As you work, study, and play from home the Library of Virginia has much to offer within our online resources. Here is just a taste of what you might find if you dive in!
You can also check out what digital resources are available at your Virginia public library or how you can join our online crowd-sourcing projects.
You are already here but check out all the Library of Virginia’s new blog has and learn about what we do, why we do it, and how our efforts relate to current issues and events. In addition to our intriguing collections and groundbreaking projects, we spotlight public libraries, staff members, and specialized professions.
Virginia Memory is our online gateway to the Library’s digital collections and online exhibitions. This Day in History, under the Reading Room tab, offers a fun, quick piece of history from each calendar day.
From the Abingdon Virginian to the Richmond Planet, Virginia Chronicle provides free access to over a million newspaper pages from the commonwealth and beyond. These full-text searchable and digitized images give glimpses into the lives of Virginians from 1787 to 2013, outlining everything from community happenings to notable moments in American history. Volunteers help correct the text of articles. Yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s research! Register for an account.
Virginia Untold: The African American Narrative
The Library’s African American Narrative project aims to provide greater accessibility to the pre-1865 African American history and genealogy found in the rich primary sources in its holdings. Traditional description, indexing, transcription, and digitization are major parts of this effort. This project also seeks to encourage conversation and engagement around the records, providing opportunities for a more grassroots and diverse narrative of the history of Virginia’s African American people.
Virginia Digital Yearbook Collection
Virginia’s public libraries have banded together to collect digital scans of public high school yearbooks from across the Commonwealth hosted on Internet Archive. Take a trip down memory lane or look up family members by using the full-text search.
Browsing historic photo albums showing areas and items of interest in Virginia, you can spend hours immersed in visual history here.
Look What We Got
Check out this Tumblr page highlighting the latest additions to the Visual Studies Collection.
This Tumblr page features items from the Rare Book collection (early printed titles, sheet music, and broadsides) and the Map collection from the Library of Virginia.
Google Arts & Culture
With 21 visual stories made up of over 820 items, the Library’s Google Arts & Culture collection is a wealth of online exhibitions.
The Library’s History Pin collection includes over 1500 map pins so you can see where history happened!
Browse our boards, with mini-collections that hold a combination of visual fun and educational impact. Some highlights include African American History, Postcards for St. Patrick, Victorian Pets, Color Our Collections, and Vintage Motel Postcards.
Produced jointly by the Library of Virginia and Virginia Humanities, the exhibition highlights the changing demographics of the commonwealth on the eve of the 2020 federal census through a series of interviews with first-generation immigrants and refugees who arrived in Virginia after 1976. Check out the website, as well as the series of filmed interviews that were featured in the exhibit.
These uniformed young men are ready for war—brave, loyal, and prepared, though perhaps either a bit reserved or cocksure. Soldiers knew that these portraits, made outdoors or in makeshift studios, would be mementos for sweethearts, families, and others proud of their service and anxious for their safety. Yet the intimacy of such pocket-sized original prints belies a larger context: in an era replete with stereotypical imagery, here were African Americans presented as they wanted themselves seen.
Poe: Man, Myth, or Monster
Edgar Allan Poe created a new form of psychological tale in which the character’s descent into madness becomes the central theme. In spite of his numerous contributions to lyric poetry, science fiction, and mystery, Poe’s reputation as the master of the macabre remains secure. More than merely continuing in the tradition of Gothic literature with its roots in the British Horace Walpole and the German E. T. A. Hoffman, Poe replaced the supernatural element in Gothic literature with the demons of the character’s tormented imagination. Poe discarded the moral lesson, the happy ending, and the theme of virtue rewarded in favor of creating an emotional impact on the audience. He brings the reader into the mind of the insane and, decades before Sigmund Freud, explores the darkest recesses of the subconscious. Learn with this collaborative exhibit from the Library of Virginia and the Poe Museum.
