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Archives & Local History

Taken at Belhaven Brewery c1910

At the John Gray Centre, the  East Lothian Council Archives service and the Local History Centre join up.

The Archives aim to inform, delight and engage. It is our responsibility to collect, care for and make accessible the historical records of the county. As a result we hold a large collection of original source material going back almost 700 years. The collection includes manuscripts, minute books and images relating to many aspects of East Lothian’s history. We are also the repository for records of East Lothian Council and its predecessors. Looking to the future as well as the past, we are always looking to expand our collections and welcome digital as well as physical deposits.

The Local History Centre, previously based in Newton Port, continues at the John Gray Centre with a lovely large reading and study area, free wifi and computers as well as our team always on hand to help. We can assist with genealogy and local history enquiries from our collection of Old Parish Registers, Censuses, Monumental Inscriptions, Valuation Rolls, Sasines and newspapers. The extensive photograph and map collections can be accessed through new catalogues and will soon be searchable online, simply by using the search bar above, though we are only able to scan and digitise the images themselves slowly. If you’d like to volunteer to help with such project, do get in touch!

Archives and Local History will be an excellent starting point for all your needs relating to the history and culture of East Lothian and provides many exciting opportunities for research. If you want to find out about your community, your house, your family or a particular organisation in East Lothian, the Archives and Local History service is the place to come. We can also do some research for you, and post or email our findings, though there is a small fee for this to cover our costs. Please contact us if you’d like our help.

Above you can see an example of one of the items from our extensive image collection.  This is just a small example of the window back into the past that can be provided by well looked after materials. Some images are puzzles – we simply don’t know enough about them. Can you help?

Our professional staff are happy to advise and assist people with their research and as history does not stop we are also interested in continuing to add to our collections. Browse our list of research guides in the sidebar to the left of this page to help you get started.

Please get in touch if you have any questions or have any items which you think may be of interest to us.

Contact details:

15 Lodge St, Haddington, EH41 3DX

Tel: 01620 820695

Or join us on Facebook or Twitter (@JohnGrayCentre).


6 Responses to Archives & Local History

  1. Chris carroll says:

    Thank you.
    I travelled from Aberdeen to visit the John Gray centre, only to find that the centre is closed on Wednesdays. The staff who were in the centre were brilliant – understanding that I had travelled for 3 hours and they accommodated me on what was already going to be a busy day for them ( with school trips expected that day ) .
    The centre is a fantastic source of information and I have scratched the surface of the archives held.

    I will certainly be returning to continue my research ( will make sure not to plan for Wednesdays next time )

    Thanks again to the lady and gent (Alex) for your time and understanding.

  2. HelenB says:

    Thanks Chris – I’m so glad it turned out to be useful and we were able to help. Welcome back any time! (Except Wednesdays! ;-) )

  3. valerie coyle says:

    How do I go about joining Dunbar and District History Society
    Many Thanks
    Valerie Coyle

  4. valerie coyle says:

    Can you tell me where Donaldsons land is in Cockenzie?
    Valerie Coyle

  5. David says:

    Hello Valerie

    This might be a tricky one. Many ‘places names’ in local use never made it onto maps or street plans. ‘Donaldsons land’ sounds like it may be an individual property within Cockenzie from a period before formal street naming and, importantly, numbering. If you can provide a context and date for the use of the name, we could suggest lines of inquiry. In their absence a check of our indexes has drawn a blank.

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