​The City Archives are housed in the Mitchell Library and include the official records of various local authorities as well as a large number of private archive collections.

About Archive Collections

The largest single collection is the records of the city of Glasgow itself, which includes records from the modern City Council and its predecessors.

Our Archives leaflet gives further information on the wonderful documentary heritage of Glasgow over eight centuries.

If you're looking to research your family history take a look at our new, dedicated Glasgow Family History website - a one stop shop for all your ancestry research.

Related Documents

Glasgow City Archives Leaflet

City Archives: Collections, Acquisition and Disposal Policy

Architectural Plans

The most important of these drawings are the plans submitted to the various building control authorities, which date from 1870 until the present day.

Some authorities, such as railways, Clyde Port Authority and hospitals, were exempt from Building Control regulations. If you are looking for plans for buildings belonging to these authorities, please contact us for advice.

Our Architectural Plans leaflet provides further information on the wonderful documentary heritage of Glasgow’s buildings over the last three centuries.

Related Documents

Architectural Plans

Archives for Local History

Enjoy the thrill of using original archives to help discover the history of your house, street or community.

Glasgow's Buildings
Use architectural plans to discover the history of the City’s buildings. Did your ancestor and their ten ‘weans’ live in a single-end?

Many of the built-up areas of Glasgow and the suburbs were originally large estates owned by wealthy families. Use landed families records to build up a picture of local areas across Strathclyde.

Other Archives
Discover more local history by using our many other archive collections, such as: churches, shipbuilding, other businesses, clubs and societies. Use the Clyde Port archives to find out all about the River Clyde. Access school records and enter the world of Scotland’s Victorian schools. View our collections of additional photos, maps and other illustrations depicting your local area.

The Virtual Mitchell
Every picture tells a story, so browse the Virtual Mitchell website's series of fascinating photographs that recapture the

Your archives, your history, and your stories to help you connect with your local history.

Burgess Rolls

The Glasgow Burgess Rolls lists those citizens who were landowners and enjoyed certain privileges such as being able to vote.

Originally burgesses were inhabitants of the city, who held land there and contributed to Town and taxation and other burdens. It was later restricted to Merchants and Craftsmen.

Only burgesses could enjoy the privileges of trading or practising a craft in the city or could vote in Municipal or Parliamentary elections. Burgess tickets were also granted to outsiders who had performed some service for the City. Search our online database of those awarded burgess tickets as volunteers for the South African War 1900-1904.

Their political privileges were removed by the Reform Act in 1832 and their ancient exclusive trading rights were abolished in 1846. Thereafter admission as a burgess became a social status with charitable objectives and has so continued to the present

The Scottish Record Society
The Scottish Record Society has published lists of burgesses for Glasgow: The Burgesses & Guild Brethren of Glasgow, 1573-1846, edited by J. R. Anderson (Scottish Record Society, 1925). The book also gives a detailed description of how you could become a burgess.

For later records and to see the original records of earlier burgess admissions, you can search the burgess roll books and other court records.​​​​

Business Archives

Archives of local businesses both large and small are held here, reflecting the wide variety of commercial activity in Glasgow and the West of Scotland over the centuries.

The History of Glasgow Businesses

These include:

  • Shipbuilders
  • Iron & steel workers
  • Merchants and warehousemen
  • Retailers
  • Engineers
  • Architects
  • Carriers and ship-owners
  • Fabric and thread manufacturers
  • Paper-makers
  • Potters and brick-makers
  • Chemical manufacturers

Some of the biggest collections have been deposited by firms of solicitors and accountants. However, these tend to consist mainly of clients’ papers rather than records of the business itself.

Please contact us for further information if you are interested in a particular company or type of business.

It should be noted that archives of many businesses are held by the University of Glasgow, including the Scottish Brewing Archive.

