Thomas Balch Library – Leesburg, Virginia - Atlas Obscura

Thomas Balch Library

Leesburg, Virginia

Designated as an Underground Railroad research site.  


One of the preeminent genealogy libraries in Virginia is named after noted attorney and lifelong history buff, Thomas Balch. Born in 1821, Balch is most famous for his successful resolution of the “Alabama Claims,” which resulted in Great Britain paying a $15 million settlement to the United States and Balch being dubbed the “father of international arbitration.”

This special library’s estimable resources cut a deep and diverse swath through the history of families in Virginia, placing a special emphasis on the American Civil War, ethnic history, and local history. The library is designated as an Underground Railroad research site.

Included in the collection are business, bible, census, and cemetery records; along with genealogical charts, oral and video histories, personal papers, photos, postcards, and paintings. 

The Thomas Balch Library was dedicated in 1922 by his sons, Edwin Swift Balch and Thomas Willing Balch. The library was designed by architect Waddy Wood, who also designed Federal Triangle and the Woodrow Wilson House in Washington, D.C.

The library boasts a beautiful four-panel mural entitled “A Loudoun County Story,” which depicts the evolution of the region. It was painted by William Woodward, a former professor of fine arts from George Washington University who was chosen from a pool of 23 submissions to create the artwork. There are several other paintings and sculptures in the library, including a sculpture of Thomas Balch.

Know Before You Go

Hours for the Thomas Balch Library are as follows:

Monday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m.

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December 20, 2022

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