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Local History

Virginia Room Research

Cemeteries

Communities

  • Braddock District
    "A Look Back at Braddock District" is based on the book Braddock's True Gold. Documents, photos and maps show this central Fairfax County area's history from Colonial times to the present.

  • Fairfax Museum and Visitor Center
    The museum produces special exhibitions on city history, provides educational outreach to school and youth groups and offers walking tours of Old Town Fairfax and the city's historic buildings in the spring and fall. General visitor information, including lodging, restaurants, transportation and historic and natural attractions is also available. There's even a gift shop.

  • Franconia Museum
    This history of the Franconia neighborhood includes photographs and maps.

  • Historic Structures of Clifton Virginia
    A photo tour of Clifton's historic buildings.

  • Reston Planned Community Archives
    The history of Reston, a planned community in Fairfax County, is presented in photographs, maps and text. The website is part of George Mason University's Planned Community Archives.

  • The Story of Ravensworth
    Ravensworth was the largest colonial land grant in Fairfax County — 24,112 acres (37.7 square miles). This site explores the land over the years, the people who owned it, those who lived and worked there, local landmarks and more.

Digitized Local History Books & Maps

Books
  • Beginning At A White Oak by Beth Mitchell
    A study including abstracts of 708 patents and grants of original owners of Fairfax County lands from 1651.

  • Braddock's True Gold: 20th Century Life in the Heart of Fairfax County by Marion Meany and Mary Lipsey
    Stories and photographs from over 50 long-time residents capture the essences of 20th-century life in the heart of the Braddock District of Fairfax County, Virginia.

  • Colchester Colonial Port on the Potomac by Edith M. Sprouse
    A study of the 18th-century Fairfax County port town. Includes information about early merchants, commercial activities, tobacco warehouses, railroads, the Revolutionary War, and archaeological sites.

  • The Fairfax County Courthouse by Ross Netherton and Ruby Waldeck
    A study of Fairfax Count'ys courthouse, built in 1800, and of the Virginia court system.

  • Frying Pan Farm by Elizabeth Brown Pryor
    A study of modest farms and farming communitiesin Fairfax County, 1918-1940, with a history of Frying Pan Farm Park.
  • Fairfax County, Virginia in 1760 by Beth Mitchell
    An interpretive historical book and map of Fairfax County Virginia in 1760 showing landowners, tenants, slave owners, churches, roads, ordinaries, ferries, mills, and tobacco inspection warehouses.
  • Registration Of Free Negroes, 1822-1861 by Donald Sweig
    A transcription of the two existing volumes of lists of free African-Americans. The original volumes are contained in the Fairfax County Courthouse .
  • Salona, Fairfax County, Virginia by Ellen L. Anderson
    A study of a brick house in McLean, Virginia tracing its history from the "Langley" grant throught the Civil War up to 1979.
Maps
  • Fairfax County, VA in 1760 lists landowners and some tenants in 1760; it does not include western Fairfax County which was part of Loudoun at that time.
  • Fairfax County in 1860: a collective biography lists lots of details about residents in 1860; the map also shows how the owner acquired the land. Accompanying seven-volume book set in the Virginia Room at VREF 929.3755 FAIR 1996 

Historical Records

  • Court Record Finding Aids
    The Fairfax County Circuit Court Historic Records department has created indexes and finding aids for many of their records, including chancery suits, roads/transportation records, deeds, some vital records, wills and other material (from 1742 to the early 1990s). Contact the Historic Records Center for copies of these records.
  • Fairfax County Inventory of Historic Sites
    Lists more than 340 historically significant sites, ranging from little known to internationally famous. Research Guidelines offers tips and suggestions for Fairfax County land and property research.

  • Fairfax County Old-New Street Name List
    On April 17, 1963, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance to create a uniform system for numbering properties and buildings in Fairfax County. This resulted in the renaming of existing street names and the naming of unnamed streets. Contained in this list are old street names alongside their new street names which became effective on April 1, 1965.

  • Fairfax County Public Schools History
    A history of the Fairfax County Public School system, and individual histories of all 200+ schools.

  • Fairfax County Road Orders, 1749-1800
    Road orders list the names of many of those living on or near a road, and contain information about roads, farms, landmarks and water features. A great source, especially for the pre-census years, from the Historic Roads of Virginia series published by the Virginia Transportation Research Council.

  • Fairfax County School Board Minutes
    Searchable images of minutes from 1920 to the present

  • 1782 Fairfax Personal Property Tax List
    Although these images are not indexed, it is easy to search the list by looking at each page. John Wise owned the only billiard table in Fairfax County in 1782!

  • 1790 / 1800 Fairfax Tax Lists
    Searchable images of personal property tax lists serve as alternatives to the lost 1790 and 1800 censuses.

  • Marriage Records — Brides and Grooms
    Fairfax County marriage records from 1853-1957, indexed by the name of the bride or the groom. Each list gives the name of the bride, groom, date of the wedding, and marriage license book and page number. Contact the Historic Records department Historic Records Center for copies of the page from the marriage register.
  • Northern Virginia Civil Rights Archive Oral Histories
    Video testimonials from residents of Northern Virginia who personally experienced the civil rights era.

  • Northern Virginia History Notes
    A collection of articles about historic places in Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties by local historian, Debbie Robison.

  • Northern Virginia Slavery Database Record Search
    Developed to assist African American genealogists get past the 1870 brick wall, which is the earliest census to list the names of African Americans. One strategy is to search for two known family members to see if they were in the same household, i.e. had the same owner. Then search the records of the owner for other family members. The database is also helpful for adding to the understanding of local history since you can list records by owner. The database currently covers all slave births and deaths from 1853-1859 in Fairfax County. Next update will include Loudoun County births and deaths. Use %" as a wildcard.

  • "The Road to Happiness"
    This 1924 silent movie was filmed in Fairfax County by the Ford Motor Company and the US Bureau of Public Roads. It promotes road improvements and features local residents.

  • Tithables in Fairfax County
    This transcription of a 1749 tithables list is presented by the Fairfax County Daughters of the American Revolution.

Historical Photographs

  • Fairfax County Historic Imagery Viewer - Aerial Photos
    View historic aerial photos of any part of Fairfax County. Currently this application includes 1937, 1953, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013. Additional years will be added as the digital data become available. Search for an address then use the Layer List widget in the upper right corner to show the years. To see the 1937 images, for example, either uncheck the boxes for all years later than 1937 or use the drop down arrow next to 1937 to move it above the most recent year
  • Fairfax County Public Library Photograph Collection
    Pictures from the Henry H. Douglas Collection of Washington and Old Dominion Railroad Photographs, and the Fairfax County Extension Service Annual Reports issued between 1922 and 1948 can be found by searching "Fairfax County Public Library" in the LVA Collections Discovery System.
  • Historical Postcards of Fairfax, Virginia
    The Randolph H. Lytton Historical Postcards of Fairfax, Virginia Collection features nearly 200 digitized images of Fairfax City and Fairfax County businesses, institutions, government buildings, schools and other places of interest. Many of the postcards show Fairfax motels, especially those along the Route 29 / Route 50 corridor. The collection is part of George Mason University's Mason Archival Repository Service.

Genealogical & Historical Societies

Local History & Genealogy Collections

See also genealogy libraries and archives, and the Virginia Room's local history and genealogy resources.

  • Alexandria Black History Museum
    The Museum's Watson Reading Room permits visitors to use a growing collection of books, periodicals, oral histories and videos on African American history.

  • Alexandria Library
    Includes searchable genealogy indexes, photographs, house histories and more. Many Fairfax County and Northern Virginia residents are included.

  • Arlington Public Library's Center for Local History
    Includes digital archives of Arlington County history.

  • Central Rappahannock Regional Library (Fredericksburg, Virginia)
    Includes searchable articles, indexes and pictures. Many families have Fairfax County connections. There is also an extensive section of information on African American families.

  • District of Columbia Public Library
    The Washingtoniana Collection includes a collection guide and useful links. Many Fairfax County families have close ties to Washington, DC.

  • Loudoun County
    The Thomas Balch Library of Leesburg is home of the collections on Leesburg and Loudoun County. Includes a searchable cemetery database with more than 27,000 entries.

