10 January 2013

The 95% - Edinburgh

We often hear that only 5%, or thereabouts, of archival material is online. It works according to the Pareto Principle where that small percentage is the most generally useful. What about the rest.

Examples of that more obscure, still useful material surfaced in a recent posting from the Edinburgh City Archives.

Army Attestation Register 1806: six volumes containing the names, occupations, parishes, counties/countries, regiments of 10,000 army recruits taking their oath of allegiance in Edinburgh. Even more fascinatingly they record the height, hair and eye colour, and even the complexion of each individual. Those enlisted came from all over Scotland, the UK and even the World, and were recruited as young guns from the age of eleven through to veterans in their fifties.

Police Rogues Gallery: personnel records 1851-1960s, criminal conviction registers from 1895-1909 as well as press cuttings and general administrative records for the Force. The wider collection also contains limited records from Peeblesshire, Linlithgow, Roxburgh, Haddington and Newtongrange. The size of the collection is not given.

Bailie Court processes bundle: The Bailie Court was the main local court within the medieval and early modern burgh of Edinburgh. The sheer scale of these holdings together with the range of offences which were prosecuted in the courts provides a fascinating, often tragic and sometimes comic, picture of everyday life in the capital. While they are as yet unindexed and therefore not as easily accessible as other collections, a trawl of the court’s cases can pay dividends by revealing gems such as William Burke’s death warrant as well as cases of forgery – some even with examples of the criminal’s art.

Read about the Archives top 12 treasures at http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/galleries/gallery/62/top_12_treasures

Chris Paton's blog at http://goo.gl/S7snF mentions that the Edinburgh City Archives has started to digitise its burial records up to 1929, with more to follow as part of a larger Scottish project.

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