We are proud to offer institutional access to both Ancestry and Fold3. While in the library, visitors can utilize these databases to find a variety of digitized genealogical sources, including Census records, vital records, church records, and more in Ancestry. And detailed military records, including stories, photos, and personal documents in Fold3.
One of the most important research tools for Virginia historical and genealogical researchers is the Virginia Historical Index (VHI), which was compiled under the direction of Earl Gregg Swem, (1870–1965). The index is a comprehensive index of several publications concerning Virginia history and genealogy. All volumes of the index are available on the first floor of Swem Library. An electronically searchable, though less comprehensive version of the index is available in the database Eight Centuries (accessible only while using a public computer in the library).
The VHI includes the following publications:
Tracing ancestors back across the ocean is a source of frustration for many researchers. Colonial Virginia had no main port of entry and many immigrant names simply were not captured on early ship lists. It is especially difficult for those whose ancestors were forcibly brought to Virginia as enslaved Africans.
There are a select number of resources available that do include passenger names. Those resources in our collection are linked below.
We have access to a number of regional historic newspapers online and on microfilm including the Virginia Gazette, the Daily Press, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Virginian-Pilot, and more.
Newspapers with online access can only be accessed while in the building. Complete holding information can be found by completing a journal title search for the newspaper you are looking for.
Search the catalog by specific title name or a keyword in the title. This search will find both print and electronic journals:
Wills and probate records provide valuable insight into the lives of individuals and their families. We do not maintain a collection of original wills/probates. We do have several compilations of Virginia wills and probate records that are not digitized in Ancestry. Formats include print books and microfilm.
Additional wills, including wills organized by county, can be found through a catalog search for "Virginia" AND "wills".
We have several published genealogies on Virginia families in our collection. These resources are found on the first floor of the library in the Virginia Reference area and are browsable in the following call ranges:
Southern families and colonial families:
VA Ref CS 61-VA Ref CS 69
VA Ref F 225- VA Ref F 229
VA Ref F 232
If you are looking for family papers related to Virginia families associated with William & Mary, we encourage you to search our Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) collection guides.