Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do I find if the library has a family history that will help my research?
Answer: The Library has almost a thousand family histories. Use the OPAC and limit one’s search to Shenandoah Room. Type the last name of the family in the search box. Result will include all family histories that include the name in its primary index. Also search the print index to a large collection of family files.
2. What cemetery records are available?
Answer: Heishman’s two volumes (Shenandoah County, VA Cemetery Records 929.575595 S) are the best source for county cemetery records. Also see Borden and Ritenour’s Tombstone Inscriptions (929.575595 B).
3. What is the Morrison Photograph Collection?
Answer: The Library houses albums containing copies from the original glass plate negatives from this Woodstock photographer that now belong to the Shenandoah County Historical Society. Patrons are encouraged to browse these albums in the Shenandoah Room to help identify the subjects. Forms on which to record identifications are available. Eventually there will be an index of the entire collection.
4. How does one research Property Records here?
Answer: 1) There are surveys of historic property done both in 1985 and in 1994. The index is by either the old name of the property or the name of the owner at the time the survey was done. Patrons are allowed to use one folder at a time. 2) The Library’s microfilm collection includes Shenandoah County land tax records from 1782-1850 and personal property tax records from 1782-1779. 3) Tax Record Books for Shenandoah County contain personal property and land taxes from 1883-1896 and 1933-1970. These are duplicates of what the courthouse has, and the volumes are located either on lowest shelves in the SR or in the Archives. 4) Gilbreath’s abstract, Deed Books A-Z, 1772-1820 ( 929.375595 G) includes information on Shenandoah County. 5) Microfilm collection includes Northern Neck Land Surveys for Shenandoah County from 1749 to 1779.
5. What can only be found at the County Courthouse?
Answer: Located there are all property records for titles searches of land and buildings and original documents related to property and other vital records.
6. How does one search for Obituaries of local residents?
Answer: 1) Start your search by using the library system’s account with the Library Edition of the Ancestry database. 2) Stickley’s three volumes, Someone You Knew: Necrology: Shenandoah County Virginia Obituaries (929.375595) cover 1869 – 2000. 3) Use either microfilm or online access to back records of local newspapers.
7. What local Marriage records are available?
Answer: The microfilm collection includes Shenandoah County marriage records from 1772 to1912. Also see Ashby’s Marriage Bonds 1772-1850 (929.375595 A), Borden’s Marriages 1772-1882 (929.375595 B), and Vogt’s Marriages, 1772-1850 (929.375595 V). For marriage records prior to 1853 go to the county courthouse. Many marriage records can be found on Ancestry.com.
8. What records of local Wills & Estates does the Library have?
Answer: See Torrence’s Virginia Wills and Administration 16320-1800 (929.375 T) and Pippenger’s Index to Virginia Estates 1800-1865 (929.3 P)
9. How can one research Birth and Baptism records?
Answer: There is a Shenandoah County Index of Births and Baptisms in a blue binder. The print collections include volumes on baptisms at various Lutheran churches between 1850 and the early 20th century. Otherwise rely on Ancestry.com. See 975.595 for histories of individual churches.
10. Other than the Census data available on Ancestry.com, what Census data does the Library have?
Answer: The microfilm collection includes Shenandoah County census records from 1790 to1920 and Virginia Slave Schedules for 1850 and 1860. The print collection includes Van’s five-volume study of the Shenandoah County 1860 census and one volume on the 1870 census. There are print materials specifically about the 1810-1840 Shenandoah County censuses and numerous volumes on 19th century Virginia censuses that include Shenandoah County data.
11. What is the MAGS Collection?
Answer: The Shenandoah Room houses the library of the Mid-Atlantic Germanic Society. The collection is shelved separately on the north wall of the room. Members of he society have borrowing privileges. The collection will become property of the County Library in 2015, and until then its titles will not appear in the Library’s OPAC. You can download a searchable PDF listing on the library website under Local History>Archives>Collections.
12. What do the Archives contain?
Answer: There is a ten-year backlog of accessions that are currently not cataloged. There isn’t any good way for patrons to know what the Archives contain. You can ask to see a hard copy of what inventory there is. There are copies since 2000 of three local papers (Bryce Courier, Free Press, and Valley Herald) and an extensive postcard collection.
13. What does the collection contain about African-Americans in the county?
Answer: There are five volumes of African Americans in Shenandoah County, Virginia, Notebooks (929.375595 STEWART) and Shenandoah County, Virginia: birth records of free born children, 1853-1871 (975.595RIS).
14. What are the best sources for general background on early settlers in Shenandoah County?
Answer: Start with Wayland’s History of Shenandoah County (975.595). Then consult Swem’s Virginia Historical Index (016.9293755 S), Couper’s History of the Shenandoah Valley, Chalkley’s Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, Kegley’s Virginia Frontier, and O’Dell’s Pioneers of Old Frederick County, Virginia.