Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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SEARCH TIPS FOR THE CHANCERY RECORDS INDEX

The Chancery Records Index provides several individual search methods. These may also be combined into a more complex search strategy.  Please keep in mind, the more fields that you fill in on the search page, the fewer returns you will receive. Often, it is more effective to begin with a broad search.

Locality

  • The default search is "All Localities"
  • You may select multiple localities by using the Ctrl key;
    Hold the Ctrl key and use the mouse to select individual localities.

Minimum Search Requirements

  • You must fill in one of the following fields to execute a search: Plaintiff or Defendant Last Name, Index Number, or Surname

Wildcards

  • There is no "wildcard" capability in the database. Use the EQUALS, STARTS WITH, and INCLUDES drop down box to help you refine your search. EQUALS is the default search value.
  • If you are sure of a spelling, use the EQUALS selection: a search on "JOHN" will return only "JOHN".
  • If you are sure how a name begins, but not how it ends, use the STARTS WITH option: a search on "JOHN," will return "JOHN" "JOHNSON," "JOHNSTON," and "JOHNSVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH."
  • If you are only sure of a letter combination within a name, use the INCLUDES option: a search on "JOHN" will return "JOHN," "JOHNSON," "ST JOHNS," and "VALJOHNSON."
Year Range
  • The default search is all years for the Locality or Localities selected.
  • You may choose to limit your search using a range by selecting a beginning and ending year.
  • If you have refined your search by year, you will not find cases with unknown years (indicated by 1111). To find such cases, do not limit your search by year OR enter 1111 in the beginning year field.

Data Entry Standards

Processing archivists use established data-entry standards. Following these standards will be useful when initiating your search.

  • Do not use punctuation.

  • Only the following abbreviations were used during data entry:
      - & = AND
      - BRO = BROTHER
      - BROS = BROTHERS
      - CO = COMPANY
      - CORP = CORPORATION
      - INC = INCORPORATED
      - NO = NUMBER

  • All other words must be spelled out, including words such as VIRGINIA, COUNTY, and MANUFACTURING.
  • Abbreviated first names have been spelled out. Some examples are: THOMAS for Thos, GEORGE for Geo, and JOHN for Jno.
  • Business names are followed by a right square bracket ( ] ) for easier searching.
  • When THE is the first word in a business name, it has been eliminated.
  • Punctuation has been eliminated so that Manly's Manufacturing = MANLYS MANUFACTURING] or Adams, Ely & Smith's Buggy Co. = ADAMS ELY & SMITHS BUGGY CO].
  • Individuals whose last names are not given, such as slaves or paupers, have a tilde ( ~ ) in the Plaintiff or Defendant Last Name field. The Surname field will have the first name and tilde (BILLY~).
  • If a Plaintiff or Defendant has an alias, the alias will display in parenthesis in the details of that case. Variant spellings are not considered aliases.
  • Last names that can be interpreted as two words are either combined to make one word, or left as two words with a space if a period or hyphen was a part of the name.
      - Examples: de Haviland = DEHAVILAND, O'Neal = ONEAL, St. Clair = ST CLAIR, and Keith-Murray = KEITH MURRAY
  • Names of Societies, clubs, schools, organizations, churches, official titles or positions, counties, towns, and cities are entered in the Last Name field for Plaintiff or Defendant
      - Societies, clubs, schools, organizations, and churches do not qualify as businesses and do not have the right square bracket designation.
        Examples: CHARLOTTESVILLE SCHOOL DISTRICT NO 5, ORANGE COUNTY HUMANE SOCIETY, POWHATAN ANCIENT FREE & ACCEPTED MASONS LODGE NO 45, ST PAULS EPISCOPAL CHURCH
      - Examples of official titles or positions are GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA or PRESIDENT REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA

Databases from the early years of the program have been upgraded as much as possible to current standards. However, some indexed items may not be consistent with items in the more recently completed databases.

If you have additional search questions, contact Archives Research services at archdesk@lva.virginia.gov or 804-692-3888.