Tracing family history is more popular than ever. But it is not easy for everyone, especially for many of the descendants of enslaved and free Black people in Virginia, according to historians.
Despite the challenge, there are people in Richmond working to make sure the documents that do exist are available to everyone.
Lydia Neuroth spends her days at the Library of Virginia taking the documents that do exist, piecing them together and making that data accessible to help to piece together Virginia history that has been hidden in boxes for decades.
Neuroth is the project manager for Virginia Untold at the Library of Virginia. The initiative provides digital access to records and documents for some of Virginia's enslaved and free Black people.
“Researchers and librarians would say things like, 'That history just doesn’t exist.' Or, 'We just don’t have those records,'" Neuroth explained. "But we are realizing we do. We just haven’t done a good job sharing it.”
As a result, Neuroth is going county by county, collecting records, digitizing them, pulling out key words and then inputting the data into into a digital database that can be accessed on the Library of Virginia's website.