We want to help parents, caregivers, students, and lifelong learners with at-home resources prepared by The Library of Virginia. Below you’ll find a range of resources for all age groups!
- Virginia Public Library Resources
- Virginia History for Any Age
For Educators & Students:
- Weekly Primary Source Activities
- Documenting Pandemics: Exploring & Creating Historical Materials Activity
- Pre-K thru Elementary Resources and Activities
- Middle and High School Resources and Activities
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Virginia Public Library Resources
Don’t forget that Virginia’s public libraries still have you covered! While each library will have different offerings, there is plenty to read, learn, research, and do with your library card and your library’s website. Don’t have a library card? You may be able to get one online—visit the website or call. The links below go directly to the services provided, accessing the services via your public library’s website may be easier since you will most likely have to input your library card credentials. If you are unsure where your local public library is located, please visit our public library directory. The websites of each library can be found here.
Every Virginia library offers:
- eBooks: In addition to local offerings through Overdrive/Libby, Hoopla, Kanopy, and more, all libraries offer ebooks through:
- Magazines: RBDigital also offers never-expiring current and back issues of popular magazines, from US News and World Report to Good Housekeeping, Popular Mechanics to The Economist. Download these to your device and keep them as long as you like.
- Learning: Take this time to learn something new!
- Universal Class has courses (with actual teachers or audit only), to improve career skills, such as project management or MS Excel, or learn something for fun, like knitting or mixology
- Rocket Language offers language learning in everything from Spanish to Arabic
- Information: Get trustworthy information from a robust collection of databases featuring peer-reviewed and scholarly articles and papers.
Many Virginians don’t have broadband internet access at home and may not be able to access these as a result. Some public libraries are loaning wireless hotspots which will provide home internet, with the caveat that if cell phones don’t work at home, neither will the hotspots. However, most public libraries keep their wifi on 24 hours and it is usually accessible in the parking lot, allowing books and activities to be downloaded without entering the building.
Virginia History for Any Age
Biographies of men and women who have changed Virginia’s history. This resource can be browsed alphabetically, by region, by historical era, or by themes such as Arts and Literature or Civil Rights and Reform.
The Dictionary of Virginia Biography
(DVB) is an ongoing biographical reference project covering all centuries, regions, and categories of Virginia’s history and culture. The DVB highlights many women, African Americans, Indians, and others whose lives have never before been studied in depth.
Document Bank of Virginia
Images of primary historical sources ready for use in the classroom. These documents can be browsed by a specific historic era, by theme, or using a simple search. DBVa provides historical context along with suggested questions, teaching students to be critical thinkers as they analyze original documents and draw their own conclusions about Virginia’s past.
Guides and lesson plans for teachers. Shaping the Constitution and Union or Secession are two online resources created with educators and students in mind. Historical text, narratives, images, links and the occasional video come together in these sections to bring history to life for your students.
Virginia Women in History Digital Trails
You can visit (virtually or in person) sites associated with history-making women across the state through our Virginia Women in History Digital Trails, thanks to a collaboration with American Evolution, Virginia’s 2019 Commemoration.
Check out all the Library of Virginia’s new blog has and learn about what we do, why we do it, and how our efforts relate to current issues and events. In addition to our intriguing collections and groundbreaking projects, we spotlight public libraries, staff members, and specialized professions.
Virginia Memory is our online gateway to the Library’s digital collections and online exhibitions. This Day in History, under the Reading Room tab, offers a fun, quick piece of history from each calendar day.
From the Abingdon Virginian to the Richmond Planet, Virginia Chronicle provides free access to over a million newspaper pages from the commonwealth and beyond. These full-text searchable and digitized images give glimpses into the lives of Virginians from 1787 to 2013, outlining everything from community happenings to notable moments in American history. Volunteers help correct the text of articles. Yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s research! Register for an account.
Virginia Untold: The African American Narrative
The Library’s African American Narrative project aims to provide greater accessibility to the pre-1865 African American history and genealogy found in the rich primary sources in its holdings. Traditional description, indexing, transcription, and digitization are major parts of this effort. This project also seeks to encourage conversation and engagement around the records, providing opportunities for a more grassroots and diverse narrative of the history of Virginia’s African American people.
