Barra source list

Unless otherwise stated, the following archive collections are held in Stornoway and made accessible through the archive service currently based at Stornoway Library.  From autumn 2015, the archive service will be based in the new Museum & Archive at the Lews Castle site. 

For non-Lewis residents, we can arrange for records to be made available through your local library by appointment  

This guide is not exhaustive and it’s worth checking our online catalogue for further resources.



Barra Road Trustees (1879-1888) (ref IN1/1)

The Trustees were responsible for roads maintenance on the island.

  • Minute book 1879-1888

Barra Parish Council (1872-1943) (ref. IN5/1)

Established in 1845, Parishes (or Parochial Boards as they started out) were responsible for raising and administering poor relief and gradually took on other duties such as graveyards, footpaths and water supply.  Parish Councils were abolished in 1930. 

  • Minutes 1872-1895; letter books 1867-1938; Applications for Parochial Relief 1876-1930; General Registers of the Poor 1866-1930; Children's Separate Registers of the Poor 1873-1929; Unadmitted Cases of the Poor 1875-1896; Inspector's day cash books 1902-1930; postponed vaccinations 1873-1941

Barra Public Assistance Committee (1937-1948) (ref. IN5/5)

The Committee took on many of the rolls of the former Parish Council with regard to aiding the poor.

  • Cash book 1937-1948

South Uist & Barra District Committee (1890-1930) (ref. IN2/3)

The District Committee was established in 1890, undertaking functions on behalf of Inverness-shire County Council.  This included roads, bridges, amenities and nursing that fell outwith the Parish Council’s remit.  The Committee was abolished in 1930.

  • Minute books 1890-1930; ledgers 1897-1929

Barra District Council (1930-1956) (ref. IN6/1)

Barra District Council was established in 1930 to serve as local agents for Inverness-shire County Council, taking on many of the duties for the former District Committee.  It was abolished in 1975 with its powers transferring to Comhairle nan Eilean.

  • Assessments cash books 1930-1953

Long Island Combination Poorhouse, Lochmaddy (1875-1942) (ref IN5/9)

The poorhouse was situated on the outskirts of Lochmaddy and was originally operated jointly by the parishes of Harris, North Uist, South Uist (including Benbecula) and Barra. It later became the Lochmaddy Hospital.

  • Minutes 1875-1942; letter books 1914-1933; cashbooks 1910-1930; ledgers 1886-1930

South Uist & Barra Nursing Service (1927-1934) (ref IN7/3)

  • Ledger accounts 1927-1940




NB: Records containing personal data are generally closed to public access for 100 years.  Please ask for further information. 

Barra School Board / District Education Committee (1872-1966) (ref. IN4/1)

The School Board was established in 1873 to manage schooling in the area.  It was responsible for building and maintaining schools, staffing and curriculum matters as dictated by the government.  Its powers transferred to Barra District Education Committee in 1919. 

  • Minute books 1888-1949; letter books and correspondence 1890-1911; schedules of enquiry and attendance 1892-1915; Inspectors' reports 1900-1915; abstract books 1892-1914; cash books 1873-1914; ledgers 1899-1912; postage books 1950-1966

Records of individual schools.   Log books are held in Castlebay Community Library unless otherwise stated.


  • Log books 1882-1990
  • Held by Barra Historical Society - Class registers 1940-1956; summaries 1924-1927; cleansing records 1908-1949; correspondence 1936-1962


  • Held by Barra Historical Society - Admission Registers 1875-1972; school log books 1904-2002; evening class log book 1898-1912; daily registers 1957-2002


  • Records held by school


  • Log books 1910-1963


  • Log book 1875-1910
  • Held by Barra Historical Society – admission register


  • Log books 1882-1960



The following records have been deposited with Tasglann nan Eilean Siar and are made available in Stornoway.

Barra Sea Cadets (1944-1958) (ref. GD16)

  • Minute book 1944-1958



There are many collections of useful archives held in private or voluntary groupsm relating to Barra.  There is not always a statutory right of access to these records but many custodians are willing to aid researchers. The following organisations may well be worth contacting for help with your research. 

Barra & Vatersay Historical Society  http://www.barraheritage.com/

The society operates a public museum, archive and cafe based at the Dualchas Centre in Castlebay.  Their archives include an extensive photograph collection and papers relating to schools, shops and the local community.

Museum nan Eilean: Sgoil Lionacleit  http://www.cne-siar.gov.uk/museum/

The Council-run registered museum based within Sgoil Lionacleit on Benbecula has an active programme of exhibitions and activities covering the whole of the island chain, including Barra.

National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh www.nrsscotland.gov.uk

As well as various government records relating to Barra and its adjacent islands, including Presbytery and church records, they jointly manage the genealogy site www.ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk.

Highland Archives, Bught Road, Inverness http://www.highlandarchives.org.uk

The archive centre in Inverness holds many records relating to Barra, notably the records of Inverness-shire County Council (1890-1975) and its predecessors. 

Stòras Uibhist

For many years, Barra and the Bishop Islands formed part of the South Uist Estate.  The estate records for that period now form part of the archives of Stòras Uibhist, the community land owner for South Uist and Benbecula.  A guide to their archives is available at http://prodigia.wordpress.com/


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