To Be Sold: Virginia and the American Slave Trade
To Be Sold: Virginia and the American Slave Trade offers a frank exploration of Virginia’s role in the business of the second middle passage—the forced relocation of two-thirds of a million African Americans from the Upper South to the Cotton South in the decades before the Civil War. Anchoring the exhibition is a series of images created by English artist Eyre Crowe, who in March 1853 witnessed the proceedings of Richmond’s largest business. Crowe turned his sketches and experience into a series of remarkable paintings and engravings that humanized the enslaved and spoke eloquently of the pathos and upheaval of the trade. The story of the American slave trade is one of numbers, but it is also the story of individuals whose families were torn apart and whose lives were forever altered.
What challenges did African Americans face in their struggle to achieve what they believed freedom would bring them? What obstacles blocked African Americans’ efforts to gain citizenship? How did white Virginians react to the end of slavery—the underpinnings of their economy and culture—and the changes that free African Americans expected in this new Southern world? How successful were African Americans after the Civil War in achieving their objectives? Did the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution significantly aid African Americans in their struggles? Remaking Virginia offers a look at the changing world that all Virginians faced during the post–Civil War years.
We Demand: Women’s Suffrage in Virginia
While you are unable to come in and visit our gallery, please enjoy using the online additions to our current exhibition. Virginia suffragists were a remarkable group of talented and dedicated women who have largely been forgotten. They were artists and writers, business and professional women, and educators and reformers who marched in parades, rallied at the state capitol, spoke to crowds on street corners, staffed booths at state and county fairs, lobbied legislators and congressmen, picketed the White House, and even went to jail. At the centenary of woman suffrage, these remarkable women are at last recognized for their important achievements and contributions.
Check out our collection of research guides and databases that can help with genealogical research. Reminder: effective 1 May 2020, out-of-state patrons will not be able to remotely access the commercial databases the Library offers due to licensing restrictions with those vendors.
Finding Your Virginia Roots
The Library’s genealogy Facebook group, provides resources and information for professional genealogists and family historians.
Guide for Educators
Numerous live links to our content.
Biographies of men and women who have changed Virginia’s history. This resource can be browsed alphabetically, by region, by historical era, or by themes such as Arts and Literature or Civil Rights and Reform.
The Dictionary of Virginia Biography
(DVB) is an ongoing biographical reference project covering all centuries, regions, and categories of Virginia’s history and culture. The DVB highlights many women, African Americans, Indians, and others whose lives have never before been studied in depth.
Images of primary historical sources ready for use in the classroom. These documents can be browsed by a specific historic era, by theme, or using a simple search. DBVa provides historical context along with suggested questions, teaching students to be critical thinkers as they analyze original documents and draw their own conclusions about Virginia’s past.
The Online Classroom
Guides and lesson plans for teachers. Shaping the Constitution and Union or Secession are two online resources created with educators and students in mind. Historical text, narratives, images, links and the occasional video come together in these sections to bring history to life for your students.
Virginia Women in History Digital Trails
You can visit (virtually or in person) sites associated with history-making women across the state through our Virginia Women in History Digital Trails, thanks to a collaboration with American Evolution, Virginia’s 2019 Commemoration.
Join our Education Facebook Community!
Help us preserve history for future generations from the comfort of your own home. Check out this blog post to learn more about Transcribe, Virginia Chronicle, and From the Page.
The civic conversations series involves small group discussions on a variety of topics, normally conducted in-person at the Library. We’ve compiled questions and resources around some of these topics so that a wider audience can participate. Feel free to utilize these resources to have your own family or community discussions or to aid in educational research.
- A Conversation about Monuments: The event on 8 January 2020 featured a short documentary from the American Museum of Natural History, The Meaning of a Monument, about the Theodore Roosevelt monument in New York City. Our conversation centered around these historical and contemporary landmarks.
- A Conversation about Freedom Riders and Nonviolent Activism: The event on 12 February featured a screening from the film Freedom Riders and conversations around nonviolent activism during the struggle for racial justice.
- A Conversation about Feminism: The event on March 11 featured a screening from the Netflix documentary Feminists: What Were They Thinking. Our conversation centered on current and historic feminist terminology and attitudes.
The Virginia Shop
We have new books (have you read the brand new book on Suffrage in Virginia? It’s excellent!), merchandise from Studio Two Three, and lots of Virginia-inspired products at The Virginia Shop online.
Explore the back issues of our magazine to learn about our collections, staff, events, and some amazing photographs.