Virginia Digital Yearbook Collection
Virginia’s public libraries have banded together to collect digital scans of public high school yearbooks from across the Commonwealth hosted on Internet Archive. Take a trip down memory lane or look up family members by using the full-text search.
Browsing historic photo albums showing areas and items of interest in Virginia, you can spend hours immersed in visual history here.
Look What We Got
Check out this Tumblr page highlighting the latest additions to the Visual Studies Collection.
This Tumblr page features items from the Rare Book collection (early printed titles, sheet music, and broadsides) and the Map collection from the Library of Virginia.
Google Arts & Culture
With 21 visual stories made up of over 820 items, the Library’s Google Arts & Culture collection is a wealth of online exhibitions.
The Library’s History Pin collection includes over 1500 map pins so you can see where history happened!
Browse our boards, with mini-collections that hold a combination of visual fun and educational impact. Some highlights include African American History, Postcards for St. Patrick, Victorian Pets, Color Our Collections, and Vintage Motel Postcards.
Produced jointly by the Library of Virginia and Virginia Humanities, the exhibition highlights the changing demographics of the commonwealth on the eve of the 2020 federal census through a series of interviews with first-generation immigrants and refugees who arrived in Virginia after 1976. Check out the filmed interviews that were featured in the exhibit.
True Sons of Freedom (WWI)
These uniformed young men are ready for war—brave, loyal, and prepared, though perhaps either a bit reserved or cocksure. Soldiers knew that these portraits, made outdoors or in makeshift studios, would be mementos for sweethearts, families, and others proud of their service and anxious for their safety. Yet the intimacy of such pocket-sized original prints belies a larger context: in an era replete with stereotypical imagery, here were African Americans presented as they wanted themselves seen.
Poe: Man, Myth, or Monster
Edgar Allan Poe created a new form of psychological tale in which the character’s descent into madness becomes the central theme. In spite of his numerous contributions to lyric poetry, science fiction, and mystery, Poe’s reputation as the master of the macabre remains secure. More than merely continuing in the tradition of Gothic literature with its roots in the British Horace Walpole and the German E. T. A. Hoffman, Poe replaced the supernatural element in Gothic literature with the demons of the character’s tormented imagination. Poe discarded the moral lesson, the happy ending, and the theme of virtue rewarded in favor of creating an emotional impact on the audience. He brings the reader into the mind of the insane and, decades before Sigmund Freud, explores the darkest recesses of the subconscious. Learn with this collaborative exhibit from the Library of Virginia and the Poe Museum.
To Be Sold: Virginia and the American Slave Trade
To Be Sold: Virginia and the American Slave Trade offers a frank exploration of Virginia’s role in the business of the second middle passage—the forced relocation of two-thirds of a million African Americans from the Upper South to the Cotton South in the decades before the Civil War. Anchoring the exhibition is a series of images created by English artist Eyre Crowe, who in March 1853 witnessed the proceedings of Richmond’s largest business. Crowe turned his sketches and experience into a series of remarkable paintings and engravings that humanized the enslaved and spoke eloquently of the pathos and upheaval of the trade. The story of the American slave trade is one of numbers, but it is also the story of individuals whose families were torn apart and whose lives were forever altered.
What challenges did African Americans face in their struggle to achieve what they believed freedom would bring them? What obstacles blocked African Americans’ efforts to gain citizenship? How did white Virginians react to the end of slavery—the underpinnings of their economy and culture—and the changes that free African Americans expected in this new Southern world? How successful were African Americans after the Civil War in achieving their objectives? Did the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution significantly aid African Americans in their struggles? Remaking Virginia offers a look at the changing world that all Virginians faced during the post–Civil War years.
