Virginia Archives: 147 Newspapers for Genealogy Research

Virginia has long played a prominent role in American history. The first permanent English settlement in the New World was established in Virginia in 1607 (Jamestown), Virginia was one of the original 13 states that formed the United States, four of the nation’s first five presidents came from Virginia (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe), and the state’s current capital was once capital of the Confederate States of America (Richmond).

photo of a Virginia state welcome sign featuring the state bird (cardinal) and state tree and flower (dogwood)

Photo: a Virginia state welcome sign featuring the state bird (cardinal) and state tree and flower (dogwood). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

If you are researching your family roots in Virginia, you will want to use GenealogyBank’s online VA newspaper archives: 147 titles to help you search your family history in the “Old Dominion,” providing news coverage, family stories and vital statistics from 1736 to Today. There are currently more than 54 million newspaper articles and records in our online Virginia archives!

Dig deep into our archives and search for historical and recent obituaries and other news articles about your Virginia ancestors in these recent and historical VA newspapers online. Our Virginia newspapers are divided into two collections: Historical Newspapers (complete paper) and Recent Obituaries (obituaries only).

Search Virginia Newspaper Archives (1736 – 1986)

Search Virginia Recent Obituaries (1985 – Current)

Here is a list of online Virginia newspapers in the archives. Each newspaper title in this list is an active link that will take you directly to that paper’s search page, where you can begin searching for your ancestors by surnames, dates, keywords and more. The VA newspaper titles are listed alphabetically by city.

