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Genealogy Research: West Virginia State and Local Histories

This is a guide to conducting genealogical research at the West Virginia and Regional History Center

State Histories

General surveys of West Virginia state history include:

Charles H. Ambler & Festus P. Summer. West Virginia, The Mountain State. 2nd Edition. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice Hall, 1958.)

Phil M. Conley & William T. Doherty. West Virginia History. (Charleston, W.V., Education Foundation 1974.)

Otis K. Rice & Stephen W. Brown. West Virginia: a history. (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. 1993)

John Alexander Williams. West Virginia: a Bicentennial History. (New York: Norton. 1976)

John Alexander Williams. West Virginia: a history. (Morgantown, W.V.: West Virginia University Press. 2003)

Multi-volume state histories also include extensive coverage of local history, biography, and family history. These are significant sources for brief biographies and family histories of West Virginians of state and local prominence.

Notable works in this category include:

James M. Callahan. West Virginia Old and New. 3 vols. (Chicago: American Historical Society, 1923)

Thomas C. Miller & Hu Maxwell. West Virginia and Its People. 3 vols.(New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co. 1913),

Sylvester Myers.  Myers' History of West Virginia.2 vols. (Wheeling, W.V.: The Wheeling news lithograph company, 1915)

Oscar D. Lambert  West Virginia; its people and its progress. 3 vols. (Hopkinsville, KY: Historical Record Foundation, 1959)

Morris P. Shawkey West Virginia, in history, life, literature and industry. 5 vols. (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1928)

Local Histories

The published histories of West Virginia's communities, counties, and regions include historical, biographical, and genealogical data from the earliest settlements to the period immediately preceding the book's publication. Such local histories have been published in West Virginia since the 1870s. Notable examples of local history works include:

Peter Boyd. History of Northern Panhandle embracing Ohio, Marhall, Brooke and Hancock counties. 2 vols. (Topeka: Historical Publishing Co., 1927)

Millard Kessler Bushong. A History of Jefferson County, West Virginia. (Charles Town: Jefferson Publishing Company, 1941)

Bernard L. Butcher. Genealogical and Personal History of the Upper Monongahela Valley, West Virginia. 3 vols.(New York: Lewis Historical Pub. Co., 1912)

Earl L. Core. The Monongalia Story:a bicentennial history. 5 vols. (Parsons, W.V.: McClain Print co. 1974-1984)

Gibson L. Cranmer. History of Wheeling City and Ohio County, West Virginia and representative citizens. Chicago: Biographical Company, 1902)

Dorothy Davis. History of Harrison County, West Virginia. (Clarksburg, W.V.: American Association of University Women, 1970)

Elvin L. Judy. History of Grant and Hardy Counties, West Virginia. (Charleston, W.V.: Charleston Print Company, 1951)

W.S. Laidley. History of Charleston and Kanawha County, West Virginia and representative citizens (Chicago: Richmond-Arnold pub.co., 1911)

Glen D. Lough. Now and Long Ago: a history of the Marion County area.(Morgantown, W.V.: Morgantown Printing and Binding Co., 1969)

Hu Maxwell. The History of Barbour County, West Virginia. (Morgantown, W.V.: Acme Publishing Company, 1889)

Hu Maxwell. The History of Randolph County, West Virginia. (Morgantown, W.V.: Acme Publishing Company, 1898

Hu Maxell. The History of Tucker County, West Virginia. (Kingwood, W.V.: Preston Pub. Co, 1884)

James H. Miller. History of Summers County from the earliest settlement to the present time. (Hinton, W.V.: J.H.Miller, 1908)

Oren F. Morton. A History of Preston County. 2 vols. (Kingwood, W. Va.: Journal Pub.Co., 1914)

Scott Powell. History of Marshall County from forest to fileds. (Moundsville, W.V., 1925)

West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia

Of particular importance are the 51 volumes of the West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia (Richwood, W. Va.: Jim Comstock, 1974-78). The first 25 volumes are a traditional encyclopedia of names, places, and topics presented alphabetically. Numerous entries in these first 25 volumes refer to the second 25 volumes, which contain fuller treatment of selected subjects and reprints of important works of West Virginia history. Volume 51 is an oversized "coffee-table book" of West Virginia pictures and portraits.

West Virginia History: A Bibliography and Guide to Research

The most comprehensive listing of published West Virginia local histories, state histories, and biographies, including books, pamphlets, and articles, is: Harold M. Forbes. West Virginia History: A Bibliography and Guide to Research. (Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 1981.)