Church Archives

Church records are one of the richest sources of private archives that we hold. The Archives are the recognised repository for:

  • Church of Scotland - records of Glasgow Presbytery and its kirk sessions from the 16th to the 20th century, including seceding churches which reunited with the established church in 1900 and 1929.
  • Episcopalian Church of Scotland - records of the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway, including records of the diocese itself and of a large number of churches.
  • Records of Baptist, Congregationalist, Evangelical, Methodist and Unitarian churches.

Our Church Archives Leaflet provides further information on the collections we hold.

Clyde Navigation Trust

The records of the Clyde Navigation Trust are a wonderful source of information about Glasgow's trading history and the creation of the Clyde as an international waterway.

The records of The Clyde Navigation Trust (1709-1988) include:

  • Minutes - the main records of the Trust from 1801
  • Reports and Papers - recording all aspects of the Clyde and Clyde Navigation, 1755-1 958, including reports from the country's leading engineers, John Smeaton, John Golborne, Thomas Telford and others
  • Accounts and statistics - detailing the rise of Glasgow as a world trading centre
  • Report Books - these record ships entering and leaving the Clyde (both Glasgow and Greenock), 1819-1968, but do not include passengers' names
  • Clyde Bill of Entry - local newspaper, listing arrivals and departures of ships for the Clyde, with details of cargo, etc.,1841-1887
  • Photographs - thousands of photographs, including construction of works, buildings, cranes and equipment, ships and views of the Clyde. Only a few of these are on the Virtual Mitchell
  • Maps and Plans - including general plans of the river and riparian lands, plans of bridges, weirs, canals, railways, lighthouses and the harbour

The collection also includes records of the Clyde Pilotage Authority, 1856-1998; Clyde Lighthouses and Cumbrae Lighthouse Trusts, 1755-1966; Ardrossan Harbour Co., 1886-1968; and Greenock Harbour Trust, 1755-1966.

County Councils

Council Archives for other Scottish Counties.

Archives hold the records of the councils of Bute, Dunbartonshire, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire and part of Stirlingshire.

These include:

  • Administrative records - including minutes and other records relating to their functions which included water, police, fire, electoral registration and valuation, planning and building control
  • Commissioners of Supply - minutes for Lanarkshire (1720-1930), Renfrewshire (1843-1929), Dunbartonshire (1765-1929), Bute (1868-1929) and some early valuation rolls from the 18th century
  • Turnpike trusts from the 18th century
  • Statute labour trusts from the 18th century
  • Parochial boards - records of the poor law authorities from 1845
  • School boards and successor authorities (including school records)

Family and Estate Archives

Landed Families and Estates
Archives of the landed families and their estates are among the most valuable we hold and include a wide variety of subjects and type of record, including the following: titles and other legal papers; rental rolls; personal family correspondence; estate accounts, including records of foreign estates, such as Jamaica; witchcraft; tobacco lords; maps and plans; records of local and national affairs; and very many others.

The Family and Estate Archives include the following:

  • Colquhoun of Luss, 1188-20th century
  • Maxwells of Pollok, Glasgow and Renfrew, c1200-1975
  • Stirling of Keir, Keir and Cadder, 1338-c 1940
  • Speirs of Elderslie, Renfrewshire and Dunbartonshire, 1561-1999
  • Lennox Family of Woodhead, Dunbartonshire, 1421-1960
  • Islay Estate, Islay, 1741-1966
  • Ramsay of Kildalton, Islay, 1707-1984
  • Shaw Stewart Family of Ardgowan, Greenock and Renfrewshire, 1250-1966
  • Cochrane-Baillie of Lamington, Lanarkshire, 19th-20th century
  • Crum Family Papers, Thornliebank, Renfrewshire, 1782-1960
  • Blythswood Estate, Glasgow and Renfrew, 1662-20th century
  • Campbell of Succoth and Garscube, 1533-1965
  • Houston of Johnstone, Renfrewshire, 1664-1951
  • Hamilton Family of Barns, Old Kilpatrick, Dunbartonshire, 1537-1827

Glasgow Corporation

The archives of Glasgow Corporation and its successor authorities is the largest and most significant collection held in the Archives and represents over 400 years of local government in the Glasgow area.

