Libraries and archives

Edinburgh Room, Central Library
The City’s own local studies library, with extensive holdings of printed books and topographical material.

Capital Collections website
Images of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Central Library’s unique collection of photographs, engravings and drawings.

Edinburgh City Archives
The City’s own archive, containing the records of the burghs of Edinburgh, the Canongate and Leith, from the middle ages to the present.

Historical Manuscripts Commission
Now joined with the Public Record Office to form The National Archives: information on archives and their holdings throughout the UK.

National Archives of Scotland
Records of Scotland’s government before and after the Union, legal and court records, church records and much more, including rich Edinburgh holdings.

National Library of Scotland
Scotland’s copyright library and premier research library, including maps on-line.

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
Information about and images of buildings and archaeological sites; architectural drawings.

Scottish Archive Network
Information about Scottish archives and how to use them.
Scottish wills and testaments, c.1500-1901, on-line. For later wills go to the National Archives of Scotland website

Statistical accounts of Scotland
On-line versions of the classic accounts of Scotland’s parishes, written by the ministers themselves, including descriptions of Edinburgh in Statistical Account vol. 6 (1793) and New Statistical Account vol. 1 (1845)

British Newspapers
Digitised content includes Edinburgh newspapers, much of it pay as you view

Museums and galleries

City of Edinburgh’s Museums and Galleries
Information on 11 venues, including Museum of Edinburgh (formerly Huntly House), People’s Story, Museum of Childhood and City Art Centre.

National Galleries of Scotland
Information on the galleries, which have rich holdings relating to Edinburgh.

National Museums of Scotland
Information on the museums, which contain a wealth of artefacts connected with Edinburgh.

Local history and amenity societies

Scottish Local History Forum
Umbrella organisation for local history societies across Scotland.

Cockburn Association
Edinburgh’s Civic Trust, a watchdog on current and future developments.

Edinburgh World Heritage Trust
Dedicated to preserving the character of Edinburgh’s Old Town and the New Town, which together form the World Heritage Site.

Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland
Concerned with the protection, preservation and study of Scotland’s built heritage; publishes a journal, Architectural Heritage.

West Blacket Association
The object of the West Blacket Association is to preserve and improve the general amenity of the area comprising The Blacket Conservation Area to the West (and including both sides of) Minto Street, Edinburgh.

Granton History Group
A local group that researches records and discusses the history of the Granton area, north of Ferry Road and from Silverknowes to Trinity.

Dean Village Association
Dean Village Association Is dedicated to the physical and social conservation of this part of Edinburgh.

Family History

National Records of Scotland
Birth, marriage, death and census records for Scotland.

Scotland’s People
The official government source for births, marriages, deaths and census records for Scotland.

Scottish Archive Network
See Libraries and Archives above.

National Archives of Scotland
See Libraries and Archives above.

National Library of Scotland
See Libraries and Archives above.

Information about family history resources and research in UK and Ireland.

Scottish National War Memorial
Information on Scottish servicemen commemorated in the SNWM.

Scottish Genealogy Databases
Computer-searchable genealogical databases from old Scottish records. Access to all databases is free.

Visiting Edinburgh

Accommodation and other information for visitors to Edinburgh and beyond.

The City of Edinburgh Council
Information about Edinburgh and facilities offered by the City Council.
Information on Edinburgh and its facilities, and links to other sites.

Historic Scotland
Access to Edinburgh Castle and other Edinburgh monuments in the care of Historic Scotland.

National Trust for Scotland
Access to the Georgian House, Gladstone’s Land and other places in and around Edinburgh the care of the National Trust.

Rampant Scotland
Includes information about aspects of past and present Edinburgh architecture.

Guide to Scotland’s Capital
It has amongst other things some useful notes on the derivation of Edinburgh street names.


The following very selective list of books may help answer your questions about Edinburgh’s history, and lead you to further discoveries. Books and guides, both old and new, about Edinburgh’s localities and individual buildings are too numerous to list here. You can find works published since 1979 by searching Scottish Bibliographies Online with a keyword, or by author or title if you know them:

Older works can be found in the National Library of Scotland’s online catalogue, again using a keyword or other details

Many recent books are still in print, while others may be available through your nearest library, depending on its resources.

