The Library of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia, is the library agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia, its archival agency, and the reference library at the seat of government. The Library moved into a new building in 1997 and is located at 800 East Broad Street, 2 blocks from the Virginia State Capitol building. It was formerly known as the Virginia State Library and as the Virginia State Library and Archives.
Formally founded by the Virginia General Assembly in 1823, the Library of Virginia organizes, cares for, and manages the state's collection of books and official records, many of which date back to the early colonial period. It houses what is believed to be the most comprehensive collection of materials on Virginia government, history, and culture available anywhere. Its research collections contain more than 808,500 bound volumes; 678,790 public documents; 410,330 microforms, including 45,684 reels of microfilmed newspapers; 308,900 photographs and other pictorial materials; 101.8 million manuscript items and records; and several hundred thousand prints, broadsides, and newspapers.
Library of Virginia has an online catalog, and some online digital images from their collection, including Family Bible records. There is also a Library of Virginia project called Virginia Memory that has some interesting materials. Virginia Memory appears to be the library's link to its digital collections. There are some really important archives here of early African American marriages (the 1866 "cohabitation" registers).
The Library of Virginia (LVA) is pleased to announce the completion of two more digital scanning projects. The processing, indexing, and digital reformatting of the Prince Edward County and Portsmouth City chancery causes is now complete. The images have been added to the existing index on the recently redesigned Chancery Records Index: http://www.virginiamemory.com/collections/chancery/(CRI)
The Prince Edward County chancery images date between 1856 and 1913 (additional pre-1856 are currently being processed and will be added at a later date). The Portsmouth materials cover the years 1859 through 1932. These localities join twenty-eight counties and cities whose chancery causes have been digitally reformatted and made available through the Library's innovative Circuit Court Records Preservation Program, which seeks to preserve the historic records of Virginia's Circuit Courts.
To date, The Library of Virginia has posted over 3 million digital chancery images from twenty-nine localities. Please see the Chancery Records Index for a listing of the available locality chancery collections. Seventeen localities are presently being scanned and will be posted in the coming months. However, due to the recent reductions to the Library of Virginia's budget, the pace of the agency's digital chancery projects will necessarily proceed more slowly. Please know these projects remain a very high priority for the agency and it is hoped that the initiative can be resumed in full when the economy and the agency's budget situation improve.
Chancery causes are cases that are decided on the basis of equity and fairness as opposed to the strictly formulated rules of common law cases. Chancery cases are especially useful when researching local history, genealogical information, and land or estate divisions. They are a valuable source of local, state, social, and legal history and serve as a primary source for understanding a locality's history. Chancery causes often contain correspondence; property lists, including slaves; lists of heirs; and vital statistics, along with many other records. Some of the more common types of chancery causes involve divisions of the estate of a person who died intestate (without a will); divorces; settlements of dissolved business partnerships; and resolutions of land disputes.