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


Please note this guide is a much abridged version of Jean Cooper's Virginia Genealogy: a Guide to Resources in the University of Virginia Library. It includes how to begin genealogical research. Also, refer to Jean Cooper's slide show Beginning Genealogy and's How To Begin Tracing Your Family Tree.

Basic Resources 
Ancestry Library Edition is available from UVA Locations and many public libraries.  While institutional access does not include as many record collections as an individual subscription, this database offers searchable access to the complete 1790-1950 U.S. Census name rolls, many military and immigration records, local directories, and many other collections. Remember that Ancestry Library Edition (which offers access to 11,000+ data collections) and the commercial edition of Ancestry (which offers access to 33,000+ data collections) are separate entities. is a commercial subscription service that offers many useful resources for the budding genealogist. Personal subscriptions are available for a month, for six months, and for a year. The University Library does not have a subscription to, but some of the pages in are free. In particular, there are free copies of charts and forms used in doing genealogical research which may be found here:

The three recordings librarians Jean Cooper and Katrina Spencer have made to introduce users to the Ancestry Library Edition (ALE) database are available via Avalon. When you click on the images below, you will navigate to a new page to access the content and be required to use your credentials to log in. Anyone from the InCommon federation institutions will be able to access this content. The three videos cover the following topics from ALE:

 librarian presenting Ancestry interface tutorial     librarian presenting Ancestry census tutorial.    librarian presenting Ancestry vital records tutorial

Cyndi's List ( is a free database created by Cyndi Howells, Cyndi's List of Genealogical Sites on the Internet is the original and most comprehensive index to websites pertaining to genealogy. It is updated daily. 
HeritageQuest is a subset of research materials from available by subscription for tracing family history and American culture that contains over 25,000 family records and local histories. This collection assembles every extant U.S. federal census, banking and military records (including the Freedman's Bank and Revolutionary War Pensions), genealogies, primary source materials, and genealogical and local history serials.  UVA does not subscribe to this database, but local residents and students can access it through the Jefferson Madison Regional Library.  More information about database access and signing up for a library card can be found on their website:
  • Tips
    Plan your research ahead of time. What are the questions you wish to answer in this research session? What resources have you identified in the University Library that are important to your research on this visit? Have a plan to make the most of your time in the library.

    Create a "research log" whenever you are in a library doing research. In that log, write down what you are looking for, what sources you have used, and what you have found in them. Include a map of the U.S., and a picture of each state your ancestors lived in, with each county designated. Carry other necessary materials in your research notebook, such as what information was recorded in each census year, how to apply Soundex codes, ahnentafel charts, lists of alternate spellings of your ancestor's names, and copies of forms.