These notes were originally prepared by local historians Gordon and Robin Urquhart and Ann Laird for a contribution to the West End Lecture series in 1999; revised and updated by David Alcock, formerly Jordanhill Campus Librarian, University of Strathclyde,  2018.


Glasgow Libraries

The Mitchell Library in North Street contains:

  • Archives – records of the City and its constituent burghs  (Hillhead, Maryhill, Partick); Architectural and Building plans; Valuation rolls 1913-95; Maps; Photographs; Abridgements of Sasines (1795-1975); Clyde Navigation Trust records; Estate records; Post Office Directories (see also NLS below); Records of local families and individuals
  • Special Collections, level 5 – local newspapers and periodicals; census returns (1841, 51, 61, 71, 81, 91); valuation rolls 1913-95; voters rolls; local history scrapbooks; old parish registers; local interest books
  • Arts and Social Sciences – parliamentary papers including Royal Commission reports (see also NLS below); church history; census statistics; architecture etc books

Some sources are available electronically and can be consulted from home if you have a Glasgow Libraries card – though some can only be accessed from pcs within Glasgow Libraries eg

  • Nineteenth Century British Newspapers
  • Ancestry
  • Scotsman 1817-1950
  • SCRAN (database of historic Scottish images)
  • Virtual Mitchell (images of Glasgow)

Family History at the Mitchell holds Civil Registers of births deaths and marriages for Strathclyde, 1855-1992.


National Records of Scotland (formerly National Archives of Scotland) at General Register House, Princes Street, Edinburgh holds:

  • Central government records for Scotland
  • Scottish legal records
  • Valuation records 1855-1995
  • Railway company records
  • Papers of private individuals, families and estates
  • Church records and kirk session minutes
  • Plans from public and private bodies in the Register House Plan series

Some of the records require advance notice for consultation – check the online catalogue and contact the historical searchroom to check. Plans are now made available digitally where possible.


National Library of Scotland (at George IV Bridge in Edinburgh) is a legal deposit library entitled to a copy of every book published in the UK. Its extensive electronic collections can mostly be consulted from home once the online registration process has been completed, provided that you are normally resident at an address in Scotland, and include:

The last of these databases is complex to search – some tips are provided at the bottom of this page.

The NLS Moving Image Archive (formerly the Scottish Screen Archive) is based at Kelvin Hall, Glasgow

For non-digitised maps, the Map Room at Causewayside can be accessed by prior appointment only.


Historic Environment Scotland (formerly Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland) at 16 Bernard Terrace, Edinburgh holds extensive records documenting the built heritage of Scotland – drawings, plans, photographs etc – much of this information is readily available on its CANMORE database


Glasgow University Special Collections and Archives in Hillhead Street contains:

  • Glasgow University records
  • Company records of many West End shipyards and businesses, including those of the Dowanhill Estate Company and of Barr & Stroud
  • The Murray and Wylie Collections are strong on local history.
  • The Map Collection contains some items not available elsewhere

Royal Faculty of Procurators Library at 12 Nelson Mandela Place includes maps and plans, and the William Henry Hill papers on estate development in the West End and on the relocation of the University to Gilmorehill.


Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (232-234 St Vincent Street) holds records of individuals amongst the Glasgow medical profession; also a good run of Glasgow directories.


Scottish Jewish Archives Centre at 129 Hill Street has archival and publsihed material on Glasgow Jewry.


Strathclyde University Archives within the Andersonian Library, Curran Building, Cathedral Street contains the Robertson Collection of books on the history of Glasgow; also the records of the former Jordanhill College of Education and its antecedents.


Glasgow City Heritage Trust promotes building conservation in the city, and includes material from the former Glasgow Conservation Trust West


SCAN (Scottish Archives Network) gives details of the holdings of 20000 historical records archives throughout Scotland should not be overlooked, both the standard Web Search and the Image Search (and see notes on searching below)



Riverside Museum (Museum of Transport), 100 Pointhouse Road

Royal Highland Fusiliers Regimental Museum at 518 Sauchiehall Street

Scotland Street School Museum of Education opposite Shields Road subway station

Glasgow Police Museum 30 Bell Street



Glasgow and West of Scotland Family History Society

Old Glasgow Club

Scottish Records Association

Scottish Local History Forum provides an outlet for those wishing to publish short articles via its journal Scottish Local History

Scottish Tramway and Transport Society


Remember, many schools, churches, clubs and other organisations have informal archives documenting their history; and the oral histories of present West End residents can add greatly to our knowledge and understanding.



Don’t give up too easily – if you retrieve nothing, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s nothing there – you may be using a poor search strategy. If you get too much of little relevance, you need to consider refining your search. There are numerous strategies you can adopt to do this – but unfortunately different databases may use different search conventions –  the HELP provided should enable you to work out how to formulate your search effectively – some databases also offer short instruction videos, often available on Youtube. If there’s a choice between basic and advanced search, you may (counterintuitively) find the advanced search sometimes can make it easier to understand how the system is handling your search terms.

Make sure search terms are appropriate eg if searching a historic newspaper database in full text, are your terms the sort of words likely to have been used by Victorian journalists?

Most databases allow you to search both on single words or phrases, and to combine words in various ways. For example:
•    AND – a single document must contain both terms eg housing and Hillhead
•    OR – a document must contain either one term or another, which will retrieve eg all mentions of housing and all mentions of Hillhead
•    NOT – eg housing not Hillhead – a document must contain all mentions of housing except in Hillhead
•    Phrase searching (eg “Hillhead High School”) is a good way of finding material on a named organisation - 19th Century British Newspapers assumes multiple words in a search box should be searched as a phrase – other databases may require a phrase to be enclosed in quotation marks, or this may be a choice offered in a drop-down menu.

Beware search-box drop-down menus – check that the default setting is appropriate eg Full Text or Entire Document searches may be more effective than the Keyword search which is often the default (Keywords, assigned manually by an indexer, may not be helpful in a local history context, or indeed may be largely lacking in a large newspaper database). If combining terms in several search boxes, make sure that the settings applied to subsequent terms haven’t reverted to an unwanted default.

Fuzzy  and wildcard searching: these will retrieve approximate spellings. unfortunately the conventions for achieving this vary by database – check any HELP
•    wildcards – e.g “co?per” may retrieve both cooper and couper
•    truncation allows searching of all words with the same root eg tram* for tram, trams, tramcar, tramway etc

Restricting searches by date can save wading through many irrelevant references

You can apply many of these features to Google searches – once you’ve done your initial search, refine it by clicking the “gearwheel” at top right of screen, then selecting Advanced Search