National Archives of Scotland Print

The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) keeps records created by Scottish Government, as well as private records created by businesses, landed estates, families, courts, churches and other corporate bodies.

The National Archives of Scotland, have a duty, if requested, to provide data subjects with a permanent copy of any data held about them within 40 days. If the data they provide is shown to be inaccurate, they must take steps to rectify it immediately.

To make a data subject access request, please print out and fill in the subject access request form from the National Archives of Scotland website and send it to:

The Data Protection Officer
The National Archives of Scotland
West Register House
Charlotte Square

E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

Records not in the NAS
The NAS is not the only repository of historical records in Scotland. Important family history records (including birth, death and marriage registers, and census returns) are held in the General Register Office for Scotland. Many of Scotland's local authorities, universities, health boards, and other corporate bodies also keep historical records and maintain archive services.

Adoptions before 1930
Before 1930 adoptions were arranged on a private basis, either by individuals or by one of a number of charitable adoption agencies. NAS currently holds no records for adoptions before 1930.

Adoptions after 1930
The Adoption of Children (Scotland) Act, 1930 introduced legal adoption into Scotland from that year. Adoptions since then have normally been arranged by charitable bodies or by local authority social work departments and then ratified by the civil courts. The majority of adoptions are ratified through the local sheriff courts, although a tiny number (perhaps two or three each year) are settled through the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Birthlink maintain the adoption contact register for Scotland. Adopted people, birth parents and birth relatives can use this register to note their wish for contact or otherwise. Birthlink also keeps a register of the whereabouts of adoption records, particularly those arranged by local authorities and adoption societies.

21 Castle Street, Edinburgh EH2 3DN
Telephone: 0131-225-6441

Scottish Adoption provides counselling and as well as holding the records of adoptions arranged by themselves, holds those for Edinburgh and Lothian Social Work Department, The Church of Scotland, and The Scottish Episcopal Church.

Scottish Adoption
161 Constitution Street, Edinburgh EH6 7DF
Telephone: 0131 553 5060

Where are the legal records of adoptions kept?
The records of adoptions originating in the Court of Session are kept at that court for five years. The records of adoptions in sheriff courts are generally kept in the local courthouse for up to 25 years after the process closed. All of these records will eventually come to the Legal Search Room of the National Archives of Scotland (NAS). As a general rule, if an adoption took place less than 25 years ago, you should contact the court (or the NAS) to confirm where the records are, before making a visit.

All above information from the National Archives of Scotland Website

How to find fundamental information?
No information existed describing what regulatory framework was in existence between 1950 and 1995, which made the search for related policy, guidance and standards difficult.  No central government database records the names of children's residential establishments, their location, dates of operation, their purpose or their management structures.  No central database identifies what records are associated with children's residential services and where they are located.

Former residents have rights associated with records.  These include legal entitlement to view records relating to their childhood experiences in residential placements.  Poor records management in the past has meant that some former residents are unable to realise their legal entitlement to access records.

The review found that former residents had, and continued to have, difficulty in identifying, locating and accessing records.  For example:

  • There is no central location in Scotland where people can ask for information and guidance about records -about their experiences, their family history and about children's residential establishment in general -and how to search records.
  • Information may be held in several locations and in many types of records.  Some records are unidentified; others are unknown.
  • Former residents may be prevented from getting access to records without agreeing to support services such as counselling from organisations and local authorities concerned about the possible effects that reading file contents may have on them.
  • Some former residents can't afford to travel to the locations where records are kept; others don't have access to computers or the computer literacy skills needed to find information online.
  • Some former residents found it hard to read photocopied records and incomplete information, where pages were missing or information blocked.