Skip to main content

November is Native American Heritage Month and the perfect time to highlight resources in the Library of Virginia’s collections that can help users gain insight into Native American history and culture.

This database focuses on the cultural traditions, historical events, and political status of Native Americans in the United States and Canada from the 1500s to the 1900s. It also provides access to records of the Indians Rights Association (1882–1986), the first organization to advocate for Native American rights.

Users can access 53 collections from American and Canadian institutions which include manuscripts, monographs, journal and newspaper articles, photographs, maps, artwork, and Indigenous language items such as dictionaries, religious texts, and primers.

Selecting the ‘Collections’ icon provides a list of the collections, each of which includes an overview and a contents summary.

Some key topics for research and events covered include:

  • Colonial America: Relations with Native Americans, 1670–1800
    • Trade and communication
    • Iroquois Confederation
  • Indian Removal
    • Trail of Tears
    • President Jackson’s Indian policy
  • Indian Wars and the Frontier Army, 1830–1900
    • Seminole Wars
    • Native Americans in the Civil War
  • Native Americans and Missionaries, 1830–1950
    • Government schools
    • Canadian Catholic Indian missions
  • Assimilation of Native Americans and the Indian New Deal, 1880–1945
    • Dawes Act
    • Wounded Knee Massacre and the Ghost Dance
  • Relocation, Termination, and the Indian Claims Commission
    • Post war relocation
    • Termination policy
    • Indian Claims Commission
  • Native Americans: Civil Rights, Radicalism, and Poverty
    • Self determination
    • Regaining federal recognition
    • American Indian Movement

This guide includes archival and published items from the Library’s collections. Information about Virginia Indians appears in numerous archival sources such as state and local records, church records, personal papers, maps, and photographs.

Some items of interest from the archival collections include:

  • Letters from Virginia Indians to Virginia governors concerning land rights and racial discrimination
  • Legislative petitions
  • Indian school records
  • Court records
  • Bible records that document early Anglo-Native American marriages
  • County maps that show Indian burying grounds
  • Photograph collections that include WWII Native American soldiers

An extensive bibliography of published materials is provided which covers general works, as well as titles in these categories:

  • Colonial period, 1600–1775
  • Pre-contact
  • Indian slavery
  • Powhatan Chiefdom and Pocahontas
  • Contemporary accounts
  • 19th–21st centuries
  • Indian groups

Coming Soon!
Indigenous Perspectives

In celebration of Native American culture, the Library of Virginia exhibit “Indigenous Perspectives” will open on December 5, 2023 and run until August 17, 2024.

The Library of Virginia’s first-floor lobby and Exhibition Gallery are open Monday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The second-floor Reading Rooms are open Tuesday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and two Saturdays each month. More information is available here. 

Lisa Wehrmann

Electronic Reference Services Coordinator

Leave a Reply