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Jefferson County Museum

Museums, Galleries and Archives (Local and County Historical Societies, Museums, and Archives)
Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums American Association for State and Local History Member


The Jefferson County Museum is located in historic downtown Charles Town and shares a building with its partner organization, the Charles Town Library. Since its founding in 1965, the museum has been dedicated to fostering the understanding and love of history. The museum is committed to the acquisition, preservation, and exhibition of artifacts and documents of historical value and relevance to the county and the region from early Native American activities and the European colonization in the 1700s through the 21st century war on terrorism.

Visitors at 2016 Opening Reception
Visitors at 2016 Opening Reception
Children Enjoying Museum's Booth at 2016 West Virginia Fest, Downtown Charles Town
Museum Entrance on Samuel Street


Located in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, historic Jefferson County is the northern gateway to the lovely Shenandoah Valley. Flowing along the northeastern border is the Potomac River. To the southeast are the ancient Blue Ridge Mountains and the meandering Shenandoah River, which joins the Potomac at Harpers Ferry.

For millennia, until their population were decimated by European colonizers, Native Americans traversed the Shenandoah Valley engaged in hunting, trading, and warfare. After colonization until 1863, Jefferson County was part of Virginia. In the middle of the Civil War, it became the easternmost part of the new state of West Virginia.

Jefferson County’s rich history is a microcosm of the larger historical events that shaped the nation—from George Washington’s surveying here in the mid-1700s to John Brown’s Raid at Harpers Ferry through the Civil War and establishment of Storer College for freed African Americans after the Civil War to the Miners’ Trials in the 1920s. Artifacts and documents on display in the Jefferson County Museum reflect the county’s vibrant history and explore facets of women’s history, African American history, military history, and everyday life clothing, objects, and items.

Among the museum’s oldest items include a collection of documents and objects related to the Washington family—including a handwritten letter by George Washington. Charles Washington, youngest full brother to George Washington, was the founder of Charles Town, the current county seat of Jefferson County.

The exhibit “Slavery- Our Great National Sin,” constructed in partnership with the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society, introduces the history of enslavement in Jefferson County in the decades leading up to the Civil War, as well as the abiding legacy of this institution on later generations. Telling this story would not be complete without the history of abolitionist John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry. After storming the U.S. Armory in Harpers Ferry, Brown was captured by U.S. Marines and taken to Charles Town to be jailed and tried. The museum’s collection includes the wagon that carried Brown to his hanging site.

The museum preserves and displays artifacts that detail the county’s involvement in past wars including the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the 21st century war on terror. A rare Second National Flag of Confederacy given to Stuart’s Horse Artillery is on display along with other Union and Confederate uniforms, guns, pins, and documents. 

200 East Washington Street
Charles Town, West Virginia 25414
Phone Number
11 AM - 4 PM Tuesday through Saturday. Museum is closed from mid-December to mid-March.
  • African American History
  • Agriculture and Rural History
  • Architecture and Historical Buildings
  • Business and Economic Development
  • Colonial History
  • Children’s History and Children’s Museums
  • Military History
  • Local History Societies and Museums
  • Women’s History
  • State Historical Societies and Museums
User Created Tours That Include This Entry
This location was created on 2016-11-12 by Sarah Huston .   It was last updated on 2019-03-23 by Sarah Huston .

This entry has been viewed 1191 times within the past year


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