We have a great genealogy research collection in our Virginia Room at Main library in Abingdon, and much of it comes from a generous endowment from the Davenport family: the Davenport Collection.
The Davenports and the Collection
Peter J. Davenport was born near Lindell in 1863. He read law in the offices of Colonel John C. Summers and Daniel Trigg in Abingdon. He opened his personal library two nights a week to students from local colleges.
Mary Elizabeth Bryan Davenport grew up near Abingdon. She was one of a small group of women who established a study group “for the pleasure and improvement of women” on September 13, 1914. Their constitution included this goal: “[to] promote the literary, education and social interest of the town and to establish a library.” The Booklovers of Abingdon is still active today, more than 100 years after its founding. Mary Elizabeth Bryan Davenport was present at the dedication of the first library in Washington County on October 15, 1954.
The family of Peter J. and Mary Elizabeth Bryan Davenport established their endowment for our library in 1988.
What’s in the Davenport Collection?
The Davenport Collection contains print books and periodicals for researching local history and genealogy. The collection has books with deed, will, marriage, census and military records. Some of the books contain records for Washington County and surrounding counties, including series by Jack Hockett, Mary Kegley and David Douthat. Some of the collection covers Virginia families and Virginia history.
Items in the Davenport Collection are donations from Peter J. Davenport’s personal library and new materials purchased with endowment funds. A bookplate bearing a picture of Peter Johnston Davenport and Mary Elizabeth Bryan Davenport is placed in each book of the Davenport collection.
Using the Davenport Collection
Books and periodicals in the Davenport Collection are reference books and may not be checked out or removed from Main library.
The Davenport Collection is are cataloged and shelved with the other items in the Virginia Room. Pages from books in the Davenport collection may be copied at a cost of $0.15/page.
If you need assistance in using the collection, stop by the reference desk.
The Davenport endowment keeps our local genealogy collection at main library among the best in the region. Peter Davenport’s library is still open for visitors, in the very same public library Mary Elizabeth Bryan Davenport and the Booklovers made possible in 1954.