Getting Started

Before exploring the site, please read an important note on the history of the Skyline Drive collections by clicking here.

What's New?

Our inaugural collection consists of 6,207 legal documents surrounding the State of Virginia's effort at condemning private land within Rockingham County for the creation of the Shenandoah National Park. Feel free to browse the collection by clicking above, using the word tree, or searching specific key words in the search box above. Enjoy! Learn more here.


This project owes a great deal of gratitude for the continued support from the Town of Harrisonburg, Rockingham County, The Circuit Court of Rockingham County, James Madison University, and JMU's Libraries & Educational Technologies.

Rockingham County, Virginia

Rockingham County Circuit Court

City of Harrisonburg, Virginia

James Madison University

JMU Libraries & Educational Technologies

Project Overview

Exploring Rockingham’s Past (ERP) is a collaborative project between James Madison University and the Rockingham County Circuit Courthouse that is making rare documents from Rockingham County’s storied past accessible to the public. This ongoing project will digitize and publish collections from the courthouse’s substantial archival materials, which have long been inaccessible to researchers. Each year, a graduate history intern, in coordination with Courthouse leadership and staff, will select and digitize a collection of documents from the courthouse archives. In addition to gaining valuable experience in archival and digital historical methods, the graduate intern will then use those records to develop an interpretive historical essay and publish it on ERP. This dual approach—publishing archival documents and an interpretation from those documents—will allow the public to explore Rockingham’s past on their own and see how emerging professional historians employ and interpret the same materials.

How to Use the Word Tree

We filled this ‘families tree’ with the family names of all the owners identified in the legal documents. The size of the name in the tree indicates how often that name was associated with ownership of land. Hover your mouse over the name and click on it to discover the history of the park. Click here for a bigger version of the Families Word Tree.