May is Local History Month, a celebration of community led history. The aim of the month is to increase awareness of local stories and encourage engagement in history among all member of the local community. To support aspiring local historians and enthusiasts, we’ve put together a a list of local history resources that can be accessed by all.
We love a map here at SCHT. They’re a great way to track the development of a place, and can reveal buildings that have long since been demolished. The map viewer on the NLS website is a great tool, allowing you to make side-by-side comparisons with modern maps. Hundreds of maps have been digitised, from the medieval to the modern, they are beautiful as well as useful records.
Stirling Local History Society
Stirling Local History Society has a wealth of information about Stirling’s past on their website. Established in 2006 the Society meet monthly on zoom or in person at The Smith where they listen to speakers lecture on a variety of topics. If you want to join in you can do so here: Stirling Local History Society About Us – Stirling Local History Society (stirling-lhs.org)
The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum
We are so lucky to have The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum and their amazing team in our city. You can learn more about the museum’s fascinating collection by visiting or purchasing ‘The Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum and its Collections’ at The Smith’s shop. ‘Old Stirling’, also available at their shop, is a brilliant introduction to Stirling’s history, and is packed full of brilliant photographs from their collection.
Scotland’s People, National Records of Scotland
If you’re doing any research into specific individuals this is a great place to start. The Census Returns and Valuation Rolls are particularly useful for tracing where people lived and worked, but there are also church records, wills, and birth and death certificates. You can buy credits to ‘pay-per-view’ records and download digital copies of records, and you can also visit the National records of Scotland in person by booking a slot here: Visit us | ScotlandsPeople
Stirling Central Library
The Central Library has lots of great books on local history, as well as a dedicated collection which can help you research your family history, including the Stirling Observer Christmas Annuals, local newspapers, and street and trade directories. Street directories are really useful, and can help track down people’s addresses, as well as follow the use of shops and buildings through time. If you join Stirling’s libraries, you can also get online access to lots of digitised resources, and this means you can use the services of libraries, as well as the mobile library across Stirlingshire. You can even access Ancestry.com from the computers in any Stirling Council Library!
We’d be lost without the helpful archivists at Stirling Archives. The archives hold everything from copies of the Stirling Observer to architectural plans and local government records. Get in touch with the archivists if you have a specific query, and if you want to visit in person, you can book a visit here: Accessing Archives – Stirling Council
CANMORE is the National record of the Historic Environment, and is searchable online, as well as in person at their Search Rooms in Edinburgh, which you can book here to visit: Search Room | Canmore. It has the site records of over 340,000 buildings, archaeological, maritime and industrial sites across Scotland, as well as hundreds of thousands of images, drawings and manuscripts. If you register with MyCanmore Contributions | Canmore, you can even upload images and comments directly to the database, helping HES to record our shared heritage and enhance CANMORE as a national resource.
This online database is also run by Historic Environment Scotland, and it can be accessed for free in your local library. SCRAN hosts over 400,000 images, films and audio clips form museums and galleries across Scotland. It’s well worth searching if you’re particularly interested in material culture and history. You can subscribe to SCRAN by emailing for free, and you can also buy images for digital download.
HES listing Portal
If you’re interested ion a specific building, try typing the address into Historic Environment Scotland’s Listed Building Portal which allows you to search all of Scotland’s Listed Buildings and Scheduled Monuments. The Listings themselves often reveal interesting information about the materials the buildings are constructed of, as well as who designed them and when. We are regular users! Search for a Listed Building | Historic Environment Scotland
The British Newspaper Archive is an excellent resource for local history in particular, it holds digital copies of hundreds of national and local newspapers. Over 53 million pages have been uploaded so far, with more being added every week. To access the complete archive a subscription is needed, but there are some titles which are free to view, and you can view your first 3 pages for free. Start exploring 200 years of history | Get Started Today | British Newspaper Archive