Do I need to make an appointment?

This is advisable, particularly as our records are held across three sites with different opening hours (Old Aberdeen is open Monday to Wednesday, Town House is open Wednesday to Friday). Please contact us to book a place in the searchroom.

Is everything in the catalogue?

Unfortunately not – the online catalogue is still a work in progress. Basic information about all our holdings are included in our accessions register, which staff can check for you, and there is also information on our accessions in the UK National Archives website.

Why can’t I see an image of the item in the catalogue?

Not all our material is digitised – digitisation is very time consuming and we have to balance the different aspects of our work carefully. Some of our material is available digitally through Ancestry and DeceasedOnline and we also have a copying service.

What does level mean?

For each record description in the catalogue, you will see a related level: this is because we catalogue archive collections with levels, in a hierarchical structure. This makes links between different items and information about how they are created clear. This structure is usually, as far as possible, based on the original order used by the creator of the records. The structure can be likened to a tree.

At the top of the hierarchy or tree is the collection, or ‘fonds’, level. This will relate to all the papers of the person or institution. We usually include some biographical or organisational history at this level, and an explanation of how the collection as a whole is arranged in the hierarchy.

As you move down the levels, through sub fonds, series, file and items, there will be information relevant to that level and the levels below it. We occasionally use the level ‘piece’: this will refer to a page within a book or a sheet within a file, and we would therefore produce the book or the file as a whole for you to look through. In most instances we would expect to make records available at ‘file’ or ‘item’ level, not whole series (some of which run to hundreds of books or files).

The relevant part of the hierarchy will be displayed at the top of each catalogue entry. To browse through the whole hierarchy, select the link in the reference number (Ref No) field. Click on the plus and minus buttons to open and close different parts of the hierarchy.

How do I order a copy?

We offer a copying service: please contact us for more details.

I cannot visit the archive, how can I access the collections?

If you're not able to visit our offices, we offer a research service. The first 15 minutes research is free, and then we can undertake up to one hour of research which is charged at £25 per 30 minutes research. Once a search has been agreed, we issue a quote for the work based on our estimate of how long the research will take.

Where are other heritage resources for Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire held?

Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums
Aberdeenshire Museums
Aberdeen City Libraries Local Studies
Aberdeenshire Local Studies
Aberdeen University Special Collections Centre
Aberdeen and North-East Scotland Family History Society
Moray Council Local Heritage Services

How can I get further help with searching for and accessing materials?

Contact archives@aberdeencity.gov.uk

Major Collections

Browse some of our major collections