ONLINE RESEARCH TOOLS
- CARD CATALOG: Searchable, online card catalog listing many of the books and research materials in our Genealogy & History Library. The catalog currently references 8411 items with frequent additions. Our collection is non-circulating and closed-stack. See information below for more about our holdings, fees, and research policies.
- LANCASTER COUNTY ESTATE RECORDS 1835-1865 DATABASE: Searchable, abstracted data from 1343 estate documents such as inventories, accounts, sales, and wills from the period 1835-1865 in Lancaster County, including information about 520 decedents, 1755 beneficiaries, 318 spouses, 3019 slaves, and many other relevant individuals. This tool offers a wealth of material for African-American research as well as research on white slave-owning and non slave-owning families. This project is made possible in part by a matching grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.
Our History & Genealogy Library contains thousands of published records, books, manuscripts, periodicals, and microfilm holdings about Lancaster County, the Northern Neck region, the Tidewater area, and many other locales in Virginia and nearby states. The collection includes:
- Microfilm of Lancaster County Court House records dating from 1651, with associated print and electronic indexes and abstracts
- Virginia vital records, census records, county histories, church and cemetery records
- Virginia family histories including a large section on Ball, Carter, and Lee
- Microfilm of Virginia Citizen newspaper published 1891-1913 in Irvington, Va.
- Surname Index card file keyed to our holdings
- Indexed local obituary collection for years 2000-present
- Family Files with miscellaneous papers, genealogy charts, and materials shared by other researchers
- Vertical Files on numerous local subjects
- Out-of-State Section with genealogy reference books on Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, New England, and other regions.
LIBRARY FEES & POLICIES
- ON-SITE LIBRARY USE: We encourage you to visit the library in person to take full advantage of our holdings and research tools. Additional printed and digital indexes, finding aids, and subscription-based resources augment our card catalog. There is a $5 daily fee to use the library. The fee is waived for MBWML members. Photocopies and computer print-outs are 25 cents per page. Books and reference materials are in closed stacks and are non-circulating; materials may not be removed from the library.
- TECHNOLOGY: Personal laptops/tablets are allowed, but the Library does not offer internet access except on its own computer workstations. For a fee of $10 per day, patrons may use personal cameras, small wand-type scanners, or other similar devices to copy materials; however, permission is subject to staff discretion if activities are deemed disruptive to others or harmful to the collection.
- COPIES BY MAIL: There is a minimum $5 administrative fee which includes copying and postage for mailing up to 10 pages. Additional pages sent in the same package are 25 cents each. Some materials may be available as electronic scans to be sent by email, but the same fees apply. Each scanned page counts as one copy. All information is subject to copyright restrictions.
- INQUIRIES: When calling, e-mailing, or writing our library, please provide as much specific information as possible regarding your inquiry, such as full names, dates, and geographic locations. Our volunteer staff will reply, usually within 2 weeks, to let you know if we can answer your question within the scope of our free look-up service, what resources are in our collection, if copying is available, if further research is required, or where else you might look for help.
- RESEARCH: We can often answer basic research questions with brief look-ups at no charge. However, some inquiries may require a deeper level of research by our volunteer staff within the holdings of our library for an hourly research fee. For example, most of the collection is indexed by surname only and significant staff time would be required for us to locate particular individuals or family lines for you. Research fees are $25 per hour for non-members and $20 per hour for MBWML members. Fees for copies are additional. To the best of our ability, we will provide you with an estimate of the research time required. We can begin research with an advance payment for a minimum of one hour's work. At the end of the paid research time, we will report the progress and results of the work, and recommend any further research that may still be needed. Please remember that our staff members are volunteers, not professional genealogists, and we do not offer research at courthouses or other libraries. We can provide a list of independent genealogists and researchers who offer such services for a fee.
- PAYMENT: Fees must be paid in advance by check or credit card (MasterCard or Visa). For security, do not email your bank or credit card information. You can charge by phone by calling us at 804-462-7280. Checks should be payable to MBWML and mailed to PO Box 97, Lancaster VA, 22503.