Virginia Archives and Libraries

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These repositories preserve sources, maintain indexes, and provide services to help genealogists document their ancestors who lived in Virginia.

Wiki Articles on Major Repositories in Virginia

Library of Congress · National Archives I · National Archives II · National Archives at Philadelphia · Library of Virginia · Virginia Historical Society · Virginia Theological Seminary · Bristol Public Library · College of William and Mary Library · Germanna Foundation · Handley Regional Library · John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library at Colonial Williamsburg · Jones Memorial Library · Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library · Portsmouth Public Library · Roanoke County Public Library · University of Virginia Library · New York Public Library · Santa Cruz Public Library Downtown

Online Records of Virginia

VA ORP.png
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

Library of Congress

Library of Congress
Library of Congress Jefferson Building

101 Independence Ave. SE
Thomas Jefferson Building, LJ G4
Washington, D.C. 20540-4660
Telephone: Reading Room: 202-707-5537
Fax: 202-707-1957
E-mail: Ask a Librarian form
Website: Library of Congress

The Library of Congress "Local History and Genealogy Reading Room" has moved to the main reading room, but services are unchanged. They are part of the world's largest library including 50,000 genealogies, 100,000 local histories, and collections of manuscripts, microfilms, maps, newspapers, photographs, and published material, strong in North American (including Virginia), British Isles, and German sources.[1]

National Archives I

National Archives I in D.C.
National Archives and Records Administration (Archives I)
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC
Telephone: 1-866-272-6272
Fax: 301-837-0483
E-mail: National Archives and Records Administration inquiry form
Website: NARA

Nationwide (including Virginia) censuses, pre-WWI military service and pensions, passenger lists, naturalizations, passports, federal bounty land, homesteads, bankruptcy, ethnic sources, prisons, and federal employees. The National Archives Building in Washington, DC (Archives I), houses textual and microfilm records relating to genealogy, American Indians, pre-World War II military and naval-maritime matters, the New Deal, the District of Columbia, the Federal courts, and Congress.[2]

National Archives II

National Archives II in College Park, MD
National Archives at College Park, Maryland (Archives II)
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
Telephone: 866-272-6272
Fax: 301-837-0483
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.[3]

National Archives at Philadelphia

National Archives at Philadelphia sign
National Archives at Philadelphia
14700 Townsend Road
Philadelphia, PA 19154-1096
Telephone: 215-305-2044
Fax: 215-305-2052
Website: National Archives Philadelphia

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.[4]

National Genealogical Society

3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300
Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370 USA
Telephone: 703-525-0050 or 800-473-0060
Fax 703-525-0052
Internet: National Genealogical Society

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.[5] It is the premier American national society for everyone from the beginner to the most advanced family historian.[6] In conjunction with a sponsoring local genealogical society, it stages an annual NGS Conference. They also provide genealogical education courses, publications and videos.[7] 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.[8]

WNRC stack area in Suitland, MD

Washington National Records Center

4205 Suitland Road
Suitland, MD 20746-8001
NARA telephone: 866-272-6272
NARA E-mail: Contact Us form
Internet: Services for the Public

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.[9]

State Repositories

Library of Virginia

Library of Virginia
Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219-8000
Telephone: 804-692-3500
Fax: 804-692-3556
E-mail: Contact Us Select department to open dialog box
Website: Library of Virginia

Their large genealogical collection has family Bibles, birth, marriages, deaths, 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.[10] [11]

Virginia Historical Society

Virginia Historical Society
Virginia Historical Society
428 North Blvd
Richmond, VA 23221-0311
Telephone: 804-358-4901
E-mail: Ask a Librarian form
Website: Virginia Historical Society, Looking for People

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. [10] [12]

Virginia Theological Seminary

Virginia Theological Seminary
Virginia Theological Seminary
Archives of the Bishop Payne Library
3737 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22304
Telephone: 703-461-1731
Website: Virginia Theological Seminary Archives

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.[13] Formerly known as the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia.

Regional Repositories

Bristol Public Library in Virginia

Bristol Public Library

701 Goode Street
Bristol, VA 24201-4199
Telephone: 540-645-8780
Fax: 276-669-5593
Website: Bristol Public Library

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.[14]

College of William and Mary Library

EG Swem Library at William and Mary
William and Mary College Swem Library
P.O. Box 8794
Landrum Drive
College of William and Mary
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-8794
Telephone: 757-221-3050
Fax: 757-221-2635
Website: EG Swem Library, Genealogy

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.[15] [16]

Germanna Foundation Library

Germanna Foundation Visitor Center & Library
Germanna Foundation
on Virginia Route #3 (2062 Germanna Highway)
P.O. Box 279
Locust Grove, VA 22508-0279
Telephone: 540-423-1700
Fax: 540-423-1747
E-mail: E-mail contact form
Website: Germanna Foundation

