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.
|1,831,102 (2016 est.)
|24,230 sq. mi
|Primary languages spoken
|Joe Manchin, Shelley Moore Capito
|U.S. House Delegation
|Eastern: UTC -5/-4
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.
- West Virginia Land Records and Deeds Directory
- West Virginia Foreclosures and Tax Lien Sales Directory
- West Virginia Assessor and Property Tax Records Directory
- West Virginia GIS and Mapping Directory
- West Virginia Genealogy Records Directory
- West Virginia Birth Records Directory
- West Virginia Death Records Directory
- West Virginia Marriage Records Directory
- West Virginia Divorce Records Directory
Community Health & Safety
- West Virginia Sustainability and Environmental Health Directory
- West Virginia Traffic Cameras and Reports Directory
- West Virginia Crimes and Crime Data Directory
Jobs & Employment
Criminal and Court Records
- West Virginia Warrants Directory
- West Virginia Jail and Inmate Records Directory
- West Virginia Sex Offender Registration Directory
Licensing and Permits
- West Virginia Business Licenses Directory
- West Virginia Contractor Licenses Directory
- West Virginia Professional Licenses Directory
- West Virginia Bar Associations Directory
- West Virginia Permits and Inspections Directory
Codes, Regulations, & Other
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.
-  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Virginia
-  https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/west-virginia
-  West Virginia Code, Chapter 29B, Article 1 – Freedom of Information Act
-  The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (booklet)
-  West Virginia Code, Section 29-2-5, Unlawful methods of hunting and fishing…
|State of West Virginia Home Page
|Air Quality Board
Search West Virginia Air Quality Board final order documents by keywords.
|Air Quality Reports
View West Virginia yearly air quality reports including air pollution data for United States, and more.
Search Department of Transportation's bridge inspection data for West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio by state and county.
|Campaign Finance Reports
Search West Virginia campaign finance reports by candidates, committee, contributor or expenditures.
|Census Information Summary
West Virginia statistics for population, ethnicity, housing, geography and businesses. From the U.S. Census Bureau.
|Clandestine Drug Laboratory Register
View addresses of some locations in West Virginia where law enforcement agencies reported they found chemicals or other items that indicated the presence of either clandestine drug laboratories or dumpsites.
Search West Virginia State Code by code number or name.
|Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Search
Search West Virginia available commercial and industrial real estate by county.
Search West Virgina corporations by business name or agent or officer name.
|Court Records and other Resources
Links to state and local court records, general West Virginia court information, directory of courts, and online resources for courts in West Virginia.
|DEA Most Wanted
View listings and photos of the most wanted fugitives of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Washington DC Division. This area handles West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC.
View West Virginia department directory by name of agency including website link.
View West Virginia election results by year, date, and county.
|Employment Background Check Laws
West Virginia employers who hire West Virginia residents to work in the state of West Virginia must abide by the Federal FCRA.
Search West Virginia environmental maps including aerial photography and topography.
View West Virginia State of the Environment report including air quality, water quality, land issues and energy production.
View West Virginia floodplain management information including regulations, local floodplain managers, floodplain maps, and more.
View West Virginia information about delinquent tax land sales including sales notices by county.
|Land Sale Properties
Search West Virginia delinquent tax land sale properties by county, name, description or status of the property.
Search West Virginia legislature bill status by bill number or year.
Search the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website by name, city, date range or physical description.
|Obituary Records Search
Search obituary records by name of deceased, publication date or obituary text. This is a paid service.
Search West Virginia offender records through the Department of Corrections.
Search the West Virginia State Archives for historic public records including birth records, death records, maps, naturalization records, newspapers and photos.
|State Employee Salary
Search West Virginia state employee salary by last name or department.
Search the West Virginia Department of Education teacher certification by last name or date of birth.
|West Virginia Professional and Occupational Licensing Directory
Complete directory of all professional and occupational licensing agencies in the state of West Virginia.