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Researching Blacksburg, Virginia, History: Ephemera-Newspapers, Photographs, & Vertical Files

This guide contains information on resources for researching Blacksburg, Virginia, history in Newman Library, including Special Collections.

About Special Collections and University Archives

New Theatre (the Lyric) and Store Building for the Blacksburg Realty Company
New Theatre (the Lyric) and Store Building for the Blacksburg Realty Company

Monday-Friday 8am-5pm & By Appointment

Contact us:
Telephone: 540-231-6308

Twitter: @VT_SCUA
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Several newspapers published in Blacksburg or Christiansburg are available on microfilm in the Newman Microforms. The News Messenger (called at various times the Montgomery News Messenger and the Blacksburg-Christiansburg News Messenger) has been published since 1869, and is available beginning in 1870 on film [AN N5 Microfilm]. Current copies are available on the third floor of Newman Library. The Blacksburg Sun, published from 1962 to 1980, is available on microfilm [AN B49 Microfilm], as is the Blacksburg Virginian [AN B5 Microfilm, dating from 1960 to 1961.

In addition to the coverage of these two newspapers on microfilm, the Special Collections has scattered original issues of the Montgomery News Messenger dating from 1870 to 1918, as well as scattered issues of such Blacksburg newspapers as the Banner, the Chronicle, the Citizen, the Home News, the Little Citizen, the Moon, the News, the Plain Dealer, the Tattle Tale, and the Virginian. You can find holdings by searching the library's catalog or by contacting Special Collections for assistance.

The library has a a database that includes an index of local papers, the Newspaper Index (Local Newspapers). The database contains the full-text index of papers from Virginia Tech, Southwest Virginia and the New River Valley: the Roanoke Times and World News (Jan 1, 1992-Feb 28, 1997), the News Messenger (1963 to June 1998), The Collegiate Times (1970 to June 1998), the Virginia Tech Spectrum (Fall 1994-Spring 2005). The index provides citations that point to print and/or microfilm copies of titles available at the library. 

For newspaper articles on Blacksburg that have been clipped out and classified by subject, see the Blacksburg Vertical Files guide online.

Historic Photographs

Special Collections contains a collection of historical photographs of Blacksburg (as well as images of the university and local geographical area). The earliest of these photographs date from the 1860s and 1870s; most are from the 1900s-1970s.  Folders from the Historical Photograph Collection should be requested at the Special Collections reference desk. The most up-to-date listing of subjects/topics in the entire Historical Photograph Collection is available online. Subject headings relating to Blacksburg specifically are listed below:

  • Alumni Gateway
  • Armistice Day
  • Blacksburg-Businesses and Industry- Pre- l900
  • Blacksburg-Businesses and Industry 1900-19
  • Blacksburg-Businesses and Industry 1920-39
  • Blacksburg-Businesses and Industry 1940-59
  • Blacksburg-Businesses and Industry 1960
  • Blacksburg-Churches Pre-1900
  • Blacksburg-Churches 1900-19
  • Blacksburg-Churches 1920-39
  • Blacksburg-Churches 1940-59
  • Blacksburg-Churches 1960
  • Blacksburg-Downtown Pre-1900
  • Blacksburg-Downtown 1900-19
  • Blacksburg-Downtown 1920-39
  • Blacksburg-Downtown 1940-59
  • Blacksburg-Downtown 1960
  • Blacksburg-Houses Pre-1900
  • Blacksburg-Houses 1900-19
  • Blacksburg- Houses 1920-39
  • Blacksburg-Houses 1940-59
  • Blacksburg-Houses 1960
  • Blacksburg-People Pre-1900
  • Blacksburg-People 1900-19
  • Blacksburg-People 1920-39
  • Blacksburg-Schools 1920-39
  • Blacksburg-Schools 1940-59
  • Blacksburg-Views Pre-1900
  • Blacksburg-Views 1900-19
  • Blacksburg-Views 1920-39
  • Blacksburg-Views 1940-59
  • Blacksburg-Pictorial Brochures
  • Fires
  • Huckleberry
  • Kentland
  • Lovers' Leap
  • Lyric Theatre
  • Smithfield
  • Water Tower
  • Winter Scenes 
  • Blacksburg Oversize (a collection of matted sepia- tone photographs; photos also included in other folders)

Vertical Files

Vertical files include newspaper clippings, magazine articles, brochures and other ephemeral publications, and sometimes typescript bibliographies and other documents. Special Collections maintains several sets of vertical files: Blacksburg, Montgomery County, Southwest Virginia, university record groups, and biographical files on local individuals and families. The most up-to-date list of subject areas in each series can be found online: