening. Please contact us for further information.

Archives are original documents produced by official bodies, societies and individuals that are no longer in current use. They can be used for all sorts of research, including local history and tracing your family history.

In an archive, you may be able to find plans, maps, photographs, ledgers, volumes, and individual documents and letters, estate records, business and industrial records, records created by various organisations, associations, trade incorporations, trade unions and societies, and collections created by individuals and families.

If you use a pen when working with archive material, you could accidentally mark a document. As pencil marks can be more easily erased, we ask all our readers to use a pencil.

Contact Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives

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