Richmond Public Library is your public library. Although books are in our DNA, public libraries of today are so much more. In the spirit of holiday giving, we are presenting (see what we did there?) a series of blog posts highlighting all of the resources available to you — in the library, or at home — to become a Richmond Public Library power user. All you need is a library card. Don’t have a library card? Find out how to get one here.
Richmond Public Library is a place where you can learn more about yourself, your family, and your community. Through a variety of online databases and a large physical collection of local history materials in our Richmond Room, discovering something new about yourself or your family has never been easier.
AncestryLibrary offers access to billions of records including census, vital (birth, marriage, and death), military, immigration, and so much more. Easily search by a person’s name to begin learning more about your ancestors or browse some of Ancestry’s genealogy forms and how-to guides. Ancestry is available for in-library use only.
African-American Heritage Quest
African-American Heritage Quest offers genealogy resources and tools specifically for African Americans. The database includes collections of federal census records, marriage & cohabitation records, military draft & service records, registers of slaves and free(d) persons of color, and more. It also has a robust set of African American genealogy reference materials and guides that are especially helpful for beginners.
Black Freedom Struggle, Black Life in America, Hispanic Life in America, and Document Bank of Virginia
These databases include collections of primary source materials, archived news coverage, and easy-to-understand historical narratives that are useful for educators and researchers alike. For broader national or state-level historical research, these databases are a great place to start.
HeritageHub is an easily searchable collection of United States obituaries and death notices from 1704 through the present. A database dedicated solely to death-related records may seem macabre, but obituaries are gold mines of information about family relationships, personal hobbies, residences, and more.
NewsBank is a media archive database of the Richmond Times-Dispatch that is searchable by text and by date. It includes Times-Dispatch issues as far back as 1903.
Available for use at our Main Library, Richmond Public Library’s microfilm collection includes material from local newspapers and directories including Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond Newsleader, Richmond Afro-American, Richmond Planet, Richmond Free Press, Style Weekly, and more. If you have never used microfilm before, no worries! Our Richmond Room staff are happy to teach you.
Stories & Memories
If you want to contribute your voice to the history (and future) of Richmond Public Library, consider participating in our Stories & Memories project. In celebration of our 100th year, we are collecting memories of the library and hopes for its future in the form of written submissions and video interviews. To schedule an interview, contact our Community Memory Fellow at (804) 646-0117 or Chloe.McCormick@rva.gov.
Our databases are available any time with a library card and our physical collections are available any time the library is open. Whether you are on a quest to find specific information or are just browsing out of curiosity, we have you covered.
Be sure to check back to read all the Shelf Respect posts on Twelve Days of Richmond Public Library.