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.

Genealogy Online for Dummies

By Matthew L. Helm and April Leigh Helm

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"...takes you through the basic steps for researching and tracing your family's lineage in a clear, easy-to-understand manner. Plus, this newest edition offers the latest information on leveraging the potential of social networking sites in order to locate extended family members and uncover additional family history. You'll discover how to start your investigation, build a Web site for sharing your finds, identify sites that will be of the most use to you, get information from government records, preserve electronic materials, and more:

Serves as a helpful starting point for beginning your investigation into your family's history
Walks you through developing a plan for your research, using online and offline research techniques, and researching ethnic ancestry through international records
Details how to create Web sites where family members can make contact or you can share your findings
Looks at how to use social networking sites as a new portal for locating extended family members and acquiring additional family history
Explains how to access domestic records for births, deaths, immigration, and more on both local and state levels
Companion Web site features a vast collection of genealogical software tools and resources"

Older editions are also available.

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General Jo Shelby's March

By Anthony Arthur

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Some Confederate officers and soldiers refused to live in a conquered land. General Jo Shelby was one of those. He led his 300 men, the "Iron Brigade," on a twelve-hundred-mile march to Mexico where they supported the Emperor Maximilian in his fight against Juarez's rebels, hoping to eventually establish their own government there. Though doomed, his actions were historically notable--all the more so since in his later years, he returned to the United States, renounced slavery, became U.S. Marshall for western Missouri and became famous as a nineteenth-century progressive.

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George III: A Personal History

By Christopher Hibbert

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A more thorough and evenhanded examination of George III's character than Americans usually see. An early chapter is devoted to an exploration of George III's father, Prince Frederick. Also available on audiocassette.

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George Mason, Forgotten Founder

By Jeff Broadwater

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This is the first full biography of George Mason (1725-92) in a quarter-century. Although he is often omitted from the small circle of founding fathers celebrated today, Mason was at the center of the momentous events of 18th-century America. He played a key role in the Stamp Act Crisis, the American Revolution, and the drafting of Virginia's first state constitution. He is perhaps best known as author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, often hailed as the model for the Bill of Rights. Broadwater shows that Mason was often driven by concerns about the abuse of political power, which went to the essence of the American experience.
(From the publisher's description)

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Gods and Generals

By Jeff Shaara

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"...Jeff Shaara traces the lives, passions, and careers of the great military leaders from the first gathering clouds of the Civil War. Here is Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, a hopelessly by-the-book military instructor and devout Christian who becomes the greatest commander of the Civil War; Winfield Scott Hancock, a captain of quartermasters who quickly establishes himself as one of the finest leaders of the Union army; Joshua Chamberlain, who gives up his promising academic career and goes on to become one of the most heroic soldiers in American history; and Robert E. Lee, never believing until too late that a civil war would ever truly come to pass."

 

On Film:
Historical fiction doesn't get any closer to home than this! The Gods and Generals movie is a must see for locals.

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Good Wives, Nasty Wenches & Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia

By Kathleen M. Brown

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A feminist examination of the roles of women of different classes--lower class white, upper class white, slave, and Indian--in colonial Virginia, with much reliance on primary sources.

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Grandmother's Garden: The Old-Fashioned American Garden, 1865 - 1915

By May Brawley Hill

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The first serious study of traditional American perennial gardens, which attained great popularity in the years between the Civil War and World War I, this abundantly illustrated volume explores this old-fashioned garden style--frequently referred to as "grandmother's garden"--as seen in small towns, artists' colonies and craft villages, mining towns, and settlements on the Western frontier.

 

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Great Georgian Houses of America

By Dover Publications

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This two-volume Dover reprint of 1933—1937 book has over 400 pen and ink drawings of 77 homes of the Georgian period. Includes introductory essays that discuss the place of architecture in early American culture, the major architects of the period, and the development of regional styles

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Growing Up in the 1850s: The Journal of Agnes Lee

By Agnes Lee, edited and with a foreward by Mary Custis Lee deButts

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Robert E. Lee's young daughter kept a journal from the time she was twelve to the time she was seventeen. Agnes tells of her days at West Point where her father taught as well as time spent at the Female Institute in Staunton. Also mentioned are the death of her beloved grandparents and teaching slave children to read in preparation for their emancipation.
The second part consists of the recollections of Mildred, another Lee daughter, and family letters.
Includes an index.
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Guide to the Battles of Chancellorsville & Fredericksburg

By Jay Luvaas and Harold W. Nelson, editors

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Eyewitness accounts by battle participants make these guides an invaluable resource for travelers and nontravelers who want a greater understanding of five of the most devastating yet influential years in our nation's history. Explicit directions to points of interest and maps--illustrating the action and showing the detail of troop position, roads, rivers, elevations, and tree lines as they were 130 years ago--help bring the battles to life. In the field, these guides can be used to recreate each battle's setting and proportions, giving the reader a sense of the tension and fear each soldier must have felt as he faced his enemy.
From the publisher's description

This book is part of the U.S. Army War College Guides to Civil War Battles series.

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