Scottish Post Office Directories – Have you used them yet?

The National Library for any country is a wonderful resource for a family history researcher. Part of their mandate is to preserve their countries history through books and now quite a few are putting their digital collections online. The really wonderful thing is that these collections are usually free to access.

The National Library of Scotland has put their Post Office Directories online. The time period covered is 1773-1911 and 28 towns and counties in Scotland are represented. There are 694 directories in the digital collection.

Right now you can search the collection on the National Library of Scotland’s website but there are plans to have a website dedicated to the collection up and running some time this summer.

The main parts of the directory are the street and trade section and a section that alphabetically lists residents by their name. In the alphabetical listing you sometimes find their address and occupation.

The directory can create a picture in time of the town it is covering. You can find information on what can be found in the city including lists of banks, churches and clergy, conveyances, education, insurance, law, medicine, post offices and lists of the people involved in the parliamentary process.

The towns and counties covered in the collection are: Aberdeen (88), Airdrie (1), Angus and Mearns (2), Ayrshire (32), Bute (19), Clackmannan (1), Dalkeith (8), Dumfries (1), Dundee (52), Edinburgh (128), Forfar (26), Glasgow (115), Greenock (65), Hamilton (2), Helensburgh (2), Inverness (15), Kilmarnock (3), Morayshire (5), Motherwell (1), Musselburgh (1), North-East Scotland (1), Perth (29), Peterhead (1), Portobello (3), Renfrewshire (61), Scotland (18), Stirling (12), West coast Scotland (2).

The numbers in the brackets are the number of directories for each place. Edinburgh and Glasgow have the most. The one for Airdrie is for 1896 and Peterhead is for 1853.

You can download a PDF or you can view the book online. The online link takes you to the Internet Archive website where the images are held.

The earliest one for Glasgow is John Tait’s directory for the City of Glasgow 15 May 1783 to 15 May 1784. The alphabetical name index is by first letter only. The list for each letter is not alphabetical.

I went in and checked the Glasgow directory for 1801. This is an alphabetical list for last name but the first names are not alphabetical. Sometimes you can not read the last entry on a page so try making the image smaller. At the end of the names index there is a list of “Names omitted in their proper place” and while not all directories might have this it is a good idea to check if they do. I did not find the ancestors I was looking for in this directory.

They were found in the 1825 directory. Walter Campbell is a smith and farrier at 322 Gallowgate in Glasgow. In this directory I did a search for my Waddell family and the search said there were no results. When I checked under the letter W there were 12 Waddell’s listed. Do not rely on the search function.

I just spent a wonderful afternoon going through the post office directories and found many interesting items relating to my Waddell family. The directories along with statistical accounts of Scotland can help you find more information about your family and how and where they lived.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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