The mission of the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) is to connect people to America’s past through the unparalleled story of Virginia.
By collecting, preserving, and interpreting the Commonwealth’s history, the VHS links past with present and inspires future generations.
The Virginia Historical Society was founded in 1831 making it the fourth-oldest such institution in the nation. It has operated without interruption for more than 184 years, which makes it the oldest cultural institution in the Old Dominion. The VHS is the only organization dedicated to collecting and interpreting all of Virginia’s history—all areas, all time periods, and all people. Even though the VHS is a private institution receiving no state operating support, in 2004 the General Assembly designated the VHS the official historical society of the Commonwealth of Virginia in recognition of the unique role it plays in the preservation of our state’s history.
The VHS serves a wide range of constituents, including students and teachers, scholars, genealogists and life-long learners, by a diverse array of exhibitions, lectures, publications, travel opportunities, educational programs, and digital initiatives. Supporting all of these efforts are the collections — books, photographs, paintings, furniture, weaponry and other artifacts, and more than 8 million unique documents. It is this collection of primary source documents that distinguishes the VHS nationally and internationally as one of the finest research facilities available to the public.
Although a private, non-profit institution, the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) is unique in that it is the Official State Historical Society of Virginia. The nature of our comprehensive collection allows us to interpret broad themes in Virginia history spanning all centuries of the state’s history, all geographical regions, and all socioeconomic groups. We are the only Southern member of the prestigious Independent Research Libraries Association. Our educational programs for the public, teachers, and schoolchildren have reached all of the state’s counties and cities. We host an extensive website on the Internet (www.vahistorical.org) and our catalog of collections records is now online. In recognition of the high standards of museum professionalism and our success in the advancement of our mission, the American Association of Museums awarded accreditation to the VHS in 1998 and again in 2008. In the course of its 184-year history, the Society has reinvented itself numerous times in order to survive and serve an ever widening public.
Maintaining the momentum of the last two decades and continuing to expand the ways we fulfill our mission are key initiatives as we set the course for our institution in the 21st century.
According to the US Census, the oldest of the Baby Boomer generation turned 60 in 2006. Since then, this group of 78.2 million has been turning 60 at a rate of 7,918 per day. Our “We’ll See You in Class” series is specifically designed to target this demographic and their need for educational programming.
The addition of our new, state-of the art classroom serves an audience of teachers and students as well as a new audience we have dubbed “life-long learners.” We developed a program entitled “We’ll See You in Class” to specifically target this audience. This wildly successful series, established in 2005, invites students of all ages to after-hours classes hosted by staff and visiting historians. Topics have ranged from World War II to Civil War and Southern History film classes. Additionally, we serve this audience with bus trips to various attractions and destinations throughout the Commonwealth. This is a part of a new program which did not exist ten years ago.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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