Genealogy/Local History

The Bristol Public Library has many genealogical resources. Special collections include Family Files, Local Cemeteries and a Local History File. There are numerous regional history books along with county courthouse records. The collection also includes several family history books, civil war records, census and census index guides.  Collection emphasis is on Tennessee and Virginia, and to a lesser degree, those states that are closely tied to our area.

The library has access to:

Ancestry Library Edition (Resource is only available from within the Bristol Library or Avoca Branch)

Ancestery Library Addition

HeritageQuestOnline *(Access Through TEL)
HeritageQuest offers census records online plus much more. Access through TEL. This link takes you to the TEL Database. Scroll down alphabetically to HeritageQuest Online. *Virginia Residents Require Password. Call the library to ask for the password.

Sanborn Maps on microfilm.

Link to Newsbank's Bristol Herald Courier Collection
Bristol Herald Courier 
 Search more than 10 years of Bristol history with the Bristol Herald Courier Collection.  Coverage from 2007 through today with full-color newspaper pages and individual articles, and web-only content on NewsBank. (1917 – Present) on microfilm.



Bristol has officially been recognized as the “Birthplace of Country Music”.  In 1927, recordings were made of musicians from the southern Appalachian region.  These recordings became known as the Bristol Sessions.  Visit these links to introduce you to our unique musical heritage.

The Crooked Road Heritage Music Trail
Birthplace of Country Music Alliance
The Rhythm and Roots Reunion Festival



Bristol Historical Association
The intention of the Bristol Historical Association is to promote an interest in the history of Bristol by designating properties with historical significance.

Collectible Bottles & History
Provides a pictorial history of collectible bottles and related “go-withs” from the Twin Cities of BRISTOL, TN/VA.

East Tennessee Historical Society
The East Tennessee Historical Society (ETHS) is a non-profit organization that provides public programming relating to the history and heritage of East Tennessee.

Sullivan County Historical & Genealogical Society
The Sullivan County Historical and Genealogical Society is dedicated to the preservation of history and genealogy in Sullivan County, Tennessee and the surrounding areas of East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia.

Historical Society of Washington Co., VA
The Society is a leading center in the region for genealogical and historical research, including local and regional history, published genealogies and family histories.



1940’s Census
On April 1, 1940 history was made as the 16th U.S. Census was taken in America and its territories. And today, each and every one of the 134 million records is ready for you to explore here on

Civil War Records
Tales of ordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances — maybe even your own ancestors — live on in Civil War era documents here at
Discover your Civil War story today.



Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Extensive collection of family genealogy files.

Cyndi’s List
A categorized & cross-referenced index to genealogical resources on the Internet.

National Genealogical Society
The National Genealogical Society, a non-profit organization founded in 1903, is the premier national society for everyone from the beginner to the most advanced family historian.

USF African Heritage Project
Provides useful links and information pertaining to African Americans in the United States.

USGenWeb Project
Provides transcripts of public domain records, including census, marriage bonds, wills, other public documents, as well as tombstones and special projects at the county level.

WorldGenWeb Project
Affiliated with the U.S. Genealogy Web Project, plans are to create a worldwide genealogy links at each country’s county level.



Civil War Soldiers & Sailors
The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System is a computerized database containing very basic facts about servicemen who served on both sides during the Civil War.

National Archives Veteran Service Records
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the official repository for records of military personnel who have been discharged from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard.

National Archives pre-WWI Military Service



Access Genealogy
Genealogy records and information specializing in Native American research.

Cherokee Tribal Genealogy
Genealogy information for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina.

National Archives – Native American Records
The National Archives holds information about American Indians who maintained their ties to Federally-recognized Tribes (1830-1970).