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, by email at [email protected], and by phone at 703-792-8380. 

Hours of Operation
Monday – Wednesday: 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Thursday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Closed Sunday
Beginning in September, we return to in-person programing in the
Community Room at Central Library.

Previous RELIC programs can be viewed on RELIC's Programs webpage.
August is the last month of summer vacation for most families. With a few more weeks of freedom left, but summer traffic at its worst, some families may want to get one last end-of-summer outing in without spending a lot of time in stop-and-go interstate traffic. RELIC gives a quick virtual tour of various local sites of historical interest that are close to home – even though many would be worth a long drive – in this prerecorded presentation.
Why is it important to write your family history? You’ve done the research. You know the stories. Now it is time to share your findings with family, the genealogical community, and generations to come. Author and genealogist Char McCargo-Bah will teach you to convert your research into an engaging and interesting narrative. Register at 703-792-8380 or [email protected].  

For your safety, PWPL complies with all current federal, state, and local health mandates. This program will be held at Central Library. Patrons who are unvaccinated or not fully-vaccinated are strongly encouraged to wear masks.
Some of the most important and useful writing on local history and genealogy can be found in the thousands of periodicals published each year. How do you find the articles that relate to your family or to your town’s history?

One way is to subscribe to the journals that most closely match your research interests, such as the magazines that specialize in the history of your locality or that cover families in a particular region. Occasionally those magazines will publish an index or topical guide that will lead you to articles published in the past.

Genealogical and historical magazines have been published in the United States for almost 200 years. To help you find your way through that mass of material, PERSI (PERiodical Source Index), compiled by the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is a guide to topics in a high proportion of those magazines. 

PERSI was formerly published on the HeritageQuest website. Today it is a feature of, which specializes in British and Irish records. You can register with FindMyPast for free, which will allow you to do basic searches on the site, though you won’t be able to see document images.

PERSI can be found there under “Newspapers and Periodicals.” It is not an index to every name or keyword that appears in magazine articles. Instead, the indexers identified the major topics (including place names and family surnames) for each article. For example, the place name “Prince William County” pulls up 680 results – that many articles in which Prince William is featured. The surname “Smith” pulls up 16,720 hits. With a popular name like Smith, you can use the keyword field instead to put in a full name, like “Daniel Smith,” which gives you 69 hits.

If you subscribe to FindMyPast, you may be able to immediately obtain a copy of the article you want. Even without a subscription, you will be able to see the title of the article, the name of the journal, and the year it was published. With a subscription, you will see the exact date of the issue, and the page number. If you don’t subscribe to FindMyPast, RELIC may be able to help you obtain the article, either from our collection or through interlibrary loan.

One periodical index that has been useful to Virginia historians for many years is the Virginia Historical Index, also known as Swem’s Index. Its four large volumes index every topic in seven important Virginia serials published through 1930: Calendar of Virginia State Papers, Hening’s Statutes at Large, Lower Norfolk County Antiquary, Tyler’s Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine, Virginia Historical Register, Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (VMHB), and William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine (WMCQ). In addition to the index, RELIC has a complete run of all these titles. 

Between 1930 and about 1990, the Library of Virginia published index cards covering broad topics that appeared in VMHB as well as Virginia Cavalcade. Since that time, the annual index bound in each title is the best we have to offer. That is except for JSTOR, the digital archive of scholarly journals you can find in our online Digital Library. JSTOR contains a mostly-complete run of VMHB and WMCQ which you read online and search for any keyword in the text.

It becomes easier and easier to find journal articles with the electronic databases available today.
You can now make appointments for virtual or in-person visits with Don Wilson, "The Tree Doctor." We can set up an hour appointment to discuss and dive into your brick wall research problem. Call 703–792–8380 or email [email protected] to set up a time.
August 2021 -
Make sure to download our Summer 2021 Explore magazine, or grab one at your nearest library, to learn more about our upcoming events.

[email protected] or 703-792-8150
Questions and comments are always welcome.