Virginia History Books

Browse selected volumes on popular topics, such as the Civil War, the American Revolution, Fredericksburg, and the surrounding counties. These titles are updated frequently, so check back often for more recommendations. Most books can be requested and checked out from your home library branch. Use the menu below to limit your search to areas that interest you.

For students wanting historical tales--true and otherwise--check out our lists of Virginia History Books for Kids.

Accommodating Revolutions: Virginia’s Northern Neck in an Era of Transformations, 1760-1810

By Albert H. Tillson, Jr.

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The Northern Neck runs from Falmouth in Stafford County all the way down to Windmill Point in Lancaster County, bounded by the Rappahannock River to the south and the Potomac River to the north.  Now it’s a sleepy section of Virginia but it was once called the Athens of the New World.

What a foreign world it seems to us today—the antebellum Northern Neck--where wealthy white plantation owners bought and sold slaves with ease along with the services of bound whites for years at a time. How could such a system that relied on keeping people in their places and maintaining the established order bring forth some of the greatest leaders of the Revolutionary period? History is complicated, and Accommodating Revolutions digs into court documents and newspaper accounts to flesh out what was going on with those who served the gentry as the winds of political and religious upheaval shook Virginia.
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Adapting to a New World: English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake

By James Horn

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Often compared unfavorably with colonial New England, the early Chesapeake has been portrayed as irreligious, unstable, and violent. In this important new study, James Horn challenges this conventional view and looks across the Atlantic to assess the enduring influence of English attitudes, values, and behavior on the social and cultural evolution of the early Chesapeake.
(From the publisher's description)

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Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship That Saved the Revolution

By David A. Clary

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"One was a self-taught, middle-aged Virginia planter in charge of a ragtag army of revolutionaries, the other a rich, glory-seeking teenage French aristocrat. But the childless Washington and the orphaned Lafayette forged a bond as strong as any between father and son, a trust that saw them through betrayals, shifting political alliances, and the trials of war. Using personal letters and other key documents, author Clary offers a rare glimpse of the American Revolution, including intimate portraits of such major figures as Alexander Hamilton, Benedict Arnold, and Benjamin Franklin."
(From the publisher's description)
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African Americans of Spotsylvania County

By Terry Miller and Roger Braxton

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The African American community emerged from the ravages of war after more than 140 years of slavery. The community formalized the institutions they developed for survival during those years and charted a path for their growth. This volume pays homage to religion, work, service, education, and the human touch that brought families through undeniably difficult times.
Terry Miller is a writer and frequent visitor to Spotsylvania, and Roger Braxton is a native whose family can be traced to the early 1800s. Their combined curiosity about local history has produced a work of historical insight, humor, and reverence to an ancestral past. The photographs and accompanying stories come largely from private collections of Spotsylvania African Americans who gratefully shared their ancestors' heritage with the wider world.
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African-American Education in Westmoreland County

By Cassandra Burton

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"...a unique study of the traditions, institutions, and people who were involved in teaching and educating the black population throughout the county. In this volume, with many never-before-published photographs, you will take a visual journey through the area's past and visit the one and two-room schoolhouses of Templemans, Potomac, and some of the smaller areas, such as Frog Hall and Mudbridge; and meet the dedicated and creative teachers and their students who studied and learned in this picturesque region nestled between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers."
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Alvin, Recollections and Reflections

By John Harding, Jr.

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Though listed in our catalog as fiction, this biography interweaves much truth in its retelling of the life of Alvin "Stack" Wormley, an actual person born in 1912 in the Northen Neck. He worked as a farmer, fisherman, oysterman, in a canning factory and fought in World War II. The author knew and liked this man and set down some of his many conversations with him. After Alvin Wormley's death, John Harding, Jr. interviewed his friends and relatives to better tell the tale of an upstanding, uncommon man.
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America's Forgotten Architecture

By Tony P. Wrenn and Elizabeth D. Mulloy

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This book teaches how to look for architectural beauty in old buildings which may have been forgotten and whose loveliness deserves to be preserved. It features crisp black and white photos from across America. The authors explain early architectural styles and define preservation terms. Wonderful for browsing.

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American Passenger Arrival Records: A Guide to the Records of Immigrants Arriving at American Ports by Sail and Steam

By Michael Tepper

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"Millions of people made their way to America in the most determined and sustained migration the world has ever known. Initially they left traces of their immigration in scattered records and documents. Later their arrival here was documented so minutely that the records resulting are among the largest, the most continuous and the most uniform in the nation's archives. These passenger arrival records identify by name, place of origin, and other particulars the vast majority of persons who participated in the great Atlantic migration. This work examines the records in their historical and legal framework, and it explains what they contain, where they can be found, and how they can be used.

"In effect, it is a road map through the mass of records and archival resources documenting immigrant arrivals from the time of the earliest settlements to the passage of the Quota Acts three centuries later. This new edition features expanded coverage of colonial emigration records, finding aids and reference materials, National Archives microfilm programs and publications, current projects and new developments in immigration research, and more."

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Americans at Home: Four Hundred Years of American Houses

By Lee Pennock Huntington

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This children's selection tells how architectural styles have changed in America.

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An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America

By Henry Wiencek

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"When George Washington wrote his will, he made the startling decision to set his slaves free; earlier he had said that holding slaves was his 'only unavoidable subject of regret.' In this groundbreaking work, Henry Wiencek explores the founding father's engagement with slavery at every stage of his life--as a Virginia planter, soldier, politician, president, and statesman. Washington was born and raised among blacks and mixed-race people; he and his wife had blood ties to the slave community.

"Yet as a young man he bought and sold slaves without scruple, even raffled off children to collect debts (an incident ignored by earlier biographers). Then, on the Revolutionary battlefields where he commanded both black and white troops, Washington's attitudes began to change."

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