12 key Scottish plays 1970-2010

Introducing 12 of the major plays and major playwrights of Scotland. See images from theatre productions and related archive material

The 1715 Jacobite Rising

A guide to the 1715 Jacobite rising, which changed Scotland. Includes interactives and resources for teachers

A Better World?

Find out about the immediate impact of the First World War on life in Scotland

A guid cause

The history of the women's suffrage movement in Scotland, with photographs, newspaper reports, diary entries and other sources. Activities for secondary schools. Includes downloadable PDFs

A Scots buik on the plague

Scotland's first printed medical book (1568), written in Scots. Learn the history of the plague in Scotland. Downloadable learning activities

The Aberdeen Breviary

See the Latin church service book that was the reason printing was introduced to Scotland. Printed in Edinburgh in 1510

Advocates Library catalogues

Volumes spanning over 200 years detailing mostly printed items, with some manuscripts, held by the Advocates Library

Aiming high

A look at the achievements of seven pioneering women explorers and mountaineers from the 19th to 20th centuries

An Comunn Gàidhealach

Items from 1891 onwards published by An Comunn Gàidhealach, which organises the annual Royal National Mòd

Antiquarian Books of Scotland

Books published after 1640, with a broad range of subjects and languages represented

Asian directories and chronicles

Listings of corporations, foreign residents and government agencies of all nationalities in Asia, 1917 to 1941

The Auchinleck Manuscript

Middle English language and literature as Chaucer would have known it, contained in this rare document, with a full transcription

The Bartholomew Archive

Read about the remarkable record of mapmaking and printing by the world-famous Bartholomew firm in Edinburgh from 1820 to 2002

Bibliotheca Lindesiana catalogues

Catalogues printed between 1877 and 1913 recording the special collections of the family library of the Earls of Crawford and Balcarres

Biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen

Biographies of famous Scotsmen and some women, mostly of the 16th to the 19th centuries. Over 30 engraved portraits

The Blaeu Atlas

The first Atlas of Scotland, printed in 1654, containing 49 engraved maps, and 154 pages of descriptive text translated from Latin

Blighty and Sea Pie

Editions of two magazines published for Britain's fighting forces between 1917 and 1919, with pictures, stories, poems and humour

The books of Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Read all 16 books by Lewis Grassic Gibbon / James Leslie Mitchell published in his lifetime

Britain: An official handbook

A report for each year from 1979 to 1989 summarising Britain's government policies, initiatives and public services

British military lists

Details of officers who served in the British Army, Navy and Air Force in the First and Second World Wars

Broadsides from the Crawford Collection

Explore more than 2,000 broadsides printed between 1501 and 1897 covering a wide range of subjects

Ceòl nan Gàidheal

A dual Gaelic / English overview of historic sources, song, instruments and the Living Tradition of Gaelic music

Chalmers' 'Caledonia'

Five volumes about the counties of Scotland, published in 1887. Includes parish histories and a dictionary of places

Chapbooks printed in Scotland

Small cheap booklets sold on Scotland's streets were essential reading material for the masses in the 18th and 19th centuries

The Duncan Street Explorer

Photos, audio recordings, floor plans and more help tell the story of the famous Bartholomew mapmakers of Edinburgh

Early Gaelic book collections

Several hundred books in Gaelic and other Celtic languages, plus works about the Gaels, their languages, literature, culture and history

Early manuscripts

Medieval and early modern manuscripts from Scotland and beyond, including rare volumes and items with striking illuminations

Edinburgh characters by J Jenkins

Edinburgh celebrities and unknown characters in coloured caricatures produced by J Jenkins between 1799 and 1805

Encyclopaedia Britannica

Delve into the first 10 editions of 'Encyclopaedia Britannica', published from 1771 to 1903.

English ballads

Browse over 2,300 broadside ballads, mostly from 19th-century England, with subjects ranging from courtship, occupations and emigration to patriotism and wars

Experiences of the Great War

The First World War experiences of four very different people — the General, the Nurse, the Soldier, and the Conscientious Objector

First Scottish books

See online, page by page, 'The Chepman and Myllar Prints' — nine of the earliest books printed in Scotland, in or around 1508

First World War official photographs

Black-and-white photographs mainly of the Western Front during the First World War. From the papers of Field Marshal (Earl) Haig

From shore to shore

Celebrating Scotland's coastal communities with a small sample from the MacKinnon photographic collection from the late 1800s

Gaelic Bards of Keppoch

Songs written by Gaelic bards Iain Lom and Sìleas na Ceapaich. Available in Gaelic and English. Downloadable PDFs for teachers

Gaelic manuscripts of Scotland

Gaelic manuscripts from the 14th to 19th centuries, including songs, medicine, history and legends

Gazetteers of Scotland, 1803-1901

Browse and search 20 volumes of the most popular descriptive gazetteers of 19th-century Scotland, covering towns, counties, parishes, glens and more

Getting started with Shakespeare

Resources to help school pupils understand some of Shakespeare's works by exploring scenes and characters or writing sonnets

