Sunday, 3 September 2017

Asylum records added to Scottish Indexes

A belated news item from Scottish Indexes (, the original press release having been sent to a now defunct email address...

40,000 ‘Lunatics’ - Scottish Genealogy Website Enables People to Discover the True Lives of their Ancestors

Glasgow, Scotland – Scottish genealogy website moves another step closer to their goal of indexing all historical Scottish mental health records from 1858 to 1915. This release means the index now has 40,000 entries from across Scotland and includes people from every walk of life.

These historic mental health records give the story behind the facts. A census record may tell you that your great-grandmother was in an asylum, but not why she was there and that’s what we really want to know. This project, lead by Scottish Indexes, is supported by a growing team of volunteers.

Emma Maxwell, genealogist at Scottish Indexes says, “Our mission is to help people not only research their Scottish family tree, but also understand the lives of their ancestors.”

The records being indexed by Scottish Indexes are held by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) in Edinburgh. Without an index they are hugely time-consuming to search and access to the records would usually mean a trip to Edinburgh. These records contain not just names, dates and places but personal information. For example the admission form of John Rae Thomson tells us that the supposed cause of his mental health problems was ‘Premature Birth’. The same record gives his mother’s account of how boys tormented this poor 26 year-old.

Viv from Scotland says, "Although I knew that some of my relatives were in mental health institutions, the indexes at Scottish Indexes and linked original records have allowed me to find out far more about their stories. I feel that I know so much more about these people, and the information is invaluable."

Ailsa from Australia says, “I have been using Scottish Indexes for quite some time now and found many references to my own family within them. They are great for me to use from Australia.”

(With thanks to Emma Maxwell)


My next 5 week Scottish Research Online course commences Sept 11th 2017 - details at For my genealogy guide books, visit, whilst details of my research service are at Further content is also published daily on The GENES Blog Facebook page at

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