The records include:

  • Council Minutes dating from 1573
  • Architectural plans: detailed plans of almost every building erected or altered within the city boundaries since 1885
  • School Archives: log books and admission registers for over 300 city schools
  • Poor Law Archives: records of the various parochial boards in the city and more than one million applications for poor relief
  • Annexed Burghs: archives of the burghs and other areas annexed to the city in the 19th century

There is also a large quantity of records covering the other functions of the city including fire brigade, housing, transport, police, water supply, health services, licensing, parks, galleries and museums, gas and electricity and telephones.

The collections include maps, plans and photographs of the city. Many of the photographs are on the Virtual Mitchell website.

Strathclyde Regional Council And Glasgow City Council
The functions of Glasgow Corporation were taken over in 1975 by Strathclyde Regional Council and Glasgow District Council and again in 1996 by Glasgow City Council. A large part of the records from these authorities are held within our records management system and are not available for direct public access.

Please contact us if you wish to use records from this period.

Merchants and Trades Houses

Glsagow City Archives hold records of the Merchants House and Trades House in Glasgow and all 15 individual craft incorporations, such as bakers, wrights and masons.

The records can include lists of members, accounts and minutes dealing with regulations, donations to poor members and apprenticeships.

Craft Guilds
Craft guilds or incorporations were formed in the middle ages and were an important part of burgh life then and in later centuries. Groups of craftsmen were organising themselves to regulate who could work at each craft. The intention was to control numbers, but also to exclude people calling themselves craftsmen who had not the requisite skills.

Conflict And The Merchants House Of Glasgow
There was considerable tension between the craftsmen who made goods and the merchants who traded in them with frequent battles for influence over the town council. The merchants, who regarded themselves as socially superior, tended to monopolise the magistracy and to control the burgh's financial resources.

In Glasgow as in other burghs these conflicts could become quite bitter. By 1560 those engaged in crafts far outnumbered the merchants and were pressing for participation in the town's government. The tension was resolved in 1605, which led to the establishment of the Merchants House of Glasgow. 

Online Resources for Archives

There is a wealth of information online for local and family historians and on these pages we will link to those that specialise particularly on the history of Glasgow.

Glasgow Family History
A dedicated one stop shop for all your ancestry research. Glasgow Family History will help you discover lots of information to trace your family history as well as teaching your research skills and techniques to make the process as simple as possible.

The Virtual Mitchell
The photographs that make up The Virtual Mitchell feature Glasgow's buildings and streets as well as people going about their daily lives.

Most of the photographs are from Mitchell library collections but there are also images from Glasgow Museums and some have been kindly lent by private owners.

The Blitz On Clydeside
Memories, documents and photographs of the people and places of Clydeside during the Second World War.

The Glasgow Story
As told by some of Scotland's best writers, and illustrated with thousands of images from the collections of the city's world-famous libraries, museums and universities. From football to fashions, Auchenshuggle to Yoker, you'll find it all here.

Downloadable Databases

Boer War Burgesses
This PDF database details the admission of volunteers for the South African War 1900-1904, as Burgesses and Guild Brethren of Glasgow.

Chimney Sweeps
Chimney Sweeps Licenses for the Burgh of Glasgow 1852-1862 are indexed in this PDF database.

Index to Militia Registers for Glasgow 1810-1831
The Militia Act of 1809 provided for aliment to militia-men who had children below the age of ten. The men themselves, their wives and children, and the principals for whom they were acting as substitutes (if any) are all indexed here.


