Virginia Archives and Libraries
|Virginia Wiki Topics|
|Local Research Resources|
These repositories preserve sources, maintain indexes, and provide services to help genealogists document their ancestors who lived in Virginia. Remember: West Virginia was part of Virginia until 1863. See also West Virginia Archives and Libraries.
Wiki Articles on Major Repositories for Virginia[edit | edit source]
Bristol Public Library · Germanna Foundation Library · Handley Regional Library · Historical Society of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA) · Historical Society of Washington, D.C. · John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library at Colonial Williamsburg · Jones Memorial Library · Library of Congress (Washington, DC) · Library of Virginia · Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library · Maryland State Archives (Annapolis, MD) · National Archives I (Washington, DC) · National Archives II (College Park, MD) · National Archives at Philadelphia (PA) · National Genealogical Society · New York Public Library (New York City, NY) · Pennsylvania State Archives (Harrisburg, PA) · Portsmouth Public Library · Roanoke County Public Library · Salisbury University Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture (Salisbury, MD) · Santa Cruz Public Library Downtown (Santa Cruz, CA) · University of Virginia Library · Virginia Department of Health · Virginia Historical Society · Virginia Theological Seminary · Washington National Records Center (Suitland, MD) · William and Mary College Swem Library
Online Records of Virginia[edit | edit source]
Links to online databases and indexes that may include vital records, biographies, cemeteries, censuses, histories, immigration records, land records, maps, military records, naturalizations, newspapers, obituaries, or probate records.
National Repositories[edit | edit source]
National Archives I[edit | edit source]
National Archives and Records Administration (Archives I)
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
E-mail: National Archives and Records Administration inquiry form
National Archives II[edit | edit source]
National Archives at College Park, Maryland (Archives II)
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
E-mail: I have a question form
Internet: National Archives at College Park, Maryland
- Archives II houses documents created after 1900 at the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, Labor, State, Transportation, and Treasury, modern military records, passport applications, and District of Columbia records. Many residents of Virginia are found among their records.
- This branch has federal agency and court records for Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. All U.S. federal censuses 1790-1940, and indexes. Also has passenger arrivals in Philadelphia 1800-1945 and Baltimore, pension and bounty land warrant applications, naturalizations 1790-1990, early federal history, diplomacy, military history, Chinese-Americans, World War II homefront, National Park Service, merchant marine, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, federal tax evasion and smuggling cases.
- The National Genealogical Society (NGS) aims to serve and grow the genealogical community by providing education and training, fostering increased quality and standards, and promoting access to and preservation of genealogical records. It is the premier American national society for everyone from the beginner to the most advanced family historian. In conjunction with a sponsoring local genealogical society, it stages an annual NGS Conference. They also provide genealogical education courses, publications and videos. Their NGS Book Loan Collection is now housed at the St. Louis County Library in Missouri. Their online collections include The National Intelligencer (Washington, DC) newspaper index 1800-1850, indexed Bible records and family groups from NGS members.
Washington National Records Center[edit | edit source]
- Older than 15-years federal criminal court, federal civil court, and federal bankruptcy court records, and the federal agency records from the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.
State Repositories[edit | edit source]
- The Library of Virginia Archives Division has Virginia births and deaths 1853-1896, and marriages before 1936 (including marriage bonds before 1853). Their large genealogical collection also has family Bibles, divorces, histories, biographies, and newspapers. Many of their manuscripts are now online. The General Library contains printed materials, while the Research and Information Services Division consists of government records and other historical documents. Many collections are available online, such as Confederate pensions, veterans and widows, an index to wills and administrations, Revolutionary War bounty land, and Virginia Land Office patents and grants.
Virginia Department of Health[edit | edit source]
VDH, Office of Vital Records
2001 Maywill Street (street address)
P.O. Box 1000 (mailing address)
Richmond, Virginia 23218-1000
Website: Division of Vital Records
- The VDH Office of Vital Records has:
- Virginia births 1853-1895, and 1912-present. (Births were not registered 1896-June 1912.)
- Virginia marriages 1853-present.
- Virginia deaths 1853-1895, and 1912-present. (Deaths were not registered 1896-June 1912.)
