Virginia Archives and Libraries

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United States Gotoarrow.png Virginia Gotoarrow.png Archives and Libraries

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


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National Archives at Philadelphia
900 Market Street (entrance on Chesnut Street)
Philadelphia, PA 19107-4292
Telephone: 215-606-0100
Fax: 215-606-0111

Has federal agency and court records for Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. All U.S. federal censuses 1790-1940, and indexes. Also have 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.[1]

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National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington DC
Telephone:  1-866-272-6272
Fax:  301-837-0483
E-mail: National Archives and Records Administration

Nationwide 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]

Library of Congress
Library of Congress Jefferson Building.jpg

101 Independence Ave. SE
Thomas Jefferson Building, LJ G4
Washington, D.C. 20540-4660
Telephone:[3]  Reading Room: 202-707-5537
Fax:[3]  202-707-1957
E-mail:  Ask a Librarian[3]

The "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, British Isles, and German sources.[4]

New York Public Library
New York Public Library exterior.jpg

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

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


Library of Virginia.jpg
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.

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.[6] [7]

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Virginia Historical Society
428 North Blvd
Richmond, VA 23221-0311
Telephone: 804-358-4901
E-mail: Ask a Librarian] form
Internet: 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. [6] [8]

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Virginia Theological Seminary
Archives of the Bishop Payne Library
3737 Seminary Road
Alexandria, VA 22304
Telephone: 703-461-1731
Internet: 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.[9] Formerly known as the Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Virginia.


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Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary
P.O. Box 8794
Landrum Drive
College of William and Mary
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-8794
Phone: (757) 221-3050
Fax: (757) 221-2635

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.[10] [11]

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

Very large collection about Germans and Scots-Irish who traveled the Great Valley Road from Pennsylvania  to Virginia, including manuscripts, newspapers, biographies, and histories,[6] 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.[12]

John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library.jpg
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

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.[13]

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

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.[10] [14]

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

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.[10] [15]

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

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.[10] [16]

Roanoke County Public Library
706 S. Jefferson Street
Roanoke, VA 24016
Telephone: 540-853-2073
Internet: Virginia Room

Wonderful southwest Virginia collection of family folders, books, genealogies, and indexes.[10] 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.[17]

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

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.[10] [18]

Bristol Public Library 701 Goode Street, Bristol, VA 24201-4199, Telephone: 540-645-8780. 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.[19]

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.

Outside Virginia

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

Holds the Genealogial Society of Santa Cruz County's library, including the Tina Brayton Collection which is equivalent to the Draper Collection but larger and with a better index, and many compiled genealogies of Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia  families.[10] [20]

Online Records

Hand and keyboard.jpg Virginia
Online Records

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.


  • 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.


  1. 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.
  2. Information for Researchers at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC in National Archives (accessed 31 December 2013).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Contact Information in The Library of Congress (accessed 12 May 2010).
  4. The Collections in Local History and Genealogy Reading Room in The Library of Congress (accessed 8 January 2014).
  5. Dollarhide and Bremer, 81.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Dollarhide and Bremer, 97.
  7. Using the Collections in Library of Virginia (accessed 7 January 2014).
  8. Looking for People in Virginia Historical Society (accessed 7 January 2014).
  9. Archives in Virginia Theological Seminary (accessed 5 January 2014).
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Dollarhide and Bremer, 113.
  11. Genealogy Resources at Swem in Swem Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
  12. Family and Local History in Handley Regional Library (accessed 28 December 2013).
  13. John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library in Colonial Williamsburg (accessed 7 January 2014].
  14. Home in Jones Memorial Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
  15. Genealogy and History Library in Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
  16. Local History in Portsmouth Public Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
  17. Virginia Room in Roanoke, Virginia (accessed 7 January 2014).
  18. Genealogy in University of Virginia Library (accessed 7 January 2014).
  19. Dollarhide and Bremer, 105.
  20. The Tina Brayton Collection in Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County (accessed 3 January 2014).