15 July 2013

Day 26 - Edinburgh: The National Archives of Scotland

This morning I got up extra early so I would have some time to explore the estate - Good morning from Dalkeith:
I took the windy path down from the house and followed it towards the river:
Where I had a nice hour long walk through the woods along the river:
I had to eventually turn back but got a peek at the waterfall, which is under the arched bridge:
Our first library visit of the day was to the National Library (http://www.nls.uk/), where we were all especially interested in their Dr. Livingstone exhibition, since we had seen some of his items at the Royal Geographical Society. 

Between visits we had some free time, and I ended up just wandering around Edinburgh a bit. I had wanted to visit Edinburgh Castle, but there was an extremely long line and it would've been crowded with tourists...and yes I am technically also a tourist, but I don't push and shove and stop in the middle of streets to take pictures! Instead, I saw part of the outside:
Then in the afternoon we visited the National Archives of Scotland (http://www.nas.gov.uk/), which really should be called the National Records of Scotland (http://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/), since a few years ago they merged with another government office and took a new name, but the National Archives is a division of the National Records, so we'll go with that! The Adam Dome greets you as you enter the building:
Ms McBryde (possibly a relation, her McBrydes came from Ireland but she has not researched what county, and feels she was originally a McBride at some point and it got written down differently over the years) gave a very nice talk explaining about the history of the building - it was a purpose-built archives building, in the late 1780s - and also the history of the Archives, and all the many divisions and roles the National Records of Scotland play. With the merger, they also record all the vital information (births, deaths, marriages), take the census, and even are the register of tartans! It does make sense to have all the similar roles together in one organization, because the vital information and census are record creation, and the archives role is to preserve and maintain important records. Although I am sure it was probably a cost-saving measure to combine the organizations, it may in the end be beneficial to all involved. 

One very interesting thing I learned was that the NRS are the people who own the ScotlandsPeople (http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk/) family history site. This is a website where you can do searches on ancestors, and for a small fee can look at records. I've used it myself in my genealogical research, and assumed it was a for-profit company, but instead it is the genealogical division of the NRS! Ms. McBryde explained that they had noticed the huge uptick in family history vacations and began seeing many visitors coming in to do research, and they created the ScotlandsPeople site to help those interested in learning more. It is very user-friendly and because of this, they have been working to digitize more and more documents to make them available online. 

Jenny Cutts took us in tours around the building, where I think it's safe to say that those in my group were all really excited to see the Digitization Studio. They had many camera bays set up with book cradles of all sizes, ready to take pictures. I liked hearing how they took the pictures as .tiffs and turned them to .jpegs and then after a quick review put them online, because those are the exact steps I used when I digitized a part of one of my collections in my first internship, so I know my knowledge is useful!

My favorite part of the visit was when we were able to look at some of the archive records. And Ms. McBryde went above and beyond when she pulled documents, because she looked to see where we were all from, and got records pertaining to those places! So I got to hold a letter written in 1665 by Robert Carr of Boston to the Duke of Lauderdale, describing the boundaries of the American colonies and a bit what they were like. It still had its wax seal attached! And as I read the letter, there was a notation at the bottom that it had been published in the Massachusetts Historical Society newsletter of 1858 - which is another connection for me, as that may in fact be my dream job to work there. Maybe it's just me, but when I can connect in some way to a document, it is just that much more meaningful. And of course it is always cool to be looking at things signed in the 14th century by King Louis VII of France!

A few more Dalkeith pictures...
Tomorrow is another busy day with two more library visits, and although it is a little cooler up here, there was no rain to be seen! Let's hope it stays that way. 

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post, as usual! Dalkeith is beautiful but are there any rooms or pictures of rooms that show how it was originally furnished? Wish our weather was cooler like Scotland!! Love ya, Mom and Dad :)