Our West Virginia genealogists are available to research on location. They will find and analyze the best records available to further your family history research. They can search the archives and libraries in West Virginia, as well as help you with other special requests.
Our researchers are available to visit local archives and libraries to access unique record collections to help with your research. Below is a list of a few of the archives our West Virginia researchers have access to.
The West Virginia Archives and History Library in Charleston, West Virginia is known as one of the best sources of genealogical information in the state. They hold records from the state archives including manuscripts, annual reports, naturalization records, and more. Their Genealogy Corner has collections that contain records on Union militias from West Virginia. This section also has many titles focusing on Revolutionary War research.
The West Virginia Genealogical Society contains several records including marriage records since 1788 and death records since 1853. They also hold several histories from counties in West Virginia.
The West Virginia University Library holds the largest collection of historical newspapers from West Virginia, stretching from 1791 to today. They also have a forensics resource library that contains manuscripts, books, and periodicals that date back to the 1800s. All in all they have seven different libraries throughout their campuses. The West Virginia University Wise Library is one of these seven libraries and contains the world’s largest collection of West Virginia related research. Their archives contain 4.5 million manuscript documents, 30,000 books, 15,000 pamphlets, over a thousand newspapers and over a hundred thousand photographs.
The Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library has a Local History & Genealogy collection. The collection focuses on areas within the state of West Virginia, specifically the eastern panhandle, as well as other states including Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
The Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library has many sources for information about the earliest colonists in the West Virginia area. Their Local History Room contains access to their holdings of more than 6,100 historical newspapers, with letters, speeches, opinion pieces, and advertisements. There are also military and governmental documents located in their databases.
The Parkersburg & Wood County Public Library contains genealogies, family histories, cemetery transcripts, obituaries, and family folders. They focus on the northwest area of West Virginia as well as regions of southwest Pennsylvania.
There are other excellent resources for genealogical research of West Virginia ancestors located in archives outside of West Virginia. We have genealogists working all over the country, who can investigate archives in other states for information about your ancestors as well. Below is short list of a few archives outside the state of West Virginia which our researchers can visit.
The National Archives at Philadelphia have both federal agency and court records for Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. They also contain all U.S. federal censuses from 1790 to 1940, and immigration records for Philadelphia from 1800 to 1945.
The Boyd County Public Library is located at a crossroads between Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. The Minnie Winder Genealogy & Local History Room, located in the library, houses the largest genealogical collection in the Tri-State area and Eastern Kentucky. Their collection consists of over 6,000 print volumes, 2,500 periodical issues, and over 6,200 rolls of microfilms. Many of these sources are specifically about the West Virginia people, such as family folders, biographies, genealogies, and pedigrees.
The Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania was founded in 1879 to preserve the history of the Western Pennsylvania region. The society holds information from the colonial period on the tract of land that became West Virginia. One noteworthy collection contains records of the Ohio Company, with information on land grants and settlers dating back to the 1750s. The collection also contains 700,000 photographs, including prints and negatives, 40,000 books, and 3,500 family history and business records.
The Library of Virginia is a wonderful resource for those searching for West Virginia records dated before 1863. The library’s extensive collection includes family bibles, histories and biographies, and newspapers. They also hold birth, marriage, death and divorce records. Â As a whole, their archive collection consists of approximately 121 million items.
The Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library might be small, but its archives contain a name index of nearly every history book that has been published in Virginia, West Virginia, or Kentucky. Information in their archive- includes court records from 1651, indexes and abstracts, Virginia vital records, census records, county histories, biographies, and church and cemetery records.
The University of Chicago Library has several historical records, but one of the most important items in their collection is the “Durrett Collection”. The “Durrett Collection” contains historical Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio River Valley manuscripts. These included 20,000 bound volumes, 250 files of pamphlets, 200 volumes of atlases and loose maps, and 249 newspaper titles. There are also 50,000 transcripts that discuss the migration of settlers in the trans-Appalachian west, the region west of the Appalachian mountains and east of the Mississippi River.
Until the 1860s, Virginia consisted of land that comprises modern-day Virginia and West Virginia. During the American Civil War West Virginia split from Virginia over political differences. Accordingly, many pre-1860s records for modern-day West Virginia are actually found in Virginia archives and libraries. This is true of the Virginia Historical Society, which has more records for early West Virginia history than any repository in West Virginia. Genealogical data here includes county records, military service records, church records, land office records, genealogies, and family bibles. The historical society is also an excellent location to search for information on African American ancestors. Some helpful articles in their archives are information on wills and inventories of slave owners’ estates, as often times slaves would be listed in these records, and an expanded collection of census records that contains names of African Americans.
Our genealogists specialize in researching all different types of documentation, and the list above is simply a small sample of what they can help you with.