A Guide to Family History Research 
in Falkirk Museums History Research Centre

This is a leaflet I picked up some time ago:

Lots of people like to find out about the history of their own family. There are a number of books that can help you get started. The main sources that you need to look at first are the registers of births, marriages and deaths and the census records. The originals of these can be found in Edinburgh at General Register House. We hold microfilm copies of the Old Parish Registers (pre-1855) for the local area, along with the 1841, 1851 and 1861 Census for the local area. A complete list of our OPR and Census holdings is available on request.

Once you have this basic information, you may find other useful information in the History Research Centre.


We have over 30,000 photographs relating to the local area. These include photographs of Falkirk people at work and at leisure. The names of known individuals in the photographs have been recorded in our computer database and can be searched. Many of the photographs are of work places or streets or houses in the area, and it is possible to search for specific addresses.

Valuation Rolls and Electoral Registers

We hold some valuation rolls as follows:

Grangemouth Burgh: 1886-89, 1892-1895, 1901-1923, 1949-59,1962-66

Falkirk Burgh: 1864, 1901-1913,1917-1974 (and prison valuation rolls, 1842-1857)

Bo'ness Burgh: 1918-1919, 1923-1924, 1970-1975

Denny & Dunipace Burgh: 1914-1915, 1959-1970

Denny Parish: 1847-1880

Falkirk District: 1974-1989

Stirling County: 1931-32, 1948-49

West Lothian County: 1970-1975

The valuation rolls record all the property in an area and the name of the owner and occupant along with the rateable value of the property. They can be used to trace how long a particular family lived at an address.   You will need to know the address you are looking for, or else be prepared to spend some time searching through an entire valuation roll for the names you want. The valuation rolls of domestic property ceased to exist in 1989 with the introduction of the Community Charge.

We also hold the electoral registers for Falkirk District, 1975 to date along with a few earlier electoral registers for Falkirk Burgh. These are arranged by the address and can be used to trace how long individuals were registered at an address.

School records

We hold the records of schools in the Falkirk district, and these can include admissions registers, school log books and other miscellaneous documents. Not every school has deposited its records and there are some gaps. Records that are less than 75 years old and contain personal information are confidential and are closed to the general public.

Cemetery registers

We hold burial registers for some local cemeteries from about 1880.

Local Newspapers

We hold issues of the Falkirk Herald, 1845-1920, on microfilm. We also have indexes to other local newspapers, but you should visit Falkirk Library or any other local library for a complete run of local newspapers on microfilm. Stirling Archives also holds other newspapers with local information.

Trades Index

We have compiled information on local businesses from information in the archives and the local newspapers and can search this for you.


Personal and Family Papers

A number of families and individuals have deposited various items of local interest in the History Research Centre. These can include items such as school certificates, ration books, driving licences and personal correspondence of the individuals or families. We also have a few larger collections of prominent families. These include the papers of the Bums family who were prominent lawyers in Falkirk. These types of collections have personal correspondence and legal papers which can be relevant to family research.

Forbes of Callendar Papers

Our largest collection is the Forbes of Callendar Papers which can be a useful source for other families and individuals as well as the Forbes family themselves. The Forbes family corresponded with local ministers, heritors, stentmasters, feuars, and businessmen.

James Love Collection

James Love was a local antiquarian. Much of his research was originally published in the Falkirk Herald and has been reprinted in his four volume set of "Notes and Queries", available in the History Research Centre. Love's original research notes and collection of newscuttings and letters are deposited in Falkirk Museums and have been indexed. They include references to many Falkirk residents.

Local authority records

Some local authority records can be useful for family history, but they require a lot of research for possibly very little information. We have, for example, some registers of new housing, which includes lists of people who were moved out of houses in poor condition and into new housing in the area  If a family relative was a senior Council official or a Councillor then there may be interesting information about their work in the Council minutes. We have the minutes for the burghs of Falkirk (1833-1975) Grangemouth (1872-1974), Bo'ness (1746-1975, with some gaps) and Denny & Dunipace (1877-1974).

What sources are not held by Falkirk Museums?

The History Research Centre does not hold information on baptisms, marriages or burials after 1855 or Census records after 1861. For these sources you should contact New Register House, Princes St, Edinburgh. If you have access to the internet, try the Scotlands People online site  or the Origins database.

A wider range of local newspapers is held by Falkirk Libraries and these are available in local libraries on microfilm Local libraries also have more Census records on microfilm and have other family history sources.

The local authority records for Stirling County and Central Region are held at Stirling Council Archives. This means that if your family lived in Polmont, Slamannan or other parts of Stirling County (rather than in one of the four burghs) you will find the relevant valuation rolls and any electoral rolls in Stirling Council Archives.

Falkirk Museums History Research Centre
Callendar House 
Callendar Park

Tel: 01324 503779

Opening hours: 10.00-12.30, 1,30-5.00; Monday to Friday 

museum services


Tom Paterson(last updated 25th Oct 2020)