January 2021 - The Ruth E. Lloyd Information Center for Genealogy and Local History (RELIC)
Start your historical journey here. RELIC's email newsletter highlights upcoming free events and happenings. Genealogy and local Virginia history are our specialty as a service provided by the Prince William Public Libraries. You can always find more about us on RELIC's webpage.
RELIC service is now available in person at Central Library, 8601 Mathis Avenue, Manassas, Virginia 20110 and by email at [email protected] and by phone at 703-792-8380. Our hours are now Monday -Wednesday, 10:00a.m. - 7:00 p.m., and Thursday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
The following virtual programs can be accessed on our website beginning on the dates shown. Previous RELIC programs can be viewed on RELIC's Programs webpage.


Genealogy 101
Beginning Friday, January 1
If you made a New Year's Resolution to finally get started on researching your family history, but aren't sure how to go about doing so, this video is for you!
RELIC staff have put together a prerecorded video summary of our popular "Genealogy 101" presentation, with advice on how to go about beginning building your family tree, and specific tools and strategies to do so.

The Virginia Reserve Militia was the first line of defense for Prince William County in World War II. Old men and boys, "veteran sportsmen," were ready to respond in case of invasion. For the first time, their names have been compiled to recognize their service. Join us as historian J. Nathan McDonald discusses these men and their service.
The Center for Mason Legacies is a new interdisciplinary research group established by the George Mason University Libraries, and the GMU College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Their mission is to preserve and examine the legacy of George Mason IV (1725-1792), his ancestors and heirs, and the people he enslaved. Student researchers join faculty members in studying the past and present influences of our university's namesake though a combination of scholarly research, public history, teaching innovation, and community outreach. Center director Dr. George Oberle will talk about the initial Enslaved Children of George Mason project, as well as new digital research projects which document the Mason family and their connection to local history.

Tuesday, February 16, 7:00 p.m.
The Virginia Outdoor Foundation owns several thousand acres in the Bull Run Mountains, many of which encompass land grants dating back to the 18th century. Local historian, researcher, and archeologist Patrick O'Neill will be presenting on some new research findings on land held by many African American families in the Preserve. He will also have news about new land acquisitions, and other updates.


If researching your family's history is one of your New Year's Resolutions, you might also find yourself wondering about the history of your family homestead. That is especially true if it has been in the family for two or more generations.
RELIC staff have some experience in tracking the history of lands and houses and might be able to help you in this quest, especially if the house is in the Prince William area.
You should begin with public records of the ownership of the house in question. These days most current ownership records are freely available online. The minimum you need is the home's address.
Here are the URLs for our local jurisdictions:
To find similar websites for other American real estate properties, put several keywords in your search engine: [NAME OF THE JURISDICTION] + REAL ESTATE ASSESSMENTS or GIS MAPPING.
The GIS mapping sites give you details about the features of each parcel. The assessments sites will give you recent assessment and taxation details. It may also give you the date your house was built and a list of recent sales. That will get you started on tracking its history.
Land records for all three jurisdictions named above are served by the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Prince William County. The Clerk's website for remote access is https://www4.pwcgov.org/Web. Historic records (before 1918) are freely accessible without registration. To see the index to more recent records you must register. The index is free, but to see or download recent documents you must pay a service fee. If you go to the Clerk's Record Room on the second floor of the Judicial Center in Manassas, you can search and see any document, but there is still a charge for each document printed.
Most deeds since the early 20th century not only have a description of the land being sold and the parties involved, they often include a citation to the previous sale (parties, date, and deed book reference). That should help you quickly jump back in time.
Before 1900, you may need to search the name of the earliest seller to find who he/she bought the land from. Another difficulty for Prince William County research is that many record books disappeared during the Civil War (1861-1865). If you are unable to find the next deed in the chain of title, please ask the RELIC staff for help. We have access to many supplementary databases and research tools that may get you through the difficult years.

We can now make appointments for virtual visits with Don Wilson, "The Tree Doctor." We can set up an hour appointment to discuss and dive into your brick wall research problem through the magic of the internet. Call 703-792-8380 or email us at [email protected] to set up a time. Time to make that New Year's resolution!

[email protected] or 703-792-8150
Questions and comments are always welcome.
Prince William Public Libraries, 13083 Chinn Park Drive, Woodbridge, VA 22192