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A brief guide to genealogical resources in the University of Virginia Library.


African-American genealogy is in a category of its own. See these useful reference and genealogy resources, many of which are located at UVA's Alderman Library.

General resources  - African-American Family History Records
This collection includes more than 55 million African-American family history records includes US Colored Troops service records, Freedmen's Bureau records, and narratives from 3,500 former slaves. (Southern Claims Commission records are on the way.) The US Federal Census collection, which spans 1790-1930, has been upgraded to users can search for African-American entries (there are 53 million of them in the census.) Note: Searching requires a paid subscription.

Use to research African Ancestry in the Americas in particular and to genealogical research and resources in general. Links to an African Ancestry research community featuring the AfriGeneas mail list, the AfriGeneas message boards and daily and weekly genealogy chats.

Unknown No Longer (Virginia Museum of History and Culture)

Beginning in 2019, the unique content of Unknown No Longer will be hosted on the Virginia Untold portal operated by the Library of Virginia, providing users with access to an expanded collection of resources for researching African-American history in Virginia. While the database will be moving to the Library of Virginia, researchers can still access the actual documents in the VMHC's library. VMHC will continue to update both the Unknown No Longer database and its Guide to African American Manuscripts as new sources enter the VMHC catalog. 

Virginia Untold: The African American Narrative (Library of Virginia)
Virginia Untold is a project of the Library of Virginia. In January 2019 VMHC and LVa merged their databases with the intention to provide greater accessibility to pre-1865 African American history and genealogy found in the rich primary sources in their holdings.

Ancestry Library Edition
This collection is available as a database of the University of Virginia Library. Among other resources, it contains the U.S. Federal Census records and images, including the Slave schedules, the Freedmen's Bank Records, and the Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Records. Ancestry Library Edition is also offered as a free database by many of Virginia's public libraries.


Charlottesville/Albemarle Resources 

Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society (ACHS) for information on local resources for African-American genealogy, including the following:


Freedman's Bureau / Freedman's Savings & Trust Records

Read the National Archives information about the Freedman's Bureau and the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company Records (see also useful guide to the Freedman's Bank records). 

  • Freedman's Bureau (1865-1872) microfilm at Alderman Library (by state)
    With links to online guides. Note:  UVA does not own all the Freedman's Bureau records on microfilm listed at the National Archives (scroll down page). UVA users may request items through Interlibrary Services. Non-UVA users should borrow desired items through their local public library's interlibrary loan service.
  • Freedman's Bureau records may also be found in, under Search | Records.

Search Freedman's Bank Records on Heritage Quest Online

Note: UVA Library does not subscribe to the HeritageQuest Online database but other libraries may offer access.  We include these instructions in case they are useful for your research.

From Search Freedman's Bank, you can search for information about ancestors in the Registers of Signatures of Depositors in Branches of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company, 1865 - 1874.

Search Fields

  • Surname -- A single term entered in the Surname field will search for surnames (last names) in the Freedman's Bank data. Note that Boolean searching is not available for Freedman's Bank fields, so you cannot enter multiple names.
  • Given Name -- Any single term you enter in the Given Name (first names) field will search for given names in the Freedman's Bank data. Only one Given Name can be entered into the Given Name field at a time.
  • Surname Spelling -- Using the drop-down menu, you can select either Exact or Soundex surname spelling to narrow or widen your search results.

    If you select 'Exact', the search results will contain only those surnames that match exactly the single term you entered in the Surname field.

    From Search Freedman's Bank, you can search for individual names in the Freedman's database, including the applicant (depositor), spouse, parents, siblings and children.

    If you select 'Soundex', the search results will contain all the surnames that have the same Soundex code as the single term you entered in the Surname field. Soundex is a coded surname index based on the way a surname sounds rather than the way it is spelled. Surnames that sound the same, but are spelled differently, like SMITH and SMYTH, have the same code and are filed together. The Russell Soundex coding system was developed so that you can find a surname even though it may have been recorded under various spellings.
  • App Year -- You can limit your search to data from a specific Application Year by selecting the year from this drop-down menu. The default search selection is All, which will search all available application years.
  • Bank Location -- You can limit your search to Freedman's Bank data from a specific Bank Location by selecting the bank branch from this drop-down menu. The default search selection is All, which will search all available data.