South Ayrshire Libraries
Local and family history library
South Ayrshire History Blog
If you enjoy tracing your ancestry or are fascinated by the past, then you might
like to explore our
The Scottish and Local History Library is located on the first floor of the Carnegie Library in Ayr. The department
houses a unique collection of books, pamphlets, directories, maps, plans, local
newspapers and photographs. Disabled access is at the rear of building and there
is a lift to the first floor.
Members of the public who wish to conduct their own research are welcome to visit
the library and use the resources. The most frequently used items are available
on open access, for readers to browse through and select for themselves, but some
of the stock is stored ‘behind the scenes’ and is obtainable on request. Staff will
help identify appropriate sources and give guidance on using the collection. The
material is available for reference use only. We welcome visitors and staff are
happy to assist customers with their enquiries.
If you have a local or family history enquiry please contact email@example.com or tel: 01292 272231.
Contact the registration offices if you require a copy of a birth certificate.
Records held in the department
Pop into the department and the staff will be happy to give you guidance on how
to start your research. We are happy to help anytime but if you wish to book a Starter
Session please contact the department and we will give you a timeslot and information
on what you need to bring along to help with your research.
If you need to search online we can also offer free access to:
Left to right: J McKinnon, W Hastie, E Spence, Danny Wylie & Co Ayr Chemical
Works, Newton on Ayr
Old parish records
Microfilm copies of the Parish Registers for all towns and villages in Ayrshire
There is an index to births and marriages on fiche.
Microfilm copies for Ayrshire 1841 -1901 are available for consultation. There are
indexes to 1841(Freecen), 1851, 1861, 1881(whole of Great Britain) on computer and
the 1891 is on fiche. The International Genealogical Index (IGI) is available on
'Old Nell' stamped sacks
at Ayr Chemical Works
Voters rolls (electoral registers)
Ayr Burgh 1892-1974
Kyle & Carrick District Council 1975-1996
South Ayrshire Council from 1997
Ayr Burgh from 1906-1974
Kyle & Carrick District Council 1975-1996
South Ayrshire Council from 1997
County of Ayrshire 1899-1942 (excluding Ayr Irvine and Kilmarnock Burghs)
Confirmation of wills
These volumes cover the whole of Scotland and are the most complete out with Edinburgh.
Directories for some Ayrshire towns are available but the collection particularly
relates to Ayr.
McCarter’s Directory for Ayr, Newton & Wallacetown 1830
Pigot 1837 (Ayr section)
Ayrshire Directory 1851-52
Ayr Newton & Wallacetown Directory 1845-46 1849-50 1851-52
1858-59 1861-62 1864-65 1867-68 1870-71 1873-74 1876-77 1878-79 1880-81 1882-83
1884-85 1886-87 1888-89 1890-91 1892-93 1894-95 1896-97 1898-99 1900-01 1902-03
1904-05 1906-07 1907-08 1908-09 1909-10 1910-11 1911-12 1912-13 1913-14 1914-15
1915-16 1918-19 1920-21 1922-23 1924-25 1926-27 1928-29
Ayr & District Directory 1930-31 1934-35 1936-37 1938-39 1940-41
1949 1952-53 1955-56 1968
Carrick Directory 1883
Kilmarnock Directory 1868 1879 1813-15
Kilmarnock & District Directory 1923-25 1928-29 1930-31 1933-36
Commercial Directory of Scotland Ireland & four most North Counties of England
Directory to Gentlemen’s Seats etc in Scotland 1843
Directory to Noblemen and Gentlemen’s Seats etc in Scotland 1857
National Commercial Directory of the whole of Scotland & the Isle of Man
Pigot & Co 1837
Royal National Commercial Directory and Topography of Scotland Slater
Edinburgh Almanack 1815 Oliver & Boyd’s Edinburgh Almanack & National
County Directory of Scotland 1912
The library holds microfilm copies of the local Ayr newspapers
Ayr Advertiser from 1803
Ayr Observer from 1832-1899
Ayrshire Post from 1880
The department also holds papers for other towns in South Ayrshire (various dates);
Argus & Express
Troon & Prestwick Times
It is advisable to check with the department the availability of papers/microfilm
readers in advance.
