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Research Guides & Indexes

Virginia Colonial Records Project

Over 14,000 survey reports that describe documents held by overseas libraries and archives that relate to Virginia colonial history

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Virginia Colonial Records Project

Overview

This collection consists of over 14,000 survey reports produced by the Virginia Colonial Records Project. The reports describe documents held by overseas libraries and archives that relate to Virginia colonial history.

The Virginia Colonial Records Project was established to reconstitute the archive of Virginia's colonial history—a documentary record decimated by war and fire. Between 1955 and 1985, project agents visited more than one hundred libraries and archives in Britain, Ireland, and France to survey their collections for Virginia-related documents. Agents reported their findings in survey reports, from which microfilm of original documents was ordered. 

Documents include correspondence between British officials and colonial officers, customs records, business records, claims of British merchants concerning Virginia stores, log books, ships' cargo lists, Loyalists' claims, depositions, and chancery proceedings of British courts. Documents do not include ships’ passenger lists or local records that remained in the colony, such as wills recorded at county courts. 

Search Tips

  • Entries are searchable by survey report title, repository name, collection/manuscript name (referred to as "Class"), document creation date(s), subject (including personal names and ship names), survey report number (Local Call Number), microfilm reel number (Local Note), and bibliographical references (Note).
  • To search for a ship name, enter the name of the ship, followed by ship in quotation marks (e.g., "princess ship").
  • Reports may have two survey report numbers, a stamped number and an older typed number (used before 1973). Only the stamped number is searchable.
  • Using quotes around phrases may return fewer, more relevant results.
  • Boolean operators OR, NOT and AND written in ALL CAPS may be used. By default, all search terms will be combined with the AND operator. To exclude terms, use the NOT operator before a term.
  • Wildcards can be used to find variant spellings or words. The question mark (?) will match any one character. For instance, "Ols?n" will match "Olsen" or "Olson". The asterisk (*) will match any number of characters (including zero). "Ch*ter" will match "Charter", "Character", and "Chapter", and "Temp*" will match "Temptation", "Temple", and "Temporary".

Note: The page numbers found in records correspond to the survey reports rather than to the microfilmed records. 

Record Availability

Microfilm of documents described in the survey reports is available at the Library of Virginia, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, University of Virginia Library, and Jamestown Settlement library. During the 1970s, the ordering of microfilmed records ceased. As a result, there is microfilm of only about two-thirds of the records identified in the survey reports.

Microfilm can be borrowed through interlibrary loan from the Library of Virginia and the University of Virginia Library. If borrowing from the Library of Virginia, request Film 1607 and note the specific reel number listed in the Local Note field of the record.

The Virginia Colonial Records Project did not obtain reproduction rights from repositories. Therefore, the Library cannot provide copies of documents on microfilm. To request copies, contact the repository holding the original document.

Related Resources

  • Kneebone, John T., Jon Kukla, Daphne Gentry, and Donald W. Gunter, eds. A Key to Survey Reports and Microfilm of the Virginia Colonial Records Project. 2 vols. Richmond, VA: State Library and Archives,1990. Z1345.K49 1990
  • Virginia Colonial Records Project. Colonial Records Project. Film 1607