An introduction to Scottish family history
This section is a general guide to starting family history research.
The National Library of Scotland has a wide range of genealogical resources that may interest you. These pages provide a brief overview of some of the types of material we have available.
Our page of frequently asked questions might help if you are not sure where to begin. If you still can't find what you are looking for in this section, please contact us. For English, Irish or Welsh family history material, please see our useful links page.
In this section
- Starting your family history research
- Births, deaths and marriages
- Census records
- Historical clubs and societies
- Emigration and passenger lists
- Gravestone inscriptions
- India Papers collection
- Local history
- Military lists
- State Papers
- Surnames, histories and biographies
Using our resources
Visitors to NLS must have a library card to use our resources. Details of cards and opening hours are in the using the library section. If you cannot visit, we can provide brief information from sources within our collections. We may also be able to point you in the right direction to continue your research. Contact us for details.
Other useful organisations
Please note: NLS is not the main location for original records in Scotland. This means that we cannot carry out extensive family history research on your behalf.
For original documents such as birth, death and marriage and census records you should contact the General Register Office for Scotland. You will find sources such as wills, trial papers and some estate and church records at the National Archives of Scotland.