City Title Date Range* Collection
Abingdon Washington County News 2/1/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Alexandria Alexandria Gazette 7/11/1808 – 12/30/1876 Newspaper Archives
Alexandria Alexandria Herald 6/3/1811 – 6/29/1825 Newspaper Archives
Alexandria Alexandria Daily Advertiser 12/8/1800 – 7/9/1808 Newspaper Archives
Alexandria Times; and District of Columbia Daily Advertiser 4/10/1797 – 7/31/1802 Newspaper Archives
Alexandria Alexandria Expositor 11/26/1802 – 6/1/1807 Newspaper Archives
Alexandria Virginia Journal and Alexandria Advertiser 2/12/1784 – 5/21/1789 Newspaper Archives
Alexandria Alexandria Expositor for the Country 12/1/1803 – 3/4/1805 Newspaper Archives
Alexandria Columbian Mirror and Alexandria Gazette 12/5/1792 – 12/6/1800 Newspaper Archives
Alexandria Columbian Advertiser and Commercial, Mechanic, and Agricultural Gazette 8/2/1802 – 11/22/1802 Newspaper Archives
Alexandria Virginia Gazette and Alexandria Advertiser 9/3/1789 – 8/1/1793 Newspaper Archives
Alexandria People’s Advocate 4/11/1876 – 9/9/1876 Newspaper Archives
Alexandria Vienna-Oakton Connection 2/26/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Alexandria Mount Vernon Gazette 2/13/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Alexandria Alexandria Gazette Packet 2/26/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Alexandria Centre View 2/21/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Altavista Altavista Journal 10/8/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Amherst Nelson County Times 3/19/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Amherst Amherst New Era Progress 3/10/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Appomattox Times-Virginian 10/8/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Arlington Arlington Catholic Herald 9/28/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Arlington Arlington Connection 2/26/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Ashburn Farm, Ashburn Village, Landsdown, Bluemont Ashburn Connection 2/26/2002 – 5/21/2009 Recent Obituaries
Bedford Bedford Bulletin 11/25/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Boydton Midland Express 3/3/1893 – 3/3/1893 Newspaper Archives
Bristol Bristol Herald Courier 12/27/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Broadway North Fork Journal 6/27/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Brookneal Union Star 10/2/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Burke Burke Connection 2/26/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Cascades, Countryside, Potomac Falls, Sterling Cascades Connection 3/26/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Charlottesville Jeffersonian Republican 4/19/1855 – 12/22/1880 Newspaper Archives
Charlottesville Daily Progress 4/17/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chase City News-Progress 2/23/2012 – Current Recent Obituaries
Chatham Star-Tribune 10/2/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Culpeper Culpeper Star-Exponent 1/26/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Danville Danville Register & Bee 1/29/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Dayton Shenandoah Journal 11/13/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Dumfries Virginia Gazette and Agricultural Repository 10/13/1791 – 12/19/1793 Newspaper Archives
Elkton Valley Banner 6/28/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Emporia Independent-Messenger 7/8/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairfax Fairfax Connection 2/26/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fairfax Station, Clifton Fairfax Station-Clifton Connection 2/26/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fincastle Fincastle Mirror 7/11/1823 – 2/18/1825 Newspaper Archives
Fincastle Herald of the Valley 9/17/1821 – 7/4/1823 Newspaper Archives
Fincastle Fincastle Weekly Advertiser 5/8/1801 – 7/10/1801 Newspaper Archives
Fincastle Herald of Virginia and Fincastle Weekly Advertiser 12/5/1800 – 12/5/1800 Newspaper Archives
Floyd Floyd Press 7/19/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Franklin Tidewater News 10/3/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Fredericksburg Virginia Herald 9/6/1787 – 11/25/1829 Newspaper Archives
Fredericksburg Virginia Express 11/17/1803 – 7/12/1804 Newspaper Archives
Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star 1/1/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Front Royal Warren Sentinel 9/17/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Galax Galax Gazette 11/18/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Goochland Goochland Gazette 6/4/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Great Falls Great Falls Connection 2/26/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Harrisonburg Northern Augusta Journal 11/20/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Harrisonburg Daily News-Record 6/10/1993 – Current Recent Obituaries
Herndon Herndon Connection 2/26/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Hillsville Carroll News 4/30/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Independence Declaration 1/24/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
King George Journal Press 5/20/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Laurel Hill Laurel Hill Connection 2/26/2002 – 6/10/2009 Recent Obituaries
Lawrenceville Brunswick Times-Gazette 7/8/2003 – Current Recent Obituaries
Leesburg Genius of Liberty 1/11/1817 – 12/26/1820 Newspaper Archives
Leesburg Washingtonian 2/6/1810 – 7/16/1811 Newspaper Archives
Leesburg True American 12/30/1800 – 12/30/1800 Newspaper Archives
Leesburg Leesburg Today 8/29/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lexington Virginia Telegraphe 1/10/1804 – 2/3/1808 Newspaper Archives
Lexington Rockbridge Repository 8/21/1801 – 8/6/1805 Newspaper Archives
Lexington News-Gazette 12/10/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Luray Page News and Courier 1/13/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Lynchburg Lynchburg Press 5/13/1809 – 4/24/1818 Newspaper Archives
Lynchburg Lynchburg Weekly Gazette 10/13/1798 – 7/20/1799 Newspaper Archives
Lynchburg Lynchburg Weekly Museum 8/21/1797 – 5/19/1798 Newspaper Archives
Lynchburg News & Advance 3/11/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Madison Madison County Eagle 3/26/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Manassas Prince William Today 2/21/2013 – Current Recent Obituaries
Manassas News & Messenger 5/2/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marion Smyth County News & Messenger 1/31/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Marion Bland County Messenger 4/1/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
McLean Fairfax Sun Gazette 5/6/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
McLean McLean Connection 2/26/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Mechanicsville Mechanicsville Local 7/27/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Merrifield Arlington Sun Gazette 4/3/2006 – Current Recent Obituaries
Newport News Daily Press 1/1/1989 – Current Recent Obituaries
Norfolk American Beacon 8/7/1815 – 12/30/1820 Newspaper Archives
Norfolk Norfolk Gazette and Publick Ledger 7/17/1804 – 9/17/1816 Newspaper Archives
Norfolk Virginia Chronicle 7/28/1792 – 12/18/1794 Newspaper Archives
Norfolk Commercial Register 8/16/1802 – 1/11/1803 Newspaper Archives
Norfolk Norfolk and Portsmouth Journal 9/28/1787 – 5/6/1789 Newspaper Archives
Norfolk Norfolk and Portsmouth Chronicle 9/26/1789 – 6/2/1792 Newspaper Archives
Norfolk Norfolk and Portsmouth Herald 10/8/1807 – 6/19/1820 Newspaper Archives
Norfolk Norfolk and Portsmouth Gazette 9/23/1789 – 10/8/1789 Newspaper Archives
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot 4/1/1990 – Current Recent Obituaries
Orange Orange County Review 3/3/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Petersburg Petersburg Daily Courier 9/21/1814 – 6/22/1815 Newspaper Archives
Petersburg Petersburg Intelligencer 5/29/1798 – 9/22/1815 Newspaper Archives
Petersburg American Star 6/23/1817 – 12/23/1817 Newspaper Archives
Petersburg National Pilot 2/1/1900 – 2/1/1900 Newspaper Archives
Petersburg Progress-Index 10/31/2001 – Current Recent Obituaries
Powhatan Powhatan Today 4/2/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Reston Reston Connection 2/26/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richlands Richlands News-Press 1/6/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Richmond Richmond Times Dispatch 1/27/1903 – 12/31/1986 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Enquirer 5/9/1804 – 8/22/1876 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Richmond Whig 6/22/1824 – 12/29/1874 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Richmond Enquirer 10/25/1844 – 4/28/1870 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Richmond Examiner 4/8/1861 – 8/29/1866 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Virginia Argus 5/9/1795 – 10/19/1816 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Virginia Patriot 12/26/1809 – 8/3/1819 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Richmond Commercial Compiler 12/18/1816 – 4/20/1820 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Southern Illustrated News 9/13/1862 – 9/10/1864 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Richmond Chronicle 5/23/1795 – 8/27/1796 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Virginia Gazette, and General Advertiser 12/7/1791 – 7/14/1809 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Impartial Observer 5/1/1806 – 7/2/1807 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Virginia Star 5/11/1878 – 12/23/1882 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Virginia Gazette and Weekly Advertiser 3/2/1782 – 3/4/1796 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Richmond Daily Whig 12/27/1833 – 2/15/1882 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Richmond Planet 2/21/1885 – 1/13/1900 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Recorder 11/10/1802 – 8/6/1803 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Spirit of ‘Seventy-Six 9/20/1808 – 7/11/1809 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Reformer 1/27/1900 – 1/27/1900 Newspaper Archives
Richmond Richmond Times-Dispatch 8/19/1985 – Current Recent Obituaries
Roanoke Roanoke Times 1/1/1990 – Current Recent Obituaries
South Hill South Hill Enterprise 1/7/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Springfield Springfield Connection 10/15/2002 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stafford Stafford County Sun 4/17/2008 – Current Recent Obituaries
Stanardsville Greene County Record 3/3/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Staunton Staunton Eagle 8/14/1807 – 10/3/1810 Newspaper Archives
Staunton Staunton Political Censor 6/22/1808 – 2/22/1809 Newspaper Archives
Staunton Staunton Spy 9/21/1793 – 2/1/1794 Newspaper Archives
Staunton Political Mirror 6/3/1800 – 8/11/1801 Newspaper Archives
Staunton Observer 8/4/1814 – 8/18/1814 Newspaper Archives
Staunton Spirit of the Press 5/18/1811 – 5/18/1811 Newspaper Archives
Strasburg Northern Virginia Daily 12/17/2007 – Current Recent Obituaries
Suffolk Suffolk News-Herald 10/2/2014 – Current Recent Obituaries
Warrenton Palladium of Liberty 8/23/1817 – 12/22/1820 Newspaper Archives
Waynesboro News Virginian 2/3/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries
Williamsburg Virginia Gazette 3/18/1736 – 12/30/1780 Newspaper Archives
Winchester Republican Constellation 7/20/1811 – 7/31/1819 Newspaper Archives
Winchester Winchester Virginian 4/18/1828 – 9/6/1836 Newspaper Archives
Winchester Winchester Gazette 6/27/1798 – 1/15/1820 Newspaper Archives
Winchester Philanthropist 3/25/1806 – 2/28/1809 Newspaper Archives
Winchester Winchester Star 4/30/2009 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wirtz Smith Mountain Eagle 10/6/2004 – Current Recent Obituaries
Woodstock Shenandoah Valley-Herald 6/24/2010 – Current Recent Obituaries
Wytheville Wytheville Enterprise 2/1/2011 – Current Recent Obituaries

*Date Ranges may have selected coverage unavailable.

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In Search of Our Early American Ancestors’ Patents on Inventions

Introduction: Mary Harrell-Sesniak is a genealogist, author and editor with a strong technology background. In this guest blog post, Mary explains that some of your ancestors may have patented inventions—and finding the government records or newspaper descriptions of these inventions may fill in some gaps in your family history.

When we think of patented inventions (not to be confused with land patents), the more famous inventors—such as Thomas Edison (inventor of the phonograph and 1000+ other inventions)—overshadow lesser-known American inventors.

But take a moment to reflect on life before the Industrial Revolution, when our early American ancestors were left to their own ingenuity. The family stories may have become lost over the years, but perhaps some of your ancestors invented unique tools or machines—and finding information about their patented inventions may fill in some gaps in your family history.

Necessity was the driving force behind many of these historical inventions, creating devices to deal with problems that don’t concern us today.

Peter Zacharie’s Mud-Moving Machine

For example, mud was a large problem in the late 18th century. When you cleared a swamp, it was a back-breaking, labor-intensive chore, and undoubtedly the inspiration for Peter Zacharie’s (of Baltimore) mud-moving device, which is described in this 1792 newspaper article.

Peter Zacharie's patent, Spooner's Vermont Journal newspaper article 14 February 1792

Spooner’s Vermont Journal (Windsor, Vermont), 14 February 1792, page 2

His device allowed a person to walk in a hollow wheel and raise, with what must have been a large spoon, a ton of mud. As the first one went up, a corresponding spoon simultaneously went down to get another load, thereby allowing a single man to empty it in a minute. What a fantastic labor-saving invention!

Although no drawing has been located of Zacharie’s machine, List of Patents for Inventions and Designs Issued by the United States from 1790 to 1847 (Edmund Burke, Commissioner of Patents, 1847) on Google Books, described it as an “Excavator, mud machine.” I imagine it more as an early elliptical machine—as this would undoubtedly have kept the farmer in shape!

Obadiah Herbert’s Spinning Wheel

That same 1792 newspaper reported that Obadiah Herbert (of Mount Pleasant) had created a spinning wheel that could eliminate the need for a second person. As noted, “the advantages of such a machine were evident.”

Obadiah Herbert's patent, Spooner's Vermont Journal newspaper article 14 February 1792

Spooner’s Vermont Journal (Windsor, Vermont), 14 February 1792, page 2

Miss E. A. Judkins Lace Loom

You’ll find descriptions of other lesser-known American inventions in early newspapers, such as this one by Miss E. A. Judkins (of Portland), who invented a loom to weave lace, fringes, etc., eliminating the need for tatting and crocheting.

E. A. Judkins's patent, National Gazette newspaper article 2 July 1839

National Gazette (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 2 July 1839, page 1

Patent Protection in Early America

These early inventions received patent protection under the “Act to Promote the Progress of Useful Arts” of 10 April 1790. Protection under this act was granted:

“to such persons or petitioners, his, her or their heirs, administrators or assigns for any term not exceeding fourteen years, the sole and exclusive right and liberty of making, constructing, using and vending to others to be used, the said invention or discovery.”

1790 Patent Act, Daily Advertiser newspaper article 13 April 1790

Daily Advertiser (New York, New York), 13 April 1790, page 2

There were various other stipulations, and the act included a statement that the issued patent “would be prima facia evidence that the said patentee or patentees, was or were the first and true inventor or inventors, discover or discovers of the thing so specified.” Filing fees were specified, which totaled $3.85:

    • 50¢ to receive and file the petition
    • 10¢ per copy-sheet containing one hundred words
    • $2.00 for making out the patent
    • $1.00 for affixing the great seal
    • 25¢ to endorse the day of delivering the same to the patentee
1790 Patent Act, Daily Advertiser newspaper article 13 April 1790

Daily Advertiser (New York, New York), 13 April 1790, page 2

Where to Find These Historical U.S. Patents?

Unfortunately for family historians searching government records, about 10,000 of the earliest patent documents were destroyed in an 1836 fire at the Post Office building. Luckily, many American patentees kept copies of their prized patents.

Known as the “X-Patents,” less than 1/3 of the documents destroyed in that fire have been restored to the United States Patent Office—mostly from personal collections or archives. One of the surviving early documents was Eli Whitney’s patent for the cotton gin.

drawing of Eli Whitney's cotton gin

Credit: Wikipedia Commons image

If you find one of the missing X-Patents in your family archives, be sure to contact the U.S. Patent Office. They’ll be appreciative you contacted them so that they can save more of these missing historical patents.

To learn more about patented early American inventions search GenealogyBank’s Newspaper Archives, along with Google Books and Google Patents. You’ll also find a number of accounts and related reference material in GenealogyBank’s Historical Books collection.

photo of an 1871 advertising card for Scientific American, Munn & Co., patent attorneys

Scientific American, Munn & Co., patent attorneys advertising card, 1 January 1871

Also visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office. There you’ll learn that protection for patented inventions is not much longer than it was in 1790, but fees now run into thousands of dollars!

From their website:

“How long does patent protection last?

“For applications filed on or after June 8, 1995, utility and plant patents are granted for a term which begins with the date of the grant and usually ends 20 years from the date you first applied for the patent subject to the payment of appropriate maintenance fees. Design patents last 14 years from the date you are granted the patent. No maintenance fees are required for design patents.”

Recommended reading from the newspaper archives:

Do you have any American inventors in your family tree? Share with us in the comments!