If you have not found the answer you want, enquiries concerning Edinburgh’s history can be addressed to the City Library’s Edinburgh Room, Central Library, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EG:

Book of the Old Edinburgh Club
The Book has been published by the Club since 1908. It consists of a substantial body of historical articles and source material about Edinburgh’s history. The original series was published in 35 volumes, 1908 – 1985. A cumulative index to vols I-XX was published as vol. XXI (1936). Separate indexes can be found in vols. XXII – XXXIII and each of the parts which make up vols. XXXIV-XXXV.
The new series of the Book began in 1991, and a cumulative index to vols. 1-5 appeared in vol.5 (2002).

General histories

Hugo Arnot, The history of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 1779)
Robert Chambers, Traditions of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 1825); numerous subsequent editions.
James Grant, Old and new Edinburgh, 2 vols. (Cassell, London, 1882)
Edinburgh Bookshelf
A digitised, searchable collection of books and pictures about Edinburgh’s history including Old and New Edinburgh by James Grant (6 volumes) and Kay’s Originals by John Kay (2 volumes).
Charles McKean, Edinburgh: portrait of a city (Century, London, 1991)
William Maitland, The history of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 1753)
Allan Massie, Edinburgh (Sinclair-Stevenson, London, 1994)
Daniel Wilson, Memorials of Edinburgh in the olden time, 2 vols, 2nd edition (Edinburgh, 1891)

History: origins to c.1660

Helen Dingwall, Late seventeenth century Edinburgh: a demographic study (Scolar, Aldershot, 1994)
Michael Lynch, Edinburgh and the Reformation (John Donald, Edinburgh, 1981)

History: c.1660-1830

Iain G Brown, Elegance and entertainment in the New Town of Edinburgh: the Harden drawings (Rutland, Edinburgh, 1995)
Mary Cosh, Edinburgh: the golden age (John Donald, Edinburgh, 2003)
Kitty Cruft and Andrew Fraser, eds., James Craig, 1744-1795, ‘The Ingenious Architect of the New Town of Edinburgh’ (Mercat, Edinburgh, 1995)
David Daiches, Peter and Jean Jones, eds., A Hotbed of Genius: the Scottish enlightenment, 1730-1790 2nd edn (Saltire Society, Edinburgh, 1996)
Rab Houston, Social change in the age of enlightenment: Edinburgh, 1660-1760 (Oxford UP, Oxford, 1994)
Leah Leneman, Sin in the city: sexuality and social control in urban Scotland, 1660-1780 (Scottish Cultural Press, Edinburgh, 1998)
Ian Lindsay, Georgian Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 1948)
A J Youngson, The making of classical Edinburgh (Edinburgh UP, Edinburgh, 1970)

History: 1830 to the present

Robert Q Gray, The labour aristocracy of Victorian Edinburgh (Oxford UP, Oxford, 1976)
Richard Rodger, The transformation of Edinburgh: land, property and trust in the nineteenth century (Cambridge UP, Cambridge, 2001)

Buildings and topography

Elizabeth Berry, The writing on the walls (Cockburn Association, Edinburgh, 1990)
J F Birrell, An Edinburgh alphabet (James Thin, Edinburgh, 1980)
John Gifford, Colin McWilliam and David Walker, Edinburgh (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1984). Buildings of Scotland series, now published by Yale UP.
F H Groome, ed. Ordnance gazetteer of Scotland vol. 2 (Edinburgh, 1885)
Stuart Harris, The place names of Edinburgh: their origin and history 2nd edition (London, 2002)
Charles McKean, Edinburgh: an illustrated architectural guide (Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, Edinburgh, 1992).
Andrew A McMillan, Richard J Gillanders and John A Fairhurst, Building stones of Edinburgh, 2nd edn (Edinburgh Geological Society, Edinburgh, 1999)
David Patterson and Joe Rock, Thomas Begbie’s Edinburgh: a mid-Victorian portrait (John Donald, Edinburgh, 1992)
Richard Rodger, Housing the people: the colonies of Edinburgh (Edinburgh, 1999)
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, An inventory of the ancient and historical monuments of the city of Edinburgh (HMSO, 1951)
The early views and maps of Edinburgh (Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Edinburgh, 1919)

Church history

A Ian Dunlop, The Kirks of Edinburgh; the Congregations, Churches & Ministers of the Presbytery of Edinburgh 1560 – 1984 (Scottish Record Society, 1988)

Cultural life

Donald Campbell, Playing for Scotland: a history of the Scottish stage, 1715-1965 (Mercat, Edinburgh, 1996)
Owen Dudley Edwards and G Richardson, Edinburgh: a literary anthology (Canongate, Edinburgh, 1983)
Andrew Lownie, The Edinburgh Literary Companion (Birlinn, 2006), replacing his The literary companion to Edinburgh (Methuen, London, 2000); which was a revised version of The Edinburgh literary guide (1992), including maps.
Auld Reekie: An Edinburgh Anthology, selected and edited by Ralph Lownie (Timewell, 2004)


