Dundee History – Online Research Resources

We are all stuck indoors at the moment, and with no access to archives and libraries we’ve had to make the most of the research we can find online. Thankfully, these days there is an abundance of records that have been digitised and are easy to search and read while cosy at home too.

Whether you’re researching your family history, where you live, or just curious about Dundee’s history you’ll find a wealth of information in these free to access websites. We have compiled a list of some of our favourite online research sources below.

Canmore – canmore.org.uk

This site from Historic Environment Scotland has details on over 320,000 archaeological sites, buildings (past and present), industry and maritime heritage from across Scotland. You can search for any keyword, but the map search is our favourite feature.

You can see from the map search in Dundee they have over 2,000 records just in the city, with everything from sites of ancient churches, listed buildings and shipwrecks.

National Library of Scotland – nls.uk

There is so much to see on this site, we recommend you visit the homepage and take it from there as there’s too much to cover here.

But some of our favourite bits of this site are the video archive, they have over a hundred videos of Dundee, with the oldest being a video of a train going over the newly opened 2nd Tay Rail Bridge in 1897!

The maps function on here will have you spending hours comparing old vs new street maps or overlay them so you can see exactly where old maps compare to the new streets and buildings.

The Internet Archive – archive.org

As well as being able to see archives of old versions of websites, the internet archive also has recent, and historical, books, video, audio and images. There are some fantastic digitised old books and Dundee directories there, but here’s a selection of some of the interesting books you can find.

The First History of Dundee

Haunted Dundee

Dundee Market Crosses and Tollbooths

Burgh Laws of Dundee

Friends of Dundee City Archive – fdca.org.uk

The amount of records that have been digitised and placed online by this group is amazing, and you’ll find a whole host of information and stories about Dundee here.


Abertay Historical Society – abertay.org.uk

The society has produced a range of books and booklets, both available to buy from their online shop but they also have several free to download. We highly recommend reading ‘One Artful and Ambitious Individual: Alexander Riddoch’ but there are so many fascinating topics covered in their books, from Mary Shelly in Dundee to life in the mills.

The Nine Trades of Dundee – ninetradesofdundee.co.uk

The nine trades of Dundee have a swish new website where you can still find out about the trades and their history, including this gem about the rivalry between the bakers and fleshers:

Before the Reformation, in the Old St. Mary’s Church, each Trade had its own Altar and Stall. Above the Baker’s Stall was carved the words “bread is the staff of life”. Undaunted the Flesher Trade had the immortal words “man shall not live by bread alone” carved above theirs.

The previous archived website of the 9 trades has a treasure trove of historical documents and research about the trades and Dundee.


Library local history department – leisureandculturedundee.com/library/localhistory

While most of the library collection is only available to view in the library, there are several collections and digitised records online including photos and the excellent Lamb’s collection

And that’s all we’re going to recommend for now, there is so much available online from Wikipedia and YouTube to local blogs and podcasts. We’ll recommend some other books and blogs in future posts, but if you’ve got any recommendations for local history hunters out there leave them in the comments below.

– DD Tours operates walking tours in Dundee city, covering dark local history such as wars, battles, murders, diseases, riots, disasters and executions. Walk with us for an unforgettable storytelling experience.


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