About the archives

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives exists to collect and preserve historical records relating to the City of Aberdeen and the surrounding historic counties, and to secure significant modern records for future generations. 

News and events

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

Sign up to the Archives Newsletter

Follow AbdnArchives on Twitter

Like our Facebook page: Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives Facebook

Reports and policies

Services and items for sale

We offer access to documents at our search rooms, please contact either of our offices or see our how to access our records page for more information. Records will be produced at the office at which they are held, please contact us to make an appointment.

Search room staff are available to help with queries during opening hours, or you can contact us with your queries by phone, email or letter using the contact details above.

Digitised kirk session records from throughout Scotland are available at both search rooms via the Scottish Documents website.  We also offer access to our digitised poor relief records and their indexes at both offices.

If you're unable to visit we offer a paid research service.

If you already have page numbers or references, we can provide copies of items in most circumstances. Further information on these services can be found on our how to access our records page.

Our fees for copies and research are given in the Table of Fees section

Items for sale

Further information

Types of identification which can be used when requesting records covered by the Data Protection Acts

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.

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 and some records inherited by The Moray Council at local government re-organisation in 1996. The Archives also hold the Assessor’s records for the Grampian Joint Valuation Board.

The holdings 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, Kincardineshire and Moray 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, Banff & Kincardine, plus some records of county administration for Moray
  • 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. However, we also offer a paid research service if you are unable to visit the archives. Currently, this is charged at £7.50 per 15 minutes of staff time, though this is subject to change at short notice owing to recent changes to 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 tickets are required at present. However identification may be required to access certain records under the Data Protection Act. Please consult the Duty Archivist for further information.

As spaces are limited, readers are asked to 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, or who wish to use a laptop.

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 copying and research carried out by members of staff on behalf of an enquirer. Please see our Table of Fees for further information.

The following records are held on microfilm:

  • Council Registers (1398-1883)
  • Indexes to the Council Registers (1398-1883)
  • Incoming Letter Books (1552-1846)
  • Propinquity Books (1637-1777)
  • Sasine Registers (1484 -1809)
  • Freedom Land Cartularies (1729-1936)
  • County Lands Cartularies (1729-1936)
  • Burgh Lands Cartularies (1876-1937)
  • Inventory of Charters and Papers (1851)

Photocopies will not be made from the originals of these records. Prints can be ordered from the microfilm at the cost of 25p per A4 sheet.

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 and receipt of the appropriate payment.

We have various ways of providing copies, depending on the document. Some can be photocopied, which others have to be done digitally. This is either by way of our digital camera (colour), our flatbed scanner (black and white), from microfilm (black and white), or by using a commercial company (colour or black and white; extra handling charges apply).

We do permit the use of personal digital cameras for free within the searchrooms as long as permission has been sought, and our Copy Request Form has been completed. 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 archives.

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 write on a document. As pencil marks can be more easily erased, we would prefer you to use a pencil.

Contact Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives

Contact us


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