Archive Collections

The staff at Shetland Archives collect and care for public, personal and business records relating to Shetland, and facilitate access to the these for members of the public. Archive records can be parchment, paper, tape, film, digital files, photographs and much more.

The Archives are not a complete record of Shetland’s history, but new collections of papers, sound recordings and books are being received all the time.

Anyone is welcome to use the Archives Searchroom during opening times. No appointment is necessary and no charge is made for accessing materials held. A small fee will be charged for providing copies of documents.

Records are held on a range of subjects and from a range of sources. The individual pages in this section will give more details on each type of record held.

Inside Archive Collections

Church Records

Churches of many denominations have been important in Shetland for centuries. The Archives has a large collection of Church of Scotland records, incorporating minutes of presbyteries, synods and kirk sessions, from 1675 until the 20th century.

Read more

Crown Records

The Shetland Archives is the agent of the Keeper of the Records of Scotland for looking after some classes of crown records. They include Fishery Office records, from 1809-1971; Procurator Fiscal records, from 1850-1930; Customs and Excise records, from 1780-1909; and Sheriff Court records, from 1490 to the 20th century.

Read more

Local Government

The Shetland Archives holds records of Shetland’s local authorities from the 18th century onwards: Lerwick Town Council (1818-), Zetland County Council (1890-) and its predecessors, and Shetland Islands Council (1974-).

Read more

People, Estates, Businesses and Societies

The Archives has collections of papers produced by individual Shetlanders, from many periods. Especially impressive are records by local authors: poets such as J.J. Haldane Burgess, Peter A. Jamieson and T. A. Robertson (‘Vagaland’).

Read more


The Archives has a large microfilm collection, with copies of material outside Shetland. Microfilm is a very stable and long-lasting way of preserving large amounts of information. For example, newspapers are bulky and often too frail to be viewed in their print versions. Microfilm is a good way to view such items.

Read more

Audio Collection

The Archives has a large collection of audio material with spoken word and music. Since the 1980s Archives staff have been recording Shetlanders, and people connected with Shetland, about their life stories and careers.

Read more

Book Collection

The Shetland Archives holds what is perhaps the largest collection of Shetland-related books anywhere in the world. The collection includes some of the very earliest and rarest books to mention Shetland, a wide selection of volumes about Scotland and the Scandinavian countries, and a growing number of works from the cutting edge of research about the isles. For anybody studying Shetland, the Archives book collection is a fabulous resource.

Read more

Archives Catalogue

Our online catalogue contains over 120,000 descriptions of records and books from the Shetland Archives Collection. A number of items, paper and audio, have been digitised, and around 700 are available online. Users can now search and download high quality images and audio recordings from anywhere in the world.

Read more