Local History/Special Collections Indexes & Guides

Alexandria House Histories: A Research Guide

Do-it-yourself guide to learning about your historic Alexandria home. The Alexandria Library's Local History/Special Collections division has a wide range of resources available to help you investigate the history of your home. Using both primary and secondary sources, you can uncover information about past owners, property values, alterations and improvements, and perhaps even find a photograph or two. This list of resources is designed to help you get started on your research; it tells you the type of information you are likely to find in a resource and how that resource is organized. The sources in this guide focus primarily on Old Town Alexandria.


Alexandria Library Company Catalog

A bibliography is available of over 3000 titles that were a part of the original collection comprising the Alexandria Library under the Alexandria Library Company. You can view the list online by author (*=represents multiple authors) or by date. 


Archive and Manuscript Collections

Local History/Special Collections includes more than 250 archive and manuscript collections of Alexandria and material relating to Northern Virginia.  The collections vary from account books and diaries to sheet music to audiocassettes of oral histories, advertising, miscellaneous city and other documents, correspondence and material related to the historic structures in Alexandria, etc.  Most of the collections were donated to the Alexandria Library. This index is also available in .pdf format.


Blueprints & Measured Drawings Collection


Building and Repair Permits Collection Index, 1896-1928

This collection is used to study the history of structures in Alexandria.Building and Repair Permits were first issued in the City of Alexandria, ca. 1891 and are useful to today's homeowner or researcher who is preparing a history of the property. The permits specify: 1) the modification being made; 2) the cost; 3) the builder; and 4) quite frequently include an architectural sketch or rendering of the proposed change. These nearly 3400 permits cover the period ca. 1896-1928. There are a very few permits in the collection prior to 1896.


Civil War Era Prints Inventory

Includes pictures from the following sources: Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Harper's Weekly, 1860-1890, Illustrated London News, New York Illustrated News, Pictorial Battles of the Civil War, Pictorial Battles of the War of 1861, Pictorial War Record.


Confederate Historical Resources
Guide to our collection's resources including: General Resources, Politics and Governance, Sinews of War, The Home Front, Army of Northern Virginia, Navy and Marines, Alexandria and Northern Virginia, Women and War, African Americans and the War, Maryland, Guides to other Collections.


Guide to African-American Resources
Recent acquisitions and useful resources for studying African-American history. This resource guide is intended to present an overview of materials available for the study of African-American history in the Alexandria Library Local History/Special Collections division. It is an update of the material presented in Lucy Barber's 1992 bibliography entitled African American History Sources. The guide focuses on recent publications, acquisitions and Internet resources, in addition to providing listings for older resources which remain important in the field.


Guide to Virginia Transportation from the Colonial to the Civil War Eras (.pdf)

An introductory guide to books and journal articles on the development of transportation in Virginia.


Guide to Women's History Resources
A guide to books, manuscript collections, photograph collections, websites and other materials on women's history.


Maps Collection Index

This collection includes more than 500 historic maps that focus on Alexandria and regional history. These maps date from the early 17th century and are as current as today. The maps collection is available for use only in the Library.


Microfilm Collection Subject Index (.pdf)

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.


Photographs Collection Index 

Subject index to selected photographs with links to the images.


Selected Finding Aids to the Archive and Manuscript Collections
A "baker's dozen," or so; descriptive information about representative collections.


Selected Primary Resources Related to American and Virginia History (.pdf)

Representative titles from our collections.


Serials and Newspapers (.pdf)
Our history and genealogy periodical collection and our historical newspapers on microfilm.


Subject Index to Northern Virginia History Journals

Index to thirteen local history magazines. Also available in .pdf format


The Tax Assessor's Handiwork: Alexandria's Historic Structures Online

Digital images of Old Town property tax documents from the 1960s.


Vertical File Subject Guide

Includes clippings from newspapers and journals, brochures, and unpublished reports