Andrew G Fraser, The Building of Old College: Adam, Playfair and the University of Edinburgh, (Edinburgh University Press, 1989)
J Harrison, The Company of Merchants of the City of Edinburgh and its schools, 1694-1920 (Edinburgh, 1920)
Walter Stephen, Fabric and function: a century of school building in Edinburgh, 1872-1972 (privately published, Edinburgh, 1996)

Economic life: commerce and industry

A Heron, The Merchant Company of Edinburgh: its rise and progress (Edinburgh, 1903)
Elizabeth Sanderson, Women and work in eighteenth century Edinburgh Macmillan, London, 1996)
Richard Saville, The Bank of Scotland: a history, 1695-1995 (Edinburgh UP, Edinburgh, 1996)

Family History

Many lists of apprentices and burgesses, and persons marrying and dying in Edinburgh have been published, chiefly by the Scottish Record Society. The titles of these and other printed sources can be looked up online in the National Library of Scotland’s ‘Scottish History in Print’:
Publications after 1985 can be found in the NLS’s Scottish Bibliographies Online:
For wills of Edinburgh folk up to 1901, go to website
For later wills go to the National Archives of Scotland website

Other miscellaneous lists of Edinburgh’s past inhabitants are listed here:
James Gilhooley, A directory of Edinburgh in 1752 (Edinburgh UP, Edinburgh, 1988)
Anon., Lord Provosts of Edinburgh, 1296-1932 (Edinburgh, 1932)
Ann Mitchell, ‘No more corncraiks’: Lord Moray’s feuars in Edinburgh’s New Town (Scottish Cultural Press, Edinburgh, 1998)


The Stair Society publications include a wealth of historical material and articles about Edinburgh’s legal history. Lists of Stair publications up to 1985 can be found in in the National Library of Scotland’s ‘Scottish History in Print’:, and after 1985 in Scottish Bibliographies Online:

The Stair Society website has a list of Edinburgh Law Firms which can be downloaded. This section is a beginning on the history of leading Edinburgh law firms from 1800-2000, intended to show their long existence, their location in the New Town until very recently, and the identities of their partners.


W S Craig, History of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (London, 1976)
Helen Dingwall, Physicians, surgeons and apothecaries: medicine in seventeenth-century Edinburgh (Tuckwell, East Linton, 1995)
James Gray, The Edinburgh City Hospital (Tuckwell, East Linton, 1999)
Reginald Passmore, Fellows of Edinburgh’s College of Physicians during the Scottish enlightenment (Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, 2001)
Lisa Rosner, Medical education in the age of improvement: Edinburgh students and apprentices, 1760-1826 (Edinburgh UP, Edinburgh, 1991)
Bill Yule, Matrons, medics and maladies: inside the Royal Infirmary in the 1840s (Tuckwell, East Linton, 1999)

Primary sources

Charters and documents relating to Edinburgh AD 1143-1540 (Scottish Burgh Records Society, Edinburgh, 1871)
Marguerite Wood, ed., Court book of the regality of Broughton and burgh of Canongate, 1569-1573 (privately printed, Edinburgh, 1937)
Extracts from the records of the burgh of Edinburgh, 1403-1718 12 vols. (Scottish Burgh Records Society, Edinburgh, 1869-1967)
James Gilhooley, ed., The Edinburgh recorder: spotlight on the personalities, properties, and their fire insurance policies from 1720 to 1840 (privately printed, Edinburgh, 1990)
Hugh M Milne, ed., Boswell’s Edinburgh, 1767-1786 (Mercat, Edinburgh, 2001)
Sir John Sinclair, ed., Statistical account of Scotland vol. 6 (1793), reprinted in vol. II (1975). For online version go to
New statistical account of Scotland vol. I (1845). For online version go to
David Keir, ed., Third statistical account of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1966)
Edward Topham, Letters from Edinburgh; written in the years 1774 and 1775 (Mercat, Edinburgh, 1971); first published, London, 1776

For further printed primary sources go to the National Library’s ‘Scottish History in Print’:


D L G Hunter, Edinburgh’s transport: volume 1, the early years, reprint edition (Mercat, Edinburgh, 1992)
D L G Hunter, Edinburgh’s transport: volume 2: the Corporation years (Adam Gordon, Chetwode, 1999?)