LIBRARY HOLDINGS AND RESEARCH TOOLS
Our History & Genealogy Library contains nearly 9,000 published records, books, manuscripts, periodicals, and microfilm holdings about Lancaster County, the Northern Neck region, the Tidewater area, and many other locales in Virginia and nearby states.
The best place to start is our ONLINE CARD CATALOG! Searchable by title, author, and keyword/name, the card catalog lists most of the books and research materials in our Genealogy & History Library plus some links to outside sources. However, the catalog results are not comprehensive of of everything we have about a surname. We have many additional indexes and finding aids that we can assist you with using in our Library.
See information below for more about our hours, holdings, fees, and research policies.
The collection includes:
- Virginia vital records, census records, county histories, church and cemetery records, bible records
- Virginia family histories including a large section on Ball, Carter, and Lee
- Microfilm of Lancaster County Court House records dating from 1651, with associated print and electronic indexes and abstracts
- Surname Card Index File keyed to most of our holdings
- Family Files with miscellaneous papers, genealogy charts, and materials shared by other researchers
- Vertical Files (loose papers and clippings) on numerous local topics and places
- Microfilm of Virginia Citizen newspaper published 1891-1913 in Irvington, Va.
- Indexed local obituary collection for years 2000-present
- Out-of-State Section with genealogy reference books on places Virginians often migrated to/from, including Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia, Ohio, and other regions.
- General non-fiction collection on local, Virginia, and U.S. history and related subjects such as politics, government, religion, architecture, archaeology, art, industry, material culture, etc.
- LANCASTER COUNTY ESTATE RECORDS 1835-1865 DATABASE: Abstracted data from 1343 estate documents such as inventories, accounts, sales, and wills from the period 1835-1865 in Lancaster County, including information about 520 decedents, 1755 beneficiaries, 318 spouses, 3019 slaves, and many other relevant individuals. These files offer a wealth of material for African-American research as well as research on white slave-owning and non slave-owning families.
- AFRICAN AMERICAN GENEALOGY AND HISTORY RESEARCH: Suggested Library and Online Resources (PDF Document).
- LIST OF BLACK VOTERS IN 1867 IN LANCASTER, marking the first election in which Black men could vote (PDF Document). Watch a RESEARCH TUTORIAL VIDEO about using the 1867 Poll Books.
LIBRARY FEES & POLICIES
ON-SITE LIBRARY USE: The Library is currently OPEN BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. Advance planning of your visit helps ensure the best experience for both you and our part-time volunteer staff. Contact us about availability. (Closed seasonally mid-December until March).
We encourage patrons to visit the library in person to conduct their own research and take full advantage of our holdings and in-house indexes and finding aids. Books and reference materials are in closed stacks (to be retrieved by staff) and may only be used inside our library.
- Library Use Fee: There is a $5 daily fee to use the library (waived for LVHS members).
- Photocopies and print-outs from computers or microfilm are 25 cents per page. Photocopying will be handled by our staff. All materials are subject to possible copyright restrictions and limitations.
- Electronic Reproductions/Camera Fee: An additional $10 fee per day will charged for patrons to use their own cameras or handheld scanners to make electronic copies. LVHS may prohibit actions that are disruptive to others or harmful to the collections.
- Online Access: We offer a patron computer workstation with LVHS network access to our card catalog, Ancestry.com, Newspapers.com, Fold3.com, FamilySearch.org, and other relevant research sites. Public wifi is not available. Patrons are welcome to use personal laptops, tablets, and phones with their own data/hotspots.
- Flash drives: Patrons may use their own USB flash drives/memory sticks to save downloaded materials from computers or microfilm at no fee.
- Microfilm Equipment: We have one microfilm reader/scanner/printer. Use is subject to the availability of qualified staff to assist you, so we strongly recommend advance reservations. Patrons may bring outside microfilm/microfiche.
- PAYMENT: We prefer cash or checks in the library, but can make accommodations for credit/debit card payments.
DISTANCE RESEARCH (REQUESTS BY EMAIL, MAIL, PHONE):
If you are unable to visit the Library in person, we can conduct preliminary in-house searches of the catalog and other holdings to let you know what may be available with regard to your research needs.
When calling, e-mailing, or writing our library, please provide as much specific information as possible regarding your inquiry, such as full names, dates, geographic locations, types of records you are seeking, and what sources you have already consulted. Our volunteer staff will reply, usually within 2 weeks, to let you know if we can answer your question or what resources and services we can offer, and what fees may apply for copies or additional research.
- Copies by Email/Mail:
Most materials can be reproduced and emailed to you as scans/images for 25 cents per page plus a $5 service fee per order. Printed hard copies can be mailed for an additional flat postage fee of $5 per package. Further fees may be charged for unusually large copy jobs requiring extra time or postage. All materials are subject to possible copyright restrictions and limitations.
- Hourly Research Services and Fees:
We can sometimes do quick look-ups of specific items/references at no charge or for minimum copy fees, but patrons should expect that many inquiries will require more extensive research within our library holdings, for which we charge a $20 hourly research fee ($15 for LVHS members), with a 2 hour minimum, plus copy/postage fees as described above. Requests for hourly research work will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. We will provide you with an estimate of the research time required and can begin work with advance payment for at least 2 hours. Payment is non-refundable and we do not guarantee that we will find what you have requested. At the end of the paid research time, we will report our progress and results, bill for copies, and suggest if further research is recommended. Our library staff are experienced and enthusiastic volunteers, but please remember that we are not professional genealogists and we do not offer research at other libraries or courthouses outside of Lancaster. If you need services beyond what LVHS staff can provide, these websites offer useful lists of independent researchers for hire: Virginia Genealogical Society and Association of Professional Genealogists.
- Courthouse Document Copies:
We can retrieve copies of original historical records from the Lancaster Clerk of Circuit Court Office for a fee of $25 ($20 LVHS members) per courthouse visit with a maximum of 4 records* pulled per visit. Our fee includes photocopying up to 10 pages; additional pages will be billed at 50 cents per page (actual cost charged by Clerk’s Office). We can scan the photocopies** and email to you at no additional fee, or we can postal mail the photocopies for a $5 flat postage fee.
*You will need to provide the specific book and page(s) of the court records you want. Otherwise you will need to pay additional hourly fees for LVHS to search for this information. You may also contact the Clerk of Circuit Court to inquire about their direct services and fees.
**The Clerk’s Office only provides black and white photocopying and does not allow photography or scanning of the original record books.
Fees must be paid in advance. We accept credit/debit cards online or by phone, or checks by mail. We will provide specific payment amounts and instructions when we confirm your request for services. Please do not send unsolicited funds and do not email your credit card or bank information.