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Genealogy Research: Genealogy Research

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


The West Virginia and Regional History Center has an extensive and varied collection of materials available for genealogical research. Included in this collection are prepared genealogies (both published and unpublished), census records, public records, military records, photographs, and manuscript materials.

The resources of the West Virginia and Regional History Center are available to all researchers on the sixth floor of the Charles C. Wise Jr. Library on West Virginia University's downtown campus.

All first time visitors must register and show photo identification. Researchers should be aware that special rules govern the use of the West Virginia and Regional History Center. Please see Rules for Use of Library Materials in the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

The West Virginia and Regional History Center does not have the staff to conduct genealogical research, but staff members are always available to help researchers locate the resources they need.

While the reference staff must stop short of actually conducting research for our visitors, their familiarity with the Center's resources and with genealogical research strategies can be extremely helpful.

If you are unable to come to Morgantown to use our materials, you may choose one of the following options:

1. Borrow any circulating materials we have that might help you with your research through Interlibrary Loan.

2. Request from us a list of persons who will perform genealogical research for a fee.

3. For those who desire only a specific piece of information (e.g. an obituary) for which a citation is readily available (e.g. bibliographic citation, or exact date and place of death in case of an obituary), a limited search can be conducted upon request for a fee of $20, payable whether or not the search is successful.

Getting Started

Genealogists should approach research at a specialized library collection with as much knowledge of research techniques and types of sources as possible.  Those researchers without previous knowledge or training in this type of investigation would find it helpful to consult such introductory manuals as the following:

 Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Luebking (Editors) The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy (Provo, UT: Ancestry, 2006)

Val D. Greenwood. The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000.) 

Raymond S. Wright. The Genealogist's Handbook: Modern Methods for Researching Family History. (Chicago: American Library Association, 1995.)

Milton Rubincam. Pitfalls in Genealogical Research. (Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing, 1987.)


Researchers with access to the World Wide Web will find their online research efforts aided greatly by consulting these guides:

Elizabeth Powell Crowe. Genealogy Online 9/E. (New York: McGraw Hill, 2010.)

Cherri Melton Flinn. Genealogy Basics Online.  (Cincinnati, OH: Muska and Lipman Publishing, 2000.

Thomas Jay Kemp. Virtual Roots: A Guide to Genealogy and Local History on the World Wide Web. (Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1997.)

The West Virginia and Regional History Center website includes links to numerous web sites concerning West Virginia genealogy.


When conducting genealogical research into West Virginia historical resources, the following will provide essential information:

Carol McGinnis. West Virginia Genealogy: Sources & Resources. (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1988.)

Helen S. Stinson. A Handbook for Genealogical Research in West Virginia. (initial volume, 1981; three volumes, 1994.)

Rebecca H. Good and Rebecca A. Ebert. Finding Your People in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. 3rd edition. (Bowie, MD: Heritage Books, 1993.) Includes four West Virginia counties.

Bertram H. Groene. Tracing Your Civil War Ancestor. 4th edition. (Winston-Salem, N.C.: John F. Blair, 1995.)

George K. Schweitzer. Civil War Genealogy: A Basic Research Guide for Tracing Your Civil War Ancestors. (Knoxville, TN: G.K. Schweitzer, 1980.)


This guide was created by Associate Librarian Kevin Fredette.