- Virginia divorces 1918-present.
- In Virginia, death, marriage and divorce data become “public” information 25 years after the event; birth data are “public” after 100 years. Certificates are available to immediate family members only (mother, father, husband, wife, child, brother, sister and grandparents) with valid ID.
- Online index. Virginia birth and death records from 1912-2014; divorce records 1918-2014; and marriage records 1936-2014 are now available in a free online index.
- Genealogical copies. The best place to find Virginia vital records for genealogical research is the Library of Virginia Archives Division. Their library has Virginia births and deaths 1853-1896, and marriages before 1936 (including marriage bonds before 1853).
- Certified copies. Close relatives can obtain certified copies of BMD, and divorce records from the VDH Office of Vital Records in these ways:
- By Mail for about 1-2 week service.
- Walk-in at the VDH Office of Vital Records for same-day service.
- Express delivery using a private company. For an additional fee, you can can receive express delivery by placing your order on the Internet or by telephone for official certified copies of Virginia birth, death, marriage, or divorce records from the private company VitalChek Virginia.
- Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Certified copies of BMD, and divorce records are available for purchase to walk-ins at all full service Virginia DMV locations including service centers and 2Go mobile offices.
428 North Blvd
Richmond, VA 23221-0311
E-mail: Ask a Librarian form
Website: Virginia Historical Society, Collections and Resources
- County records such as marriages, county court records, wills, censuses, land, militia lists, bounty lands, passenger lists, tax lists, poll lists, genealogies, newspapers, family Bibles, and African American genealogy. They have a card index to 10 million documents of the Old Dominion, that is Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. 
Virginia Theological Seminary[edit | edit source]
- Houses many of the original Church of England (now Episcopalian Church) parish registers, vestry books, and manuscripts of colonial Virginia, as well as photos, and the African American Episcopal Historical Collection. Formerly known as the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia.
Regional Repositories[edit | edit source]
- They have a relatively small family folder collection. Nevertheless, it is an important resource for settlers coming from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and northern Virginia along the Great Valley Road into Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina.
- German immigrants to Virginia in 1714-1717 descendants' database, list of original settlers, genealogies, articles, links, and DNA project.
- Very large collection on Germans and Scots-Irish who traveled the Great Valley Road from Pennsylvania through Maryland to Virginia, including manuscripts, newspapers, biographies, and histories, and people of the Lower Shenandoah Valley since 1732, emphasizing Winchester and Frederick County in 4000 books, county court abstracts, county histories, genealogies, regimental histories, battles, newspapers since 1787, censuses, 600 linear feet of manuscripts, maps, photos, and oral history tapes.
John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library[edit | edit source]
John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library at Colonial Williamsburg
PO Box 1776
313 First Street
Williamsburg, VA 23187-1776
Website: John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library
- Emphasis is on the history of colonial British America, the American Revolution, and the early United States with books, manuscripts, images, Civil War materials, family Bibles, and databases for research in the political and economic life of the thirteen colonies, the new republic, and African American studies.
- Really good historical materials, family folders, and genealogies of people migrating from the tidelands over the Blue Ridge Mountains into Virginia's Great Valley, many via Lynchburg. Covers Virginia and surrounding states, including county histories and court records, family histories and genealogies, the Civil War, county taxes, and census records.
Mary Ball Washington Museum Library[edit | edit source]
- A small library with a good name index to nearly every history book published in Virginia or Kentucky, including court records from 1651, indexes and abstracts, Virginia vital records, census records, county histories, biographies, church and cemetery records, family histories, newspapers, obituaries, vertical files, militia records, and fraternal organizations.
- A good solid genealogical collection. Materials about Portsmouth and Norfolk counties and surrounding areas of southeastern Virginia, including births, marriages, deaths, cemeteries, genealogies, memoirs, scrapbooks and notebooks of Portsmouth families and organizations, photos, Civil War, Jeffrey T Wilson – 1924 "Colored Notes" index and articles from Portsmouth Star newspaper; Bertha Edward - Notes on Portsmouth Black History; African American Historical Association of Portsmouth records, and high school yearbooks.
