Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia

Founded in 1936 to Preserve the History of Southwest Virginia
(7,000 Books, 200,000 Digital Images, and Over One Million Indexed Records)

Who We Are

The Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia (HSWCV) is headquartered in downtown Abingdon, right on Main Street. Since its establishment in 1936, the Society has grown from a modest collection housed in founders' homes into one of Virginia's premier small historical and genealogical research facilities. This reputation has been earned through the depth and breadth of the Society's holdings. Our reference library contains over 7,000 volumes, complemented by searchable databases with over one million indexed records (available on our website) and more than 200,000 digitized historical photographs and documents. The Society also maintains a vast collection of rare artifacts related to the county's history. The HSWCV's vision is to serve as an educational resource and community leader, dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing the records of the people, places and events that have shaped the unique heritage of Washington County and the surrounding Southwest Virginia region. We invite you to visit us, either in person or explore our online resources, to discover your own family's local roots.

News and Events

Take a look at our Society news and events page. You'll find the latest updates, announcements, and happenings from our organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the rich history of our region. As a nonprofit dedicated to the education and appreciation of Washington County's past, the Historical Society is committed to providing our community with engaging programs, insightful lectures, and thought-provoking exhibits. From highlighting the stories of local pioneers and historical figures to showcasing the evolution of our towns and landscapes, we strive to bring history to life in meaningful and accessible ways. Whether you're a lifelong resident or a newcomer to the area, we invite you to explore the news and events listed here to discover the many ways you can get involved with the Historical Society and deepen your connection to the vibrant history of Washington County, Virginia.


The Historical Society of Washington County is primarily powered by the efforts of our dedicated volunteer staff. We rely on the generous support of our members, donors, and visitors to sustain our operations and fulfill our mission. The majority of our funding comes from membership dues, monetary donations, and sales at our museum gift shop and online store. These vital financial resources are used to cover the day-to-day operating costs of our research library, maintain our archival collections, and undertake critical preservation projects.

By donating to the HSWCV, you are directly supporting our work to collect, protect, and share the rich history of Washington County and the surrounding region. Your contributions, no matter the amount, go towards cataloging new acquisitions, digitizing fragile documents, caring for irreplaceable artifacts, and making our historical resources more accessible to the public. We wholeheartedly appreciate any donation you can provide, whether it's an annual membership, a gift donation, or volunteering your time and expertise. Every bit of support helps us continue being an educational resource and community hub committed to celebrating and preserving the unique heritage of our local area. Thank you for your generosity!

NOTE: When you click on the donate button you will be taken to our donation drive on betterworld.org where you can select or enter a donation amount and pay online. Of course, there are other ways to donate. You can always stop by the Society and donate in person or give us a call at 276-623-8337 and donate by credit card over the phone. If you prefer to use mail, just mail a check to...

Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia
341 West Main Street
P.O. Box 484
Abingdon, VA 24212-0484

Become a Member

The Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia is a community of individuals united by a profound respect and reverence for history. Our members share a deep-seated duty to preserve the recorded legacy of the people, places, and pivotal events that have shaped the unique identity of our region over time. We warmly invite you to join us in this vital preservation effort by becoming a member of the HSWCV. As part of our growing community, you'll receive exclusive benefits that keep you connected to the heritage we strive to safeguard.

All members receive a free subscription to our quarterly newsletter, which provides updates on the Society's activities, newly acquired collections, and upcoming programs and events. You'll also gain access to our biannual Society Bulletin - a treasure trove of well-researched articles that allow you to re-visit and better understand the captivating history of our local area. Joining is easy - you can purchase memberships directly on our website, by mailing in an application, or by calling our office at 276-623-8337. We offer a range of membership levels to accommodate all budgets, so everyone can participate in preserving the rich legacy of Washington County.

We hope you'll consider becoming a member and joining us in our mission to collect, protect, and share the remarkable stories that make our region so historically significant. Together, we can ensure this invaluable heritage is passed down to future generations.


Volunteers are the backbone of the Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia. Their contributions are essential to the successful operation of our organization and the execution of our wide-ranging activities. We offer a diverse array of volunteering opportunities to accommodate all skill sets, interests, and availability. Whether you have just a few hours to spare or can commit to a regular volunteer schedule, there are countless ways you can get involved and make a meaningful difference. Greet and assist visitors at our museum and research library, help plan engaging programs and special events, conduct genealogical research, or lend your expertise to setting up new exhibits that showcase our rich historical collections.

For those with a passion for preservation, we welcome volunteers to assist with cataloging, digitizing, and caring for our invaluable artifacts, documents, and photographs. Your organizational skills and attention to detail can play a vital role in ensuring this irreplaceable heritage is properly maintained and accessible to researchers and the public. We actively seek a diverse volunteer corps comprised of individuals of all ages and backgrounds. Your unique experiences and perspectives can provide fresh ideas and energy to help us better fulfill our mission. Whether you commit to a regular schedule or wish to contribute on a one-time project basis, your involvement is deeply appreciated.

To inquire about available volunteer opportunities that align with your interests and availability, please contact the Historical Society by email at office@hswcv.org or call us directly at 1-276-623-8337. We look forward to welcoming you to our team of dedicated volunteers who are the driving force behind preserving the history of Washington County.

