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Local History/Special Collections has many resources to help the genealogist research his or her family's history. The collection focuses mainly on material relating to Alexandria and Virginia in general, but other genealogy resources are available as well.



General Resources

General resources consist of guides for the genealogist, including books that explain the types of records involved in genealogical research and where they can be found; resources for each Virginia county or city; resources with limited coverage of Maryland, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina; dozens of genealogy journals.


Vital Indexes

Several volumes of information that include birth, marriage and death records. The collection also includes compilations of vital data for other Virginia counties and some neighboring states.  Another valuable resource is the obituary index to the Alexandria Gazette, the local newspaper. The printed version of the index, available in the library, covers the years 1784-1915; there is a continuation of the index online which covers 1916-1946, with more dates to come.


Religious Records

Genealogists will find useful data in collections of tombstone inscriptions and cemetery records. Information about members of individual congregations, compiled from church records, is also available. The library's collection also includes published histories of churches and synagogues, which may reveal information about an ancestor as well.


Military Records
The collection is strong in Civil War resources, especially those pertaining to the Confederacy. Useful works include histories of each Virginia regiment. Also available are several volumes with information taken from service records and pension records for other American wars. Also available in Special Collections are several volumes containing service records and pension records for earlier American wars.


Educational Records

The collection includes records from some local private schools, in some instances including lists of students who attended them. Also of use to the genealogist is the collection of selected twentieth-century yearbooks from three public high schools.


Census Records

Microfilm copies of the Federal census (population schedules, 1790-1930) are available for all the counties and cities in Virginia and for the District of Columbia (of which Alexandria was a part from 1791-1846). The collection includes the 1850 and 1860 slave schedules for Virginia counties and cities as well the 1850 population and slave schedules for the District of Columbia.



Local History/Special Collections Branch subscribes to more than 100+ journals, newsletters, and magazines about genealogy and local history. It retains issues from 59 periodicals that have ceased publication.

The collection also includes microfilm of the Alexandria Gazette from 1784-August 2008 (microfilm of the Gazette from more recent years can be found at the Beatley Central Library). Although the newspaper has not been indexed by subject, it is still an excellent resource for genealogists. Other useful periodicals include the Virginia Historical Index, the Confederate Veteran, and the Southern Historical Society Papers.


Classes and Programs

Genealogy classes and programs about local and state history are scheduled throughout the year. Contact the Branch Manager for more information.





Oath of Allegiance in Virginia, 1862-1865
The Oath of Allegiance, also called a Loyalty Oath, was a document  signed by persons during and after the Civil War to pledge loyalty and allegiance to the Union. Initially intended for employees of the Federal government and military personnel, the oath soon took several different forms and eventually extended to the state level. This list contains approximately 1,200 persons, many of whom were residents of Alexandria, who signed the Oath of Allegiance. 


African American Voter Registration in Alexandria, 1902-1954
This list contains close to 2,100 entries taken from microfilmed voter registration roll books in the Local History/Special Collections Branch. The original roll books are located in the City of Alexandria Archives and Record Center.


Civil War Era Burials - Alexandria National Cemetery
This index, prepared from the Roll of Honor. Names of Soldiers, Victims of The Rebellion, Buried in the National Cemetery at Alexandria, Virginia. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1866. Includes 3367 white Federal soldiers, 2 Federal seamen, 229 United States Colored Troops, 2 females, and 1 male citizen. 


"News of Interest to Colored Readers," 1927-1928
A ten-month column from the Alexandria Gazette written by African American Estelle Lane about events in her community.


Notes on locating a Confederate ancestor
Guide to locating your ancestor.


Obituary Index to the Alexandria Gazette, 1916-1946
Picks up where Obituary Notices from the Alexandria Gazette, 1784-1915. Rev. ed., published by Willow Bend Books ended.


1850 Census Index - Alexandria & Alexandria County, VA
Index to just over 13,000 individuals enumerated in 1850.


1890 Veterans Census - Northern Virginia 
Enumeration of Federal (and some Confederate) veterans or their widows, including a number of United States Colored Troops.


Index to Naturalization Petitions, Alexandria, 1909-1929
Soldiers from Camp Humphries (Ft. Belvoir) and residents from Stafford up through Loudoun Counties and all points east.


"The Senior Class;" Index to Alexandria High School Yearbooks
Index to senior class photos from Alexandria High School (The "Alecko" 1919-1935, missing 1921) and George Washington High School (The "Compass" 1935-1951).


Volunteers for Freedom: Black Civil War Soldiers in Alexandria National Cemetery
This list was created after a careful review of Volunteers for Freedom: Black Civil War Soldiers in Alexandria National Cemetery by Edward A. Miller, Jr., located in Local History/Special Collections. Miller's sources included -- but were not limited to -- pension files, military service records, and hospital records. His research was published in Historic Alexandria Quarterly.


World War I Draft Registrations - Northern Virginia
This index includes registrants for the City of Alexandria, Alexandria (now Arlington) County, and Fairfax County. Our source is microfilm from the National Archives and Records Administration RG163 M1509, roll numbers: VA3; VA4; and VA20.