Virginia Compiled Genealogies
Most archives, historical societies, and genealogical societies have special collections and indexes of genealogical value. Sometimes these must be searched in person.
FamilySearch Wiki Bibliographies. Lists of Virginia genealogies, county-by-county, are being compiled on FamilySearch Wiki. Some counties, for example, Augusta County, list compiled genealogies for more than 700 families. Books, periodicals, and manuscript collections are being tapped to create these lists, which are currently available for the following counties:
Accomack · Albemarle · Alleghany · Amelia · Amherst · Appomattox · Arlington · Augusta · Bath · Bedford · Bland · Botetourt · Brunswick · Buchanan · Buckingham · Campbell · Caroline · Carroll · Charles City · Charlotte · Chesterfield · Clarke · Craig · Culpeper · Cumberland · Dickenson · Dinwiddie · Elizabeth City · Essex · Fairfax · Fauquier · Floyd · Fluvanna · Franklin · Frederick · Giles · Gloucester · Goochland · Grayson · Greene · Greensville · Halifax · Hanover · Henrico · Henry · Highland · Isle of Wight · James City · King and Queen · King George · King William · Lancaster · Lee · Loudoun · Louisa · Lunenburg · Madison · Mathews · Mecklenburg · Middlesex · Montgomery · Nansemond · Nelson · New Kent · Norfolk · Norfolk (Lower) · Norfolk (New) · Norfolk (Upper) · Northampton · Northumberland · Nottoway · Orange · Page · Patrick · Pittsylvania · Powhatan · Prince Edward · Prince George · Prince William · Princess Anne · Pulaski · Rappahannock · Rappahannock (Old) · Richmond · Roanoke · Rockbridge · Rockingham · Russell · Scott · Shenandoah · Smyth · Southampton · Spotsylvania · Stafford · Surry · Sussex · Tazewell · Warren · Warwick · Washington · Westmoreland · Wise · Wythe · York
Search Engines. Online search engines make it possible to search for ancestors' names across the Internet. Examples:
- Google (try searching for your ancestor's name in parenthesis, i.e. "Jebediah Hogg")
- Mocavo (a new site that searches only websites with genealogical content)
Family Tree Databases
World Connect. More than 12,000,000 Virginia entries appear in family trees submitted to the online World Connect Project. The accuracy of the data varies, but the database is commendable for its ability to include transcribed sources within each individual's file. These databases will provide many researchers clues as to what has been done in the past, and where future research efforts should be directed.
Many published genealogies, particularly those printed before 1923, which are now out of copyright, are being digitized and made available online. Major sites include:
- Google Books
- Internet Archive
- Family History Archive (this site focuses specifically on genealogy and history books)
- World Vital Records
- JSTOR (this subscription site searches, among other items, scholarly history journals)
Community Networking Sites
In the pre-Internet days, many genealogists published queries in genealogical journals covering places where their ancestors lived, such as The Virginia Genealogist. Today, most genealogists prefer to post queries online.
Message Boards and Lists. Genealogists share information and ask questions in online message boards. Some examples are:
- Virginia Genealogy Forum (Genealogy.com) 40,000+ messages
- Virginia - Family History & Genealogy Message Boards (Ancestry.com) 25,000+ messages
- Virginia Mailing Lists (RootsWeb.com)
You'll also want to check message boards focused on specific surnames and localities (such as counties) to find your ancestors.
DNA. DNA studies are one of the most exciting new ways to learn about your roots. Several DNA companies are available to assist. Y-Chromosome tests are very helpful, because they can help people who share surnames find out if they're related. Some DNA sites inform you if someone is already studying your surname, such as:
Geographical DNA projects targeting people with Virginia ancestors include:
- The DNA of the Early Chesapeake project at FamilyTreeDNA lists many Virginia compiled genealogies. Project administrators correlate DNA evidence and genealogical material.
- VA-1600s Geographic Project at FamilyTreeDNA was organized as a storage place for DNA results of people whose ancestors lived in Virginia before 1700. 75+ samples.
- Germanna DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA focuses on the Germans who settled in Virginia in 1714 and 1717. 200+ samples.
- Virginia-SW Group Project at FamilyTreeDNA focuses on Franklin, Patrick, Grayson, Smyth, Lee, Scott, Wise, Dickenson, Henry, Carroll, Wythe, Buchanan, Russell, Tazewell, Bland, Giles, Craig, Floyd, Bedford, Amherst, Pulaski, Pittsylvania, and Montgomery counties.
- Cumberland Gap Y-DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA focuses on families in Lee, Russell, and Scott counties, Virginia; Bell and Harlan counties, Kentucky; and Claiborne, Hancock, and Hawkins counties, Tennessee. 3700+ samples.