Visit Our Sister Site, Rambling Roots

The Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia has acquired the Rambling Roots website - a remarkable online resource filled with invaluable information about the county's pioneer families, including the ancestors of the late Diana Ryburn Moffett Powell. Rambling Roots was a true labor of love for Diana, a dedicated HSWCV member who resided in California. Over many years, she painstakingly researched and documented the genealogies of the Ryburn family and countless other early settlers of Washington County. This website, which she maintained until her passing on December 7, 2020, has become a treasure trove for historians, genealogists, and descendants seeking to uncover their local roots. Through arrangements made with Diana's family, the Historical Society has now taken stewardship of the Rambling Roots website, ensuring this invaluable resource remains accessible and continues to grow. The site's comprehensive index currently lists nearly 700 family surnames, representing the extensive web of interconnected pioneer clans that shaped the history of this region.

What began as a focused effort to share information about the Ryburn family quickly blossomed into a sprawling project, as one family history led Diana to uncover the stories of countless others. With the help of numerous cousins, friends, and fellow researchers, the Rambling Roots website expanded to chronicle the lives and legacies of Washington County's earliest settlers in remarkable detail. Now under the watchful eye of the Historical Society, this remarkable online archive will remain available to the public, allowing visitors to dive deep into the area's rich genealogical heritage. The HSWCV is honored to continue Diana's tremendous work of preserving and sharing the incredible stories that define the unique identity of Washington County, Virginia.

Connect With Us

Join our Historical Society's Facebook group to stay up-to-date on the latest happenings and connect with other members. Simply click the Facebook icon to access the group page. While anyone can read the posts, you'll need to request to join the group in order to participate by commenting or asking questions. Once approved, you'll be able to engage with our community of over 12,000 members - you may even discover long-lost cousins!

Please note that joining the Facebook group does not automatically make you a member of the Historical Society. We would greatly appreciate if you also signed up for a formal Society membership to further support our mission and activities.


The Historical Society also maintains an active presence on social media to share content and engage with members. This includes a dedicated YouTube channel where we regularly post videos related to our work and the local history we preserve. It's a great way to stay connected with the Society's activities and learn more about the rich history of our region, even if you're unable to visit us in person. We encourage all of our supporters to join both our YouTube channel and Facebook community to take full advantage of the digital resources we provide. It's a wonderful way to supplement the information available on our main website and get even more involved with the work of the Historical Society.

Recommend Us

If you've had the opportunity to visit the Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia, we would be grateful if you would take a moment to share your experience with others. We invite you to leave a review for the HSWCV on the Trip Advisor website. As one of the largest travel review platforms, Trip Advisor provides an excellent way for us to gather valuable feedback from our visitors. Your honest thoughts and reflections will not only help us identify areas for improvement, but also allow potential guests to get a firsthand account of what to expect when they come see us. We truly appreciate you taking the time to submit a review on TripAdvisor. Your feedback plays a crucial role in spreading awareness about our organization and encouraging more people to explore the fascinating history we work to preserve and share. Thank you for your support in helping us enhance the visitor experience at the Historical Society of Washington County, Virginia.


Whether you visit us virtually or in person, we'd love to hear your feedback. In addition to Trip Advisor, please consider leaving a review on the GreatNonprofits website. As an independent rating and review platform for nonprofit organizations, GreatNonprofits provides invaluable guidance to help us enhance our programs and services. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to share your perspective. Your experience at our historical society means the world to us. We read each review carefully and strive to address any concerns or areas for enhancement. Our goal is to provide enriching and memorable encounters with history for all who walk through our doors. Your words will not only guide future visitors but also aid us in our mission to preserve and celebrate our shared heritage.

Visit Our Tenant Businesses

The Historical Society of Washington County is proud to support the local businesses that lease space in the same building as our library and museum. We'd like to take a moment to highlight these wonderful community partners and encourage our visitors to consider patronizing them during their time in Abingdon. So the next time you visit the Historical Society to explore our exhibitions, conduct research in our archives, or attend a special event, we encourage you to also set aside time to support our tenant businesses. Spot of Color and The Travel Shop are wonderful complements to the educational and enriching experience the Historical Society provides. We're proud to have them as part of our community and hope you'll show them your patronage as well.


Hana Eichin's Spot of Color is a charming art studio and supply shop that offers classes, workshops, and all the materials you need to unleash your creativity through painting and drawing. Whether you're an aspiring artist or simply enjoy the therapeutic benefits of creating art, we highly recommend stopping by Spot of Color to browse their selection of quality supplies and potentially sign up for one of Hana's inspiring lessons. The main goal of the business is to create a safe and comfortable space for every level of artists with a free creative space for anyone to use. An emphasis on eco-conscious supplies and creativity has been implemented in the store with eco-art supply alternatives and art waste management to reduce the strain that art puts on mother nature.


Right next door to the Spot of Color, you'll find The Travel Shop - a full-service travel agency that has been a fixture in Abingdon, Virginia since 1983. Owned and operated by travel expert Tim Webb, The Travel Shop specializes in crafting unforgettable adventures, whether you're planning a quick weekend getaway or an extensive international journey. Tim and his dedicated team of travel professionals are passionate about helping clients maximize their experiences. They can assist with every aspect of trip planning, from booking flights and hotels to arranging immersive cultural activities and one-of-a-kind tours. In fact, if you're visiting the Historical Society from out of town, The Travel Shop can put together a complete travel package tailored to your interests in the rich history and attractions of Washington County. So if you're looking to complement your visit to the Historical Society with some additional exploration of the region, be sure to give Tim a call and let the travel experts at The Travel Shop handle the logistics.