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Genealogical Research

An overview of resources available at Swem Library for Genealogists along with ideas for other places to conduct research in the area.

Newspaper Projects from the Library of Virginia

The Virginia Gazette

The Virginia Gazette, published in Williamsburg, was the very first newspaper produced in Virginia and began publication on August 6, 1736. It was the only newspaper in circulation in Virginia on the eve of the American Revolution.  It remained in circulation from 1736 until the capital was moved to Richmond in 1780.  These early issues have been digitized by the Rockefeller Library of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Additionally, the Special Collections Research Center has some scattered original issues from this time period.  Consult the following indexes and abstracts to identify relevant articles and issues:

  • Cappon, Lester J. and Stella F. Duff.  Virginia Gazette Index, 1736-1780. Williamsburg: Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1950.  (VA REF AI21 .V5 v.1-2) – This index was created in the 1940s with personal and place names, subject entries, and indexes to advertisements.
  • Headley, Robert K.  Genealogical Abstracts from 18th-Century Virginia Newspapers Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1987. (VA REF F225 H43 1987) – This has abstracts of newspaper entries that contain information about the births, marriages, and deaths of Virginians.  It is not an index. 

Over the years, the Virginia Gazette has been revived several times.  Its current incarnation has currently been in continuous publication since 1930.  For a complete publishing history (and to identify the gaps in publication), consult:

  • Osborne, Marian.  A Brief History: The Virginia Gazette. Williamsburg: Virginia Gazette, 1952.  (VA REF PN4899 .W55 V56)

Swem Library has all extant issues of this newspaper from 1736-present on microfilm, located on the ground floor.

Historical Newspapers on Microfilm

Swem has a number of historical newspapers on microfilm. Please note that this is not a complete list of all titles, many more can be found by browsing the collections on the Ground Floor.



Dates of Publication

Microfilm Call #

American Beacon & Norfolk and
Portsmouth Daily Advertiser


Aug. 7, 1815-Jan. 4, 1840

AN47 .N67 A42

Daily Press

Newport News

Jan. 11-Dec. 30, 1898

July 4-Dec. 14, 1899

Jan. 7, 1905-Dec. 2010
(Jan. 2010-present is available online in digital microfilm)

F234 .N5 D34



May 9, 1804-Dec. 31, 1862

AN47 .R52 R546

Lynchburg Virginian


Aug. 6, 1822-Aug. 31, 1866

AN47 .L96 L986

Mathews Journal


Jan. 6, 1906-Nov. 4, 1937

AN47 .M37 M34

Petersburg Index Appeal


July 4, 1865-Dec. 28, 1895

AN47 .P47 P427

Public Ledger


Aug. 4, 1876-Oct. 21, 1895

AN47 .N67 P82



May 4, 1801-March 22, 1805

AN47 .P47 R46

Richmond Planet (renamed Richmond Afro-American and Richmond Planet)


Jan. 4, 1890-Dec. 1977

AN47 .R52 R564

AN47 .R52 A37

Richmond Times-Dispatch


Jan. 14,1852-present

No issues Apr.1 -Dec. 9, 1865  

AN47 .R52 R575

Richmond Whig


Jan. 2, 1860-April 30, 1865

AN47 .R52 R527

Rockbridge County News


Nov. 7, 1884-June 1962

AN47 .L48 R62



May 21, 1864-Dec. 5, 1865

AN47 .R52 R573

Southern Churchman


Nov. 22, 1861-Mar. 15, 1865

AN47 .R52 S68

Virginia Gazette


Aug. 6, 1736—present, except for the following when the Virginia Gazette was not published:  1780-1853; 1862-1869;  1871-1892;  1923-1929.

AN47 .W54 V573

Virginia Gazette and General Advertiser


Sept. 28, 1791-May 17, 1799

AN47 .R52 V546



Jan. 1, 1899-2012

AN47 .N67 V48