The Virginia Historical Society (VHS), founded in 1811 as the Virginia Historical and Philosophical Society and headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, is a major repository, research, and teaching center for Virginia history. It is a private non-profit organization, supported almost entirely by private contributions, and is the Official State Historical Society of Virginia.
The Virginia Historical Society features award-winning exhibitions and programming that are entertaining and educational for visitors of all ages. One of the largest historical societies in the country, the VHS has thirteen exhibition galleries occupying more than 25,000 square feet (2,300 Sq mi) and has the largest display of Virginia artifacts on permanent view. The VHS is the only museum with all of Virginia’s history under one roof — all centuries, all regions, and all topics are covered.
In its early years, the VHS gathered an eclectic collection of natural history specimens, historical artifacts, and printed and written material. The Society was reconstituted after the Civil War and was renamed the Virginia Historical Society in 1870 to reflect a primarily historical focus as it became more active in publishing historical material. The Society gained its first permanent headquarters building in Richmond in 1893. The Society's journal, the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, has published on a quarterly basis without interruption since 1893. In the 1950s, increasing resources allowed the addition of a professional staff. Over the next several decades the Society's collections grew. The publications program also increased as the Society gained a significant role in the academic community.
The 54,000-square-foot (5,000 Sq mi) Charles F. Bryan, Jr. wing, completed in 2006, houses the Reynolds Business History Center (RBHC) and the long-term exhibition, Virginians at Work. The RBHC seeks to acquire company records from important and representative businesses from around the commonwealth. In addition, the VHS has developed business history programs for scholars, businesspeople, students, and the general public.
The VHS offers a wide array of educational programs, especially for students and teachers. These include outreach programs that take place in school classrooms, guided tours of exhibitions, and workshops and week-long summer institutes for teachers.