Ye Olde Virginia 1600s to 1960s

You don’t need to have ancestors from Virginia to check out the many collections available at ‘Virginia Memory’ which is online and sponsored by the Library of Virginia and the state archives.  Their vast array of material included photos, maps, books, manuscripts, printed materials, newspapers and vital records. The assemblages are intermixed with many items from surrounding states, so places such as Maryland, Washington, D. C., Pennsylvania, North & South Carolina and certainly West Virginia (which was once part of Virginia) will be of special interest to the family researcher.  Plus with Virginia’s long history, going back to the Jamestown Colony, Williamsburg and other areas, very few events have not been influenced over the years by Virginia.

The numerous collections are quite varied. If you are looking for locations and people of Virginia, then you have available a ‘gold mine’.  For example, the Adolph B. Rice collection of photos goes from 1949 to 1961 covering the everyday scenes and people of Richmond, VA.  If you find a photo of interest, click on it to enlarge it plus read the description of the place and date. Any interest in Fairfax County or the city of Hampton or Radford, then there are hundreds of postcards and photographs of the businesses, churches, schools and events of those regions.

A very interesting collection are the ephemeral material in the form of public broadsides hung on buildings in which to announce community events, shows and public speakers; some dating back to the late 1700s.  Events occurring in locations outside of Virginia would also be featured.

Another form of data saved are the Virginia Circuit Court Records in the Chancery Records Index. Many such court hearings have witnesses relating events, so this can be very informative. They cover from the 1700s to about 1919.

All those interested in the Civil War, there are 200 maps and legacy collection (papers, photos, records) which are quite extensive. Also the Confederate disability applications and pension rolls, an important primary and secondary source for family researchers. Need to go back to the American Revolutionary War, there are bounty warrants and pensions for those from Virginia in the 1770s who served in the army or navy.

There might be located a biographical sketch of a Virginia ancestor compiled by Samuel Bassett French from 1890 to 1897.  It covers some 9,000 prominent men of Virginia before 1890.  There is information on Capt. Henry Fairfax (1804-1846), Samuel Boyle Davies (1774-1829) or John Clayton (1685-1773) to name a few.

Knowing property acquired by one’s ancestors is important.  Among the databases are the Virginia Land patents and grants from the crown and commonwealth from 1623 to 1992. A few other interesting databases are the soldiers / surviving family members’ questionnaires completed after World War I along with copies of the very graphic posters from the war.

A good and varied online resource is the Virginia Memory.

Photo:  Nov. 6, 1860 Presidential Election – President John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky and for Vice President Joseph Lane of Oregon. A ballot – “Write your name on the back of this ticket.

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