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Genealogy Research: Family Histories, Compilations of Genealogical Data, and Biographical Resources

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

Online Genealogical Resources

Many resources for genealogy resources are now available online. While travel to courthouses, cemeteries, archives and libraries is likely to be necessary to compile your family history, researchers now have the convenience of accessing many records from home.

West Virginia Genealogy Resources

National and International Genealogy Resources


Published Family Histories

Genealogists have already published genealogical charts or family histories for many West Virginia families. Individual works of family history can be identified by searching for the family name in the library catalog. When searching, treat the family name as a subject heading, for example, Chapman Family, or Morgan Family.

In addition, extensive listings of the published histories of many West Virginia and Virginia families can be found in the following guides:

Stuart E. Brown. Virginia Genealogies: A Trial List of Printed Books and Pamphlets. (Berryville, Va., Virginia Book Company, 1967-1980.)

Robert A. Stewart. Index to Printed Genealogies. (Richmond, Old Dominion Press, 1930. Reprinted: Baltimore, Genealogical Book Company, 1970.)

Useful data concerning people, places, and events in Virginia's and West Virginia's history can be located through this extremely detailed index: Earl Gregg Swem. Virginia Historical Index. (Roanoke, Va. 1934-36. 2 volumes. Reprinted in 1965.)

Virginia Historical Index is a comprehensive index through 1930 to Tyler's Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, and other historical publications.

Unpublished Family Histories

The West Virginia and Regional History Center holds many unpublished individual family histories and compilations of family histories in the manuscript collection. The most prominent of the unpublished collections of family histories were compiled by:

Margaret Ballard, A&M 2537

Thomas Ray Dille, A&M 171

Lyman Draper, A&M 3045

Joseph C. Jefferds, A&M 1983

Mary McKendree Johnson, A&M 1100 and 1132

Joseph Kellogg, A&M 1626

Frederick B. Lambert, A&M 1244

Minnie Kendall Lowther, A&M 740

Minnie McWhorter, A&M Microfilm 928

W. Guy Tetrick, A&M 1306 and A&M 3230

To locate an unpublished family history, enter the surname as a search in the online Guide to Archives and Manuscripts Collections.

Compilations of Genealogical Data

Printed volumes of various types of records, such as marriages, births, deaths, cemetery readings, estate settlements, census listings, and census indexes are available for most counties. Examples of compilations of genealogical data include:

Connie J. Casilear. Hampshire County (Virginia), West Virginia Births: 1865-1889. (Winchester, Va.: C.J. Casilear, 1996)

Wes Cochran. Tyler County, W.V., Deaths: 1936-1950. (Parkersburg, W.C. : Wes Cochrane, 1999)

Thomas R. Dille. Monongalia Marriage Bonds: 1796-1835.(Morgantown, W.V.: Dille, 1930-1939)

Pauline Haga. Raleigh County Cemeteries. 5 vols.(Crab Orchard, W.V. : P.Haga, 1980)

William A. Marsh. 1880 Census of West Virginia. 14 vols. Baltimore: Gateway Press, 1993)

Obituaries: Glenville Democrat: 1935-2000. 5 volumes.

Biographical Resources

A wide assortment of works with compilations of brief biographies of West Virginians of state and local prominence include:

George W. Atkinson. Bench and Bar of West Virginia. (Charleston, W.V.: Virginia Law Book Company, 1919).

George W. Atkinson & Alvaro F. Gibbens. Prominent Men of West Virginia. (Wheeling: W.L. Callin, 1890)

Walter E. Clark. West Virginia Today. (New Orleans: J.O. Jones Co. , 1941)

Jim F. Comstock. West Virginia Women. (Richwood, W.Va.: Comstock, 1974)

Ethel Davie. Talent and Courage: Outstanding West Virginia Women in the 1990s. (Charleston, W.V. :Ethel Davie, 1992)

Encyclopaedia of Contemporary Biography of West Virginia. (New York: Atlantic Pub. And Engraving Co., 1894)

Ethel. C. Leahy. Who's Who on the Ohio River and its Tributaries. (Cincinatti, Ohio: E.C. Leahy Pub. Co., 1931)

Men of West Virginia 2 vols. (Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1903)

Robert E. Murphy. Progressive West Virginians. (Wheeling: Wheeling News, 1905)

West Virginians: A Work of Biography. (New Orleans: J.O. Jones Co. , 1928)

West Virginia Women's Commission. Missing Chapters: West Virginia Women in History. (Charleston, W.V. : West Virginia Women's Commission, 1983)

Who's Who in West Virginia. (Chicago: A.N. Marquis Co., 1916, 1939, 1983)

Additional sources for biography include the Personal Name Index, a card index for 50 works of West Virginia history, and the West Virginia Civil War Union Soldiers Index. The West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia is also an excellent source for biographical sketches of hundreds of West Virginians.