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Genealogy Research: Newspapers and City Directories

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

West Virginia Newspapers

A wide variety of genealogical information is available in the newspaper collection. Obituaries began to appear in the late 19th century. One can also find birth announcements, marriage notices, local history, social events such as family reunions, court documents and other legal matters and genealogical and historical columns.

The West Virginia and Regional History Center holds the largest collection of historical West Virginia newspapers in existence, dating from 1791 to the present. We have a large collection of microfilmed newspapers, some physical copies of newspapers, and some digitized newspapers that are available online. For eastern county newspapers, please visit the digital newspaper collection held by Potomac State College

Because of the high demand for access to the newspaper collection, only duplicate reels of newspaper microfilm are available through Interlibrary Loan.

City Directories

City directories, available for about two dozen of the largest West Virginia towns, provide complete listings of citizens with their place of residence and type of employment. Wheeling, Martinsburg, and Charleston had directories as early as the 1870s. Directories from other cities began to appear in the 1890s and early 1900s. Holdings for city directories range from nearly complete runs of annual volumes to only a few scattered volumes. Holdings exist for the following West Virginia towns and cities:

Beckley, Bluefield, Buckhannon, Charleston, Clarksburg, Elkins, Fairmont, Grafton, Huntington, Keyser, Martinsburg, Morgantown, Moundsville, New Martinsville, Parkersburg, Point Pleasant, Princeton, Weirton, Weston, Wheeling and Williamson.

State gazetteers, published from 1875 to 1924, include comprehensive listings of businessmen involved in every sort of enterprise in towns large and small.

Ancestry has a selection of digitized city directories (this requires WVU authentication)