West Virgnia

Discover you family history through historical newspapers at Newspapers.com


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Discover you family history through historical newspapers at Newspapers.com
West Virginia

For a small state, the West Virginia Archives have a lot of online material.  It's all somewhat chaotically arranged, but still, it's Almost Heaven...  

There are materials here for everyone -- historians, teachers, collectors, scholars, students.  But for family history researchers, especially, the Mountain State's digital archives are the motherlode.  

The West Virginia Archives and History homepage gives a bit of an overview of what's available, but all too typically, makes it hard to distinguish online and offline content. Their collection is offered up under various headings like the History Center, Genealogy Center, Daily Trivia, On-Line Exhibits, and the ever-popular Records Management and Preservation Board.  

A few standouts:

The History Center arranges materials by topic, covering major WV history, events and themes (but oddly enough, missing anything about Coal or Mining!):
  • African Americans
  • Antebellum (1800 to 1860)
  • Arts and Entertainment
  • Audio/Video
  • Brown, John
  • Business and Industry
  • Civil War
  • Communities
  • Counties
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Databases
  • Disasters
  • Education
  • Exhibits, On-Line
  • Exploration, Settlement and Conflict (1600-1799)
  • Government and Politics
  • Great Depression
  • Hatfield McCoy Feud Photo Gallery
  • Health and Medicine
  • Highway Historical Marker Program
  • History Heroes
  • Labor
  • Military and Wartime
  • Miscellaneous Documents and Articles
  • Monuments and Memorials
  • Native Americans
  • Notable Events in West Virginia History
  • Notable Individuals in West Virginia History
  • On This Day in West Virginia History
  • Organizations
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Religion
  • Science and Technology
  • Sports
  • Statehood
  • "Time Trail, West Virginia"
  • Transportation
  • Trivia
  • Upcoming Events
  • Veterans Memorial Database
  • Wayne County News Articles
  • West Virginia Historical Bibliography
  • West Virginia Historical Society Journal
  • West Virginia History Journal
  • Women

Take particular note of the link to Databases as these provide some powerful look-up capabilities for many of West Virginia's archives, such as: 

West Virginia Highway Historical Marker Program

Photograph Collection Database, with more than 100,000 images

John Brown database, with more than 20,000 pages of primary materials.  

Speaking of databases, there is a lot of lookup material for family history research:

The Vital Research Records Project includes images of actual Birth, Death, and Marriage certificates, which you can lookup by family name.

Genealogy Surname Exchange allows genealogists researching the same last names to contact one another.

West Virginia Civil War Medals.  Over 4,000 Civil War medals, minted in 1866, remain unclaimed.  Perhaps one belongs to an ancestor of yours.

West Virginia Militia Database, lists Civil War soldiers from WV who fought for the Union. 

The West Virginia Veterans Memorial Archives Database has records of more than 10,000 veterans who died in 20th century conflicts.  

There is also a series of On-Line Museum Exhibits, which, at the time of this writing, include
  • John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry
  • History of West Virgnia statehood 
  • U.S.S. West Virginia
  • A Collection of West Virginia War Letters
  • Shaping the Capitol Complex
  • Buffalo Creek commemorates one of the deadliest floods in U.S. history
  • A Glimpse At African-Americans in West Virginia

Oddly, there's a separate, but largely overlapping, list of online history exhibits as well. 

All in all, a wonderful and diverse resource.  

More historical archives and research materials can be found at these excellent resources:

 Historical Newspaper Archives          Ancestry.com       

 Genealogy Tools                                US Historical Newspapers        

 European Historical Newspapers        International Historical Newspapers

Court Record Searches                        Public Records Searches 

Intelius - Public Records Information