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Researching Family History has Never Been Simpler

Family Tree

The study of genealogy and family history is a great way to connect with the past, and the library offers a variety of high-quality genealogical resources online. There are many reasons to research family history, but most of all it is a fun puzzle. When you dive down the research rabbit hole, you not only learn about your own family, but about the period they lived in.

The field of genealogy has changed dramatically over the last several decades with the availability of mainstream DNA testing and easily accessible and searchable online databases. These databases give you digital access to primary sources, such as birth or death certificates and census records. These valuable resources along with secondary resources, like family legends and history texts, help you craft a family narrative grounded in research.


The Family Tree Toolkit: A Comprehensive Guide to Uncovering Your Ancestry and Researching Genealogy by Kenyatta D. Berry – Written for the beginner researcher, this book provides assistance in traversing the multi-faceted components of genealogical research to discover family history and uncover the researcher’s story.

Trace Your Roots: Know Your Genealogy and Explore Your Family History by Maureen Vincent-Northam – This easy to read and entertaining guide helps you determine what questions to ask when starting your research, and how to find the answers.

Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques by George G. Morgan and Drew Smith – Go beyond the basics with this book. Morgan and Smith show you how to take your research to the next level so you can solve those tough to crack mysteries.


Ancestry for Virginians is available through an agreement between the Library of Virginia and to provide free public access to records. is the most robust genealogical database available with easy to use search features.

Heritage Quest contains census, city, agricultural and other compilations of data. You can search for wills, military records, or Revolutionary War pensions.

Other Sources

The Library of Virginia also has many genealogical resources, including those specific to African Americans and Native Americans. Their Genealogy: How to Begin guide gives a brief overview to the research process as well as a list of their resources. They also have several other useful guides:

Find a Grave is another interesting website that can help you locate where your family members could be buried.

If you are looking for research outside of Virginia, check out the Library of Congress Local History and Genealogy Reference Services or search for other libraries local to your research.

We hope you have fun searching! If you need assistance with these resources, you can contact us using our AskHCPL service, available by clicking the green tab on the right hand side of any page of our website.

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