The Archives hold tens of thousands of photographs from the early days of photography to present day digital images including:

  • Main photographic collection - a cumulative collection of over 10,000 photographs, which do not form any part of another archival group
  • Photographic survey of Glasgow schools, c.1916 and c.1960
  • Clyde Navigation Trust photographs: including groups and individual portraits, construction of works, buildings and sheds, cranes and equipment, ships and views of the Clyde (including aerial views)
  • Department of Architecture and Civic Design
    Assessors Department
  • Department of Planning
  • Ralston Collection - a firm of marine photographers who were commissioned by the Clyde-based shipbuilding firms
  • Upper Clyde Shipbuilders and predecessors - photographs of over 600 ships built on the Clyde, many during construction
  • Parker Smiths of Jordanhill - includes a series of photographs, travel albums, family albums, glass negs, portraiture, cartes des visites, daguerro and ambro types dating from c1850-1920
  • Negatives of the firm ‘Vista of Glasgow’, 1954-1981

Many of our photographs are available on Virtual Mitchell as well as The Glasgow Story.


Strathclyde Police Archives

The Archives holds the records of police within Strathclyde. These include the records of Glasgow Police, established in 1800 and almost certainly the oldest police force in the world, and for the current Strathclyde Police.

As well as administrative records, the collection includes personnel records of policemen in the west of Scotland from the 1820s to 1985, including:

  • Glasgow - Records of Glasgow Police (1825-1975), and for the police forces of the annexed burghs of Govan (c.1872-1912); Kinning Park (1866-1905); Partick (1863-1912)
  • Dunbartonshire - Records of the County Police (1869-1974)
  • Lanarkshire - Records of the County Police (1945-1972); Airdrie (1889-1956); Hamilton (1887-1958)
  • Renfrewshire - Records of the County Police, later Renfrew and Bute (1858-c1974); Johnstone (1876-1930); Paisley (1883-1947); Port Glasgow (1871-1891); and Renfrew (1926-1930)

The registers vary in amount of biographical detail but may include name, age, place of birth, marital status and whether the officer had children, height, addresses and career progression (or lack of).

The records include personal details about the policemen and may record notes on disciplinary action. The records are closed for 75 years under the Data Protection Act. If you wish to request access to later records, please contact us for advice.

Poor Law Archives

The City’s Archives most important source for the family historian are the records of the poor law authorities which contain over one million applications for poor relief.

Our Poor Law leaflet provides further information on the records we hold.

To comply with Data Protection legislation, records relating to adults are normally closed for 75 years and for 100 years in respect of children.

Poor law authorities were responsible for children separated from their parents and the records can contain information about children who were fostered or adopted.

There are restrictions on access to these records if less than 100 years old. If your enquiry concerns records of this nature, please contact Glasgow City Council’s Families for Children department for assistance:


Related Documents

Poor Law Leaflet

Royal Burgh of Rutherglen

Archives hold the records of the Royal Burgh of Rutherglen which was founded by David I in the first half of the 12th century and which existed until local government reorganisation in 1975.

The records include:

  • Council Minutes - the main record of the burgh from 1619 until 1975
  • Burgh Charters - from 1542 to 1617
  • Court Records - from the 17th to the 20th century
  • Building Records - registers and plans of buildings in the Burgh from c.1870 to 1975
  • Financial Records - various financial records from the 17th century including stent rolls, 1663-1742
  • Burgesses - records of the admissions of burgesses, 1620-1975
  • Electoral Registers - 1832 to1931
  • Valuation Rolls - 1864 to 1975

Incorporations - records of the Incorporations of Weavers, 1641 -1866, and of the Incorporations of Masons and Wrights, 1636-1758


Strathclyde School Archives

Our collection of school records is unrivalled in Scotland. We have an excellent set of school records for Glasgow and less complete sets for the former Strathclyde areas of Bute, Dunbartonshire, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire. Please contact us to check we have the records for the schools in which you are interested.

We hold records of schools under the jurisdiction of local authorities, but only have a few records for fee-paying schools - if you are interested in these records, please contact us for advice.

