Frequently Asked Questions

Will you research my family tree for me?

We are more than happy to point you in the right direction to get started on your family history journey! We will help you with finding resources, making them accessible to you, showing you how to use our equipment, and making learning resources available for you. We do not conduct research for you.

Check out the Genealogy 101 Class at Universal Class, free with your library card.

Visit us for an introduction to the key resources – census, marriage, death, etc. – to get started. How-to guides are available in the library’s circulating collection.

Our library card catalog contains a more extensive list of useful family history books in our collection here.
Getting Started in Genealogy Booklist
Genealogy Resources for ESVA Family History Booklist

We also keep a list of local researchers for hire.

I’m looking for an obituary. Can you look that up and send me a copy?

Yes! Staff are happy to print or send a digital copy of up to three obituaries if you have the date of death, or if we can easily find the date of death in the Social Security Death Index on AncestryLibrary.

I need a copy of a newspaper article, but I only know the year, not the month or exact date. Can you find that for me?

Years 1880 – 1922 of the Peninsula Enterprise are digitized and searchable, and are available online.
You do not need a library card to view and search the Peninsula enterprise at this link.

The majority of our newspaper collection is not digitized and therefore is not searchable. We suggest trying to narrow down the publication date to a range of at least a couple of weeks to minimize your time scrolling through microfilm. Staff are happy to show you how to use the microfilm scanner.

A Library of Virginia library card provides access to additional online newspapers.
Local researchers for hire may be able to assist you.

Can I make copies of your materials?

A copier is available to print scanned images for a small fee. We recommend taking photos with your cell phone or other device. A USB flash drive is required for using the microfilm reader. For books in the Eastern Shore Room a book edge scanner is available. The scanner requires a flash drive or mobile device with a QR code reader. Patrons are responsible for adhering to copyright rules and regulations.

Heritage Center staff may be able to make copies of archival and special collections material for you. Please contact us before your visit to request archival or special collections material.

I have a box of old photos/documents/newspaper clippings. Can you scan them for me?

We do not offer this service. If you’d like to scan them yourself, you may sign up for a training session for our Memory Lab equipment.

I’d like to use an image from one of your collections for my book.

Some images in our collections, such as the Kirk C. Mariner Collection, are free to use with attribution to us. If it is not otherwise indicated, please contact us for the correct attribution phrasing.

The ESVA Heritage Center does not hold the copyright for the majority of our collections. It is up to you to research the copyright status.

I have some items that I’d like to donate to your collections. What do I do?

Thanks so much for thinking of us! Please contact us at [email protected], or call us at 757-787-3400.

See our Collection Development Policy.