Researching Local History

A guide to local studies materials held by Dumfries and Galloway Council.


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The historical collections held by Dumfries and Galloway Council comprise a great store of information relating to the history of the region. This booklet aims to provide a key to this store, so that all researchers, whether genealogical beginners or seasoned academics, can search the collections.

Fuller details of items found as a result can be viewed on the Library and Archive catalogues, which are available online at www.dumgal.gov.uk/lia

We are members of AncestralScotland's Tourism Welcome Scheme.  All Ancestral Tourism Welcome registered members have been acknowledged by VisitScotland, the national tourism organisation, as an organisation committed to meeting the needs of the ancestral tourist.  

The main functions of the service are to ensure the preservation of historic records relating to Dumfries and Galloway and to make these available for consultation by the public. It is our policy to enhance the collections by acquiring a wide range of relevant archives and local studies materials.

The majority of our materials are held in Dumfries, at the Archive Centre and the Ewart Library. Smaller collections of local relevance are also held, primarily at the museums in Kirkcudbright, Stranraer and Annan. Printed works, maps, photographs and newspapers, can be found in the Ewart Library; other libraries throughout Dumfries and Galloway have duplicate collections relevant to their local area, with those at Annan, Lockerbie, Castle Douglas, Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbright and Newton Stewart being the most extensive.  Museums also hold local studies material. Location details of particular holdings are given throughout (see Using the Guide below).

Many other bodies also hold archive and local studies resources relating to Dumfries and Galloway. These range from major institutions such as the National Archives of Scotland (NAS) to important regional societies such as the Dumfries and Galloway Family History Society; at the local level, the Kirkconnel Parish Heritage Society is an example of a group that may have knowledge and in some cases material relating to a small area that is not otherwise available. For details of all such organisations, together with selected website addresses see Contacts List.

Photographic Collection

The Dumfries and Galloway Photographic Collection records and reflects the last 150 years, and presents it in an easily accessible form. Many of the images are now available to view online here.

Researching your family tree

In recent years there has been an upsurge of interest in investigating ancestry. This has prompted the making of television programmes such as BBC's "Who Do You Think You are", which has in turn increased this interest. We welcome family history enquiries, and recognise that many people using this guide will be researching their ancestors. Almost all the material listed within could be of relevance for family historians, and for anyone who has Dumfries and Galloway roots, some of it will be. There is free access to our resources, and we will be happy to provide initial help and guidance to users; those requiring further research carried out on their behalf see Researcher, below.

For those new to genealogy, there are many books and websites dedicated to the subject, and a selection of the former can be found through your local library.


We employ an experienced researcher who will carry out research into family or local history on request. This service is particularly useful for those who find it difficult to visit in person. Each enquiry is initially assessed by the researcher, and an indication is then given as to the probable length of time needed to satisfy it. Current charges are available on our website or at any cultural services facility.

For further information, please contact:  Researcher, Ewart Library, Catherine Street, Dumfries DG1 1JB: Tel: 01387 253820 or e-mail: research@dumgal.gov.uk

Historical Indexes and the Friends of the Archives of Dumfries and Galloway

The Friends is a voluntary group with the aims of raising awareness of, increasing access to and better preserving archives across the region. As part of this, there is a programme of talks in the winter months, and a summer trip to an archiverelated destination. Some members of the Friends are engaged in indexing projects. The fruits of their labour can be viewed at www.dumgal.gov.uk/lia and current or completed projects include:

1. 1851 Census Returns for Dumfriesshire, Kirkcudbrightshire and Wigtownshire
2. Dumfries Kirk Session and Presbytery Minutes 1689 - 1838
3. Troqueer Kirk Session Minutes 1698 - 1771
4. Mouswald Kirk Session 1640 to 1659
5. Dumfries Jail Books and Bail Bond Registers 1714-1810
6. Dumfries Town Chamberlains' Accounts 1793-1801
7. Dumfries Dean of Guild Plans 1892-1974
8. Shipping Registers for the ports of Dumfries 1824-1904, Kirkcudbright 1824-1841, Stranraer 1824-1908 and Wigtown 1836-1908
9. Dumfries Poor Board Minutes

If you would like to join the Friends, or find out more about them, please contact Dumfries Archive Centre (see Contacts List below).


Libraries, Information and Archives extensive publications programme has resulted in a wide range of books relating to many aspects of Dumfries and Galloway's history.  For full details of available publications see www.dumgal.gov.uk/lia.  Many other relevant publications have been published by organisations across Dumfries and Galloway; those by the Dumfries and Galloway Family History Society and the Dumfries and Galloway Natural Histroy and Antiquarian Society (DGNHAS) are of particular note (see Contacts List below).

Using the Guide

Using the Guide

The Guide is arranged in sections, by theme or type of record, to promote ease of use. Within each section is a list of resources, together with a two-letter location code (eg EW). This code refers to the repository within which the resource may be found. The codes are given, with contact details, on the inside flap of the cover. On the inside flap of the back cover is a map showing the locations of the repositories.

Anyone wishing to view archives should contact the relevant repository before visiting, as firstly space is limited in some buildings, and secondly the material may be located in an outstore. If it is, it can be retrieved for viewing within 24 hours. Some records listed may be subject to limited access due to the requirement to conform with the provisions of the Data
Protection Act.

Researching Local History is attractively illustrated throughout its 128 pages and is priced at £5.99 from libraries, museums and all good bookshops around the region.  

Related Information

Contact Details


Operations Manager Cultural Services

Ewart Library
Catherine Street

Tel: 01387 260292
Fax: 01387 260294

External Links

Contact Dumfries and Galloway Council T: 030 33 33 3000

Council Offices
English Street

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