DHR’s Archives houses the agency’s collection of records of the historic resources documented in Virginia. These records can include descriptions of the resources; historical research; photographs, plans and other materials that document the history of Virginia and its people. The archives are open to the public by appointment Tuesdays through Thursdays, and it provides a great resource for anyone interested in a rich and diverse view of the state’s past and the people who have shaped it.
Please note: All visitors to DHR’s headquarters and offices including the Archives in Richmond are required to provide a photo identity card (e.g. driver’s license, state employee badge, etc.) at the main desk, where all visitors are required to sign in. Thanks for your cooperation with this policy.
Projects submitted to DHR’s Division of Review and Compliance must be accompanied by a map showing the Area of Potential Effects (APE), as well as information on previous surveys and recorded historic resources within it.
There are three ways to conduct this research:
DHR’s cultural resource database, VCRIS, contains information on more than 270,000 historic resources in Virginia. The system is used for documenting and mapping these resources. Full access to it is available for a fee to qualified professionals, and limited access is available for free to the public.
This interactive map web application allows users to learn about historic places throughout Virginia.
Documentation about Virginia’s historic resources can be described as “below-ground,” referring to archaeological sites, or “above-ground,” meaning any standing building, structure or district.
Many historic resources in Virginia are a combination of both — for example, an existing plantation house built near or on an archaeological site of prior Native American occupation, or nearby to below-ground sites affiliated with African Americans.
Organized by city and county, our collection of survey records and other documentation is contained in files and reports. Most files contain evaluations, photographs, and maps of historic resources. Drawings, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and published and unpublished materials are also available in many files.
Files for sites listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register or the National Register of Historic Places contain copies of their respective nomination forms, photographs, and other items. Most of these register nominations are available and are searchable at the Historic Registers Listings on this website.
DHR is also the principal repository for Virginia historic survey and archaeological reports. Reports and photos may be accessed onsite and are also available in VCRIS if they have been digitized.
Much of the documentation in the Archives may be photocopied for a small fee. The DHR Archives also has an excellent collection of photographic negatives and slides (dating mostly between mid-1960s into the early 2000s). Photographs are now submitted as digital image files as well as in hard copy print form.
DHR can reproduce photographs for a nominal fee. A search service is available for organizations seeking information on the presence of previously identified cultural resources within a project area (see Environmental Review for more information).
See also the Special Collections on this website for a selection of downloadable survey and archaeological reports and publications.
The department’s research library contains a specialized selection of books, theses and dissertations associated with Virginia history, county histories, historic preservation, architecture, and archaeology. Professional periodicals on history, archaeology, and architecture are also housed here, as are copies of historic maps.
DHR Archives materials do not circulate. All of these resources are available for the public to view free of charge in the Archives reading room. For more information, please contact Quatro Hubbard, Archivist, Phone: (804) 482-6102; Fax: (804) 367-2391 or email.
Virginia’s archaeological data is sensitive and protected under the Code of Virginia §2.2-3705.7 (10), the National Historic Preservation Act 54 U.S.C. § 307103(a), and/or the Archaeological Resources Protection Act 6 U.S.C. §§ 470hh(a). DHR limits access to detailed archaeological data accordingly. DHR screens resumes or CVs for qualified individuals (SOI qualified archaeologists, historic preservation planners, agency or tribal cultural resource managers).
Address: 2801 Kensington Ave. Richmond, VA 23221
Appointments are required to visit the DHR Archives. Appointment blocks are available Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 10:00 – 12:00, 1:00 – 3:00, or 3:00 – 5:00. Please contact the DHR Archives Assistant to make an appointment at (804) 482-6440 or via email.
DHR holds survey files on architectural properties and archaeological sites, unpublished cultural resource management (CRM) reports detailing results of archaeological investigations and archaeological survey and supporting photographic media. Additionally, DHR maintains a non-circulating research library containing books, periodicals, and academic research associated with Virginia history, county histories, archaeology, and architecture.
If you know the address or name of a place and would like more information about it (including its eligibility or historic district status and details about what records we have), call or email the DHR Archivist or DHR Archives Assistant.
Projects submitted to DHR’s Division of Review and Compliance must be accompanied by a map showing the Area of Potential Effects (APE), as well as information on previous surveys and recorded historic resources within it. There are three ways to conduct this research: Visit in-person to DHR’s Archives. DHR Archives are open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on Tuesdays through Thursdays by appointment. Our staff can help you find what you need. Please contact the archives assistant at (804) 482-6440 or via email. Order a DHR Archives Search. For a service fee, DHR staff can perform this search for you, create a map, and send you digital files. This is the best choice for organizations who infrequently conduct DHR background research or who do not have an archaeology qualified individual on staff. Obtain a VCRIS License. The Virginia Cultural Resource Information System (VCRIS) is DHR’s online statewide inventory of historic resources. Thirty day or annual licenses are available for purchase for self-service research. NOTE: Access to sensitive statewide archaeological data requires an archaeology qualified individual. If your organization does not qualify, please visit in person, or order a DHR Archives Search.
DHR holds very few historical records related to individuals, however our archives may hold information on specific houses, cemeteries, and other kinds of places associated with people in the past. Our records generally do not include primary source documents beyond architectural and archaeological survey materials, with a few exceptions. Other organizations that may have more of these kinds of information include the Virginia Museum of History and Culture and the Library of Virginia.
No. The term “historic” officially means that a building, district, structure, or site has been formally evaluated for its eligibility to be listed in the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. While there are over 3,000 properties listed on the Registers and many more that have been evaluated for eligibility, most records in our inventory of ~275,000 recorded places have not yet been evaluated.