- Melungeon Families of Interest Project at FamilyTreeDNA focuses on specific families thought to fit into the ethnic category of Melungeon. Some of these folks lived in Southwest Virginia.
Library of Virginia. Use the "Search the LVA Catalog" feature to locate published genealogies about Virginia families. Many manuscript collections are also held at this facility.
Virginia Historical Society. Search for a surname or conduct a subject search for all the genealogies available for particular counties.
Family History Library Catalog. Use the "Last names" search to pinpoint books about specific families in this large collection at the Family History Library.
PERSI. This database, available online both at Ancestry.com ($) and HeritageQuestOnline ($), searches the titles of articles published in genealogy journals. It can help you learn if anyone has published information in this format on your particular family tree.
Virginia Colonial Records Project. This project includes 14,704 surveys of Virginia-related material in archives of Great Britain, Ireland, and France and 963 microfilm reels of original documents. The database index lists 500,000 personal names and ship names. The Library of Virginia has put the index on the Internet. They also have interlibrary loan of the films of original documents.
For a list of the sources, see:
- A Key to Survey Reports and Microfilm of the Virginia Colonial Records Project. Richmond: Virginia State Library and Archives, 1990. (Family History Library book 975.5 H23k)
Also see the Library of Virginia Basic Search: Virginia Colonial Records Project online database index
Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Genealogical Collection.
This collection consists of transcripts of Bible records, cemetery records, church records, marriage records, death records, obituaries, and wills. It was microfilmed in 1971 at the DAR Library in Washington, DC, and is available on 44 films at the Family History Library. The volumes are generally arranged by county and many have individual indexes. These are listed in several entries in the Family History Library Catalog under Daughters of the American Revolution (Virginia).
George Harrison Sanford King Papers, 1914-1985. Held at the Virginia Historical Society. These records are available online.
Ardery Collection, ca. 1750-1970. This is a set of volumes and files that contain information gathered by Julia Hoge Spencer Ardery from the 1920s to the 1960s on Virginia and Kentucky families. The information was extracted from newspaper accounts, family newsletters, family Bibles, military records, historical journals, and vital records. The collection is indexed, but most of the volumes and files are in several alphabetical series.
The original collection is at the Margaret I. King Library (University of Kentucky, Special Collections and Archives, 110 King Library North, Lexington, Kentucky 40506-0039; Telephone: 606-257-8611; Fax: 606-257-8379). The Family History Library has a copy of part of the collection on 81 films microfilmed in 1970 beginning with film 831459. The King Library has additional files (not microfilmed) on more than 100 families. A list of the family surnames was published by the Kentucky Genealogical Society in:
- Brian D. Harney,Cumulative Index to "Bluegrass Roots", 1973-1984 (Frankfort, Ky: Kentucky Genealogical Society, 1985). (Family History Library book 976.9 B2b index.)
Genealogical Notes (Collection). This is a collection of typewritten and handwritten genealogical manuscripts by many different researchers. They were filmed at the Library of Virginia (Family History Library films 029883-89). The manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by surname. The records of each family are also listed in the Surname Search of the Family History Library Catalog.
- Hart, Lyndon H. Guide to Genealogical Notes and Charts in the Archives Branch, Virginia State Library. Richmond, Va., 1983.
Genealogical Notes, 1607-present. Held at the Virginia Historical Society. These records are available online.
Published Collections, Indexes, and Guides
Some helpful indexes to many published accounts of families are in the books by Stuart Brown, Robert Stewart, Earl Swem (see below), and P. G. Wardell (see Virginia Biography).
A good starting point for finding published Virginia genealogies is:
- Stewart, Robert Armistead. Index to Printed Virginia Genealogies. 1930. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co, 1970. (Family History Library book 975.5 D22s 1970; 1965 ed. on film 962558 item 2 or fiche 6019375.) This book indexes about 650 Virginia family and local histories published before 1930.
Additional resources include:
- Fleet, Beverley. Virginia Colonial Abstracts. 34 volumes in 3. 1937-1949. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1988. (Family History Library book 975.5 N2fb 1988; some volumes are on microfilms: see Virginia Colonial Abstracts in the Author/Title Catalog.) Includes court, land, probate, vital, tax, and militia records with indexes.
- Hart, Lyndon H., III, comp. A Guide to Genealogical Notes and Charts in the Archives Branch, Virginia State Library. Richmond, Virginia: Virginia State Library, 1983. (Family History Library book 975.5 D23ha) Inventories 1,000 files by family name.
- Swem, Earl Gregg. Virginia Historical Index. Two Volumes in four. 1934-1936. Reprint, Gloucester, Massachusetts: Peter Smith, 1965. (Family History Library book 975.5 H22s; films 485948-49; fiche 6046961.) This lists many genealogies that were published in periodicals.