We Demand: Women’s Suffrage in Virginia
While you are unable to come in and visit our gallery, please enjoy using the online additions to our current exhibition. Virginia suffragists were a remarkable group of talented and dedicated women who have largely been forgotten. They were artists and writers, business and professional women, and educators and reformers who marched in parades, rallied at the state capitol, spoke to crowds on street corners, staffed booths at state and county fairs, lobbied legislators and congressmen, picketed the White House, and even went to jail. At the centenary of woman suffrage, these remarkable women are at last recognized for their important achievements and contributions.
The Library of Virginia houses a vast collection of materials and records documenting the lives of Virginians. Delving into those records to explore your family’s history can be an immensely satisfying and rewarding experience. To start organizing your search, here are some tips!
■ To trace your family history, begin with yourself and work backward, one step at a time.
■ Carefully record the important facts of your own life and what you know about your parents and grandparents.
■ Consult other members of your family and close family friends and collect the information they know or have gathered. You may find that a family member has saved family papers, newspaper clippings, obituaries, family Bibles, or other treasures.
■ Compile a genealogical chart showing the names of your immediate ancestors with their birth, marriage, and death dates, including the places where each event occurred.
■ Look for family names in books on local and family history. The Library of Virginia has a large collection of published family histories.
■ Search for family records such as census, birth, death, or marriage in online genealogical resources.
■ Go to a local library, courthouse, or state archives, or to the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. In order to document the history you have heard from relatives or the claims you have found in published and online genealogies, you must search for original records.
■ Always record the source of any information found.
Check out our collection of research guides and databases that can help with genealogical research. Reminder: Effective 1 May 2020, out-of-state patrons will not be able to remotely access the commercial databases the Library offers due to licensing restrictions with those vendors.
Want a template for your own family tree? Check out our pinterest board or download one from the Library for illustrating your family history as your work through your genealogy at the Library of Virginia!
Here are more helpful handouts to help guide you on your genealogy journey!
- Genealogical Records at the Library of Virginia
- Using County & City Records
- Using Vital Statistic Records
- Lost Records
- Newspaper Research at the Library of Virginia
- African American Research at the Library of Virginia to 1870
We also offer an ongoing series of in-person and virtual workshops to help you with your quest. Geared to all levels of expertise, the workshops explore our collections and offer advice on how to organize your research.
Finding Your Virginia Roots
The Library’s genealogy Facebook group, provides resources and information for professional genealogists and family historians.
Help us preserve history for future generations from the comfort of your own home. Check out this blog post to learn more about Transcribe, Virginia Chronicle, and From the Page.
The civic conversations series involves small group discussions on a variety of topics, normally conducted in-person at the Library. We’ve compiled questions and resources around some of these topics so that a wider audience can participate. Feel free to utilize these resources to have your own family or community discussions or to aid in educational research.
- A Conversation about Monuments: The event on 8 January 2020 featured a short documentary from the American Museum of Natural History, The Meaning of a Monument, about the Theodore Roosevelt monument in New York City. Our conversation centered around these historical and contemporary landmarks.
- A Conversation about Freedom Riders and Nonviolent Activism: The event on 12 February featured a screening from the film Freedom Riders and conversations around nonviolent activism during the struggle for racial justice.
- A Conversation about Feminism: The event on March 11 featured a screening from the Netflix documentary Feminists: What Were They Thinking. Our conversation centered on current and historic feminist terminology and attitudes.
The Virginia Shop
We have new books (have you read the brand new book on Suffrage in Virginia? It’s excellent!), merchandise from Studio Two Three, and lots of Virginia-inspired products at The Virginia Shop online.
Explore the back issues of our magazine to learn about our collections, staff, events, and some amazing photographs.
Weekly Primary Source Activities
Teaching your child or children from home can be a challenge for any parent/caregiver. We want to help parents and caregivers with social studies resources prepared by The Library of Virginia. Below you’ll find primary source activities for students to engage with as well as a range of resources for all age groups on many topics in the Social Studies and History categories.
Check back soon! We will be adding primary source activities weekly!
Download our Education flyer, which highlights content relevant to educators and students.
Download our NEW RESOURCE FLYER, African American Education Resources at the Library of Virginia.
Join our Education Facebook Community!
