Active banks

This guide was last updated in 2009

Having done the groundwork, you will be in a position to find records relating specifically to your ancestor’s bank. If the bank is still trading, it is likely to have its own archive. If it has been incorporated into another bank, the records are likely to lie with the current institution.

The best places to search for material are on the website of the current bank, the Corporate Name Index of the National Register of Archives and its Scottish equivalent, the Scottish Archive Network and on the Access to Archives directory. You are also likely to find contact details for the relevant banking archive in the Archon Directory.

In the relevant archive, you might uncover a fresh set of records about your ancestor. Have a look at the bank’s website or talk to its archivist to find out what relevant material is held.

Key sets of records to investigate are staff registers, which may include details of promotions, transfers and even marriage and children of the employee; and salary ledgers. Remember that there are likely to be restrictions on the material available to view, as records run up to the present day and contain confidential information.

You might also find resources such as staff magazines, carrying specific details such as individual achievements or obituaries, and providing a more general insight into the world in which your ancestor worked - for example, through company news and social arrangements.

Staff rule books may illustrate the atmosphere in your ancestor’s place of work. Annual reports should give an idea of how well the bank was performing, and you may even find photographs of branches and former members of staff.

In more recent times, the world wars may have created another set of records as employees who lost their lives are likely to have been recorded and commemorated.

Some archives welcome researchers and others are willing to answer brief enquiries themselves. It is always advisable to contact the archivist before you go to find out the rules and regulations and, if necessary, to make an appointment. Here are some useful links to bank archives:

The Royal Bank of Scotland
Bank of England


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