23 February 2011

The Scottish Council on Archives invites your feedback

Dear All,

Greetings from Edinburgh. I am writing to you from an organisation called the Scottish Council on Archives. We are the leading body for the advocacy and development of archive services in Scotland, and we support and promote archival services throughout the nation and beyond. If you would like more information about what we do then I invite you to visit our website, http://www.scoarch.org.uk/.

The links between Scotland and the United States of America are irrefutable and a great source of pride for both countries. Speaking in 2002 our then Deputy First Minister for Scotland stated that there are an estimated twenty-five million Americans with Scottish and Scots-Irish descent, significantly eclipsing Scotland’s own population. Household names such as Alexander Graham Bell and Andrew Carnegie, from America’s 5th President James Monroe, to the current Barack Obama, the Scots-American ‘family’ has an extensive and illustrious lineage.

One of the main aims of the Scottish Council on Archives is to raise awareness and promote the numerous facilities and capabilities of archival collections throughout Scotland.  ‘Ancestral Tourism’ and genealogical research are commonplace and the facilities provided by Scottish archives are numerous. However, there is so much more to experience. For example, as I am sure you know America’s National Tartan Day is celebrated on the 6th April to coincide with the anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath. However, did you know that the original document, dated 1320, forms part of the collection held by the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh and can be viewed online (http://www.nas.gov.uk/about/090401.asp). Similarly the official Scottish Register of Tartans is available to all at http://www.tartanregister.gov.uk/. Furthermore, the Scottish Archive Network (http://www.scan.org.uk/) is an electronic catalogue of more than fifty Scottish archives. Other resources such as university collections and regional services cannot be ignored. To give an example, the cutting-edge Heart of Hawick Heritage Hub (http://www.heartofhawick.co.uk/heritagehub/) includes an extensive image gallery, exhibitions and a blog for those interested in finding out about family history, communities and industries associated with the Borders region of Scotland.

We are keen to understand how people from outside Scotland experience and utilise these various resources and what we can do to improve. We want to forge relationships and connections on an international level and share stories about people’s experiences. What did you discover and where? How did it make a difference to your research? Did you uncover anything surprising, unique or unexpected? What facilities would you like to see in the future? How do you feel your local archives compare?

While we are very interested in hearing your suggestions and comments, I should point out that we are unable to help with enquiries relating to specific requests for information. Any questions of a specialised nature should be directed to that particular archive, a list of which can be found at http://www.scan.org.uk/.

Finally, let me thank you for your time and for considering these questions and should you feel that this may be of interest to any other organisation please forward this email.

O Scotia! My dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to heaven is sent;
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content. (Robert Burns, ‘The Cotter’s Saturday Night’)

Yours sincerely,

Ben Bennett


General Register House,
2 Princes Street
Rm. 21, Edinburgh, EH1 3YY
T:    0131 535 1362
M:  0773 858 5845

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