British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Scottish Screen Archive at National Library of Scotland

Seawards the Great Ships (1960) (courtesy of Scottish Screen Archive)
The Scottish Screen Archive was established in November 1976. The film collection was inherited in part from its parent body, the Scottish Film Council, and has subsequently been enlarged through acquisitions from private and public sources in Scotland. The material dates from 1896 to the present day and concerns aspects of Scottish social, cultural and industrial history. In April 2007 Scottish Screen Archive transferred to the National Library of Scotland as division of the Library’s Collections and Research Department.
Glasgow; Scotland; Cinema; Newsreels; Wales; World War II; Crafts; Farming; Newsfilm; Ireland; Advertising films; Health; Theatre; Children; Oral History; Police; Sport; Berwick; Propaganda; Gas; Transport; Ports; Amateur films; World War I; Educational films; Fashion; Bridges; Celebrations; Edinburgh; Tourism; Aberdeen; Housing; Football; Fishing; Social History; Industries; Canals; Mills; Training films; Radar; Ceremonies; Inverness; Co-operative societies; Trolleybuses; Textile industries; Working class communities; Argyll; Charities; Paddle steamers; Hospitals; Dairying; Harvest; Borders; Brickmaking; Coal; Docks; Dockyards; Documentary; Dundee; Economic history; Grierson, John; Herring; Highlands; John Brown & Co (Clydebank) Ltd; Local; Queen Mary; Regattas; Road transport; Rural communities; Shipbuilding; Upper Clyde Shipbuilders; Western Isles; Red Clydeside; Angus; Ayr; Banff; Bute; Caithness; Clackmannan; Dumfries; Dunbarton; East Lothian; Fife; Gorbals; Hebrides; Kincardine; Kinross; Kircudbright; Lanark; Midlothian; Moray; Nairn; Orkney; Peebles; Perth; Renfrew; Ross; Roxburgh; Selkirk; Shetland; Stirling; Sutherland; West Lothian; Wigtown; Ethnology; Abbey; Aeronautical engineering; Angling; Babies; Family; Home; Bakery; Beach scenes; Camping; Caravanning; Cargo; Ceilidh; Celtic; Cigarette; Smoking; Tobacco; Circus; Clyde; Forth; Tay; Cockle Gathering; Coronations; Cranes; Crofting; Curling; Dairy; Demolition; Demonstration; Trade Union; Discriminatory Practices; Elderly; Environmental Concerns; Excursions and Outings; Work outings; Factory; Fairs and Fairgrounds; Farm; Fete; Fire; Fish Gutting; Fishwives; Fish Market; Flags; Floods; Rangers; Hearts; Hibernian; Shinty; Forest; Gaelic; Scots; Games and Toys; Garden Parties; North Sea Oil; Girl Guides; Scouts; Boys Brigade; Galas; Gala Queen; Gold; Granaries and Silos; Gypsies; Romanies; Hairdressing; Disco Dancing; Harbours; Hunting; Inventors; Iron Industry; Jute Industry; Knitting; Tweed; Legends and Folklore; Loch Ness Monster; Liners; Lobsters; Locomotives; Looms; Migration; Mod; Mussel Gathering; Navy; Naval Vessels; Nuclear Power; Nurses; Oil Industry; Orphanages; Fundraising; Oysters; Pantomime; Peat and Peat Cutting; Picnics; Processions; Puffers; Royalty; Salmon; Shops; Social Problems; Speeches; Sranding Stones; Steam Engineering; Steam Ships; Steam Trains; Steamers; Steamies; Submarines; Supernatural; Swimming; Lido; Temperance Movement; Textiles; TRawlers; Tugs; Town Planning; Unemployment; Violence; England; Weaving; Youth Concerns
Access to on site viewings available. Mon-Fri 09.00-12.30 and 14.00-17.00, by prior appointment, within the constraints of the preservation needs of the material and copyright considerations, for any bona fide academic, cultural or commercial purpose. The Archive offers a limited service to those producing programmes for commercial or broadcast use. Enquiries are welcomed and should be addressed to the Enquiries Officer. Detailed conditions of access and relevant charges are available upon request. Selected titles are available by mail order on DVD via Panamint Cinema An online enquiry form can be used to request bespoke copies from the SSA web catalogue.
Access for outsiders
Viewing on premises. Viewing off premises. Some titles available as video viewing copies. Viewing copies are available for approximately 50% of the catalogued general collection. Viewings by appointment. Clips from about 300 titles viewable on-line through the web catalogue.
Charges for facilities and handling and usage for commercial purposes. A price list is available upon request.
Copyright held by the Archive for specific collections , eg Films of Scotland 1938-1982, and for titles produced for Educational Films of Scotland and Scottish Educational Films Association. Otherwise, material is out of copyright or in active copyright to third party.