- Brown, Stuart E., Jr. Virginia Genealogies: A Trial List of Printed Books and Pamphlets. Two Volumes. Berryville, Virginia: Virginia Book, 1967, 1980. (Family History Library book 975.5 D23b.) These volumes reproduce card catalogs of about 3,000 family and local histories listed in books and periodicals published before 1980. This is a supplement to Robert Armistead Stewart's book (see above).
- Pecquet du Bellet, Louise. Some Prominent Virginia Families. 4 vols. 1907. Reprint, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1976. FHL Film 1036136 see also FHL Collection, Includes more than 100 early families. Based on published histories, biographies, and periodicals. Indexed in Vera Meek Wimberly, FHL Collection (Conroe, Texas: Montgomery County Genealogical & Historical Society, 1980; Family History Library book 975.5 D2p index). Digital versions available online: Vol. 2 | Vol. 4 | Index. All four volumes have been digitized by Ancestry ($).
- Genealogies of Virginia Families: From Tyler's Quarterly. . . . Four Volumes. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1981. (Family History Library book 975.5 D2gvf.) Alphabetical (by author's surname) reprints of hundreds of articles.
- Genealogies of Virginia Families: From the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Five Volumes. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1981. (Family History Library book 975.5 D2gv.) Alphabetical (by author's surname) reprints of hundreds of articles.
- Genealogies of Virginia Families: From the William and Mary College Quarterly . . . Five Volumes. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 1982. (Family History Library book 975.5 D2gvw.) Alphabetical (by author's surname) reprints of hundreds of articles.
- Dorman, John Frederick. Adventurers of Purse and Person, Virginia, 1607-1624/5. Third Edition. 1956. Reprint, n.l.: Order of the First Families of Virginia, 1607-1624/5, 1987. (Family History Library book 975.5 H2j 1987.) In addition to listing early settlers, this book has detailed genealogical information on their descendants to 1700.
- Wardell, Patrick G. Virginians & West Virginians, 1670-1870. Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, 1986. (Family History Library book 975 D2wp.) This includes genealogical information abstracted from History of Virginia (see Virginia History).
- Rider, Fremont, ed. American Genealogical- Biographical Index. Volumes 1-186+. Middletown, Connecticut: Godfrey Memorial Library, 1952-. (Family History Library book 973 D22am ser. 2; on 31 Family History Library films beginning with 1698167.) An earlier version of 48 volumes was published as The American Genealogical Index, 1942-1951. Over four million brief citations (name, date, and source) to manuscripts, periodicals, and books. The earlier version had reference to 350 sources that have been included in the second version. The second version has consulted an additional 500 sources. Emphasis is on eastern states. There is a compact disc edition, and an Internet indexat Ancestry as well.
- Virdin, Donald O. Virginia Genealogies and Family Histories.
To help interpret citations and locate the original sources, use the colored pages in some volumes or use the book:
- Clark, Patricia L., and Dorothy Huntsman, eds. 'Key Title Index to the American Genealogical-Biographical Index: Register of Family History Library Call Numbers. Salt Lake City, Utah: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1990. (Family History Library book 973 D22am index; film 1698167 item 4; fiche 6088377.) Shows sources that are at the Family History Library and their call numbers. Many genealogies have also been published in periodicals (see Virginia Periodicals).
A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:
Popular Virginia Genealogies
- Brown, Stuart E., Lorraine F. Myers and Eileen M. Chappel. Pocahontas' Descendants ... A Revision, Enlargement and Extension of the List as Set Out by Wyndham Robertson in his Book Pocahontas and Her Descendants (1887). 1985.
In a review, Dorman stated "Comprehensive studies such as this appear only rarely. This volume should be in every Virginia genealogical collection."
- O'Dell, Cecil. Pioneers of Old Frederick County, Virginia. Marceline, Mo.: Walsworth Pub. Co., 1995. FHL Collection.
Prof. Warren Hofstra relied heavily on O'Dell's conclusions to write his award-winning history of the Shenandoah Valley.
Writing and Sharing Your Family History
Sharing your own family history is valuable for several reasons:
- It helps you see gaps in your own research and raises opportunities to find new information.
- It helps other researchers progress in researching ancestors you share in common.
- It draws other researchers to you who already have information about your family that you do not yet possess.
- It draws together researchers with common interests, sparking collaboration opportunities. For instance, researchers in various localities might choose to do lookups for each other in remote repositories. Your readers may also share photos of your ancestors that you have never seen before.
- See also:
- Basic Search: Virginia Colonial Records Project online database index, courtesy: Library of Virginia.
- John Frederick Dorman, "Review of Pioneers of Old Frederick County, Virginia," in The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 39, No. 3 (Jul.-Sep. 1995):236.
- Warren R. Hofstra, The Planting of New Virginia: Settlement and Landscape in the Shenandoah Valley (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004).