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COLA 1500: Marked & Unmarked: Remembering the Dead in C'ville

Resources for researching people from the past.

University Archives/Special Collections Materials


University of Virginia Office of the Bursar Records, 1817-1951, Accession #RG-5/3/1.940, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va. (190 volumes)
The Bursar was the chief financial officer of the University throughout the 19th century and into the 21st. These volume contain financial records, including some personnel records. Please note that this collection has not been digitized and can only be viewed in person.

UVA Visual History Collection
This collection contains digitized photographs and other graphics housed at Small Special Collections Library.
Tip: To search this collection in Virgo, add a name or keyword at the top of the page.

Holsinger Studio

Rufus Holsinger owned a photography studio in Charlottesville from the late 19th-early 20th centuries. Many Charlottesville residents, both white and Black, had portraits taken there. A fire destroyed many of the earlier photographs, but this digitized collection represents the studio's later output.


J. F. Bell Funeral Home Records Database

This database was created by members of the African American Genealogy Group of Charlottesville and Albemarle County. It contains information about people buried by the Bell Funeral Home between 1917 and 1970.  Information was collected from copies of death certificates (sometimes typed and other times handwritten) and/or from transportation of corpse forms that accompanied remains shipped from one place to another. Details may include first and last name, mother's maiden name, father's name, date of birth, date and place of death, and place of burial.

Race and Place Newspapers

This digital history project contains transcribed information about Charlottesville's Black community during Jim Crow. Sources include newspapers, city directories, and maps.

Virginia Heritage

This database contains explanatory guides to manuscript and archives collections throughout the state of Virginia. It could be helpful to search for names in this database to see if they appear in manuscript collections.
Tip: Use the Advanced Search option to limit your search to UVA Special Collections.

Virginia Chronicle

This database contains digitized images of newspapers published in Virginia from the 18th-20th centuries. Please note that not every newspaper published in every city in Virginia is represented. However, newspapers often reprinted articles from other papers so you might find your person mentioned that way.
Tip: Since you are searching full text of historical materials, use the language and abbreviations that people of that day would have used.

Virginia Untold: The African American Narrative

Digitized materials about African American Virginians at the Library of Virginia are in this database. Please note that the digitized materials represent a small fraction of the total records that exist.

Ancestry Library Edition
This database contains a wealth of digitized vital records and other primary sources including birth, death, and marriage certificates; federal census records; passports; military enlistments; and city directories.

Digital Edition of the Daily Progress

The digital edition covers 1893 to 1964. This edition is not indexed or keyword searchable. You need to select an issue by date and skim it to see if there are relevant articles.

Cavalier Daily Online (Historical)

Google News contains digitized issues from 11/23/1923 to 08/08/1996.

America's Historical Newspapers (1690-1991)*
Chronicling America

If your person lived outside of Virginia, it could be helpful to search newspapers from other states.

*To access these resources, you must either be on Grounds or logged into UVA's VPN.

Research Tips

  • Gather as much information as you can about a person such as their first, last, and middle names; birth and death dates; parents' names; siblings' names; place of birth and death.
  • When researching women, determine if they're married and find their unmarried name.
  • Try searching under a person's full name and nickname, if they have one.