German immigrants to Virginia in 1714-1717 descendants' database, list of original settlers, genealogies, articles, links, and DNA project.[17]

Handley Library Winchester Virginia

Handley Regional Library

100 W. Piccadilly Street
PO Box 58
Winchester, VA 22604
Telephone: 540-662-9041
Fax: 540-722-4769
Website: Handley Regional Library

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,[10] 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.[18]

John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library

John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library
John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library at Colonial Williamsburg
PO Box 1776
313 First Street
Williamsburg, VA 23187-1776
Telephone: 757-565-8542
Fax: 757-565-8548
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.[19]

Jones Memorial Library

Jones Library Lynchburg Virginia
Jones Memorial Library
2311 Memorial Avenue
Lynchburg, VA 24501
Telephone: 434-846-0501
Fax: 434-846-1572
Website: Jones Memorial Library

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.[15] [20]

Mary Ball Washington Museum Library

Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library
Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library
8346 Mary Ball Road
Lancaster, Virginia 22503
Telehone: 804-462-7280
Fax: 804-462-6107
Website: Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library

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.[15] [21]

Portsmouth Public Library

Portsmouth Public Library601 Court Street
Portsmouth, VA 23704
Telephone: 757-393-8501
E-mail: Ask a Librarian form
Website: Portsmouth Public Library

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.[15] [22]

Roanoke County Public Library

Roanoke County Public Library706 S. Jefferson Street
Roanoke, VA 24016
Telephone: 540-853-2073
Website: Virginia Room

Wonderful southwest Virginia collection of family folders, books, genealogies, and indexes.[15] 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.[23]

University of Virginia Library

University of Virginia Library
University of Virginia Library
PO Box 400113
Charlottesville VA 22904-4113
Telephone: 434-924-3021
Fax: 434-924-1431
Website: Univ of Virginia Library

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.[15] [24]

Out of State Repositories

New York Public Library

New York Public Library
New York Public Library

U.S. History, Local History and Genealogy Division
Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, Room 315S
New York, NY 10018-2788
Telephone: 212-930-0829
E-mail: Ask a Librarian form
Website: New York Public Library

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.[25] For maps, try the Map Division at the same address.

Salisbury Univ Nabb Research Center

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
Telephone: 410-543-6312
Fax: 410-677-5067
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.[26]

Santa Cruz Public Library

Santa Cruz Public Library Downtown
224 Church Street
Santa Cruz, California 95060
Telephone: 831-427-7707 ext. 5794
E-mail: E-mail reference service form
Website: Santa Cruz Public Library

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.[15] [27]

Family History Centers. Some of the collections described above are at least partially available on microfilms at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and through thousands of its branch Family History Centers. For further information see Introduction to LDS Family History Centers. To locate a center near you, see Find a Family History Center.



  1. The Collections in Local History and Genealogy Reading Room in The Library of Congress (accessed 8 January 2014).
  2. Information for Researchers at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC in National Archives (accessed 31 December 2013).
  3. 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.
  4. William Dollarhide and Ronald A. Bremer. America's Best Genealogy Resource Centers (Bountiful, Utah: Heritage Quest, 1998), 126-27. At various libraries (WorldCat). FHL Ref Book 973 J54d.
  5. NGS Mission in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 January 2017).
  6. NGS Membership Trifold pdf in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 January 2017).
  7. Home in National Genealogical Society (accessed 7 January 2017).
  8. Individual Member Benefits in National Genealogical Society (accessed 14 January 2017).
  9. Dollarhide and Bremer, 29.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Dollarhide and Bremer, 97.
  11. Using the Collections in Library of Virginia (accessed 7 January 2014).
  12. Looking for People in Virginia Historical Society (accessed 7 January 2014).
  13. Archives in Virginia Theological Seminary (accessed 5 January 2014).
  14. Dollarhide and Bremer, 105.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 15.6 Dollarhide and Bremer, 113.
  16. Genealogy Resources at Swem in Swem Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
  17. Genealogy in Germanna Foundation (accessed 25 April 2016).
  18. Family and Local History in Handley Regional Library (accessed 28 December 2013).
  19. John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library in Colonial Williamsburg (accessed 7 January 2014].
  20. Home in Jones Memorial Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
  21. Genealogy and History Library in Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
  22. Local History in Portsmouth Public Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
  23. Virginia Room in Roanoke, Virginia (accessed 7 January 2014).
  24. Genealogy in University of Virginia Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
  25. Dollarhide and Bremer, 81.
  26. Nabb Research Center in Salisbury University (accessed 25 April 2017).
  27. The Tina Brayton Collection in Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County (accessed 3 January 2014).

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