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Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives:
A Guide to Resources in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

Table of Contents - Preface/Acknowledgements - Abbreviations
Lists of Entries: District of Columbia - Maryland - Virginia

Library of Virginia
Archives Branch

Address: 800 East Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23219-1905
Telephone Number: (804) 692-3888
Contact Persons: Conley L. Edwards, State Archivist
Internet Catalog Address:

Access Policies

Hours of Service:
Monday--Saturday 9:00 a.m.--5:00 p.m.
Open to the public: Yes
Photocopying:: Yes
Interlibrary loan: Yes

New researchers must complete a Library of Virginia registration card at the Circulation desk in the Main Reading Room. Presentation of this card, appropriate picture identification, and completion of a Research Room form is required for admittance to the room. Materials may be photocopied. Interlibrary loan requests are honored for printed material and for microfilm.

Reference Policy:
The Archives provides reference services on site, and information about the records in their collection by telephone. Archives staff cannot do research by telephone. Mail inquiries should be specific, including at a minimum, the name of the individual, type of record desired, the locality where the event occurred, and the date of the record. Questions limited to two per inquiry.
Borrowing Privileges:
Virginia residents, of at least 18 years of age, may borrow items with a valid Library of Virginia library card. Non-Virginia residents may use published materials only in the research rooms.
Book collections are listed on OCLC, but few manuscript holdings are included. Some materials are also listed on RLIN. RLIN and OCLC searches can be performed for researchers.
Background Note:
The Library was established in 1823 by the General Assembly of Virginia.
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Description of Collections

Books and monographs:
About 2,100 items dating from 1700 to the present, with an emphasis on Virginia church history, ministers, and religion in Virginia during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The computer catalog (VTLS) covers all published materials.

Periodicals and newspapers:
About 10 titles, dating from the 1800s to present, with an emphasis on Virginia church history and vital statistics (births, deaths, marriages).

There are some published finding aids for vital statistics information. A catalog of newspapers is being developed as part of Virginia Newspaper Project.

Archives, manuscripts, correspondence, and oral histories:
The collection is dated from the 17th through the 20th century, with the largest portion being in the 19th and 20th centuries. The collection includes both original documents, photocopies, and over 200 reels of microfilm reproductions. A special highlight is the Calendar of Religious Petitions presented to the General Assembly, 1774-1802, which contains petitions on such topics as the opposition to church taxation, the emancipation of slaves, and the organization and incorporation of churches. There are also records from over 300 churches dating from the 17th to the 20th century, primarily from the state of Virginia. Denominations represented are Baptists, Catholics, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Episcopalians, Friends, Lutheran and German Reformed Church, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Unitarian-Universalists. Records include minute and vestry books, unpublished church histories, and parish registers. The researcher will find documented in these sources vital statistics, theological issues, and church thoughts on such concerns as slavery, race relations, the civil war, and women.

Holdings are listed in A Guide to Church Records in the Archives Branch, Virginia State Library, compiled by Jewel T. Clark and Elizabeth Terry Long. (See the bibliography for the full citation).

9 maps dating from 1607 to 1943. These maps are from the Society of Friends, the Episcopal Church, and the Baptist Church.

There is a card catalog available in the map room and online through the Library of Virginia home page.

Vertical files:
Over 10 files of materials, mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries, concerning temples, churches, convents, church-supported homes for the aged in Richmond, and the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board.

These materials are listed in the online catalog under the subject "Vertical File."

Paintings, photographs, slides, and prints:
This collection includes pictures, but mainly photographs, of some Virginia churches dating from the 17th to 20th centuries.

There is an in-house subject index to this collection.

Subject Headings

African religions; Baptist Church--Virginia; Catholic Church--Virginia; Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)--Virginia; Church buildings--Virginia; Church history--Virginia; Clergy--Virginia; Episcopal Church--Virginia; German Reformed Church--Virginia; Great Awakening; Judaism--Virginia; Lutheran Church--Virginia; Methodist Church--Virginia; Pacifism--Religious aspects; Presbyterian Church--Virginia; Revivals; Society of Friends--Virginia; Unitarian Universalist churches--Virginia; Women and religion


Axelson, Edith. Guide to Episcopal Church Records in Virginia. Athens, GA: Iberian Pub. Co., 1988.

Clark, Jewell T. and Elizabeth Terry Long , comps. A Guide to Church Records in the Archives Branch, Virginia State. Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1981.

Beadles, G.A. Index of Names in the Religious Herald, 1939-1975. N.p., 1980.

Historical Records Survey. Inventory of Church Archives in Virginia. Richmond, VA: Historical Records Survey of Virginia, 1941.

Index to Marriage Notices in the Southern Churchman, 1835-1941. Richmond, VA: Historical Records Survey of Virginia, 1942.

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  June 22, 2017
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