We Have Thousands of Artifacts Related to the History of Richmond

Researching Buildings

The Archives holds the papers of Mary Wingfield Scott, which includes information on buildings built before 1860. Richmond City Directories provide helpful information on businesses, churches, houses, residents, African Americans, occupations and early telephone numbers. Architectural drawings can shed light on the construction of a building. Photographs show Richmond building and landscapes and how they have changed over time.

Researching Genealogy

The Archives has personal papers, newspaper clippings and photographs that relate to Richmond families. City Directories are useful resources for tracing a person's residence and occupation. Business records and personal papers may link individuals with organizations and businesses. Diaries and personal recollections can also provide information on Richmond families.

The Civil War

The Archives has much material on the subject of America’s Civil War. Prints and photographs show soldiers, key leaders, battlefields and buildings that played a major role in this conflict. The collection includes maps, papers, newspaper accounts and one young woman’s diary. Books about the Civil War and Richmond’s involvement are also helpful resources.

Sections of the archives collection

Vertical Files Collection

The Archives has a large collection of vertical files containing newspaper clippings, magazine articles and other research materials that document people, places, and events in Richmond and Virginia. This document is an index of the major subject headings of the Valentine's Richmond History Vertical Files. Materials in this collection date from the late 19th century until the present and are arranged by subject.

Vertical Files Collection Index

Book and Manuscript Collection

The book collection includes art, reference works, rare books, atlases and city directories. The Manuscript Collection includes personal papers, ledgers, business records, architectural drawings and diaries. There are approximately 150 maps of Richmond and Henrico County as well as newspaper articles and periodicals and serials published in Richmond.

Manuscripts Collection Index

Ephemera Collection

The Ephemera Collection includes a wide variety of printed materials that show the material culture of Richmond.  These documents include programs, postcards, holiday cards, invitations, theater playbills, broadsides, menus and scrapbooks.

Photograph Collection

The Archives holds one million photographs that document people, places, businesses, churches and neighborhoods. Chances are you've seen one of our photos in a publication or documentary; our collection is known worldwide and our photographs have appeared in many publications.

The photographs are arranged by subject. Individual collections include:  the photographs of George and Huestis Cook, and those in the Robert Lancaster Jr., Mary Wingfield Scott, and Colonial Dementi Studios. These cover a wide variety of subjects including Richmond city streets, neighborhoods and architecture, as well as family groups, individuals, businesses and activities.  The Valentine also has over 400 daguerrotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes.

General Photo Collection Index

Print Collection

The print collection consists of engravings, lithographs, and examples of other printing methods and includes well-known pieces such as “The Fall of Richmond” by Currier and Ives, Edward Beyer’s “Album of Virginia” and William H. Bennett’s “Richmond from Hollywood.”

Accessing the Collection

Accessing the Archives is by appointment only. For hours, fees and available services, see Research.

To access the collections online, see Search the Online Collections Database.

Submit a Research Request

For information about donating objects to the Valentine's collection, see
Donate an Object

Submit an Object Donation Request