West Virginia Free Public Records Directory


West Virginia Public Record Directory

West Virginia’s nickname is The Mountain State, and its geography defines its history. Originally part of Virginia, its rugged patchwork of mountains and valleys was not conducive to plantation agriculture. It was settled by free farmers with small landholdings, in contrast the large plantations in the Tidewater are Piedmont regions of Virginia. The plantations were operated using slave labor, and the U.S. Constitution at the time allowed each slave to be counted as three-fifths of a person for purposes of apportionment of representatives. This gave the planter elite in eastern Virginia control of the Virginia Legislature and the Virginia delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. Residents of the mountainous western counties had long contemplated forming their own state. When Virginia voted to secede from the Union in 1861, 50 counties in the west voted to form a new state. West Virginia was admitted to the Union in 1863 as the first new state to be admitted during the Civil War.

Today, West Virginia has 55 counties, with five having been created since the state was formed. After the Civil War and during the Industrial Revolution, the state’s mineral resources supported its economy. Coal mining was the dominant industry, and West Virginia is still a leading coal producer. But the decline in coal prices in recent years – due to competition from gas and renewables – has damaged West Virginia’s economy and left many parts of the state in dire straits. Agriculture and transportation are still difficult because of the terrain, although the recreational aspect of that terrain has made tourism one of the state’s largest industries. For the past decade, West Virginia has ranked among the bottom ten states in health, education, economy, and quality of life; it is currently #50 in both employment and infrastructure. Its median annual household income is $43,385; only Mississippi’s is lower.

West Virginia is the 41st largest state by area and has the 38th largest population and 29th highest population density, although more people are leaving the state than are moving in. It is bordered by Virginia on the southeast, Kentucky on the southwest, Ohio on the northwest, and Pennsylvania and a bit of Maryland on the northeast. Its climate is humid subtropical, with hot summers and cool winters, although the mountains are cooler all year. Average monthly temperatures range from the low 20s to mid-80s.

West Virginia’s capital and largest city is Charleston, with a population of just under 50,000. The largest metropolitan area is Huntington, which shares its population of just over 300,000 with counties in Kentucky and Ohio. The state constitution allows new counties to be created by majority vote in the proposed county, if both counties would then have a minimum area of 400 square miles and a minimum population of 6,000. Today, all but three counties have too few people or too little land area to be split. To find West Virginia state, county, city, and local public records, see our directory below of all types, including county records, criminal records, and recorded documents.

Wv
Abbreviation WV
Capital Charleston
Population 1,831,102 (2016 est.)
Area size 24,230 sq. mi
Demonym West Virginian
Primary languages spoken English
Governor Jim Justice
Lieutenant Governor Mitch Carmichael
U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, Shelley Moore Capito
U.S. House Delegation 3 Republicans
Time Zone Eastern: UTC -5/-4
*The map and data in the table are from Wikipedia.

Browse by Public Record Category

There are two types of public records: 1) personal public records that document major life milestones such as birth certificates, death certificates, divorce records, and marriage records, etc.; and 2) government records that are made public such as property tax records, recorded land records, voter records, crime data, jail inmate records, and court records. The Freedom of Information Act is a national law that releases government agency public records and makes it possible to view most public records. Since there are a multitude of records available, it can be difficult to know how or where to access them.

West Virginia’s public records act, enacted in 1977, is one of the strictest in the nation. Its definition of records is broad and includes some types of records that are exempt in other states. Exemptions are very specific and are strictly construed to favor disclosure. Agencies have five days to respond, and custodians who violate the act can be fined or jailed. The state Attorney General’s Office publishes a guide to the act, which includes the text of the act and court decisions that interpret it.

When you are ready to start your search, you’ll find our Public Records Directory website easy to use since all of the records can be searched by federal, state, county, city, town, or type of record. The links provided will connect you to the best website for the record search, provide details about the record, or provide contact information for those records without search capabilities.

Find West Virginia Statewide Public Records

Fast access to West Virginia public record sources at the state level.

Additional West Virginia public records links can be found on our West Virginia county and city level pages using the navigation links above.

Other West Virginia Public Records

Like most states, West Virginia also has some unusual laws. For example, it is illegal to hunt with the use of a ferret. West Virginia also has some of its own types of public records, such as bridge inspections and delinquent tax land sales. More examples of public access records available in West Virginia may be found below.

Sources:

West Virginia - Statewide Public Records Links
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