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Virginians and Their Histories

Brent Tarter

BUY Cloth · 504 pp. · 6.125 × 9.25 · ISBN 9780813943923 · $34.95 · May 2020
BUY Ebook · 504 pp. · ISBN 9780813943930 · $34.95 · May 2020

Histories of Virginia have traditionally traced the same significant but narrow lines, overlooking whole swathes of human experience crucial to an understanding of the commonwealth. With Virginians and Their Histories, Brent Tarter presents a fresh, new interpretive narrative that incorporates the experiences of all residents of Virginia from the earliest times to the first decades of the twenty-first century, affording readers the most comprehensive and wide-ranging account of Virginia’s story.

Tarter draws on primary resources for every decade of the Old Dominion's English-language history, as well as a wealth of recent scholarship that illuminates in new ways how demographic changes, economic growth, social and cultural changes, and religious sensibilities and gender relationships have affected the manner in which Virginians have lived. Virginians and Their Histories interweaves the experiences of Virginians of different racial and ethnic backgrounds and classes, representing a variety of eras and regions, to understand what they separately and jointly created, and how they responded to economic, political, and social changes on a national and even global level. That large context is essential for properly understanding the influences of Virginians on, and the responses of Virginians to, the constantly changing world in which they have lived.

This groundbreaking work of scholarship—generously illustrated and engagingly written—will become the definitive account for general readers and all students of Virginia’s diverse and vibrant history.


The single best narrative history of Virginia that we now have. It represents the fruits of a lifetime of immersion in the relevant archival sources, and of study of the best historical scholarship available. Tarter knows both better than any scholar now alive. He is a living guide to the entire evidentiary record for the history of Virginia. His range and mastery are simply awe-inspiring.

Kevin Hardwick, James Madison University, coeditor of Virginia Reconsidered: New Histories of the Old Dominion

Tarter’s narrative is packed with interpretation of cultural, political and historical changes occurring in more than four centuries of Virginia life. The book provides a clear understanding of our past.

Roanoke Times

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