Moving Image, Audio and Related Documentation Holdings

Database of entries to Scottish Amateur Film Festival 1933 to 1985
50 special collections relating to film production, cinema exhibitors in Scotland, including the corporate papers of the Scottish Film Council 1934-1997, the Films of Scotland Committee 1954-1982 and the papers of Donald Alexander.
Film: Predominantly non-fiction material in excess of 20,000 cans, split 40/60 16mm to 35mm film. Also 8mm and 9.5mm amateur footage. Nitrate footage is transferred to safety stock as acquired. Within the collection, emphasis is on local cinema newsreels, advertising, industrial and promotional films, educational, documentary and amateur footage. Regional TV news, documentary and some light entertainment programmes are held. Special collections include: Upper Clyde Shipbuilders 1926-71. Official records of launches and trials of vessels built by constituent companies. Films of Scotland: Documentary and sponsored film about Scotland in all aspects. 35mm prints, master and production material 1938-1982. Approximately 160 titles. James S. Nairn, cinema manager; local topicals made for various cinemas, 1929-1959. 40% colour film, 60% black and white film. Advertising, amateur, documentary, news and current affairs, science and education, sports, promotional films.
Film components: 8mm, Super 8mm, 9.5mm, 16mm, 35mm, positive film, negative film, fine grain print, final mix, colour reversal.
Collection of oral history recordings of cinema exhibitors and film production personnel in Scotland.
Still Images
Approx 700 photographs relating to cinema buildings and film production in Scotland.
Video: Approx 5,000 titles are available for viewing on videocassette. About 2,500 on film print. Gaelic language programmes: approx 940 titles (1,530 hours) are available for viewing on videocassette.
Video components: S-VHS Video, hi-band U-Matic, lo-band U-Matic, Beta/Beta-SP, 1-inch Video, DigiBeta, DVD.

Artefact and Related Documentation Holdings

Cinema plans and architects’ drawings.; Contracts; Catalogues; Correspondence; Cue sheets; Diaries, unpublished memoirs etc; Equipment manuals; Sheet music; Scripts and treatments; Personal papers; Posters and promotional artwork; Photographs; Promotional literature; Other production documentation; Ephemera
Cine cameras; Editing equipment and viewers
Projection & Viewing
Flick books and associated technologies; Slides
TV, Video & Digital
Television monitors; Television receivers; Video recording equipment; Video editing equipment


Computerised database
Only for the moving image collection. The artefacts and manuscripts listed in this survey are either in use in the Archive or listed manually.
Online catalogue
Access catalogue of film and video available online, representing about one fifth of total titles held at Collection level records representing paper archives held on SCAN website at
Related website
Digitised catalogue
The Archive has digitised clips available on the following websites. Most are educational sites but sites such as BBC Scotland on Film or the Archive’s online catalogue are freely available to all.

Archive Live Access Catalogue:
BBC Scotland on Film:
Education Media Online:
Moving History:

Bfi Screenonline:

The Scottish Screen Archive also has a streamed ‘Calypso’, a film by Margaret Tait on its website at the following URL:
Online delivery
Moving images available at: (the Films of Scotland collection) SCRAN - about 400 clips - about 300 clips

Additional Information

Special collections: Films of Scotland Committee 1938-1982: administrative and financial records, production files, scripts and stills, festival commendations and screenings. Scottish Amateur Film Festival 1933-1979: administrative records and festival programmes, including adjudicators’ comments, press coverage, etc. Edinburgh International Festival 1947 to present day: programmes, press digests, etc. Scottish Film Council 1934-1975, 1990-1998: administrative and financial records, publications, including activities of various divisions of SFC, e.g. Scottish Central Film Library, Scottish Educational Film Association, Educational Films of Scotland. James S. Nairn: cinema projectionist and manager. 1917-1974. Personal records of a lifetime in the industry, press cuttings, stills, souvenir programmes, oral history and memorabilia. Donald Alexander Papers 1935-1991, includes records relating to Data Film Unit, National Coal Board Film Unit and production files.
Other information
Films are fully shotlisted, and database records containing the shotlist and technical information are input. A unique reference number identifies each film. Subject and location indexing is performed on all titles in the collection, personality and organisation indexing is performed on accessible material only. About one fifth of catalogued titles are uploaded to the Archive’s Access Catalogue Website, with the potential for still images and
Quicktime clips to be attached to each record. 80% of the collection is fully catalogued at present, with 5% having partial acquisition records and a further 15% unviewed awaiting a decision on acquisition.
Conservation policy
Relatively little footage is rejected. Anything totally unconnected with Scottish interests is offered to the Imperial War Museum or the National Film and Television Archive before junking, e.g. newsreel material, feature films. The NFTVA has the option on preserving anything retained by the Scottish Screen Archive at their expense. Also informal contacts/exchanges with other specialist and regional film archives.
Artefact notes
for the film collection - FIAF

Main Contact

Ms. Annie Docherty
Job title
Production Library Administrator
0845 366 4600
0845 366 4601
39 - 41 Montrose Avenue
Hillington Park
G52 4LA

Alternate Contact

Ms. Janet McBain
Job title
0141 337 7400

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