Library and Archives

Search before you arrive by using the Founding Father’s Library Consortium catalog online.

Reference Library:

Browse through several thousand books focusing on themes such as architecture, American decorative arts, genealogy, cooking, clothing, colonial Virginia, natural rights, the constitution, and daily life in the 18th century.

Research Files:

Explore vertical files of material collected by Gunston Hall staff and volunteers during several decades of research. Files focus on George Mason and his family members, the Gunston Hall property, and everyday life in 18th century Virginia and Maryland. Each file includes a variety of items, including photocopies of public records such as wills and probate inventories, essays written by staff and volunteers, images, and excerpts from secondary sources.

Rare Book Collection:

Access several thousand rare books published between the 16th and early 20th centuries. The collection gives insight into the intellectual world of 18th century Virginians such as George Mason. Several sub-collections focus on:

  • The design library of William Buckland, Gunston Hall’s carpenter/joiner
  • Period reference books, including a complete set of Diderot’s encyclopedia
  • Eighteenth century law
  • Anglo-American treatises on cooking, household management, gardening, etc.

Archives:

Read items from more than a dozen collections of 18th and 19th century Mason family manuscripts, as well as material regarding the preservation of Gunston Hall. Staff and volunteers continue to describe this material in finding and research guides. Collections include:

  • George Mason Papers
  • Mason Family Papers
  • John Mason Papers
  • Thompson F. Mason Papers, Copeland Collection
  • Thompson F. Mason Papers, Cheshire Collection
  • Historic Newspaper Collection
  • Phillips/Buchanan Architectural Investigation Collection

Online Resources:

Investigate the world of the Masons through a variety of digital resources.

Mason Family Items

Visit photos and information about objects owned by members of the Mason family.

Probing the Past: Probate Inventory Database

See a collection of 325 Chesapeake-focused Virginia and Maryland probate inventories recorded between 1740-1810. The text of these documents, gathered by Gunston Hall staff and volunteers, and is available in PDF form on this site and in a searchable database hosted by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University.

Room Use Study:

Delve into the multi-year research project undertaken by Gunston Hall to determine how best to furnish the house. Lacking an original copy of George Mason’s probate inventory, staff and volunteers at Gunston Hall built the Probing the Past database to provide insight into the household furnishings that might have been at Gunston Hall during Mason’s lifetime.

Mason Web:

Search for Mason family descendants through this informal genealogy record. The database is surname-searchable. It is updated annually.

Submit information to library@gunstonhall.org for the yearly update.