The department holds Monumental Inscriptions for a large number of graveyards in
The department has the following indexes to the Register of Sasines for Ayrshire.
The department houses a unique collection of books by and about Robert Burns and
An extensive collection of maps covering Ayrshire is held in the library
Over the years the department has amassed a collection of photographs, images and
postcards which give a valuable insight into the Ayrshire towns and villages in
the past and present.
Computer & internet access
The department currently has two PCs available for Local and Family History research.
Internet access is available and our Web site includes many useful links to sites
of interest to the family and local historian. If you are not a library member please
bring along proof of identity if you require internet access.
Scotlandspeople vouchers are available to buy in the library.
Starter vouchers £7.00 for 60 credits
Top ups £5.60 for 30 credits
These vouchers can be used in the library and at home. This enables users to access
records for the whole of Scotland online.
The library has taken out a subscription to Find my Past which enables users to have free access
to English and Welsh records and the Scottish Census using the PCs in the department.
Copies of material may be obtained in the form of photocopies subject to copyright
restrictions and the condition of the material.
Although it is not necessary it is advisable to book a microfilm reader or computer.
Bookings can be made by phone or email. Computers can be booked for two hour sessions,
longer if they are still free after the two hour session. There is no limit to the
time booked for microfilm readers.
First steps in tracing your family tree
There are a number of basic steps to take when embarking on your search:
Talk to older members of your family and try to gather as much information and as
many certificates as you can which will help to start you off. Registration was
compulsory in Scotland from 1855 onwards. The information given in birth, marriage
and death certificates can be a great stepping stone to earlier records. Family
bibles, if available, are also a great source of information. Fill in a pedigree
chart with as much information as you can gather up. The chart is an easy and simple
way to help you to work out your next step. It is advisable to decide on one branch
of the family to start with following it through as far as you can.
The census returns are available from 1841 to 1901 and can be used in conjunction
with certificates to provide further information on the household. The 1841 census
gives the least information but from 1851 onwards the information given includes
address, name, relationship to head of family, age, marital status, sex, occupation
and place of birth which includes county. This information will allow you to trace
back to other certificates or further back (if prior to 1855) to the Old Parish
Old parish records
If the person you are looking for was born before 1855 then the place to check for
a birth, baptism, proclamation, marriage or death (though sometimes very few deaths
are listed) is the Old Parish Records. It must be remembered when using these records
that they are for Church of Scotland only, that registration at this time was not
compulsory and that there may also be gaps in the entries. The information given
for a birth entry usually gives the child’s name, names of parents, date of birth/baptism
and occasionally the father’s occupation. It also states whether the child is born
in wedlock ‘lawful’ or out of wedlock ‘natural’. This information can be helpful
as there may be an entry in the Kirk Session Records of any extramarital activity
which in turn will give more information about the circumstances of the child and
Whether you are thinking of looking at the Census, Old Parish Records or any other
source it is worth asking if there is an index. More and more records are being
indexed and they certainly help save time.
Transcripts of headstones can be a good starting point for finding out where family
members are buried as well as dates etc. Over the years a large number of graveyards
have been indexed by many of the local Family History Societies. They also have
a plan of the graveyard making it easier to pinpoint the location of the grave.
Directories and valuation rolls
Directories and valuation rolls are very helpful for tracing where a family was
living at a given time. The valuation rolls not only give the owner of the property
but the tenant and sub tenant. Directories list business as well as lists of alphabetical
names and addresses.
Local newspapers give birth, death and marriage announcements as well as obituaries.
The papers are also worth checking if a relative was in an accident or incident
that was newsworthy at the time. This is often a good place to check when a death
certificate gives an individual’s cause of death as an accident.
There are a great many other sources for family historians but these first steps
will help you start your search. It is more than likely that once you have found
your ancestors you will want to know more about their everyday life. Other sources
in the library will help pad out your family’s social history. Maps can help to
locate exactly where they were living and photographic collections are useful too.
Why not make a start to your family tree by filling in a pedigree chart before you come in
to see us.