Recording history today for the future

Central Library’s Edinburgh and Scottish Collection have a long history of collecting material relating to the changing life and times of the city.

Today, we also collect digital submissions from people who can upload their own pictures and memories to Edinburgh Collected, our online community archive (

During these strange times of lockdown living we are asking the public to help us record the visual signs of how life in Edinburgh has changed so that these momentous times are preserved for history.

Saturday at the Grassmarket, shared by Sufly9 on

We’re particularly keen to see the little acts of creativity and messages of thanks and positivity that are helping us all to keep smiling.

We’ve received some lovely picture memories so far but we’d like to capture a complete picture of Edinburgh at this time. Do you have any photos of your neighbourhood that you’ve taken whilst out for your daily exercise or going to the supermarket that you could share?

Anyone can create an account and add pictures and memories to Edinburgh Collected. Once added, we’ll add your contributions to the ‘Edinburgh 2020 – coronavirus pandemic’ scrapbook.

Stay home, shared on by jintyg

Our colleagues in Museums and Galleries and in the City Archives are also collecting material related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Museums and Galleries Edinburgh are looking to collect objects for their museum collections which represent experiences of people in Edinburgh during the pandemic. They’re hoping for donations of everyday objects that have helped you get through the lockdown, e.g. certain equipment you’ve used to keep you safe, a note from your neighbour or the rainbow you made for your window.

If you have something to offer, please email Explain what the item is, what it means to you, and include a photo if you can. (Please note, staff won’t be able to physically collect any material until it is safe to do so and venues reopen.)

Edinburgh City Archives are collecting diaries and journals covering this period. They will collect these in various forms; whether that is paper or digital, text or audio-visual, published on a website/social media or kept privately in an app, book, or document.  If you keep any of these and would be willing to donate it to the Archives for posterity please visit their webpage for more information:

Edinburgh as you’ve never seen it before

One of the most fun elements of the Our Town Stories site are the ‘Then and Now’ pictures.

You can move the slider to create a wonderful ghostly effect:

Newington road 'then and Now' from Our Town Stories

Newington Road ‘Then and Now’ from Our Town Stories

Here are the ten most popular ‘Then and Now’ pictures from the site. Take a look and let us know which one(s) you like best.

Lawnmarket and the head of West Bow (1874)

North Bridge (1885)

Newsome’s Circus, Nicolson Street (1890)

Leith Harbour (1912)

John Knox’s House (1880)

Foot of Leith Walk (1912) 

(See how the tram turns into a bus)

Royal Arch, Newington Road (1903)

Croall Place (1890)

The Shore (1910)

On the Almond at Cramond Brig (1895)

Video: getting started with Edinburgh Collected

This short film explains what Edinburgh Collected is and how easy it is to add your own pictures and memories to the site.

How archives can help YOU

archiveAre you interested in finding out more about the history of your family, area or business?

Well you’re in luck. We’re hosting a series of drop-in sessions where you can pick the brains of a city archivist.

Learn how archives can help you find out more about the history of your family, business, neighbourhood or whatever it is you want to investigate.

The sessions take place in the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection within Central Library on the last Mondays of February, March, April and May from  10.30am – 12.30pm.

There’s no need to book, just turn up on the day. If this time is not suitable, email us on or call 0131 529 4616.

Portobello Baths



Edinburgh City Archives’ Story Box 2014

The following post originally appeared on Lothian Lives

As part of the Explore Your Archive campaign 2014 Edinburgh City Archives are once again having a ‘story box’ on show to give you an idea of the kinds of records we keep and make available. Inside you will find snippets of information on the likes of Policemen, Army Recruits, Criminals, William Burke, Aliens and Disappearing Dukes!

If you fancy delving into the story box you will find one in the Edinburgh and Scottish Collection within Central Library on George IV Bridge, as well as one in the City Chambers main reception, on the High Street (opposite St Giles Cathedral).

The boxes will be available to look through from Monday 10th November through to Monday 17th November 2014. You will also be able to take away one of our general leaflets which gives you a bit more information on what we are all about, as well as our contact details so you can get in touch.

Happy exploring, we hope you enjoy…

Every record tells a story – what’s yours?

Did you know: in 1991 Livingston Development Corporation erected a plaque to commemorate a close encounter with aliens? Well it did, and West Lothian archives hold an account of the event.

Council archives in Edinburgh and the Lothians hold an amazing variety of records relating to the history of your local area and its people. The Lothian Lives site features records and stories taken from the City of Edinburgh, East, Mid and West Lothian Archives. You will find examples of some of the kinds of records you are likely to find at your local Council Archive. Themes covered include Politics & War, Work & Learning, Faraway Places and Social Conditions. In the ‘Discover the Records’ section, you can browse through the different records held by Council Archives. You will also be able to look at a variety of digitally imaged records from your local Council Archives via Flickr. The Lothian Lives blog will be regularly updated with news, featured records and stories.           

Visit Your Library for more local history resources.


Continuing our series of cinema-related posts to tie in with the Edinburgh International Film Festival…

Screenonline is a wonderful online encyclopaedia of British film and television, featuring hundreds of hours of film and television clips from the vast collections of the BFI’s National Archive.

Anyone can log on to Screenonline, but access to the clips is not possible through your home PC.  So to make the most of this amazing resource head along to your local library and log on to one of our computers.

But even if you can’t, we’d recommend taking a few minutes to look round this fascinating site – which may turn into hours…