"In the Beginning, all America was Virginia."
William Byrd II
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Discover Charles Peale Polk's painting of George Washington.

George Washington
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The reading room

The Joseph Bryan, John Stewart Bryan, and David Tennant Bryan Reading Room is open to all VHS patrons, from the curious visitor to the professional researcher. If you have ever been to the society's reading room to look at any of the more than eight million processed manuscripts in the collection, then you know how it feels to hold a piece of history in your hands. Scholars, students, amateur historians, and genealogists all experience that feeling on a daily basis here at the VHS.
Admission to the reading room
Effective August 15, 2016, our policy for using the research library will change. VHS members will continue to use the library free of charge. Researchers who are not members have the option of becoming members at the academic level ($50), previously reserved for students and teachers. Learn more about membership.
  • Nonmembers may use the Library by purchasing a pass for $20.00 that is valid for seven days from the date of purchase.
  • Nonmember students (with a valid student ID) may use the Library by purchasing a pass for $10 that is valid for seven days from the date of purchase. 
  • Nonmembers who do not request materials or use the library materials are welcome to study in the library for no charge.

Membership in the VHS has never been a better value, especially for students. New student memberships are now available for $25 when you visit the VHS. Student members enjoy full membership benefits except for mailings. They receive the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography in digital format and stay abreast of VHS events and programs via email.

These changes will allow us to make a greater investment in the collections and the services that have made the VHS library one of the premier private research institutions in the country.

Thank you for your support. Since 1831 the VHS, a private institution, has depended on individuals like you to help us collect, preserve, and interpret the Commonwealth’s remarkable history.

Our reading room has a non-circulating collection. Library materials may be examined in the Joseph Bryan, John Stewart Bryan, and David Tennant Bryan Reading Room. Library staff will deliver requested materials to patrons in the reading room. Photographs are served by appointment only. Please use our online form to make an appointment.

Learn more about our rules and policies.

Monday through Saturday: 10:00 a.m.—5:00 p.m.*
*Last call for materials and photocopies must be made by 4:40 p.m.

Mailing Address
Library, Virginia Historical Society, P.O. Box 7311, Richmond, Va. 23221

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