The Duncan Institute, now Cupar library, has stood for 150 years, but our records and resources go back much further.
The Duncan Room holds the main family and local history collection for North East Fife, and that includes photographs, books, newspapers, Old Parish Registers, maps, Censuses, Sasines and Valuation Rolls.
The photographic archive has been digitised and contains images from Cupar, St Andrews and surrounding villages. We also hold collections from Aase Goldsmith, Tom Pearson (Newburgh) and George Normand, including his magic lantern and glass slides.
If you are looking for Fife ancestors, we have Census records from 1841 to 1901. Unfortunately the 1841 records are missing for several local parishes – they were lost in transit to Edinburgh when the ship taking them there sank!
Old Parish Registers record births, deaths and marriages from the 1600s (or earlier – the records for Dysart start at 1582), until 1854. This was when responsibility for keeping them passed from the church to local government. Our microfilm reels are photographs of the original books kept by the parish clerk. The handwriting can be tricky to read, and spelling was decidedly erratic, but the staff will do their best to help with any translation.
We have books and CDs of Monumental Inscriptions which record the writing on old headstones in the graveyards and cemeteries of Fife. These are indexed by surname so we can track down the burial sites of people who had a grave marker.
The library has a subscription to Ancestryinstitution.co.uk which is available for free on the public access computers. Visitors need to be a member of a Fife library to access them, but it is easy to join – you need a MyFife card or proof of your name and address.
You can also find out more about your house. Census records will show who lived there up to 1901, and Valuation Rolls will show even more information – who owned a property, who lived there and what was their occupation.
Our large map collection covers North East Fife. We have the 1894 and 1914 Ordnance Survey series, very detailed maps of Cupar town (with individual trees marked), and a copy of the 1820 John Wood map of Cupar showing houses and their owners.
The Sasines Register for Fife and Kinross starts at 1603 and this records the transfer of ownership of land or property, usually by sale or inheritance.
Our Newspaper archive is extensive, with publications from North East Fife. The earliest papers are the Fife Herald from 1824, right up until 2019, although there are a few gaps. Other early editions include the Fifeshire Journal (1833); East Fife Record (1856) and the Fife News (1870). Many of these are on microfilm but we have bound volumes of the Dundee Courier (minus 1976 for some reason), and the St Andrews Citizen from 1977 – 2007.
Of course, we wouldn’t be a library without books. We have reference books on open shelves including dictionaries, stamp and antique books, genealogy, art, literature and local history. The rarer books are kept in locked cabinets and cover everything from myths and witches, the church, schooling, military history, nature, industry, architecture, sports, poetry, novels, biographies, Scottish history and the local towns and villages. These are available to look at in the Duncan Room on request.
A recent addition to our resources is the Local Lending Collection. This is made up of former reference books that are now available to borrow and take home. They can be requested at any library and loaned for a three week period, the same as our other lending stock.
Our Local Studies Supervisor, Andrea McMillan, is in on Wednesdays. In the current situation we are operating on an appointment-only basis, and you can book an hour-long slot here.
Let us know what you are researching, and we can ensure that any relevant material is ready for you and provide a tailored one-to-one service.