Research and Investigation

Here you will find links to a range of online and paper resources to help you get started with your research. Many of the resources will be available in your local library, your nearest reference library or archive. Increasingly, online resources can be accessed remotely, mostly free of charge.

Resource 1: Historical Research Online

When researching a site or building, you may want to investigate archival material and historical records. Your nearest council and university archives, and your library’s local-history and/or special collections departments, will be useful places to visit. Many have online catalogues however, so people can search for archival material before visiting. This quick overview looks at some of the archives available online. Download the PDF here.

Resource 2: Resources at Historic Environment Scotland (HES) 

HES was established on 1 October 2015, taking on the responsibilities of Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) which previously managed and recorded Scotland’s archaeological, architectural and industrial heritage for more than a century. This guide examines HES' collection of resources, comprising some 3 million drawings, prints, maps, manuscripts and photographs and one of the world’s largest and most important aerial photographic archives, made up of over 1.5 million images of Scotland, and over 20 million military reconnaissance images from across the globe. Download the PDF here.

Resource 3: Buildings, Towns and Cities

In this guide, you will find information about, and links to, a range of research resources on the design of cities, towns and buildings. The books and journals listed are available in local authority libraries or archives, and the Historic Environment Scotland search room in John Sinclair House, 16 Bernard Terrace, Edinburgh. Download the PDF here.

Resource 4: Places and People

In this guide you will find information about, and links to, a range of research resources in which data about places and people has been collected over time or on specific occasions. These resources are fully or partly available online and are also available in local reference libraries or archives. Download the PDF here

Resource 5: Newspapers and Multimedia Collections

In this guide you will find introductory information about, and links to, a range of historical newspaper, photographic and audiovisual collections. Many of these resources can be accessed free of charge from your home while others will be available in your local library or via its online services. Download the PDF here


Resource 6: Using Aerial Photographs to Study the Urban Past

Aerial photographs can provide unique information on features not obviously apparent from the ground, while also allowing us to explore said features in their wider urban landscape. Captured for over a century, we can also use historical aerial photographs to analyse changes over time. They are one of the key resources when studying the past. Download the PDF here.

Using Archives, Local History and Special Collections

If you are preparing for your first visit to an archive, library local-history or special collections department, this guide will provide you with some helpful points to bear in mind. Download the PDF here.

Research: Top Tips

For any research undertaking, you will need to take the time inadvance to ask what, when, where, how and who will research, and devise a plan. Reflecting on the points provided in this guide should help you get started. Download the PDF here