Archives FAQs

The most frequently asked questions – and our answers – are listed here

What’s an archive?

An archive can be two things. First, it’s a collection of documents (which can be in any format) that has been created by an individual or organisation. These records provide evidence of the creator’s activities and functions. The records also provide information that can be used for other purposes. For instance, records created by the Council’s planning department include plans of buildings that were the subject of a planning application. A house owner, wishing to make alterations to his property may not be interested in how the planning application process worked, but would need to know if a plan of his house was passed, and what that work involved. Somebody else may be interested in the plan because of its aesthetic quality or because their ancestor had lived in the building.

Secondly, the repositories of archival collections have come to be known as Archives. These can be whole buildings, like the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, or part of a building like Perth & Kinross Council Archive, which is based in the A K Bell Library building.

What sort of records do you have?

We have a wide variety of records, mostly in paper formats, including plans, maps, photographs, ledgers, volumes, files, documents and letters. We’re also building up collections of born digital records which can be accessed on the public PC.

As the archive repository for the Council, a large proportion of our records reflect the administration of Perthshire and Kinross-shire, including the burghs, over eight hundred years.

We also have gifts and deposits which include estate records, business and industrial records, records created by various organisations, associations, trade incorporations, trade unions and societies, and collections created by individuals and families.

We have several kinds of finding aids to help you find what you’re looking for

Can I see the documents over the internet?

Just a few. Some examples from our collections can be seen at our pages on Flickr. Our school admission registers have also been digitised and are available at Ancestry.co.uk (Opens in a new window) (pay per view). But these are all just a fraction of what we hold and we have no plans to digitise all our collections.

Can anyone use the archive?

All are welcome to use the Archive. We have wheelchair access, magnifying glasses and an induction loop. Children need to be accompanied and supervised by an adult. And it’s free!

Should I make an appointment?

If you are travelling some distance it would be wise to call us beforehand, simply to check that we are open and that we hold the material you want. Please note that we currently have no power point access for laptops.

Will someone help me when I visit the archive?

Of course. Our staff will be happy to tell you which collections would best answer your enquiry, and show you how to use the finding aids in the search room. Find out more on how we can help you and what to expect when you visit us.

When are you open?

We are open (excluding public holidays at Easter, Christmas and New Year):

  • Tuesday and Thursday, 09:30 to 20:00
  • Wednesday and Friday, 09:30 to 17:00
  • Saturday, 09:30 to 13:00

How much will it cost?

You do not pay to consult the archives. Charges are only made if you want documents reproduced, or if you wish us to do the research for you.

What’s your oldest document?

Our oldest document belongs to the Rossie Priory collection (MS100). It is a charter, dated  c1172 by William, King of Scots, in favour of Radulf Ruffus of the lands of Kinard [sic]. Our oldest council document is an early fourteenth century copy of another charter of William I, dated c1205, outlining the privileges and regulations of the burgh of Perth (B59/23/1).

Can I borrow any of the documents?

Because our documents are irreplaceable, we do not let them leave the Archive search room. If they are not too fragile or subject to copyright and other restrictions, we may photocopy individual items or let you photograph them.

What’s the difference between the Archive and Local & Family History?

Whereas the Archive holds unpublished and unique material, Local & Family History contains published and rare collections, such as old postcards, books and newspapers. The Archive and Local & Family History staff work very closely together to ensure users have access to as much material as possible.

Can I use my laptop?

Yes, but please ensure that your laptop is fully charged before you come as there may be no access to a power point.

Can I use my camera?

You may use a digital camera only if the Archivist deems there to be no risk to the document.  In addition, you will be asked to sign a declaration form confirming that you are not photographing items for a commercial purpose or for publication.  The majority of documents in the Archive are protected by copyright.  However, please be aware that it is your responsibility to ensure you are not breaking copyright law by photographing any items. No flash photography of any kind is permitted.

What can I find out from your collections?

What are you looking for? The value of our collections really depends on what you wish to find out. Many records have not survived the years to end safely in the Archive. Records have been lost through disasters such as fire and flood, or have been destroyed through carelessness and thoughtlessness. Nevertheless, our collections have proved useful to genealogists, to those with an interest in their homes, their street or village, to solicitors and council officials who need to check past decisions or transactions, to academics, school children and students investigating specific themes and historical events.

What do the Friends do?

The Friends support the work of the Archive and some are involved in projects which are aimed at making access to the collections much easier. You are welcome to join the Friends and take part in their projects and activities.

Can I give you my records?

We welcome the opportunity to gain new collections from individuals, businesses, organisations and communities – in fact from anyone who has a connection with Perth and Kinross. Have a look at our collections policy and terms and conditions of deposit,  then contact us to see what can be arranged.

Please help support us

We are incredibly grateful to all our donors, supporters and sponsors.

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