What's an archive?

An archive can be two things. First, it’s a collection of documents (which can be in any format) that has been created by an individual, family or an organisation. These records provide evidence of the creator's activities and functions. The records or documents of the collection can also provide information that can be used for other purposes. For instance, records created by the Council's planning department include plans of buildings that were the subject of a planning application. A house owner, wishing to make alterations to his property may not be interested in how the planning application process worked, but would need to know if a plan of his house was passed, and what that worked involved. Somebody else may be interested in the plan because of its aesthetic quality or because their ancestor had lived in the building. Secondly, the repositories of archival collections have come to be known as Archives. These can be whole buildings, like the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, or part of a building like Perth & Kinross Council Archive, which is based in the AK Bell Library building.

What sort of records do you have?

We have a wide variety of records, including plans, maps, photographs, ledgers, volumes of minutes, registers, files, documents and letters, and we’re beginning to build up collections created in electronic format. As the archive repository for the Council, a large proportion of our records reflect the administration of Perthshire and Kinross-shire over eight hundred years. We also have community collections which include estate records, business and industrial records, records created by various organisations, associations, trade incorporations, trade unions and societies, and collections created by individuals and families.

Can I see the original documents over the internet?

We do not have or plan to implement a digitisation programme to make all our records available online. You can, however, view some images – and even comment on them – on our Flickr pages

What will I find in the online catalogue?

Searching this catalogue will allow you to find out what collections we have at the Archive, and what each collection contains, as well as information about the creators of the collections.

Depending on whether the record describes the whole collection or a part of it, entries in the catalogue contain all or some of the following fields:

Reference code:
This is a unique code, used to distinguish one collection from another, and to help specify items within each collection. You should take a note of the reference number of each record you wish to view when you visit the Archive.
The name of the collection.
The covering dates for material contained in the collection.
Level of description:
The level at which the collection has been described. Many of our descriptions provide an overview of the collection, called a fonds. Most of the records are described at file or item level, which offer information about specific groups of documents or individual items within a collection. You may sometimes see a record described at series or sub-series level – this level is a kind of sub-heading, describing a particular type of record, for example financial papers, below which sit individual items and groups of items. The arrangement of each collection is a bit like a family tree, with each level being related to each other across the generations.
This gives you an idea about how big the collection is; obviously a collection occupying 80m of shelving is going to contain a lot more records and information than one of 1 metre.
Gives you background information on the person or organisation responsible for the creation of the records.
At the collection level, this will summarise the main records within the collection and pick out particular items thought to be important. Otherwise, this field simply describes the document or group of documents.
Access status and Access conditions:
If there are restrictions on access to the collection we will tell you.
Other finding aids:
This tells you whether the collection’s catalogue is available in hard copy in the Archive, or has copies elsewhere, for example, the National Register of Archives for Scotland.
Related material:
Sometimes the records of a family, individual or business end up in more than one collection or in more than one archive, so we will supply cross references to them where practicable.
This field tells you the conditions under which you might be able to reproduce any of the items in the Archive’s collections.
Most records are in English but sometimes the records are in Latin, Scots or other languages.

What if I can’t find something?

Many records may simply no longer exist – they have not survived the years to end safely in the Archive. Some collections, although they may relate to Perthshire and Kinross-shire, are held at the National Records of Scotland, because of their national importance. Other collections were given to Perth Museum or to the Local Studies Library, simply because the Archive didn’t exist at the time they were donated. Or it may be that we simply haven’t yet been able to process a collection or add it to this catalogue. So if you can’t find what you’re looking for, email the Archive and we’ll try and help

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