Documenting Pandemics: Exploring & Creating Historical Materials Activity
During this stressful and confusing time, we wanted to offer a primary source activity that parents/caregivers/guardians and students can do together to keep your history brains flourishing! This activity uses a primary source example from the influenza pandemic of 1918 as a way to introduce students to the process of documenting and creating historical documents.
Fun fact: Primary sources are first-hand accounts of events! It is created when the event took place, or at a later time, by someone who was actually there and can range from letters to journals to speeches and more. Primary sources do not have to be old — that Tik-Tok video you made last night? It’s a primary source! Historical documents are incredibly useful for understanding how people thought, felt, and reacted to events and situations.
Parents can guide or have their children explore independently the sources below to further understand how the influenza pandemic impacted Virginians in 1917. After investigating the primary sources (guiding questions provided), families can choose to create their own document regarding their unique experiences in 2020. Happy History Hunting!
More than 600,000 people died over the course of a year in what would be deemed the worst epidemic to hit America. According to the CDC, 20-50 million people worldwide died between 1918-1919 as a result of the flu. The virus spread quickly, taking an enormous toll on densely populated areas such as Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco.
But what about its impact on small towns?
The Big Stone Gap Post of Big Stone Gap, Virginia and the Clinch Valley News of Tazewell, Virginia published regular updates about the comings and goings of the flu. Roughly 100 miles apart in the southwestern portion of the state, both towns currently boast modest populations of around 4-5,000 residents. One article in the Big Stone Gap Post wrote that the Spanish Flu was considered a “crowd disease” but small towns in Virginia were not spared, with relative isolation making it difficult for the sick to get help.
From the Big Stone Gap Post, November 20, 1918, nine days after the end of the war: “It is hardly likely that the general public will ever realize the extent of the suffering and anguish caused by the Spanish Influenza in some of the more remote mountain communities in Virginia where the frightful malady raged with a degree of severity which is difficult to explain.”
As the war was ending, the local and national news seemed equally dominated by reports of influenza cases. World war may have even helped spread to influenza around the globe just as the spread of the flu impacted the war effort at home and abroad.
To see these newspaper clippings, visit this link:
- Take a look at a Virginia newspaper from October 1918 (you pick which one!) or this newspaper page. What is it talking about? Do you see anything about the flu? If so, what does it say? What can you learn from this?
- Write your own newspaper article about the current pandemic. What do you think others can learn from your article 100 years from now?
- Write a letter to your future self. What has your day-to-day schedule been like? How are you feeling? Are you wondering about anything that you would like to share? Do you have any predictions for the future? Do you have any news to share about your parents, grandparents, or siblings?
Pre-K thru Elementary Resources and Activities
Check back soon for more!
Along with many other libraries and museums, the Library of Virginia created coloring-friendly version of items in our collections for #ColorOurCollections week. You can select an image at
https://www.pinterest.com/libraryofva/color-our-collections/ or see the PDF.
Preschool to 2nd grade students will enjoy Early World from WorldBook, a learning platform filled with games, videos, stories, and a visual encyclopedia.
Grade school students will have fun with the Cricket Media Collection of videos and stories, as well as ebooks from Ebsco, as described above.
- For both Elementary and Middle School students check out our book, To Collect, Protect, and Serve: Behind the Scenes at the Library of Virginia! If you would like a digital copy of the book and/or powerpoint to show your students or children, email education.lva.virginia.gov and we’ll send it to you!
Students can explore some of the Library of Virginia’s collections and learn how they are conserved! The Library of Virginia is the oldest cultural institution in the state and the official archive (a place where history is kept) and library of the Commonwealth. In the book To Collect, Protect, and Serve: Behind the Scenes at the Library of Virginia, Archie the Archivist, Libby the Librarian, and Connie the Conservator guide young readers through a visit to the Library of Virginia.
The book lets children explore some of the Library’s most important holdings – an early copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Statute of Religious Freedom, and documents connected to famous Virginians like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, and Edgar Allan Poe. They will learn how archivists, librarians, and conservators battle against the threats to historical documents like the Archival Enemies – Mildred Mold, Bartholomew B. Bug, and Liquid Lenny – to keep Virginia’s history safe for the future.
