Library of Virginia Research Notes

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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.

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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.

“Free Trade and Sailors’ Rights”

I have been putting the finishing touches on an upcoming article for publication on War of 1812 Federal bounty land. When checking out some online resources, I ran across this series of YouTube videos showing a 2013 presentation by an award-winning author on maritime history, Dr. Paul A. Gilje. I have embedded the links below:

“Free Trade and Sailors’ Rights” was one of the slogans that defined the War of 1812 from the American perspective. Captain David Porter flew a flag from his ship, the Essex with those words stitched into it, shortly after the United States declared war on Great Britain in June 1812.

NARA Records Digitized by Partners

A fantastic link was shared yesterday by instructor Claire Bettag in her “NARA at Your Fingertips” talk to our group at the National Institute on Genealogical Research (NIGR), currently underway at the National Archives in Washington, DC.

The link she shared was to National Archives records digitized and made available in whole or in part on the websites of its digitization partners, Ancestry.com and Fold3.com. If researching from home, you will likely need a subscription to pull up the record, but the index should be available at no charge.

NARA Records Digitized by Digitization Partners

This long list of digitized publications can easily be sorted by clicking on any of the column headings. Or, search the page for a specific keyword using CTRL+ F on your keyboard. Once you’ve found a publication of interest, click on the title to be taken to the search page at the partner website. In this example, I’ve searched for M313, the War of 1812 Pension Application Files Index, and clicked that link to be taken to the search page on Ancestry.com.

War of 1812 Pension Application Files at Ancestry