West Virginia Archives and Libraries

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Local Research Resources

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The following repositories preserve sources, maintain indexes, and provide services to help genealogists document their ancestors who lived in West Virginia. Remember, prior to 1863 West Virginia was part of Virginia, and many early West Virginia records are housed in Virginia repositories.

Wiki Articles on Repositories for West Virginia

Library of Congress · National Archives I · National Archives II · National Archives at Philadelphia · West Virginia Archives and History · Allegheny Regional Family History Society · Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library · Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library · Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library · West Virginia University Wise Library · Boyd County Public Library · Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania · Library of Virginia · Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library · New York Public Library · Santa Cruz Public Library Downtown · University of Chicago Library · Virginia Historical Society

Online Records of West Virginia

WV 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 West Virginia), British Isles, and German sources.[1]

National Archives I

National Archives I on Pennsylvania Ave, 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 West 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. Residents of West Virginia are found in 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
E-mail: Philadelphia.archives@nara.gov
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]

Statewide Repositories

West Virginia Archives and History

West Virginia Archives and History
The Cultural Center
Capitol Complex
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Charleston, WV 25305-0300
Telephone: 304-558-0220
Fax: 304-558-2779
Website: Archives and History Library

This the best place to start West Virginia genealogy research. They have manuscripts, biographies, county histories, and tax records.[5]

Regional Repositories

Allegheny Regional Family History Society

Allegheny Regional Family History Society
I.O.O.F. Lodge Building
US Rt. 219 & 250, about 3 miles South of Elkins
PO Box 1804
Elkins, West Virginia 26241
Email: arhfs@yahoo.com
Website: The Allegheny Regional Family History Society

They have an online database of articles and pedigrees. They also have cemetery transcripts, obituaries, and allow member queries in their newsletter.[6]

Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library

Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library
404 West Pike Street
Clarksburg, WV 26301
Telehone: 304-627-2236
Fax: 304-627-2239
E-mail: Contact form
Website: Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library

This is a large genealogical collection with indexes, periodicals, histories, obituaries, cemeteries, and family folders.[5]

Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library

Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library
101 West King Street
Martinsburg, WV 25401
Telephone: 304-267-8933
Fax: 304-267-9720
Website: History and Genealogy Resources

They have a good genealogy collection with many sources for the earliest West Virginia settlers.[5]

Parkersburg & Wood County Public Library

Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library
3100 Emerson Ave.
Parkersburg, WV26104-2414
Telephone: 304-420-4587
Fax: 304-420-4589
Website: Parkersburg and Wood County Public Library

West Augusta Historical and Genealogical Society's collection includes genealogies, family histories, cemetery transcripts, obituaries and family folders. Covers northwest West Virginia and parts of southwest Pennsylvania.[5]

WVU Wise Library Atrium

West Virginia University Wise Library

West Virginia University Wise Library
West Virginia and Regional History Center
PO Box 6069
1549 University Ave
Morgantown, WV 26506-6069
Telephone: 304-293-3536
Fax: 304-293-3981
Website: West Virginia Collection

World's largest collection of West Virginia-related research material including 4.5 million manuscript documents, 30,000 books, 15,000 pamphlets, 1,200 newspapers, 100,000 photographs and prints, 5,000 maps, 25,000 microfilms, and oral histories.[7]
  • A useful guide to this collection is James W. Hess, Guide to Manuscripts and Archives in the West Virginia Collection. Morgantown, West Virginia. West Virginia University Library, 1974. FHL book 975.4 A5h The 1959 edition by Charles Shetler, is on film 940918 item 4

Outside of West Virginia Respositories

Boyd County Public Library

Boyd County Public Library
Ashland Main Branch
1740 Central Ave
Ashland, Kentucky 41101
Telephone: 606-329-0518
Fax: 606-329-0578
Website: Boyd County Public Library]

Near where Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia come together, this library has many sources about West Virginia people, including family folders, biographies, genealogies, and pedigrees.[5]

Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania

Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania
Senator John Heinz History Center, Library and Archives
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222
Telephone: 412-454-6364
E-mail: library@heinzhistorycenter.org
Internet: http://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/libraryArchives.aspx

Colonial records of the Ohio Company with land grants and settlers since the 1750's in southwestern Pennsylvania and the area that became West Virginia.[5]

Library of Virginia

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

The Library of Virginia is an important resource for pre-1863 West Virginia research. 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.[8] [9]

Mary Ball Washington Museum and 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
E-mail: nfo@mbwm.org
Website: Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library

A small library with a good name index to nearly every history book published in Virginia, West 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.[5] [10]

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, New York 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 West 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.[11] For maps, try the Map Division at the same address.

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.[12] [13]

University of Chicago Library

University of Chicago Library
University of Chicago Regenstein Library

1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637-1502
Phone: (773) 702-4085
E-mail: Ask a librarian form
Internet: The University of Chicago Library

This library has plentiful historical records. Noteworthy is the Durrett Collection  of historical Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio River Valley manuscripts. The size and content of this collection is comparable to the Draper Manuscript Collection. It includes the earliest people in the Ohio Valley.[14]

Virginia Historical Society

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

They have more records for early West Virginia than in any West Virginia repository.[5] 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.[8] [15]


  • Ellen Garrison, Archives in Appalachia: A Directory (Boone, North Carolina: Appalachian Consortium Press, 1985). WorldCat 12712710; FHL Book 975 A3a. Includes Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia arranged alphabetically by state, then by the name of the repository. Each entry lists the archive, its address, phone number, inclusive dates of the collection, the records of the collection, what subjects are covered by the collection, and the size of the collection. There are two indexes: Record type, and Subject, with reference numbers corresponding to the repository.


  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. Dollarhide and Bremer, 126-27.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Dollarhide and Bremer, 117.
  6. Homepage in Allegheny Regional Family History Society (accessed 25 April 2016).
  7. West Virginia University Libraries in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 25 April 2016).
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dollarhide and Bremer, 97.
  9. Using the Collections in Library of Virginia (accessed 7 January 2014).
  10. Genealogy and History Library in Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
  11. Dollarhide and Bremer, 81.
  12. Dollarhide and Bremer, 113.
  13. The Tina Brayton Collection in Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County (accessed 3 January 2014).
  14. Dollarhide and Bremer, 39.
  15. Looking for People in Virginia Historical Society (accessed 7 January 2014).