For Researchers

VBHS welcomes researchers by appointment.

Our reading room is situated within the first floor gallery of the VBHS wing of Boatwright Memorial Library. As an archival, closed stack repository, researchers do not access materials directly, but work with VBHS staff to request materials which will be brought to them. Items are non-circulating and remain in the reading room when in use. Careful handling and security practices help to ensure the long-term preservation and availability of the material record of Virginia Baptists and the University Archives. Many items are fragile, one of a kind and irreplaceable. VBHS is a private, non-governmental, cultural heritage institution which makes its collections available through the generous support of its membership and longstanding partners.

Schedule a Research Appointment

To schedule a research appointment, please contact us through one of the two forms below.


Research is by appointment. Appointments will be scheduled for the hours between 1-4 pm, Mon-Fri, depending upon availability. Additional hours may be made available for those coming from beyond the Richmond metro area. Various closures occur throughout the year due to holidays, university breaks, special events and collections maintenance days. Kindly inquire about scheduling a visit as far ahead as possible, preferably at least five business days in advance, as this helps us to optimize our support for each researcher.


If you are beyond a reasonable distance from VBHS (e.g., out of state or international) our staff may be engaged via phone/e-mail to conduct limited research for a modest, hourly fee. Results are not guaranteed. Otherwise, in-person research is encouraged.

Baptist Collection N.B.

Many items in the collection are of a sacred nature and exist as the cultural heritage products of the faith communities which produced them. Occurring in the context of self-governing communities which hold individual conscience in highest regard, the Baptist congregational meeting is a sacred practice and reflects a conviction of direct communion with the divine, without the intervention of external authorities in spiritual matters. Thus, minutes are the material record of these experiences. In addition, the congregations reflected in the materials often continue as living communities. Thank you for your consideration of these matters as you interact with the records and the information they hold.

Reading Room & Collections Use

The following overview is intended to provide a brief summary of the guidelines in effect during your research experience. Additional policies may apply.

Reading Room & Collections Use Guidelines
  1. Upon arrival in the reception area, kindly sign the Guest Register and a staff member will assist you.
  2. Upon completing a research card and review of policies, you will be assigned a research table.
  3. Only note-taking and research materials are allowed in the reading room. Laptop computers are permitted. Backpacks/briefcases, outerwear and water bottles are stored at reception.
  4. Only pencils are used (no ink pens, highlighters, etc.).
  5. Food, beverages, chewing gum and tobacco products are prohibited.
  6. Handle materials with care. Place books flat or in a book cradle, if provided. Turn pages carefully. Do not lean or press notepads on materials. Do not fold, write on, or otherwise alter materials. Archival bookmarks are available upon request. Tracing is prohibited.
  7. Files will be furnished a few at a time. Please keep documents in the order in which they are found.
  8. Use gloves (provided), if requested. Hands should be clean and free of lotions or other chemicals. Handwashing prior to handling of materials is recommended.
  9. Researchers must consult staff prior to making any photographs, as policy varies depending on the material. Photographs for personal research/study may be permitted, while the photographing of some materials is restricted. (Requests for photography for other purposes must be made in writing in advance and will be reviewed at the discretion of staff.)*
  10. Limited photocopying may be permitted for some materials and is conducted by staff. Due to the nature and/or condition of the materials, certain items may not be copied. Copies are provided at a fee per page, and in some instances may be made and mailed following your visit.
  11. Requests for reproductions may be made in writing (e-mail is fine) and are received on a case-by-case basis due to the unique variety of materials and projects requested. Use of third-party services may be required, involving additional fees. Timeline for fulfillment is at the discretion of staff.
  12. Permission to examine materials does not constitute permission to publish, either in print or electronic form. Written authorization from VBHS is required. Requests must be made in writing. The Society requests that one gratis copy of works citing research using VBHS collections be provided as soon as possible following publication.
  13. Consult staff for help with citations; in general, please include “Virginia Baptist Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia.”
  14. The researcher assumes full responsibility for any legal risks that may arise as a result of use of materials, including seeking permission from the owner(s) of copyrighted information.
  15. Restrictions may apply to the availability of certain materials, as VBHS is entrusted with the unique records of a variety of individuals, institutions and constituencies.

Thank you for being our guest and for joining us in protecting these materials for future generations.

*Those wishing to take research photos while using church records of a living congregation must first obtain written permission from the church, addressed to VBHS on church letterhead, from the appropriate representative, such as the church clerk or chair of the history committee.