Check out these To Collect, Protect, and Serve worksheets!
Middle and High School Resources and Activities
Check back soon for more!
- Using the Primary Resources Associated with the Virginia Women in History Program
The Library of Virginia hopes that the Virginia Women in History program can be a part of your classroom curriculum. Each honoree’s page features a concise biography along with an image. These tools can help your students sharpen their analytical skills as they learn about and interpret the lives and contributions of each honoree.
Click here to see Middle School and High School student activities associated with Virginia Women in History!
- Using the Primary Resources Associated with the Strong Men & Women in Virginia History Program
The Library of Virginia hopes that the Strong Men & Women in Virginia History program can be a part of your classroom curriculum. Each honoree’s page features a concise biography along with an image. These tools can help your students sharpen their analytical skills as they learn about and interpret the lives and contributions of each honoree.
Click here to see Middle School and High School student activities associated with Strong Men & Women in Virginia History!
- Using the Primary Resources Associated with New Virginians
The Library of Virginia hopes that New Virginians: 1619–2019 & Beyond can be a part of your classroom curriculum. Each interview’s page features a concise biography along with an image. These tools can help your students sharpen their analytical skills as they learn about and interpret the lives and contributions of each interviewee.
Click here to see Middle School and High School student activities associated with New Virginians!
- These three projects use crowd-sourcing to help make historical materials at the Library of Virginia more accessible. Be sure to also check out our post about digital resources you can access at home from your public library, and our own digital collections.
Enhance access to collections documenting over 400 years of Virginia history, people, and culture by transforming historical documents into searchable text. This is the perfect opportunity for students to dig deep into our collections and transcribe historic materials from five to ten active projects at a time. From peace to wartime, court records to letters home, and conspiracies to political statements, there will be something for everyone.
New documents are published each week! We’re currently working on Virginia Untold: The African American Narrative and the Equal Suffrage League Records.
Get started: Create an account. We will email you with further instructions, so please be sure to use an email address that you check! Account requests answered within one business day. Quick tip: Click “Browse all” after the collection title on the Transcribe homepage. Within each collection, the documents which have not been transcribed will appear at the top of the page. Remember to save your work!
From the Abingdon Virginian to the Richmond Planet, Virginia Chronicle provides free access to over a million newspaper pages from the commonwealth and beyond. These full-text searchable and digitized images give glimpses into the lives of Virginians from 1787 to 2013, outlining everything from local politics to community happenings to notable moments in American history.
Not finding what you’re looking for when you search? You may have used Virginia Chronicle for research without realizing that you can help improve it. A computer program called OCR (Optical Character Recognition) has analyzed these historic newspapers to produce the searchable text.
However, OCR is not perfect. More modern typefaces are easier for OCR to recognize accurately. Some older papers may have other issues making it difficult for the program to read the text. Volunteers help correct the OCR’d text of articles. Yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s research!
Get started: Register for an account. After a quick online account creation, you can select a paper by title, date, or location, and click “Correct this text” in the left-hand window.
Our newest transcription platform, From the Page, allows volunteers to transcribe text from forms and questionnaires. Explore Virginia’s World War I Questionnaires, in which returning soldiers or their family members completed surveys about their lives before, during, and after the conflict.
Each questionnaire has four pages and may have additional attachments, such as other notes or photographs, as seen in the True Sons of Freedom exhibit.
Rather than typing all the text on a page, volunteers only need to fill in the blanks, just like the original respondents.
Remember, just like us, those filling out this form sometimes made mistakes or wrote things outside of the prescribed spaces. If you see anything like that, you can leave us a note in the “Page Notes” section at the bottom of each page. These questionnaires contain biographical, genealogical, and historical information—all of which is made more searchable and usable once transcribed.
Get started: Register for an account on From the Page. Easy online account creation! From the Page hosts collections from several different archives and libraries. View the WWI Questionnaires by county (we’re still adding more!) or view the whole collection. Quick tip: On the WWI Questionnaires collection page, click “Pages that Need Transcription” in the right-hand column to quickly locate documents to work on.