About the Governor's Letters Received Database (1776-1784)

Related Resources | Search Tips

This database is a calendar of the manuscript collection of letters and other documents received in the Governor's Office during the administrations of:

Governor Date Range
Patrick Henry   (July 6, 1776-June 1, 1779)
Thomas Jefferson (June 2, 1779-June 3, 1781)
William Fleming (acting) (June 4-12, 1781)
Thomas Nelson    (June 12-November 22, 1781)
David Jameson (acting)   (November 22-30, 1781)
Benjamin Harrison     (December 1, 1781-November 30, 1784)

Some correspondence received by other Virginia government departments, such as the Treasurer and the War Office, is included among the manuscripts. If included, enclosures are described in detail; if missing, a note only is made. Some letters have a draft reply attached.

The 5,465 records cover approximately 19,800 pages of correspondence and other documents that provide a detailed picture of Virginia government during the Revolutionary War and immediately after. Many of the manuscripts describe the difficulties of raising and provisioning a national army and state militia. There are also reports of military maneuvers, battles, Indian affairs, and economic and monetary conditions.

The database was created by transcribing information contained in an in-house finding aid which contains the following information:

Given names have been expanded or supplied (in brackets) when lacking except when the recipient is noted as "governor."

A Note on the Images

The database records are linked to digitized images of the correspondence scanned from microfilm. Images may be difficult to read because of the condition of the microfilm or of the documents themselves. In some cases, there are duplicate images of the same page of text because the item was originally filmed more than once in an effort to obtain the best image.

The documents indexed are from the following archival collections: Revolutionary Government (Record Group 2); Office of the Governor (Record Group 3), Letters Received; and Records of the Legislative Branch and General Assembly (Record Group 78), which contains those documents received by the governor and forwarded to the General Assembly for action.

Related Resources

Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts . . . Preserved in the Capitol at Richmond (Richmond, 1875-1893), 11 volumes, with volumes 1-3 containing abstracts of some of the documents in this series.

Search Tips

Punctuation and capitalization are disregarded. Entries in this database are arranged in letter-by-letter alphabetical order. In addition to the regular searches, you may click on any highlighted element of a database record (such as a name) to initiate a search on that element.

Each record in the Governor's Letters Received database consists of:


Personal names in the database are in the form of last name followed by first name. A Browse search on the Author index retrieves records in an alphabetical listing by name, beginning with the word or words used in the search.

Example: A Browse search on "adams, charles" retrieves an alphabetical listing beginning with the names:

A Basic (keyword) search, or an Advanced search, retrieves only the records that contain the exact word or words specified in the search argument.


Titles consist of very brief descriptions of the document such as: George Elliott, Petersburg, to Col. [George Muter]. Information enclosed in square brackets was supplied by the Library of Virginia staff member who compiled the original 3 x 5 card index to this collection in the 1970s. This information does not appear on the actual document.


The date on the letter or document is recorded in the database record. Dates are keyword searchable using the "Words Anywhere" option.


Each record contains a summary of the contents of the letter or document. The contents of any enclosure is also briefly described in a note. All of the information in the notes is keyword searchable using the "Words Anywhere" option.


Image Numbers

Image numbers were arbitrarily assigned to the letters and documents as they were cataloged. These are keyword searchable using the "Words Anywhere" option.  The image number always contains "GLR" plus 5 digits (example: GLR00070).


Click on the URL link at the top of the record to view the digitized image.

For more detailed help with searching, click on the "Help" link on the main search screen and scroll down to "Search Functions" and "Search Tips."

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