Ask an Archivist Day

October is “American Archives Month,” during which the archival community works to educate the public and resource-providers about the work archivists do and why it is important.

Today, October 7, 2020, archivists around the country are responding to questions from their patrons via social media and online communications.

Heidi Sheldon, our archivist here at the Virginia War Memorial, is here answering your questions today. And remember–today may be #AskanArchivistDay, but you may email us or make an appointment to ask Heidi for help whenever you would like!

Welcome to the Archives & USS Birmingham Research Library.

What is currently in the Archives?:

What type of records can I find in the archives?

All sorts of things that document the experiences of Virginians in the military. We have photos, letters, general orders, commendations, scrapbooks, etc.

Do you have information on every Virginian that served in the military?

No, but wouldn’t that be amazing! So many Virginians have served in the military that it would be an enormous task to collect and house that information. We have about 600 accessions that represent about 500 different individuals.

How can I see all the stuff in the archives?

Call 804-786-1468 or email me at to make an appointment. If you are looking to research something specific, send an email and let me know- I can tell you if we have materials that meet your needs.

What’s your favorite item in the archive?

Set of scrapbooks created during and right after World War II. Here is one in particular that I really find fascinating:

Is everything physical records, or is there digital stuff, too?

Most of our records are physical, but we do have some digital-born materials. Sometimes people allow us to scan letters, photos and papers–then they donated the digital copy/rights to those items. Some of the items that people donate were created in the digital world. Things like emails and digital photos, so we maintain those items digitally.

Can you help me research a family member who was in the military?

I wish that we had the time to help you research! We can offer direction and advice on where to look, and how to request information from the service branches and the National Archives. Our Research and Policy Manager, Kyndall Drumheller, has an excellent Livestream on this very topic! It’s available on our website under “learn” then under “livestreams”.

How can I donate things to the archives?

Contact me directly! Call 804-786-1468 or email me at We can arrange a time to talk or meet (either in person or virtually).

What if I don’t want to donate my things but I still want to tell you my story?

We want to hear about your experiences! Contact me and I will set up a time where you can be interviewed for our Oral History program. Interviews can be in person at the VWM or virtually.

Thank you for participating in #AskanArchivist Day and joining the Memorial as we celebrate American Archives Month. To learn more or make an appointment, visit our Collections and Archives page: