Guide to the Genealogy Collection

Special Collections has many resources to help the genealogist research his or her family's history. The collection focuses mainly on material relating to Alexandria and Virginia in general, but other genealogy resources are available as well.

General Resources  Vital Records  Religious Records Military Records
Educational Records Census Records Periodicals Classes


General Resources

General resources consist of guides for the genealogist, including books that explain the types of records involved in genealogical research and where they can be found; resources for each of the Virginia counties arranged by county or city; resources with limited coverage of Maryland, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina; dozens of genealogy journals.


Vital Records

These include birth, marriage and death records. There are several volumes that bring together this type of information for Alexandria residents; the collection also includes compilations of vital statistics for other Virginia counties and some neighboring states.


Another valuable resource is the obituary index to the Alexandria Gazette, the local newspaper. The printed version of the index, available in the library, covers the years 1784-1915; there is a continuation of the index online which covers 1916-1946, with more dates to come.


Religious Records

Genealogists will find useful data in collections of tombstone inscriptions and cemetery records. Information about members of individual congregations, compiled from church records, is also available. The library's collection also includes published histories of churches and synagogues, which may reveal information about an ancestor as well.


Military Records
The collection is strong in Civil War resources, especially those pertaining to the Confederacy. Useful works include the War of the Rebellion Official Record (the "OR"), which reproduces correspondence and other documents from the war, and histories of each Virginia regiment. Also available in Special Collections are several volumes containing service records and pension records for earlier American wars.


Educational Records

The collection includes records from some local private schools, in some instances including lists of students who attended them. Also of use to the genealogist is the collection of twentieth-century yearbooks from three local high schools; view an index of the students in the senior classes here.


Census Records

Microfilm copies of the federal census are available for all the counties of Virginia and for the District of Columbia (of which Alexandria was a part from 1791-1846). The collection also includes copies of the 1860 federal census for all states.



The Periodical Source Index (PERSI) indexes almost 5000 different genealogy periodicals; the collection includes volumes covering dates from 1847-1996. Articles can be found based on the location they discuss, the type of information they include, and the family they describe. There is an index available indicating those periodicals which are available in Special Collections; those not available can be acquired from the library which publishes the PERSI index.


The collection also includes microfilm of the Alexandria Gazette from 1784-August 2008 (microfilm of the Gazette from more recent years can be found at the Beatley Central Library). Although the newspaper has not been indexed by subject, it is still an excellent resource for genealogists. Other useful periodicals include the Virginia Historical Index, the Confederate Veteran, and the Southern Historical Society Papers.



Special Collections sometimes schedules genealogy classes. Contact Special Collections for more information.

Back to Top