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About the Petersburg Public Library Newspaper Index

The Petersburg Public Library Newspaper Index is a fully searchable database, converted from a card index to more than 40 newspaper titles, primarily published in Petersburg covering the years 1797 to 1877. Originally a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, the index is comprised of 43,716 typed 3 x 5 cards with detailed entries for proper names and subjects including births, marriages, deaths, property sales, and chancery suits. References to civic and governmental affairs, arts and leisure, religious life, economic news, education, and slavery are included in the index, which provides rich insights into the social, economic, cultural, and political history of Petersburg during the nineteenth century. Coverage during the years of the Civil War (1861 1865) is not as extensive due to the scarcity of paper in Petersburg during the war. Please be advised that not all the issues of those newspapers have survived and that the Library of Virginia does not have certain newspapers.  Please check the following table for available newspapers at the Library of Virginia.  Before sending a request please call the Library to make sure the issues you want copies from exist.

Petersburg was established in 1748, incorporated as a town in 1784, and incorporated as a city in 1850. Fort Henry, a garrison and fur trading post, was established there in 1645 on the site of the Indian village Appamattuck. The present name honors Peter Jones, William Byrd's companion in 1733 on expeditions into the Virginia backcountry. The port of Petersburg was a commercial center for processing and transporting cotton, tobacco, and metal goods. As transportation technology evolved, Petersburg became an important railroad center, continuing to process products from southside Virginia and distributing them to external markets. Both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War are prominent in Petersburg's history. The city is well known for the Battle of the Crater when Union troops attempted to tunnel under Confederate lines with disastrous results.