  • Northern Virginia Oral History Project
    A guide to the Northern Virginia Oral History Project collection of interviews with local residents recorded between 1958 and 1996. The Virginia Room has transcripts of interviews for Series 1 and 2, up to 1983.

  • Prince William Public Library System
    The website of the Ruth E. Lloyd Information Center, or RELIC, includes a collection guide, quarterly newsletter and an index to recent newspapers. The library system also provides a Digital Library, which includes a selection of birth, marriage and death records, and indexes to historic sites, photographs and maps.

  • Winchester and Frederick County
    The Stewart Bell, Jr. Archives Room at the Handley Library has more than 10,000 photographs online and an extensive collection of materials about the Lower Shenandoah Valley.

Military Resources (Virginia)

See also the military resources listed under primary/secondary resources.

  • 17th Virginia Infantry, Company D, "Fairfax Rifles"
    This re-enactment unit's site includes a regimental history and roster for many Civil War soldiers from the Fairfax area. The 1861 Muster includes brief biographies from William Page Johnson's book, Brothers and Cousins: Confederate Soldiers and Sailors of Fairfax County, Virginia.

  • Blenheim
    The walls of Blenheim, a Fairfax City farmhouse, bear the signatures and graffiti of Union soldiers who occupied the house in 1862-1863. Many of the soldiers were from Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan and Wisconsin regiments.

  • Chasing the Civil War: A Pathfinder
    A guide to many sources for local Civil War research, including finding an ancestor's service record and burial. Includes information on local battles. Search strategies are applicable to Fairfax County events. The Virginia Room at City of Fairfax Regional Library owns most of these sources, however, call numbers may vary.

  • Fairfax City Cemetery
    A list of Confederate veterans buried in Fairfax City Cemetery. The list also includes those named on the cemetery's Confederate Memorial, which includes Fairfax Confederate veterans who are buried elsewhere. Six Union veterans are also listed. Site includes a history of the cemetery. Note: This is not a complete list of all those interred in the cemetery.

  • Military Records and Resources
    The Library of Virginia chronicles Virginians' participation in wars from the colonial era to World War II. Select "Guides and Indexes," then click the plus sign (+) next to "Military Service."

  • Online Military Indexes, War Records & Databases of Soldiers
    This website is a directory of links to online military indexes and records, including rosters, databases of soldiers, and listings of military and war casualties. Items marked "requires payment" are part of Ancestry's online genealogy records collection; Ancestry Library Edition is available for free at all library branches.

  • Society of the War of 1812 in Virginia
    Includes a "Burial Index" of soldiers.

  • They Died in Centreville
    A study of Union casualties who died and/or were buried in Centreville, Virginia, based on Union service, hospital and regimental

  • Virginia Revolutionary War Warrants Database
    The Kentucky Secretary of State’s office has digitized all of the land bounties awarded to Virginia soldiers and commissioned officers from the Revolutionary War, awarded between 1783-1792. The database indexes 4,748 Virginia Revolutionary Warrants. County of residence is not noted.

  • WWI Draft Registrations — Index for Northern Virginia
    Entries include name, age, address, date of birth, place of birth, occupation, employer, dependents, marital status, race, prior military experience and more. Some registrations also include father's place of birth, nearest relative and a physical description.

  • WWI Questionnaires for Virginia
    After the conclusion of World War I, the Virginia War History Commission conducted a survey of veterans in Virginia through the use of a printed questionnaire. Everything from family life, to training and promotions, to reflections about war is covered in the questionnaire. Photographs in uniform were also requested. Browse through questionnaires digitized by the Library of Virginia from your specific county or city.

Virginia Resources

  • African-American Sources in Virginia: A Guide to Manuscripts
    This index to sources in collections around the state can be rapidly searched by keyword, subject, name, historical period or geographic location.

  • County Formations in Virginia
    Follow the history of boundary changes in Virginia from 1617-1995 in text or on interactive maps.

  • Geography of Slavery in Virginia
    A digital collection of runaway and captured advertisements taken from early newspapers. Helpful for anyone with an ancestor who was enslaved or who was an indentured servant or a convict servant.

