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Local History/Special Collections houses many resources for those interested in Alexandria and Virginia history and genealogy and the Civil War.   

Below is information to help you plan your visit. 

  • The Guides and Indexes give information about the various resources available. 
  • Please review the information about the collection, the use of the reading room, and the fees for duplication services.
  • Please review the hours of operation as they differ from the Barrett Branch Library.

If you have any questions, please contact Local History & Special Collections staff at 703-746-1706.




A bibliography is available of over 3000 titles that were a part of the original collection comprising the Alexandria Library under the Alexandria Library Company. Titles available at the Hathi Trust site may be browsed or full text searched via the Alexandria Library Company Collection. Additional titles will be added as they become available on the site.


The Alexandria Library, Local History/Special Collections has more than 50,000 photographs in its collections ranging from 19th century daguerrotypes to images made by professional photographers still in practice.


The Photo Index contains photocopies of images from the Local History/Special Collections archival holdings arranged by subject and location. Please bear in mind that the quality is not high and that these subject indexes are being provided for research purposes only. If you are interested in viewing any original images, please fill out the Branch's General or House History Research Request form, noting the pdf title, page number, and image number you are interested in seeing. Note: images from recently acquired collections will not be added to the Photo Index. Researchers should refer to the findings aids for those collections located at Archive and Manuscript Collections guide.


Local History/Special Collections includes more than 250 archive and manuscript collections of Alexandria and material relating to Northern Virginia.  The collections vary from account books and diaries to sheet music to audiocassettes of oral histories, advertising, miscellaneous city and other documents, correspondence and material related to the historic structures in Alexandria, etc. Download the PDF document here.


This collection is used to study the history of structures in Alexandria.Building and Repair Permits were first issued in the City of Alexandria, ca. 1891 and are useful to today's homeowner or researcher who is preparing a history of the property.


Building and Repair Permits were first issued in the City of Alexandria, ca. 1891 and are useful to today's homeowner or researcher who is preparing a history of the property. These nearly 3400 permits cover the period ca. 1896-1928. There are a very few permits in the collection prior to 1896. The index is organized alphabetically by street name and then numerically by house number. 


Includes pictures from the following sources: Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Harper's Weekly, 1860-1890, Illustrated London News, New York Illustrated News, Pictorial Battles of the Civil War, Pictorial Battles of the War of 1861, Pictorial War Record.


A list of indexes covering topics such as obituaries, censuses, military records, yearbooks, and naturalization petitions.


This resource guide is intended to present an overview of materials available for the study of African American history in the Alexandria Library Local History/Special Collections division. The guide focuses on recent publications, acquisitions and Internet resources, in addition to providing listings for older resources which remain important in the field.


An introductory guide to books and journal articles on the development of transportation in Virginia.


A guide to books, manuscript collections, photograph collections, websites and other materials on women's history.


This collection includes more than 500 historic maps that focus on Alexandria and regional history. These maps date from the early 17th century and are as current as today. The maps collection is available for use only in the Library.


In addition to the census records and the Alexandria Gazette, the collection contains: microfilm of other local newspapers; deed books, will books and other local land records; maps of the local area; copies of several manuscript collections.


Our history and genealogy periodical collection and our historical newspapers on microfilm.


Digital images of Old Town property tax documents from the 1960s.


Includes clippings from newspapers and journals, brochures, and unpublished reports.





The books, microfilm, manuscripts, photographs and other items in the Local History/Special Collections Branch constitute a research collection; none of the materials may be checked out of the library.


As many of the materials in the collection are fragile and/or valuable, patrons are asked to leave personal belongings such as bags and jackets in a locker and exercise care when handling materials.


Food and drink are not permitted in Local History/Special Collections and cell phones ringers should be turned off or set to vibrate.


A self-service, coin-operated copier and microfilm reader/printers are available. Researchers may use a flash drive to scan microfilm images for free. Studio-quality reproductions or digital scans of photographs are also available (see below).





$20.00 per scan at 300 dpi, for one time use only.

$30.00 per scan for images higher than 300 dpi, for one time use only

$50.00 Expedited Service (less than 10 business days) – per image

Please make checks payable to: Alexandria Library


  • Preferred method of delivery is through DropBox (Free). If your organization restricts file transfers, please make arrangements with your IT department to provide temporary access, as we will not mail image files via CD, DVD, or USB.
  • Staff will only do a minimum of touch-up (deskew, cropping, or color correction) to images or approximately 30 minutes’ worth of touch-up. Extensive resizing, color correction, etc. is the responsibility of the requestor.
  • Normal turnaround time is approximately 10 business days.


Hours & Location
Mon, Nov 28 10:00AM to 8:00PM
Tue, Nov 29 10:00AM to 8:00PM
Wed, Nov 30 10:00AM to 8:00PM
Thu, Dec 01 Closed
Fri, Dec 02 10:00AM to 5:00PM
Sat, Dec 03 10:00AM to 5:00PM
Sun, Dec 04 Closed

717 Queen Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Tel: 703.746.1706
Fax: 703.746.1708
About the branch

Appointments encouraged but not required.

Parking: No library parking lot.  Street parking is available.  A paid parking lot is available on the 100 block of North Alfred Street.

Public Transit:

  • Metrorail: Yellow and Blue lines at Braddock Road (1 mile) and King Street Stations (1.1 miles). 
  • Metrobus: 10A/B, 11C
  • DASH Bus: 30, 31, Old Town Circulator
  • King Street Trolley:  King & Columbus

Last updated: July 2021