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Monday, 8 November 2010

X marks the spot

X-ray Charles Glover Barkla
Today marks the 115th anniversary of the discovery of X-rays, and there is a Scottish connection to this crucial innovation. Charles Glover Barkla (left), born in Lancashire in 1877, discovered the polarisation of X-rays and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1917.

He was appointed a professor of natural philosophy at Edinburgh University, settling in the Braidwood area of the capital. He held this position until his death in 1944, at the age of 67 (Morningside 685/7, 903).

Charles was married to Mary Esther. They had two sons and one daughter. Their youngest son, Michael, was born in Edinburgh in 1915. A brilliant scholar, he served as a Flight Lieutenant but was killed in action in North Africa in 1943 (155/AF Service Returns).

Barkla's chief recreation was singing - he had a powerful baritone voice and he was a member of the King's College Chapel Choir, 1901-1902. Latterly, he was often to be found enjoying Edinburgh's golf courses.

As well as a plaque in the Canongate near the Faculty of Education Buildings, Barkla has a lunar crater named after him.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Aberdeenshire philosophy

James Beattie
Happy birthday to Professor James Beattie, born on 25 October 1735 and recorded in our records (Laurencekirk 263/00 FR 159). A farmer and shopkeeper's son, he attended Aberdeen University before being appointed Professor of moral philosophy.

His two most notable publications were his Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth (1770), intended as an answer to David Hume, and The Minstrel (1771), which earned praise from Samuel Johnson. Beattie was a prominent opponent of slavery.

Information on historic Scottish figures, famous to less 'well-kent', is available by referring to our Famous Scots Archive.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

ScotlandsPeople welcomes Scotland's people

General Register House On Saturday 25 September 2010 we threw our doors open to anyone interested in learning about researching their family tree. General Register House welcomed a total of 2,588 visitors, and New Register House 957 - a grand total of 3,545.

Visitors were able to enjoy guided tours of General Register House, learning about the records we store inside Robert Adam's wonderful Georgian building. There were 9 tours in total. There were also talks about the Centre and Scottish family history in the New Register House seminar facility (6 presentations altogether). There were also mini-taster sessions in the Reid room at GRH. (8 sessions).

All of the events were fully booked with standing room only for some of the talks. Visitors were able to order extracts from the Public Counter in New Register House and our shop and café facilities also did a roaring trade.
Roll on Doors Open Day 2011!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Scotland's blooming history

Jim McColl and George MacKenzieIf you plan on taking advantage of our Open Day on Saturday 25 September, feel free to have a stroll around the Archivists’ Garden between General Register House and New Register House.

This was opened in June by Jim McColl (left, with the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, George MacKenzie of NAS) and featured on BBC's
Beechgrove Garden).

The garden is planted with 57 separate species, each with a unique connection to some aspect of Scottish family history – Birth, Marriage, Death, Heraldry, Homecoming, Tartan, or Famous Scots. View some slides of the opening here.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Your invitation to the Centre, Saturday 25 September

Statue of King George III, Adam Dome, General Register House Saturday 25 September is Edinburgh’s annual ‘Doors Open Day’. Around 78 properties will be open to visitors – ranging from the Royal Observatory to the King’s Theatre. Those with stronger stomachs can explore the caves below the South Bridge or study ‘things in jars’ at Surgeon’s Hall!

The Centre is pleased to be participating in this venture again. Between 10:00 and 16:30 you are invited to enter the architectural splendour of Robert Adam’s neo-classical building, General Register House.

There will be guided tours, talks, and a chance to delve into your own family history. (All our archives have been digitised, enabling you to fly back through the centuries at the touch of a mouse). You’ll even get to meet King George III (pictured) who resides in one of the alcoves in the Adam Dome.

To view our program of events click

To view the full brochure click

Friday, 17 September 2010

Edinburgh Rock

We've added some video footage taken at last year's Famous Scots Exhibition (when we traced the family histories of six of this small nation's large pool of talented individuals, from Nobel Prize-winning scientists to Formula One champions).

We featured Edinburgh-born rock singer Shirley Manson, who has enjoyed worldwide success (her band Garbage's debut album sold 4 million copies). To view Shirley's details and a short film taken when she visited the Centre, visit this page.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The last Stuart King of Scotland

King James VIIToday marks the first official papal visit to the UK. It also marks the anniversary of the death of King James VII (James II of England and Ireland), Britain's last Catholic monarch. His passing on 16 September 1701 marked the end of the Stuart dynasty (although the Jacobites seeking to overthrow his Protestant successor, William III, remained a potent force, precipitating civil wars throughout the first half of the 18th century).

James VII was the great-grandson of Mary Queen of Scots. Amongst the millions of digitised historic records at the Centre, many relate to the individuals who have shaped Scotland's often turbulent history. Mary's second marriage certificate is one fine example from our archives - check it out at Famous Scots-Examples of records.