Local History


The Isabella Gibbons Local History Center promotes the study of Charlottesville and Albemarle County local histories and fosters a deeper understanding of our community’s lived environment. Through its various offerings, the Center will archive and disseminate narratives that are relevant locally and add to the larger history of African Americans in Virginia and the nation.


Through the Jefferson School Portal, patrons will have access to the more than sixty oral histories conducted with students who attended the school from 1930-1960 as well as to ephemera collected while preparing for JSAAHC permanent exhibition. Additionally, the portal will centralize the various resources about the Jefferson School available on the Internet thereby facilitating the study of this rich history.


The Center will provide intergenerational programs that expose new audiences to African American and local history research. Additionally, the Center will present lectures and symposia that consider new trends in genealogical research. It will also offer meeting space for local genealogy groups.


New research uncovered by the Center’s affiliated scholars will be seed for the expansion of the Heritage Center’s permanent installation and subsequent exhibitions. Additionally, local and nationally known artists will be commissioned to use the collected oral histories and other materials as fodder for new theater, films, or musical scores. Artists will be encouraged to present samples of their work as well as act as critics to students of the Genealogy 101 program. Through E-publishing, the Center will provide a cost effective way for lay scholars to disseminate their research.

To facilitate their research visitors to the Center can utilize Ancestory.com, Heritage Quest and African American Newspapers.