All Norfolk Public Library locations are closed to the public until further notice. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
historic biplanes on field

Special Collection and Archives

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

The Sargeant Memorial Collection is a regional archive that holds special collections materials relating to Norfolk and the greater Hampton Roads area.

Access the Special Collection & Archival Finding Aids

Types of Collections

  • Architectural Blueprints

  • Business Records

  • Organizational Records

  • Professional Genealogists’ Papers

  • Family Genealogy Collections

  • Personal Papers

  • Photographs

  • Scrapbooks

  • City of Norfolk Archives*

*Note:   The City of Norfolk Archives contains but is not limited to survey reports, annual reports, photographs, scrapbooks, promotional materials, and newsletters. The collection does not hold official departmental records such as official correspondence, director’s records, minutes, etc. Contact the City of Norfolk’s Records Management Department to access those type of records.

Reading Room Policy

  • All visitors performing historical or genealogical research must first sign in.

  • Pencils, loose paper, tablets, and laptop computers without cases are permitted in the room.

  • Lockers are provided for researchers to place their personal belongings, including backpacks, purses, notebooks, binders, and laptop cases.

  • The library is not responsible for unattended items.

  • No food or drinks are permitted on the second floor of the Sargeant Memorial Collection.

  • Hands should be washed with soap and water prior to handling archival materials. Hand sanitizer and lotion should be avoided before handling these materials.

  • Materials should be handled carefully and kept in their original order. If items appear out of order, please inform a staff member.

  • Materials must remain on the table during use; they may not be placed on one’s lap or propped on other items.

  • Archival materials may be requested by researchers in advance; SMC staff will pull materials so that they are immediately available prior to a visit. The SMC will hold materials for up to 24 hours before they are returned to their original location unless prior arrangements are made.

  • Items from the online catalog labeled “storage” may take a few days to a few weeks to process. Requesting these materials in advance of a visit is required.

  • Researchers may use up to five manuscript boxes or books at one time.

  • Gloves may be required to handle photographs, film, slides, or metal objects.

  • Cell phones and cameras are permitted; however, flash must be turned off.

  • Please silence your cell phones. Phone calls are not permitted in the Reading Room.

  • Photocopies cost $0.15 per page. Scanners are available in the SMC to digitize materials.

  • Please see staff about digitizing services. Digitization may be limited due to physical condition of materials, copyright issues, or donor restrictions.

  • All archival materials should be returned to SMC staff 15 minutes before the library closes.


Some materials in the collection have been previously scanned or microfilmed. Before consulting original items, please use microfilmed or scanned versions.

Commercial use of photographs and images is restricted.  Please consult with SMC staff about this restriction.


All photocopying will be done by the SMC staff.  You will need to use our photocopy request bookmark and have it written in pencil which items you wish to have copied. 

The SMC staff reserves the right to decline any photocopying request especially if they feel the items are too fragile for handling or will damage the item. 

Camera devices are permitted to be used for textual items.   However flash is not permitted.  

Taking photographic images with any device of photographs from our collection is prohibited.


If there are any questions regarding our Special Collections and Archives, please contact the SMC staff at (757) 431-7429 or