West Virginia Archive Libraries and Preservation Societies
Whether your interest is in tracing your family tree, studying the Civil War or exploring local histories of particular regions, you will find valuable resources in West Virginia.
- The West Virginia Division of Culture and History in Charleston is the state’s official showcase for the region’s distinctive arts, historical archives and artifacts.
- The Cultural Center’s Archives and History Web site features primary and secondary source documents, databases, collections, and other online and onsite resources.
- The Division of Culture and History lists historical, genealogical and preservation societies throughout the state.
Archive libraries and preservation societies in West Virginia offer insightful materials on fascinating historical subjects such as:
The American Civil War
- Berkeley County Historical Society, operating from the former home of notorious Confederate spy Belle Boyd, is an educational center depository for historical papers and materials. The genealogical research focuses on Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan Counties. The museum complex includes rooms dedicated to the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley, Abraham Lincoln, African-Americans, period clothing and other wars
- Jefferson County Black History Society is dedicated to researching and preserving local African-American history. The society publications include a self-guide tour map identifying 24 sites that have been significant to the African-American community in and around Charles Town.
- The World War Memorial in Kimball is the only memorial to the 400,000 African-American World War I veterans in the United States. An estimated 1,500 came from McDowell County. The restored 1928 Classic Greek building serves as a community center and a memorial to the African-American soldiers who fought in World War I.
- Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History in Parkersburg archives materials on genealogy and history. The museum’s archival library includes historical and genealogical studies of Harmon Blennerhassett, wealthy Irish aristocrat who built a magnificent mansion on the untamed island in 1798, and was arrested along with Aaron Burr for treason in 1806. Although the direct line of descendents from Harmon and Margaret Blennerhassett has been extinguished, other branches of the family were more prolific. The museum specializes in scarce and hard-to-find 18th century items and also features the Stahl Collection of prehistoric Native American artifacts. To visit the archives, call the museum in advance to ensure that support staff will be available to assist. The museum is conveniently located near Parkersburg’s Point Park where sternwheelers ferry visitors to the restored Blennerhassett mansion in Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park. The island is open May 1 through October each year.