Virginia Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections

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This entry was originally written by Johni Cerny and Gareth L. Mark for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
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the Virginia Family History Research series.
History of Virginia
Virginia Vital Records
Census Records for Virginia
Background Sources for Virginia
Virginia Maps
Virginia Land Records
Virginia Probate Records
Virginia Court Records
Virginia Tax Records
Virginia Cemetery Records
Virginia Church Records
Virginia Military Records
Virginia Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
Virginia Archives, Libraries, and Societies
Virginia Immigration
African Americans of Virginia
Virginia County Resources
Virginia City Resources
Map of Virginia


Virginia has excellent genealogical and historical periodicals beginning with a trio of early publications: The William and Mary Quarterly, 1892-present in three series (Institute of Early American History and Culture); Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, 1919'52; and The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1893-present (Virginia Historical Society). They are filled with valuable genealogical or historical information about early Virginians. Issues through 1930 (Tyler's Quarterly through 1929) are indexed in Swem's Virginia Historical Index (cited in Background Sources for Virginia). Reprints of family history articles in these periodicals appear in an encyclopedic work entitled Genealogies of Virginia Families (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1980'82), divided into three series. The first, in five volumes, consists of articles reprinted from The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (reprinted, 2001). The second series of four volumes is composed of articles excerpted from Tyler's Quarterly (1981). The last series, derived from the William and Mary Quarterly (1985), completes the work in five volumes. Each collection has been published on CD-ROM as part of Family Tree Maker Archives (see page 17).

Other major Virginia periodicals include The Virginia Genealogist, 1957-present (independently published, John Frederick Dorman, editor, P.O. Box 5860, Falmouth, VA 22403-5860), a quarterly with source material, genealogies of early Virginia and West Virginia families, and a query section (a cumulative index for volumes 1'20 was produced in 1981), and The Magazine of Virginia Genealogy (formerly: Virginia Genealogical Society Quarterly Bulletin), 1963-present, the quarterly of the Virginia Genealogical Society.


The most extensive collections of Virginia newspapers are housed at the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Historical Society, as are several indexes to newspaper articles. The Newspapers and Periodicals section of the Library of Virginia website at links to a title list of current periodicals and newspapers; African-American newspapers and related databases; eighteenth-century newspapers; newspapers in the Virginia database, and other links. See Lester J. Cappon, Virginia Newspapers, 1821'1935; A Bibliography with Historical Introduction and Notes (New York: University of Virginia Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, 1936).

The Virginia Gazette, Virginia's first newspaper, includes personal notices. It is indexed in Lester J. Cappon and Stella F. Duff, Virginia Gazette Index, 1736'1780, 2 vols. (Williamsburg, Va.: Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1950).


The online manuscript catalog of the Library of Virginia includes approximately 20,000 records, with new accessions added daily and cataloging of earlier acquisitions continuing. The types of documents found in the catalog of primary interest to genealogists include Bible, business, cemetery, church, and genealogical notes and charts; military, personal, and family papers; and government records. Search the online catalog at See also any of the guides to manuscript collections produced by the library. FamilySearch has digitized the Family Bible collection of the Virginia Historical Society - free.

Many repositories in Virginia hold manuscript collections of value to genealogical research. In addition to the sources listed under Manuscripts in the Introduction of this book, several important repositories are listed under Archives, Libraries, and Societies.

An important manuscript collection located outside the state dealing with Virginians is in Wisconsin (see Wisconsin Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections). The Draper Manuscripts cover a large number of events and people associated with the migration from Virginia to Kentucky, Tennessee, and the Midwest. Microfilm copies of the material are in several research libraries throughout the country and are available through interlibrary loan.