There are various organizations today dedicated to assisting the public with genealogical research. These resources range from providing specific local information to holding records for the whole nation. Both are incredibly important to researchers. This page provides insight into a handful of prominent organizations regarding genealogical research. It begins with the local level for Fauquier County, Virginia and widens to a national level. For more information about any of these organizations, please visit their websites.

To see how these resources can be utilized for genealogical research, visit this website’s page “Case Study: Hezekiah Gaskins.”

To learn the history of genealogical research, visit this website’s page, “Genealogical Research Roots.

The Afro-American Historical Association

The Afro-American Historical Association of Fauquier County was founded in the 1990s by Karen Hughes White and Karen King Lavore. It offers genealogical research support for its local community in Fauquier County, Virginia.  The organization was initially seeking to become a chapter of AAHGS but could not meet the annual dues. AAHGS supports AAHA, but they are separate associations.

This association provides a rich micro-history for Fauquier County. The first floor houses a resource library and research room. The bottom floor of the building holds a museum with 1,634 artifacts outlining a rich history of Fauquier’s black population. Additionally, AAHA is currently working on a new project that will launch in January, 2023. Know Their Names, Phase II is a project supported by a grant from the Virginia Museum of History & Culture’s Commonwealth History Fund, presented by Dominion Energy.

For more information about AAHA, visit this website’s page “Behind AAHA.

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Afro-American Historical Association Staff Photographed by Kenny Hughes. Courtesy of Fauquier Now.

Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society 

The Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society was founded by a small community of historians and genealogists and is dedicated to sharing resources that can further genealogical research. Its headquarters reside in Washington, D.C. but there are chapters throughout the nation. The chapters exist to provide support on a local level whereas the national organization controls the website, hosts conferences, and more.
The mission statement on their website states,

[AAHGS] strives to preserve African-ancestored family history, genealogy, and cultural diversity by teaching research techniques and disseminating information throughout the community. Our primary goals are to promote scholarly research, provide resources for historical and genealogical studies, create a network of persons with similar interests, and assist members in documenting their histories.

The AAHGS website provides a plethora of information strictly for African American genealogical research. There is a guide for beginners that outlines how to start conducting research. There is also a section for Oral History because of how important this form of sharing information is for the community. Additionally, the organization publishes journals and scholarly research.

All of the information above is accredited to:

Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc Logo. Courtesy of the AAHGS FaceBook Page.


Ancestry is a well-known site for genealogical research that has been operating for 40 years. It began as a publishing company for family history magazines and eventually transitioned to a website.  It offers users access to over 40 billion historical records. Through historical documents, individuals can create family trees and connect with others that overlap. Although this website is rich in information, users must pay for a subscription to use the resources. There are three different membership packages that range from access to only US records to all 40 billion records. For a year of the all-inclusive membership, users must pay $479.

Ancestry also offers the option to track your genealogy through DNA. These DNA kits allow individuals to follow their genealogy and connect to family members they may not have previously known.

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FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because of this, it is entirely free of charge for all users. FamilySearch also has over 5,000 centers for people to visit and receive in-person help, 424 of these centers are located in Virginia. Their work reaches outside of America in over 100 other countries. They operate similarly to Ancestry where you can input a name into a search bar, and it will show you varies documents referencing that name.

FamilySearch offers opportunities for users to help with genealogical research. For example, under “FamilySearch Activities” one can help transcribe historical documents. A discussion board is also available for users to ask questions and converse with each other. FamilySearch is centered around community and fostering connections to your unique past.

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The Library of Virginia and Virginia Memory

The Library of Virginia was founded in 1823 in the state’s capital, richmond, making it one of Virginia’s oldest organizations within the government. Since 1997, the library has been open to the public. Its purpose is to preserve historical documents. Their goal is to make these collections available to the public. According to the website’s “About Us” page, the library’s collection “is the most comprehensive resource in the world for the study of Virginia history, culture, and government.” Their website also offers access to online discussions for genealogy researchers. Through this forum, researchers can share stories, questions, and help.

The website provides a link to its officiate website, Virginia Memory. On this site, the immense collection of the library of Virginia is easily accessible. In 2006, the Library of Virginia realized its online archives could no longer be housed on the main website and created the Virginia Memory site between 2007 and 2008. The website offers four major areas: Digital Collections, Reading Room, Exhibitions, and Online Classroom. Each aspect of the website is designed for users to have access to the Library of Virginia’s resources without physically being in person.

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Library of Virginia. Courtesy of Education @ The Library of Virginia.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress in Washington D.C. houses millions of resources including books, newspapers, and photographs making it the largest library in the world. The library is made up of three different buildings all located on Capital Hill. Originally, the library was kept inside the U.S. Capital when it was founded in 1800. The fire of 1814 destroyed the Library’s main collection. However, by 1815, the lost collection was more than doubled from the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library. By 1897, a separate building was constructed dedicated solely to housing a library.
Every day, the library continues to grow and offer more resources to the public. It currently houses a research center titled the American Folklife Center. This section of the library is dedicated to preserving traditional cultural records. Through the American Folklife Center, StoryCorps is run. This project focuses on recording oral histories across the nation from diverse citizens. The Library of Congress is a rich resource for genealogical research with its millions of sources dating back thousands of years and covering diverse subjects.

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Aerial View of the Library of Congress. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration was founded by President Roosevelt in 1934 to be the keeper of the Nation’s records. Documents range from US censuses to the Declaration of Independence.  According to the “About the National Archives of the United States” page on their website, the “NARA ensures continuing access to the essential documentation of the rights of American citizens and the actions of the Government.” The National Archives has locations across 15 different states and in the District of Columbia. Its mission is to help researchers and the general American public through providing resource and educational services.

 Although the National Archives offer a plethora of exhibits and records in person, online access is also available. The website houses an online catalog and varies other research tools. They also host a free annual online genealogy fair, which provides different levels of researchers tools for researching genealogy through a variety of topics. Their YouTube page offers videos detailing how to begin researching genealogy. Since the National Archives is dedicated to recording the Nation’s history, it provides citizens with an immense amount of resources to guide their own research.

 All of the information above is accredited to:

The National Archives in Washington, D.C. Courtesy of the National Archives.