For anyone researching family history in the North-East of Scotland, Aberdeen is a must-visit.
Most of the major records from the old counties of Aberdeenshire, Kincardineshire, Banffshire and Elgin/Moray
are held in the city in a number of locations.
In this article, I'd like to share some of my own experiences about Aberdeen, and suggest some locations that should
prove useful to anyone researching family in the area.
The first-time visitor should start their pilgrimage at
The Aberdeen and North-East Scotland Family History Society (ANESFHS)
at their now-expanded premises at 158-164 King Street. They hold the OPR films fore the above-mentioned counties, as well as
the 1841-1891 censuses for those and other counties, including those to the north and south, many of which have been indexed
by society members. They have a wealth of publications of monumental inscriptions, old maps, local histories, all enhanced
by a friendly and knowledgeable staff of volunteers eager to help. Violet in particular has been a constant fixture for many
years…if she doesn't know the answer to any of your genealogical questions, she'll quietly go about finding the information
during your visit! Annual membership is £15 GBP. At the time of writing, they are open Tuesday and Friday evenings from 1900-2200;
from experience I can recommend these quieter times that give you full run of the place.
I'd like to mention the St. Nicholas OPR marriage entries in particular here. Of all the parishes in the North-East of Scotland,
these records are by far the most detailed. They list the husband's occupation, as well as the wife's parish of residence, father
and occupation, or her previous husband's name if she had been widowed. Check these out if you're researching names within
the city of Aberdeen between 1700-1855.
St. Nicholas Kirk, Aberdeen
Aberdeen City Archives also holds a wealth of materials, not limited to the city itself. Of particular interest
are the Poor Relief Registers. While the records for Aberdeen St. Nicholas, and much of Old Machar have not survived,
many of the other parishes in the North-East have comprehensive records of applications for relief. Those still extant
are extremely detailed , and a large number of the applicants were women whose husbands deserted them.
There are often details about both the husbands whereabouts, as well as any children (both legitimate and illegitimate)
that are dependent on the mother. These records are held at the Dunbar Street location of the Aberdeen Archives.
Other records of interest for Aberdeen, held at the main Town House branch are the Rent Rolls for Aberdeen from 1795 onward.
These show all "heads of household", occupation, rents paid, their landlords, and in the later volumes, the street on
which they lived. The earliest one has been indexed, and lists all "Heads of household" for the Burgh of Aberdeen.
For those who have gone as far back as the 1841 census and wish to check earlier records, these records are most useful.
Appointments are recommended for both locations of the Aberdeen City Archives as space is limited. Note also that the Dunbar
Street location (in Old Aberdeen) is open Monday-Wednesday and the city centre location at the Town House open Wednesday to Friday.
Limited parking is available at the Dunbar Street location…but there's lots of free parking nearby at King's College.
Records at Aberdeen University,
Special Collections are also a must visit for those interested in Aberdeen and local history.
They hold the full set of microfilms for the Aberdeen Journal and Press and Journal to about 1860, and also have a little-known
index to people in the domestic occurrences column of events in the paper.
(Have a look at my own index for those events for all names up to 1820...).
A full set of the Spalding Club publications of early Aberdeen documents is also available.
The library is open Monday to Friday 0930-1630. Free parking off Bedford Road, right beside the
Queen Mother Library which holds
the general collections of Aberdeen histories, as well as national and international newspapers.