Martinsville, Virginia


Visiting the Bassett Historical Center

Have you ever wondered about your family's past? If your family is from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Kentucky or Tennessee, then chances are you'll find clues at the Bassett Historical Center. This facility in Henry County, Virginia currently houses more than 25,000 books and family files for you to explore, free of charge. 

According to Pat Ross, Director of the Bassett Historical Center, "The reasons why each patron does research vary greatly. Some persons research to simply find out who their ancestors were and where they lived. Other persons like to find out who they resemble, if someone in their line may have served in military service, or to find their family's medical history such as genetic defects or possibly a long-lost cousin who would test for a bone marrow transplant."

Bassett Historical Center

The facility has a new website where many documents can be viewed online. For visitors coming to the facility for the first time, Pat has prepared a list of basic terms that you can become familiar with prior to beginning genealogical research.

Paternal- Your father's family line; your paternal grandfather is your father's father.

Maternal- Your mother's family line; your maternal grandfather is your mother's father.

Pedigree or Ancestor Chart- A chart showing all of your direct ancestors without their siblings or other members of the families. A five-generation chart is used at the Bassett Historical Center.

Family Group Sheet- A record listing all the information about a single family - a husband, wife and each of their children.

Generation- Each full family group is one generation. You can count as the first generation, so a five generation chart has you as the first generation, your parents as the second generation, your grandparents as the third generation, your great-grandparents as the fourth generation and your great-great-grandparents as the fifth generation.

Vital Record- A record of birth, marriage or death.

Document- An official certificate or other written information stating something is true under law. A birth, marriage or death certificate is a document.

Will or Probate Records- Records which identify everything a person owned at his death and how it was distributed.

Witnesses- People who sign a document stating that a certain action Bassett Historical Centerwas taken or has taken place such as a marriage, a birth, a death, the signing of a will or deed.

Abstract- A short form of a deed or will that shows only the important genealogical information.  

The friendly staff at the Bassett Historical Center is more than happy to walk you through the process of discovering your family's history and knowing some of the terms above will make the process much easier. Ross added, "Many times people regret not listening to what Grandpa had to say about his life and they want to salvage what they can of their memories of him. Take time to gather as much information as you can from your family, put these memories together with research done on the family, and piece it together like a quilt. This way you can save something very precious for your children and grandchildren." 

Stop by for a visit soon and see what YOU can discover at the Bassett Historical Center!

BONUS VIDEO: See how WSLS 10's Natalie Faunce used the Bassett Historical Center to discover more about her ancestors.