Golf in Scotland 1457-1744

Take a swing through golf's early history. Key documents, including the first 'rules' of the game, show how golf developed in Scotland

Gospel of St Matthew adapted for the blind

A 19th-century edition of a book of the Bible with the text embossed for blind people to feel

The Gutenberg Bible

Read our rare copy of the first book in Europe to be printed with moveable type. Johannes Gutenberg printed it in Germany around 1455

Histories of Scottish families

Clan histories, memoirs and histories of Scottish families, mostly published in the 19th and early 20th centuries

Hutton drawings

Documents and drawings of Scottish castles, landscapes, churches and other religious buildings, collected by George Henry Hutton


Learn about the sinking of HMY Iolaire on 1 January 1919 through Library items and contributions from the Isle of Lewis

Isabella Bird’s travel photographs

Adventurous Victorian travel writer Isabella Bird took photographs as she journeyed in the Far East, Persia and Morocco

Jacobite prints and broadsides

Portraits of people and illustrations of events relating to the Jacobite Rebellions in Scotland in 1715 and 1745 to 1746

James Scott bindings

A set of 42 volumes of 'The British Poets' series (1773) with bindings by James Scott of Edinburgh

James VI and the Union of the Crowns

A look at the union of the Scottish and English crowns in 1603, and the monarch who wanted to lead a peaceful, united Britain

John Francis Campbell of Islay

Journals, watercolours and sketches by Gaelic folklorist, artist, traveller, and scientist John Francis Campbell (1821 to 1885)

Ladies' Edinburgh Debating Society publications

Magazines representing a key moment in Scottish women's history. Published between 1865 and 1880, with general interest articles, fiction and poetry

The last letter of Mary Queen of Scots

Read, in English and French, the last letter by Scotland's 16th-century queen, written only hours before her execution in Fotheringhay Castle

League of Nations

Publications produced by the League of Nations (1919-1945), covering non-political functions, statistics and background information

Lifting the lid

Explore Scotland’s natural larder, from the 17th century to the 21st, using items from our collections. Downloadable PDFs for teachers

Lord Byron

Manuscripts relating to Lord Byron (1788 to 1824), including poems, journals and selected letters

The Lyon in Mourning

A contemporary account of the Jacobite rising of 1745 to 1746 using eye-witness interviews and letters

Macfarlane's genealogies

Volume one of Walter Macfarlane's collection of genealogies of ancient Scottish families, compiled around 1750

Map images

Further your family, local history or school project using this collection of thousands of zoomable maps of Scotland and beyond

Mapping history

An interactive guide to reading historical maps and using them to learn more about your area. Downloadable PDFs for teachers

Marjory Fleming

Read the diary, letters and poems of Marjory Fleming, adored in Victorian times, who died aged 8 in 1811

Medical history of British India

Search 426 volumes of rare official documents recording disease prevention and public health in India in the 19th and 20th centuries

Military maps of Scotland

Maps and plans made for government troops by the Board of Ordnance during the Jacobite period in the 18th century

Ministry of Food

A collection of recipes, books and leaflets from the First and Second World Wars, designed to help people adapt to wartime rationing.

The Moir Rare Book Collection

Learn about John William Moir's collection of rare books on all aspects of bees and beekeeping, including how bees 'sing'!

Morall fabillis of Esope the Phyrgia

'Aesop's Fables' put into Scots by 15th-century poet Robert Henryson, who lived in Dunfermline. This edition printed in 1571 in Edinburgh

Moving Image Archive

Watch films from Scotland's national moving images collection, which preserves over 100 years of Scottish history on film and video

Muriel Spark

Using material from her personal archive, we tell the story of the life and career of one of Scotland's greatest novelists, Dame Muriel Spark

The Murthly Hours

View each page of this book of prayer dated 1280 – one of the most richly illustrated manuscripts in Scotland during the Middle Ages

Oor Wullie: Guide to Scots language

Oor Wullie an his pals hiv fun weys fur bairns tae learn Scots, an ideas fur parents an teachers

OS Books of Reference

Volumes recording acreages of fields and land-use information for Scotland's parishes from 1855 to 1882

Out of Africa: The Kirk papers

An overview of the personal papers of Sir John Kirk, a British Consul in Africa who explored the Zambesi with David Livingstone

Paddy Leigh Fermor's 1933 travel diary

Read the journal written by Patrick ('Paddy') Leigh Fermor when he travelled on foot around Europe in 1933

Pencils of light

Delve into photographic history with 300 images taken in the 1840s by the Edinburgh Calotype Club - the world's first photography society

Phoebe Anna Traquair

Examine in detail Traquair's exquisite illuminated manuscript of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's 'Sonnets from the Portuguese'

The photographs of John Thomson

Find out about the Scottish photographer and traveller who helped pioneer photojournalism on London's Victorian streets

Photographs of the south side of Edinburgh

Black-and-white photos of tenements and shops around St Leonards, Edinburgh, taken in 1929 by Alfred Henry Rushbrook

Playbills of the Theatre Royal Edinburgh

Find out about this important theatre in the 19th century by searching through our selection of playbills

Propaganda — a weapon of war

A selection of images of British Government propaganda which was used at home and in Europe during the Second World War

Publications by Scottish clubs

Historical texts from the 12th-19th centuries, edited by Scottish clubs, including manuscripts, church records, diaries, legends and literary texts

Rare items in Gaelic

Books, pamphlets and chapbooks printed in Gaelic between 1631 and 1900. Includes songs, poetry and religious books

Recipes from Scotland

Discover how the Scottish diet has changed over the centuries, read manuscript recipe books, and watch Sue Lawrence bake a cake

Rise of literacy

Books and pamphlets on education and the founding of libraries, printed between 1460 and 1900

Robert Burns

The life, work and legacy of Scotland's Bard, together with fascinating detail about original material in the Library's collections, and short song clips

Robert Louis Stevenson

A biography of story-teller and poet Robert Louis Stevenson, along with digitised early editions of 'Kidnapped' and other works

Rolls of honour

Scottish listings of casualties and those who died while on active service during the First World War

Scotia depicta

Castles, abbeys, battle grounds, harbours and landscapes in Scotland are among the subjects in this 19th-century book of engravings and descriptions

Scotland's News

A small sample of newspapers from across Scotland, printed during the 18th to 20th centuries

Scotland's pages

Move along the timeline of key events in Scottish history, and discover along the way some of the 'treasures' held by the Library

Scots abroad

Read and hear six stories of Scots who emigrated to start a new life between the 1770s and the 1930s

Scottish bridges

Photographs showing the building of the Forth Bridge, taken from 1886 to 1887, and the Tay Bridge after its collapse in 1879

Scottish decorative bookbinding

Distinctive examples of bookbinding created in Scotland, from our pre-eminent collection of decorative bindings, which spans 500 years

The Scottish Enlightenment

Explore the spirit of enquiry, debate, and improvement which characterised the Scottish Enlightenment during the 18th century

Scottish history in print

Two major Jacobite sources are online as keyword searchable files, together with details of thousands of works published by historical clubs

Scottish History Society publications

Original source material illustrating Scotland’s history from the 12th to 20th centuries, published by the Scottish History Society, with authoritative commentaries

Scottish Post Office directories

Find where people lived and traded in Scotland between 1774 and 1911 by searching and browsing over 700 Post Office directories

Scottish school exams

Scottish school exam papers from 1888 to 1963, education development information, and original creative 're-sits' of old exam questions

Scottish Science Hall of Fame

A tribute to 10 great Scottish scientists of the past. Read transcripts of letters, papers and published works about or by them

Shakespeare quartos

There are 17 of William Shakespeare's plays in these 31 books, printed in quarto format between 1600 and 1639

Sir Walter Scott

Manuscripts of novels by Sir Walter Scott (1771 to 1832), including "Waverley" and "Rob Roy", along with letters and poems

Slezer's Scotland

Dozens of zoomable engravings show us Scottish towns, castles and palaces from the 17th-century, as seen by military surveyor John Slezer

Soviet posters

Around 70 posters issued in the Soviet Union between 1919 and 1930, relating to the Russian Civil War and economic and social issues

Special collections of printed music

Volumes from two archives featuring 18th and 19th century Scottish printed music, and from one archive of the works of Verdi

Sporting photos

Who are the people in these photos of sporting events in Scotland around the late 19th century? Can you help us find out?

Sports publications

Match programmes, club histories, handbooks, reports and other sports publications from the late 19th and early 20th centuries

The spread of Scottish printing

Trace the spread of printing across Scotland from 1508 to 1900. Read an early item produced in 73 of the first printing towns

Street literature about Napoleon's Wars

Chapbooks about events from the 1790s to the Battle of Waterloo, mostly ballads about military conflicts with Napoleon Bonaparte

Struggles for liberty

Stories of the lifelong struggle for social justice by 19th-century African American freedom-fighters

The Spiritualist

This London-based newspaper was a key title of the spiritualist movement in the 19th century

Theatre posters 1870-1900

A glimpse of the theatre in 19th-century Edinburgh — posters and photos of shows, pantomime characters, and actors and actresses of the day

Thomas Annan's Glasgow

Photographs of Glasgow taken by Thomas Annan in the 1860s, with related maps and downloadable learning activities

The travels of Henrietta Liston

Henrietta Liston's travel journals covering North America and the West Indies (1796 to 1801) and the Ottoman Empire (1812 to1820)

Wee Windaes

This site charts the continuum of the Scots language in printed form, from the 15th century to the present day

The word on the street

Discover early news stories and ballads that informed and entertained Scots between 1650 and 1910 as you browse around 1,800 broadsides

Works by selected Scottish authors

Out-of-copyright Scottish poetry, prose and children’s stories from the late 19th and early 20th centuries

The works of Robert Burns

A commonplace book and letters by Robert Burns (1759 to 1796), and the first printed edition of his poems

You are here

10 things you need to know about maps, how they are made and how we use them. Includes interactive quizzes and downloadable PDFs for teachers