|I often get asked how to go about doing a
search for your roots at New Register House in Edinburgh. Well
today (19th Jan 2001) I was kindly invited to accompany Tony Reid of
Scottish Roots for a session to find my mother's line and here are my
First of all you need to find it and it's
actually very easy although parking is a real problem. New Register
House is at the end of Princess Street right opposite the Balmoral Hotel
at North Bridge Street in Edinburgh. I took the train into Waverly
station as it's only a 5 minute walk from there. There is parking at the
St James Centre which is right next door to New Register
When you go into New Register House there
are two security guards or receptionists at the door and they are most
helpful and will direct you where to go first. In fact there is a
room where you book your session and pay for your seat. You then
go into the Dome where you have access to computers and microfiche and
With the use of the computer you can
quickly track down the record you are interested in. To actually see the
record you complete a form on which you mark down the year, issue
number, etc. You then go into a set of rooms which go around the
dome in which sections are laid out for deaths, marriages, births, census
records, etc. So if you have located a date for a death you go to
the death records section, find the year and then the issue number
drawer under that section. Just like a card index system but
containing microfiche records. When you locate the record you have
to tear off the larger portion of your ticket you made out in the Dome
and leave that in the drawer in place of the record. That record also
contains your name and seat number so if anyone else is looking for that
microfiche they'll know where to go and get it.
You then take the record back to the dome
and insert it into your reader and flick through to find the
information. Many births also record the parents names so that can
take you a good step forward or backward in this case :-)
When you have finished with the document
you go back to the section and you'll find a tray where you leave the
microfiche and one of the assistants there is responsible for replacing
it in the file drawer.
One thing I was impressed with is that
they also have the complete set of CD's of the Mormon church records and
this is up just one flight of stairs. You can search that on
computer terminals and also in that room are various other records which
can also be searched.
You'll find while in the Dome that right
around it, some three or four floors above, are all the actual
records. That means if you can't read the microfilm copy you can
ask for the original record to be made available for you.
There are also records there to help you
find a location. We were looking for Hurley and by going to the
appropriate records in the Dome it told us it was in the parish of
Ricarton in Ayrshire. This allowed us to cross reference various Brown's
we found in the records and pin point the one we were looking for.
There are staff there that can give you a
quick introduction to the procedures and help with working the
equipment. It doesn't take too long to get the hang of things but
of course experts will find clues in various ways. Tony often did
some arithmetic to calculate ages at the time of the 1881 census and so
was able to make use of the age field while searching. This helped
also to cross reference family members where you were uncertain if the
James you were looking at was the right one.
There are also cemetery records so if you
know the location you can check these as well. I'm told however that is
was mainly the wealthier folk that have records but well worth checking.
There is no doubt an expert can shorten
your visit by hours if not days but there is no doubt you can locate
records very easily if you have a record of a marriage, birth or death.
I might add that right next door are two
great pubs where you can have a bar lunch or even a full meal if you
prefer.. so you could easily spent an entire day there and the
surroundings are very comfortable.
My overall impression is that the place
is comfortable to work in and extremely well organised with lots of
friendly and helpful staff available if you get stuck. I'm told
that in the off peak holiday season you normally don't need to book but
if in the height of the summer season you probably do need to book in
advance. A queue starts forming around 8.30am and they let you in
at 8.45am and close at 4.00pm.
out more information here