School records mainly consist of:

  • Admission Registers - these contain pupil information and can include name, date of birth, address, date of admission and date of leaving.
  • Log Books - these are Head Teacher journals and can include staff and pupil absence figures, fire drills and visitors to the school.

Closed Records
You are welcome to view your own records but otherwise, admission registers are closed for 30 years. Some registers contain sensitive information about pupils, for example the results of IQ tests. These registers are closed for 75 years. Log Books may also contain sensitive information and therefore these are closed for 50 years.

Examination Results And Photographs
Examination results can be obtained from the Scottish Qualifications Authority.

Some of our school photos can be found on displays at Scotland Street Museum​​.

Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society

The Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society was formed in 1868 for the purpose of purchasing or manufacturing goods for supply to numerous local co-operative retail societies. A factory complex was established at Shieldhall, Glasgow, which produced a wide range of foods, furniture, clothing and metalware.

Where possible, the Society tried to control its own supply of raw materials which involved the acquisition of grain mills and timber suppliers in Canada and a tea plantation in Ceylon. The Society extended into service industries including hotels, transport and banking and the funeral undertaking department was particularly successful. The Society also moved into retailing and either opened local branches or took over small local societies.

The archives of the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society include:

  • Records of local retail and other societies throughout Scotland, 1826-1980
  • Various periodicals, 1864-1978
  • Printed histories of local co-operatives in Scotland and England
  • Printed rule books of local societies and other bodies, 1906-1974
  • Papers relating to trade marks, certificates and patents, 1917-1976
  • Minutes and other records of the Scottish Co-operative Women’s Guild, 1892-1984
  • Records of the Scottish Co-operative Party
  • Miscellaneous reports, correspondence and papers, many of them concerning staffing, wages and salaries, 1892-c.1975

Shipbuilding Archives

Shipbuilding archives can include plans, photographs, technical data, company minutes and cost books. Personnel records are less likely to have survived, which means tracing ancestors using these records can be difficult.

Our records are arranged according to shipbuilding company. The main collections we hold are:

• Ardrossan Dockyard Ltd

• Barclay, Curle & Co Ltd

• George Brown & Co (Marine) Ltd

• Charles Connell & Co Ltd

• Fairfield Shipbuilding & Engineering Co Ltd

• A&J Inglis Ltd

• John G Kincaid & Co Ltd

• Hugh McLean & Sons Ltd

• Langmuir Collection, Clyde Paddlesteamers

If you are interested in locating plans and photographs of a particular ship, but do not know who built it, we hold a Clyde-built Ship Index.

Ralston were a firm of marine photographers commissioned by the Clyde-based shipbuilding firms. In many cases, the photographs they took were never returned to the customers and therefore this collection contains a vast array of photographs. If you are interested in a particular Clyde-built ship, it may be worth checking the Ralston collection for photographs, even if the firm's records are deposited elsewhere.

Glasgow University Archives also hold substantial shipbuilding records.

For further information on shipbuilding records, see L A Ritchie's "The Shipbuilding Industry: A Guide to Historical Records" (Manchester University Press, 1992).

Strathclyde Regional Council

Strathclyde Regional Council was one of nine regional councils created by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973 and came into operation in May 1975. This council covered the whole of the former counties of Ayrshire, Bute, Dunbartonshire, Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire, almost all of Argyllshire, part of Stirlingshire and the whole of Glasgow City. Strathclyde Regional Council inherited the powers and duties of the former county councils and Glasgow Corporation, including responsibility for schools and police. Regional Councils were abolished in 1996.

The main functions of the Regional Council were:

  • Education
  • Social Work
  • Voters and Valuation Rolls
  • PoliceFire
  • Water
  • Sewerage
  • Transport
  • Consumer and Trading Standards

Many of the papers of Strathclyde Regional Council are held in our records management system and are not available for direct public access. Please contact us if you wish to find out more information about using the records of Strathclyde Regional Council.

In this guide