Local History

Alexandria and Northern Virginia resources include: compilations of birth, death and marriage records; church and cemetery information; microfilm copies of the Alexandria Gazette, the local newspaper; information about local archaeological projects; microfilm copies of legal records such as wills and deeds; information about historic Alexandria houses; biographical information about prominent local people and families; general histories of the area.


The collection is strongest for Virginia families, but more general resources are available as well. An in-depth guide to the collection's genealogy resources is also available. Materials include: indexes and compilations of vital statistics for Virginia counties and limited material about neighboring states; microfilm of the federal census for all the Virginia counties; dozens of genealogical journals. 

Civil War

History of all aspects of the conflict, with a focus on the Confederacy. Resources include: Virginia regimental histories; War of the Rebellion Official Record (the "OR"), which reproduces government documents dealing with the war; information about Alexandria during the war.


The library has several collections of photographs that depict life in and around Alexandria from the time of the Civil War to the present. Photocopies of the images are arranged by subject, and digital and photographic reproductions of prints are available for a fee. The collections cover Alexandria people, events, houses and other well-known places. The Historic Alexandria Imaged Database is a sampling from our several collections of materials related to the historic structures in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.


In addition to the census records and the Alexandria Gazette, the collection contains: microfilm of other local newspapers; deed books, will books and other local land records; maps of the local area; copies of several manuscript collections. A subject index of the microfilm collection is available both at the library and online.

Manuscript Collections

The library holds the personal and business papers of many Alexandria individuals and institutions, including the records of some local private schools, businesses, and people. There is a subject index to the collections in-house as well as online, and detailed finding aids exist for many collections as well.

Rare Books

The core of the rare book collection is the original collection of the Alexandria Library Company, which was begun in the 1790s. This collection is representative of the types of books that could be found in a subscription library from that time period.


Most of the maps in the collection cover Virginia, with emphasis on the Alexandria region. Most maps are available for perusal in their original print form, while others, like the detailed Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, can be found on microfilm as well. The map collection is indexed by subject, and the index is available online and in the library.


Special Collections subscribes to many journals that discuss history, genealogy and historic preservation. Here are the periodicals and newspapers in microfilm presently in the collection. Periodicals dealing with aspects of local history have been indexed by subject; the index is available online and in the library.