Dictionary of Virginia Biography

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The Dictionary of Virginia Biography (DVB) is a multivolume biographical reference work published by the Library of Virginia covering all aspects of Virginia's history and culture since 1607.

Publication began in 1998 with a volume covering surnames from Aaroe through Blanchfield. Volume 2 (2001) covered Bland through Cannon, and volume 3 (2006) covered Caperton through Daniels. When completed, the projected fourteen volumes will contain approximately 6,000 biographies of Virginians who, regardless of their place of birth or death, made significant contributions to the history or culture of their locality, state, and nation or who achieved particular distinction in their professions or chosen fields. No persons living at the time of publication are included.

Because for two and a half centuries of its history Virginia encompassed a much larger territory than it does today, the DVB defines Virginia as the current state boundaries plus Kentucky before its separate statehood in 1792 and Virginia before its separate statehood in 1863.

Many of the DVB's entries offer the first reliable biography ever printed about their subjects. The DVB's contributors and editors research every biography in primary sources and verify all facts found in the extant secondary literature, which can sometimes prove to be inexact, incomplete, or incorrect. Virtually every biography so far published contains corrections or additions to life histories previously available. For example, the standard literature renders the names of the leaders of a 1671 expedition seeking a passage beyond the Appalachian Mountains as Thomas Batts and Robert Fallam. The DVB editors' deep excavation in early Henrico County records, careful examination of signatures on contemporary documents, and reference to the original 1674 letter from a sponsor of the expedition, rather than to faulty published transcriptions, correctly renders the names of the explorers as Thomas Batte (not Batts) and Robert Hallom or Hallam (not Fallam). The DVB biography of Lott Cary, the Baptist missionary and founder of Liberia, for the first time identifies his second wife by name and the year of their marriage and in addition establishes a previously unknown fourth marriage that took place in Liberia.

The DVB is also fundamentally changing the study of Virginia history by reintroducing people whose accomplishments have been ignored or written out of the historical record.

Content from the Dictionary of Virginia Biography is also being published online through a partnership with Encyclopedia Virginia.


  • Kneebone, John T. (1998). Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Vol. 1 Aaroe - Blanchfield. Richmond: Library of Virginia. ISBN 9780884901891. 
  • Bearss, Sara B. (2001). Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Vol. 2 Bland-Cannon. Richmond: Library of Virginia. ISBN 9780884901990. 
  • Bearss, Sara B.; Deal, John G. (2006). Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Vol. 3 Caperton-Daniels. Richmond: Library of Virginia. ISBN 9780884902065. 

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