Library of Virginia Research Notes


The Library of Virginia (LVA) in downtown Richmond is one of the most important repositories for published and original manuscript material pertaining to Virginia. To aid researchers in navigating its broad holdings, it makes pamphlets and research guides available to patrons on a variety of topics. If you are planning a visit to the library, or simply want to gain a better understanding of the holdings of the Library of Virginia, then you will certainly want to review this material.

What follows is a list of the published “Research Notes” and brochures that I have found the most interesting to me in my own Virginia genealogical research. Many, but not all, of the links will open a PDF file that you can download to your computer and view using Adobe Reader or similar software.

lva-exterior lva-lobby
Interior lobby of the Library of Virginia, with the Circulation Desk at the top of the stairs. The reading rooms are located on the second floor to the sides of the desk. (Photos by the author.)

Some tips for using the library:

  1. Get a Library of Virginia card at the Circulation Desk. You will need to present a photo ID with your current address. You need not be a resident of Virginia to obtain a card. Having a library card will enable you to use library resources onsite, and to conduct remote research using databases the library subscribes to, such as HistoryGeo.
  2. If you want to make photocopies and print them to paper, you will need to load funds onto your library card using one of the cashier machines. There is no longer a separate copy card. If you have an old copy card bring it with you. Any remaining funds will be transferred for you at the Circulation Desk.
  3. Microfilm readers and scanners are available upon registration in the West Reading Room, and may be used for a maximum of two hours if others are waiting. You can save files to a USB stick without paying any fees; if you print to paper it will cost you .25 per page. The library recommends using a USB stick that is less than 8 GB in size.
  4. Do plan on taking a meal break. The Discovery Cafe in the Library of Virginia lobby offers both breakfast and lunch options. Daily specials are available (like BBQ pulled pork sliders). If the tables are full, ask to share a table with someone and strike up a conversation. You never know who you may sit by, and it just may be a library staff member willing to share research tips with you!

I hope to return to Richmond again very soon to conduct more research in their extensive microfilm and manuscript collections.

Headstone Record for Civil War Soldier Perrine Carson

Civil War soldier Perrine Carson (1821-1866) was the brother of my ancestor, Caroline Carson (ca. 1829/30-1915). He was injured in service when building a bridge, and died within a year of his honorable discharge from the Army. His widow, Sarah Ann Carson, died in 1867, leaving five children under the age of 16.

Headstone card for Perrine Carson from National Archives RG 92, Office of the Quartermaster General.

Name: Carson, Perrine
Rank: Pvt.
Service: Co. I, 38th Regt., N.J. Inf[antry]
Cemetery: Presbyterian
Cemetery Location: Hamilton Square, Mercer Co., N.J.
Grave: [blank]
Date of Death: May 21 – 1866
Headstone Supplied by: Sheldon & Sons, West Rutland, Vermont
Contract Date: Aug. 21, 1888 [1]

Leigh Miller posted an image of his headstone on my behalf at Find A Grave. [2] The marker is of the typical shield design, with only his name and regiment inscribed. A similar headstone for Sarah Ann Carson is adjacent. [3] Other Carson family members are interred in the Presbyterian Churchyard at Hamilton Square, New Jersey as well. [4]


[1] “Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, 1879-1903”, card for Perrine Carson (1888?); digital image, ( : accessed 01 Jun 2013), citing NARA microfilm publication M1845, roll 4.
[2] Find A Grave, online database ( : accessed 01 Jun 2013), Perrine Carson, memorial no. 37797943, First Presbyterian Churchyard (Hamilton Square, Mercer County, New Jersey).
[3] Find A Grave, online database ( : accessed 01 Jun 2013), Sarah Ann Carson, memorial no. 37797975, First Presbyterian Churchyard (Hamilton Square, Mercer County, New Jersey).
[4] Nine persons bearing the Carson surname have been included in the Find A Grave database for this cemetery to date, including Caroline Carson and her husband, Charles Carson. See First Presbyterian Churchyard, Hamilton Square, Mercer County, New Jersey, Carson family markers; memorials, Find A Grave, online database ( : accessed 01 Jun 2013).

Headstone Record for Civil War Soldier David Bingaman

David M. Bingaman (1842-1896), served in the Civil War in Companies C, D, and E of the 20th Indiana Infantry. Family lore has it that he was wounded in action at the Battles of Malvern Hill (1 Jul 1862) and Gettysburg (2 Jul 1863). He survived these wounds, but older brother, John M. Bingaman, whom David followed into the Army, perished in combat at Malvern Hill, Virginia. David went on to marry Amanda A. McKibben in 1871. They lived in Illinois, the Oklahoma Territory and Kansas. The couple had no children.

As a deceased Union Civil War veteran, his grave in Pomona, Kansas was marked with a headstone supplied at government expense in 1902, under legislation passed in 1879 (20 Stat. 281). Besides the allowance for grave markers for Union veterans in private, village and city cemeteries, the law stipulated

The Secretary of War shall cause to be preserved in the records of his Department the names and places of burial of all soldiers for whom such headstones shall have been erected by authority of this or any former acts. [1]

Today, headstone records for interments in private cemeteries for the period between 1879 and roughly 1903 are part of Record Group (RG) 92 Office of the Quartermaster General. Per the catalog entry there are 166,000 cards that have been microfilmed on 22 rolls. The microfilm may be accessed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. or at regional branches of the National Archives. Nine 3” x 4” inch cards were microfilmed per frame. This microfilm collection has also been digitized, and is available at as Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, 1879-1903.

Headstone card for David M. Bingaman
Headstone card for David M. Bingaman

Information from the card is as follows:

Name: Bingaman, David M.
Rank: 2nd Lt.
Service: Co. D, 20th Regt., Ind[iana] Inf[antry]
Cemetery: Pomona
Cemetery Location: Pomona, Franklin Co., Kans.
Grave: [blank]
Date of Death: Nov 30 – 1896
Headstone Supplied by: Lee Marble Works
Contract Date: March 29, 1902 [2]

I have not yet been able to ascertain whether applications for headstones made between 1879-1903 might exist, although I have seen earlier examples online at NARA, and catalog entries for the period following. This will be added to my to-do list when I attend the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR) in Washington, DC in July 2013.

Read more about this topic:

Kluskens, Claire Prechtel. “Headstone Records for US Military Veterans, Part II: Records for Headstones Requested from 1879 to 1925.” NGS Magazine 39:2 (April-June 2013), 32-35. A copy of this article may be downloaded by NGS members at

Mollan, Mark C. “Honoring Our War Dead: The Evolution of the Government Policy on Headstones for Fallen Soldiers and Sailors.” Prologue 35:1 (Spring 2003), 56-65. Online here.


[1] “An act authorizing the Secretary of War to erect headstones over the graves of Union soldiers who have been interred in private, village, or city cemeteries,” 20 Stat. 281 (3 Feb 1879).
[2] “Headstones Provided for Deceased Union Civil War Veterans, 1879-1903”, card for David M. Bingaman (1902); digital image, ( : accessed 28 May 2013), citing NARA microfilm publication M1845, roll 2.