Thursday 2 February 2012

Glasgow Genealogy Centre - update

I reported a few days ago that the Glasgow Genealogy Centre ( now has access to the ScotlandsPeople Centre's computer system, as opposed to the old DIGROS system. I'm just back from the Mitchell Library and have spent the day using it, so a quick report.

The first thing to note is that the records available on the system are the same as those available in Edinburgh - statutory BMD records from 1855, divorce records from 1984, civil partnership records from 2005, testaments, heraldic records, Church of Scotland OPRs from 1553-1854 and the censuses from 1841-1911. The centre's computer monitors are widescreen, so the display is slightly different to Edinburgh, with images stretched out a bit more horizontally, but all perfectly legible.

There are two key differences though. The ScotlandsPeople Centre computer system in Edinburgh allows access to the internet, in the way that Glasgow's does not. Edinburgh also has a more fully fledged version of the website carrying details of additional materials available at its centre - monumental inscriptions, books in the library, useful websites etc - which is absent in Glasgow. Much of this is available on the publicly available version of the website at - but as I said, you can't get internet access from the Glasgow terminals!

The Glasgow Genealogy Centre is based on the third floor of the Mitchell, but you can just about pick up WiFi access from the floor above (albeit not with the strongest of signals) - I was able to use my laptop to access some additional materials that came in handy during my research trawl. You do need to have a Mitchell Library readers card though to access the WiFi connection. Alternatively, there are a series of terminals adjacent to the Glasgow Genealogy Centre area (within the same room - it's partitioned in half, two different council departments offering genealogy resources, love it!), where you can access many family history websites.

Just to add, the system has only just been installed, and although I had absolutely no problems with my terminal, a couple of other people did, and it was interesting to watch a few people play musical chairs throughout the day each time a terminal failed in some way! I suspect these are only teething problems which should be hammered out soon.

Is there anything I don't like about the set up? Just one - if your screen goes idle for a few minutes, for example if you consult your laptop to check on something, you have to log back into the system, and if you previously had a record open, you have to go looking for it again. A minor grumble for something that caught me out a couple of times!

The ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh is absolutely brilliant, but if your roots are firmly in the west of Scotland, you will almost certainly be better off doing your research in Glasgow. Glasgow City Archives is just one floor down, and has many nonconformist registers, poor relief records, trade incorporation records, directories and much more relevant to the west of Scotland. The third floor also has many OPR and census microfilms for most key towns and cities in the country also, as well as English and Welsh fiche indexes to BMDs from 1837 etc.

Although not officially labelled as such, and essentially run by different parties, we now have two superb ScotlandsPeople centres in the country. Glasgow and Edinburgh are sorted, but Scotland is a mighty big country - hopefully other centres will gain access soon also, and truly make the ScotlandsPeople system available to all of Scotland's people...

PS: Just to add, as well as bringing you lots of lovely free news, with my other hat on I work as a family historian - details on my services are available at!


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