Skip to Main Content

Genealogy at William & Mary Libraries

An overview of genealogical resources available at W&M Libraries.

African American Genealogy Resources at W&M Libraries

African American family consisting of at least three generationsHistorically, genealogical resources at W&M haven't been curated for inclusion in our collection; this is a wrong we are actively reconciling here in the Libraries and across campus. As we continue to purchase materials this area of research, we encourage you to stop back frequently to see the new additions.

African American Newspapers

In addition to the regional newspapers in our collection, we have access to a number of historic African American newspapers through our databases. Databases are accessible to visitors while in the library.

Freedmen's Bureau Records

Freedmen's Bureau records are now available for free on Ancestry. The collection includes more than 3.5 million searchable documents related to the agency's work and provides coverage from 1865 to 1878.

There are a variety of document types in the collection, including employment, hospital, pension, court, school, financial, and marriage records. These records can provide valuable information for genealogists, such as names, ages, and relationships of individuals, as well as information about their former enslavement and their life after emancipation.

Descendent Projects at W&M

The search for enslaved descendants at William and Mary is part of a wider effort to acknowledge and address the legacy of slavery in the United States. There are two ongoing projects in this area:

The Lemon Project Genealogy Research Initiative is conducting specific research on enslaved people with ties to William & Mary. The initiative also provides beginner to advanced family history workshops to our descendant community in Williamsburg and the Greater Tidewater area. The continuing education workshops are free to the public and often held virtually.

The Bray School Lab, a key component of the Williamsburg Bray School Initiative, is a partnership between William & Mary and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation with the shared goal of uncovering, documenting, preserving, and disseminating the history and legacy of the Williamsburg Bray School. This includes the difficult and important work of identifying descendants of Bray School students; the Lab seeks to connect individuals, families, and organizations to their ancestors.