Virginia Biography

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The FamilySearch moderator for Virginia is Heather Van Hise

Online Resources[edit | edit source]

Biographies provide useful genealogical information such as a person’s birth date and place; names of family members, including maiden names; education; occupation; and social, political, and religious affiliation. They may also contain a physical description of the person, previous residences, and immigration information. Biographies are the product of family knowledge or previous research about early settlers and prominent citizens of a state, county, or town. Local histories may contain biographical sketches of lesser-known people.

Biographies in Local Histories[edit | edit source]

  • Biographical information is often found in state, county, and town histories.
  • Towards the end of the 19th century, began publishers soliciting short biographical/family histories from local founding families, offering to publish them in an upcoming local history. This then became an incentive for family members to buy a copy of the book.
  • Families represented were not necessarily prominent. Practically everyone living there, especially in the Midwest, counted as an early settler.
  • These biographies often start with the first member of the family to settle in the area, and detail their descendants at the time of publishing. They may tell where the family moved in from. Children's marriages often are given, with maiden names included.

Finding Biographies[edit | edit source]

  • The county Wiki page lists several county histories. It also lists local libraries, and societies which probably have copies of local histories.
  • Many histories are no longer under copyright and can be found in the following online, digitized book collections. Search with keywords "History" and "the name of your locality" (state, county, or town).
  • The FamilySearch library has extensive collections of these local histories. Many are digitized. Search the FamilySearch Catalog under your locality for the topics "Biography" and "History".

Biographical Dictionaries and Encyclopedias[edit | edit source]

  • McCartney, Martha W. Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers 1607-1635: A Biographical Dictionary. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Pub. Co., 2007.) FHL book 975.5 D36m Purchase at Genealogical.com.
    For information about Virginia's earliest colonists, McCartney's work is a great place to start:
  • True, Ransom B., ed. Biographical Dictionary of Early Virginia, 1607-1660. (Richmond, Virginia: Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, 1982.) FHL fiche 6332718 (first of 22) Includes more than 100,000 entries with references to 30,000 people who are mentioned in Virginia wills, deeds, court orders, histories, and Virginia Company records. A supplemental Guide FHL film 1750757 item 2; book 975.5 D3bd 1985 contains an explanation of the dictionary and a listing of the sources with their codes. An excellent list of early Virginians.
  • Wardell, P.G. Timesaving Aid to Virginia-West Virginia Ancestors: A Genealogical Index of Surnames from Published Sources. Two Volumes. (Athens, Georgia: Iberian Publishing, 1985.) FHL book 975 D22wAn index to biographical sketches in several hundred local histories and genealogies.

Statewide Information[edit | edit source]

Family History Library Collection[edit | edit source]

  • Brock, Robert Alonzo. Virginia and Virginians. (Richmond and Toledo: H. H. Hardesty, 1888.) FHL film 897042 items 2-3 An index is found on FHL fiche 6048346-47. It lists five to ten prominent citizens from each county with early governors and generals.
  • Foote, William Henry An Index to Sketches of Virginia: Historical and Biographical (Richmond, Virginia: The Library, Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, 1966) FHL book 975.5 H2f (index).Presbyterian history, ministers, and families.
  • French, S. Bassett. Biographical Sketches [of Virginia]. (Richmond, Virginia: Virginia State Library, 1949?) FHL film 029664-67 Contains brief handwritten sketches of persons born from the 1700s to 1800s, sometimes with birth and death dates.
  • The Family History has a collection of county histories which include biographical information. To access biographies in the FamilySearch Catalog, use a Place-name Search for:
Virginia - BIOGRAPHIES
Virginia, [COUNTY] - BIOGRAPHY
Virginia, [COUNTY] - HISTORY
Virginia, [COUNTY], [TOWN] - BIOGRAPHY
Virginia, [COUNTY]. [TOWN] - HISTORY