Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Digital Images of Virginia Wills

www.virginiapioneers.net is adding digital images of Virginia wills.  The project began early this year and continues in full force.  The oldest wills and documents were written in the colonial handwriting-style which is very difficult to read.  You need a prompt card which shows you what each letter looked like in those days.  I will be adding this prompt card to the website later on this week. There are some very old wills added, however, and this practice was discontinued because of the faded ink, hand-writing-style, and general poor visibility of the records despite all efforts to make them more visible.   Thus, we are currently concentrating in the 18th century records.  Anyone who has researched in Virginia knows there are about 400 years of records.  The project is daunting.  We are trying to make a dent.!  Also, visiting court houses these days is not always the best solution.  There are many obstacles in the way.  While some counties have placed their old records in off-site store, today's generation seem oblivious to where the old will books are located.  Sometimes they are taken off to local genealogical or historical societies. You have to "be in the know".  The State Library of Virginia has a microfilm collection.  I would advise this route, rather than trying to find the actual books of the individual probate courts.  So far, no state agency has appropriated funds to digitize images and put them on line.  I am doing the work at our own expense simply because I believe that genealogists should have web access to all county records.  To see if the records which you are interested in have been posted yet and to keep informed, the best thing to do is to use this link  www.virginiapioneers.net/counties/countiesidx.html  Other than that, we are posting the names of the testators for various counties as the work is completed.

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