  • Gunston Hall Probate Inventory Database
    Gunston Hall's Probate Inventory Database includes household inventories of more than 300 selected individuals from Virginia and Maryland. The estates were recorded between 1740 and 1810, and were selected as "individuals with an economic status approximately that of George Mason." Most were recorded in Fairfax, Prince William, and Stafford Counties in Virginia and in Charles and Prince George's Counties in Maryland, but some are from as far away as the Northern Neck, Norfolk or Annapolis.

  • Hening's Statutes at Large
    Early volumes of the laws of Virginia, beginning with 1619. Includes linked indexes of personal names, places and subjects.

  • History of Truro Parish in Virginia
    Based on the parish's Vestry Books for the area along the Potomac from the Occoquan to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The records are continuous from 1732 to 1785, and include the names of many colonial residents. This book also contains records of the Overseers of the Poor from 1787 to 1802.

  • How to Research Your Historic Virginia Property
    Discover the history of your old, or not so old house.

  • Legislative Petitions, 1776-1865
    Virginia residents petitioned the General Assembly from 1774 to 1865. While the petitions database includes only the principal people named in a petition, the full text will include original signatures of all interested parties. The full text of Fairfax County petitions is available on microfilm in the library's Virginia Room.

  • Library of Virginia
    The site includes a catalog of books, archival materials, microfilm and extensive digital collections. Also useful is the Virginia Historical Inventory, part of the depression-era Virginia Writer's Project, which can be searched in the LVA Collections Discovery System.

  • Loudoun County Circuit Court Archives
    Searchable index to Loudoun County records. Wills, marriages, military and slave records are part of this growing collection, which includes many Fairfax County residents.

  • Loudoun County History
    A searchable database of articles about Loudoun County places and events.

  • Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records
    Online death indexes and cemetery records for many parts of Virginia.

  • Register of Servants Sent to Foreign Plantations, 1654 - 1686
    This database of indenture contracts includes more than 15,000 indentured servants, English immigrants who contracted themselves for labor to come to the New World. Many sailed to Virginia and the Chesapeake region and others to the West Indies.

  • Richmond Daily Dispatch, 1861 - 1865
    A searchable index linked to full-text articles. Includes news from Fairfax and Northern Virginia.

  • Tombstone Transcription Project
    Links to cemetery listings for Virginia counties and independent cities. Prepared by volunteers for RootsWeb.com's Tombstone Transcription Project.

  • Unknown No Longer
    A database of Virginia slave names that appear in the unpublished records of the Virginia Historical Society. Family relationships, occupations and life dates may appear.

  • Virginia Gazette
    An index with linked images of more than 8,000 pages of The Virginia Gazette, published in Williamsburg from 1736-1780. The news and advertisements also include people and places outside of Williamsburg. This database is part of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's Digital Library.

  • Virginia Genealogy
    This guide, subtitled A Guide to Genealogical Resources at the University of Virginia, describes book, online and other sources for Virginia research. Many of these sources are available in our library's Virginia Room.

  • Virginia GenWeb
    Links to maps, a tombstone project, county links, a surname registry and a Virginia GenWeb archives search.

  • Virginia Maps in Fairfax County Public Library's Virginia Room
    A select list of various types of hard-copy maps, such as historical and landowner maps, for Virginia counties and cities found in the Virginia Room's collection.

  • Virginia Office of Vital Records
    How to order birth, marriage, divorce and death records for Virginia residents.

  • Virtual Jamestown
    This site from the University of Virginia includes information on Jamestown settlers and the Virginia Company, maps, muster rolls, and more.

Washington, DC Resources

Many Northern Virginia families have close ties to the District of Columbia, and their records will be there rather than at a Virginia courthouse.

West Virginia Resources

  • RootsWeb's West Virginia 
    Links to information on West Virginia counties and genealogical and historical societies.

  • West Virginia Vital Research Records
    This database includes more than a million West Virginia birth, death and marriage records. Search indexes and view scanned images of the original birth, death and marriage records from six counties, some as early as 1853, as well as most statewide death certificates from 1917-54.

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