About Edinburgh City Archives

You can complete our survey via the City of Edinburgh Council’s Consultation Hub.

Edinburgh City Archives is the archives of the City of Edinburgh Council and its predecessors (Lothian Regional Council / Edinburgh District Council, the Edinburgh Corporation also known as the ‘Town Council’, and the Royal Burgh). We also collect, preserve and provide access to archives from a range of past and present organisations and individuals relevant to the city.

The city’s archives range from 1124 to present day, including medieval charters to early photographs to sound recordings to digital multimedia files. Over 4 km of shelving is used to store it over two sites. One store is a 19th-century bespoke brick storeroom at the heart of the City Chambers itself, while the other is a modern environmentally controlled store in one of the Council’s depots.

You can access original archives in the ‘search room’, which is on the first floor of the City Chambers. We are on hand to provide support in dealing with the material.

We answer enquiries by email, phone and letter and can give talks and presentations on the city’s archives at events within the city or within the easy travelling distance of it.

We also contribute material to local (e.g., Our Town Stories) and national exhibitions (e.g., the Rogues’ Gallery: Faces of Crime) organised by others in the city.

Edinburgh City Archives Searchroom
Visitors looking at material in our searchroom at the City Chambers

Volunteers

We could not do what we do as a service without the contributions of our volunteers. They index and list much of our uncatalogued material. They undertake basic preservation work where it is needed. They act as intermediaries between some of our key depositors.

Some of our volunteers are looking to start a career as an archivist or gain wider work experience but many of them are retirees who devote their free time to helping us provide a better service to you.

History of the Archives

The first known “Keeper of the Burgh Records” was a Dr. Marguerite Wood, an Edinburgh University graduate, who was appointed in 1926 and served  as the ‘City Archivist’ until her death in 1954. During her nearly 30 years of work she transcribed, extracted and published many medieval charters, minute books and other records from within the burgh records.

In 1986 the City Archivist role was expanded by Edinburgh District Council into a service called Edinburgh City Archives, which has continued to this day as part of the City of Edinburgh Council.

In 2014 a 5-year improvement plan was successfully completed by the service. Now in 2018 we are looking to the next 5 years to see what our priorities should be. We want you to be involved in that planning through our consultation exercise.