Colonial Williamsburg Research Division Web Site

Tips for Users of Past Portal

The Past Portal website was launched in 2000 to house the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s online archive of research reports, manuscripts, probate inventories, and Virginia Gazette issues published in Williamsburg from 1736 to 1780. The Digital Library has now been integrated into the Research section of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s website. The new Digital Library interface offers the same materials found on Past Portal but with enhanced browsing and searching capabilities. We will continue to add new digital documents as they become available.


The online Manuscripts are organized by collection. Users can browse images and transcripts of selected documents from seven of the Foundation’s important manuscript collections.

Research Division Publications

The Research Division Publications are now included in the Research Report Series.

Research Report Series

The Research Report Series, which consists of historical, archaeological, and architectural reports written by Foundation staff since the late 1920s, had been organized on Past Portal by town block. Now users may also view and search the report list by Author, Date, Title, and Report Type. In addition, the eWilliamsburg map tool allows users to access the digital reports by clicking directly on properties to retrieve a description of the site and a list of related reports.

Virginia Gazette

Images of most of the surviving Virginia Gazette issues published in Williamsburg are available through the Digital Library. Past Portal previously presented the Virginia Gazette through an online topical index. The new Digital Library provides the ability to search by the index as well as a new feature in which the issues can be browsed by publisher and date.

York County Probate Inventories

The Digital Library includes a large selection of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century York County Probate Inventories. These documents can be organized in a standard list, as they were presented on Past Portal, by choosing View Complete List under the Browse option. In addition, the Search option allows users to filter the list of probate inventories on categories, such as name of the decedent, year the probate was taken, property location, household type, and wealth group.