- Wonderful southwest Virginia collection of family folders, books, genealogies, and indexes. Open by appointment, the Virginia Room comprehensively collects materials for the Roanoke Valley, for Virginia, and for closely associated states, including surname files, photos, vertical files and oral histories. The Great Valley Road forked here toward Knoxville, Tennessee, and toward Augusta, Georgia. Some families stayed-over in the area before moving on to Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Georgia.
- Virtually a second state archives with a large genealogical collection, colonial records, federal, private, and state manuscripts, vital records, censuses, maps, military records, newspapers, periodicals, African American genealogy, and computer databases.
- Features the famous "Swem Index" of Virginia settlers. This library also has the original papers from Jamestown, the Virginia Company, manuscripts, and journals, including numerous genealogical references. This is the place for researching the earliest Virginia colonists. They also have censuses, ship's passenger lists, vital records, wills and probate records, local history, church records, funeral homes, cemeteries, newspapers, periodicals and indeses.
Out of State Repositories[edit | edit source]
- Has early Quakers, Germans, Scots-Irish, and other settlers in William Penn's colonies of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. This is also an excellent place to learn about early settlers who migrated to Maryland and Virginia. Records which have been published are normally well-indexed. This society also has 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century manuscripts (letters, diaries, account books, deeds, minutes, and scrapbooks), passenger arrival lists and indexes,  local and regional history, ethnic and immigrant studies materials, 600,000 books, 20 million manuscripts, over 300,000 graphics items, and 300 years of newspapers.
Historical Society of Washington, D.C.[edit | edit source]
- Think of this as the state archives for the District of Columbia because of the 200 years of local history documents for genealogists. This includes families and notable individuals, organizations, businesses, neighborhoods, religious institutions, local houses of worship, funeral homes, diaries and personal papers, and early 18th century land records for the DC area of Maryland and Virginia. Researchers are welcomed in the Kiplinger Research Library by prior appointment only Tuesday through Friday. Access to the library and collections is free of charge.
- This is the premier facility for locating Maryland ancestors who migrated into Virginia. The Maryland State Archives online has nearly all available public records from 1634 to 1789; most original state and county records through the mid-twentieth century; microfilm copies of land, probate, and vital records to the present; and over 130 major card indexes to Maryland land records and early settlers, newspapers, county records, church records, family, and business records. This is the most complete collection of any of the 13 colonies. It can take up the three days just to check the indexes. For more information about the state archives, see the following references.
- Maryland. Hall of Records. A Guide to the Index Holdings at the Hall of Records. Rev., Bulletin, [Maryland. Hall of Records] No. 17. (Annapolis, Maryland: Hall of Records, 1972.) FHL book 975.2 A1 no. 56. This is a county-by-county list of indexes and years covered.
- Papenfuse, Edward C., et al. A Guide to Government Records at the Maryland State Archives: A Comprehensive List by Agency and Record Series. (Annapolis, Maryland: Maryland State Archives, 1992.) FHL book 975.2 A3g. This guide lists record types, years covered, and series number.
- Papenfuse, Edward C., et. al. A Guide to the Maryland Hall of Records: Local, Judicial and Administrative Records on Microfilm. Volume 1. (Annapolis, Maryland: Hall of Records Commission, 1978.) FHL fiche 6049468; book 975.2 A3pa v. 1. Volume one is a detailed list of many records on microfilm for Allegany County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, and Baltimore City, Maryland. These include court, probate, and land records. The archives has additional computer printout lists for all counties. You can write to them for information about records of specific localities and time periods.
- Radoff, Morris Leon, et al. The County Courthouses and Records of Maryland, Part Two: The Records. (Annapolis, Maryland: Hall of Records Commission, 1963.) FHL fiche 6054101 (fiches 4 and 5), 6054105; book 975.2 B4ma no. 13 This is a county-by-county list of record types, years covered, and series number.
- This is one of the largest research libraries in the world, including excellent genealogical resources for Virginia. The library has city and telephone directories, vital records indexes, local histories, genealogies, federal and state censuses, passenger lists, genealogical collections (including DAR transcripts), and church records. For maps, try the Map Division at the same address.
- Their colonial records include many references to people who migrated to Virginia. This huge collection has indexes and original sources associated with the Pennsylvania Archives series, such as vital, military, prison, naturalization, land records, census, ships lists, railroads, mines, and 1.5 million online records including online genealogy guides.
Salisbury Univ Nabb Research Center[edit | edit source]
Salisbury University Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture
Guerrieri Academic Commons (street address)
(4th Floor, Room 430)
1101 Camden Ave (mailing address)
Salisbury, MD 21801
Internet: Nabb Research Center
- This repository has family files, family histories, local histories, photos, and artifacts from the Delmarva Penninsula (Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) also called the "Eastern Shore." Includes correspondence, manuscripts, ledgers, diaries, local business and organizational records, maps, newspapers, land surveys, and oral histories. Microfilm collections hold governmental and church records of Somerset, Worcester, Dorchester and Wicomico counties in Maryland; Accomack and Northampton counties in Virginia; and Sussex County in Delaware.
- Holds the Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County's library, including the Tina Brayton Collection which is equivalent to the Draper Manuscript Collection but larger and with a better index, and many compiled genealogies of Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia families.
Family History Centers[edit | edit source]
- Giving you limited, personal, one-on-one research suggestions (but they do not do research for you)
- Providing access to genealogical records through the premium online Internet FHC Portal.
- Offering free how-to classes (varies by location)
- Fostering contact between genealogical enthusiasts
There are several centers located in Virginia, for example:
- Williamsburg Virginia Family History Center
2017 Newman Road
Williamsburg, VA 23188 USA
Telephone: 757-220-0266 or 757-232-1417
- Each center is staffed by volunteers and has varying hours and services. Telephone in advance to verify their hours.
- Williamsburg Virginia Family History Center
To locate one of these 4,500 centers in your own neighborhood, see Find a Family History Center.
Guidebooks[edit | edit source]
- Ellen Garrison, Archives in Appalachia: A Directory (Boone, North Carolina: Appalachian Consortium Press, 1985). At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Book 975 A3a. For Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, arranged alphabetically, each entry shows the archive, address, phone, inclusive dates of the collection, the records of the collection, subjects, and size of the collection. Indexed by record type, and by subject.
References[edit | edit source]
- The Collections in Local History and Genealogy Reading Room in The Library of Congress (accessed 8 January 2014).
- Information for Researchers at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC in National Archives (accessed 31 December 2013).
- William Dollarhide and Ronald A. Bremer. America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1998), 2. WorldCat 39493985; FHL Ref Book 973 J54d.
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 126-27.
- NGS Mission in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 January 2017).
- Home in National Genealogical Society (accessed 7 January 2017).
- Individual Member Benefits in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 January 2017).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 29.
- Genealogy in Virginia Department of Health in Virginia.gov (accessed 15 May 2017).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 97.
- Using the Collections in Library of Virginia (accessed 7 January 2014).
- Division of Vital Records in Virginia Department of Health in Virginia.gov (accessed 13 May 2017).
- How We Can Help in Virginia Historical Society (accessed 9 April 2021).
- Archives in Virginia Theological Seminary (accessed 5 January 2014).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 105.
- Genealogy in Germanna Foundation (accessed 25 April 2016).
- Genealogy and History in Handley Regional Library (accessed 9 April 2021).
- John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library in Colonial Williamsburg (accessed 7 January 2014].
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 113.
- Home in Jones Memorial Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
- Genealogy and History Library in Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
- Collections in Portsmouth Public Library (accessed 9 April 2021).
- Virginia Room in Roanoke, Virginia (accessed 7 January 2014).
- Genealogy in University of Virginia Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
- Genealogy Resources at Swem in Swem Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 55.
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 95.
- About Our Collections in Historical Society of Pennsylvania (accessed 27 December 2013).
- About the Library and Collections in Historical Society of Washington, D.C. (accessed 7 January 2017).
- Research in Historical Society of Washington, D.C. (accessed 7 January 2017).
- Dollarhide and Bremer, 81.
- Research Topics at the Pennsylvania State Archives in Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (accessed 23 December 2013).
- Nabb Research Center in Salisbury University (accessed 25 April 2017).
- The Tina Brayton Collection in Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County (accessed 3 January 2014).