Rutherford Observed: A Presidential Visit to Richmond & the State Fair, Oct. 31, 1877

First, a pre-blog promotional announcement! The Library of Virginia has a booth of its own, 627 in the Farm Bureau Center building, at the Virginia State Fair.  In your wanderings through the fair, don’t pass this opportunity to visit and learn something new about your state library. Virginia Newspaper Project cataloger Kelley Ewing will be manning the booth on Sunday from 9:45 to 4, so come on out and say hello!

Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President, was, like his predecessor Ulysses Grant, a Republican.  Hayes kept a diary.  The entry for November 3, 1877 was brief:

“Our trip to Richmond & return Oct 30, 31 & Nov 1. was altogether a happy and successful one.  There are thousands of intelligent people who are not Democrats, & who would like to unite with the Conservative Republicans of the North.”  That expectation would be postponed until well into the next century.  As for the visit itself, his impression was quite accurate.

Hayes was greeted at the Virginia State Fair (at this time located on N. Boulevard near what’s now the Diamond) and in passage downtown to the Exchange Hotel with great warmth by enormous crowds. This despite the majority of Virginians voting a year ago for his Democratic opponent, Governor Tilden of New York, by a margin that was well beyond dispute. Final returns were not so decisive in three other southern states and on this question the election turned.

How Tilden won the popular vote and seemingly the Electoral College but  still lost the election is a story of no small interest to anyone fascinated by human corruption and guile.  How mollifying  the sound in history texts of “The “Compromise of 1877”  compared to, say, “Backroom Deal of the Century”, for not just the presidency, but the political autonomy and … read more »

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Awaiting the Great Path of Darkness – The Total Eclipse of 1900

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On a Monday, in late May, 1900, a corner of Virginia, under clear skies, experienced not the partial eclipse we’ll experience here in the Commonwealth, but a total eclipse of the sun.

Norfolk was one of the few major population sites in the United States situated in the path of totality. The eclipse path moved from the Gulf of Mexico into southeast America and then into the Atlantic Ocean.

We have selected images from the Newspaper Project’s digital archive, Virginia Chronicle, previewing a story of a celestial nature that previously had not been described in such detail by newspapers.

And consider that in-depth reporting of the eclipse belonged almost solely to the newspaper medium – before the advent of radio, television, and Instagram.  It is difficult to conceive, given our 21st century media landscape, that newspapers served as the primary source, and for many, the sole source, of information; hence the graphs, charts, and the heady mix of scientific facts and romantic conjecture.

The first front page coverage appeared on the preceding Thursday. It notes that teams of scientists and dozens of members of  the Geographical Society, as well as President William McKinley, will arrive to observe the phenomenon.

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Of the papers in the Tidewater region, only the Virginian-Pilot published illustrations like the following from Friday’s edition:

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Operating on the same principle that if you drain the Atlantic Ocean you’ll find the lost city of Atlantis, there was hope that the planet Vulcan would reveal itself during the solar eclipse. Alas, it remained undiscovered. For the curious, Wikipedia outlines the 19th century origins of the pursuit for the mystery planet.

More detail for the curious shows up, page 2, on Saturday:

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The Sunday edition featured the zodiac framed graphic shown at the top of this page, plus, … read more »

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Complicated History: The Memorial to Robert E. Lee in Richmond

By Claire Johnson, Virginia Newspaper Project Intern

People have always been complex, making history a complicated topic. When history is distilled down to be straightforward, the reality of human failings and flaws are bypassed in favor of a clear-cut narrative. When national and regional pride are added to the mix, historical facts often become controversial. Citizens of the American South know this well; modern debate over the history of the Confederacy, and its monuments, easily becomes heated.

Though the Civil War ended in 1865, the war continued throughout the South, rearing its head in acts of violence and terror against black communities, now ostensibly free citizens of the United States. While some efforts to sow fear were overt, such as those of racist groups Knights of the White Camellia, the Red Shirts, or the Ku Klux Klan, others were unspoken. In addition to vigilante terrorism, the lives of black Southerners were made worse through legal means. In Virginia, poll taxes were enshrined in the constitution in 1876, shrinking the black electorate. black men were further disenfranchised after the Virginia constitution was rewritten in 1902.

It is a matter of much contention today whether these monuments to Confederate leaders were one such message to the black communities of the South or simply monuments built to honor the Civil War dead and Southern history.

Confederate monuments began going up in Richmond not long after the end of the Civil War. In 1875, a statue to Stonewall Jackson was erected on the Capitol grounds. However, the statues that now line Monument Avenue went up later, beginning 25 years after the end of the war, in 1890, with Robert E. Lee. The other Confederate statues on Monument Avenue came later: J.E.B. Stuart and Jefferson Davis’ statues were added in 1907, 42 … read more »

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Virginia Suffrage News

IVirginia Suffrage News was a monthly newspaper published by the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. Beginning with its first issue in October 1914, the paper aimed to link the many suffrage leagues throughout the Commonwealth in their common mission of acquiring the right to vote for women.

This goal Iwas summed up in a foreword to the first issue by Lila Meade Valentine: “For this is pre-eminently a cooperative movement- one in which good teamwork is required- one in which we must all pull together with a right good will. To do this effectively, we need the stimulus of the exchange of ideas, we need to inform ourselves of the activities of our local leagues, as well of the larger movement outside. [The Virginia Suffrage News] should bind us together in one harmonious whole.”1

 

Mrs. Mary Pollard (G. Harvey) Clarke was the editor-in-chief of the paper, with Alice Overbey Taylor managing publication.

Imaged at the Library of VirginiaMay 2017

In January 1915, just three issues into publication of Virginia Suffrage News, the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote, “The Virginia Suffrage News, the official organ of the State organization, which she [the editor] says is ‘suffering from suspended animation’ just now, but will resume publication in the near future.”2

The Library of Virginia holds originals of issues 1-3, published in October, November, and December 1914. While it is unsure if publication ever resumed, and how many issues were published in total, it seems likely that the only issues published are the three in the Library of Virginia’s collection. These issues are now digitized and can be read on Virginia Chronicle.

The paper followed a consistent format. Each issue contained editorials, dispatches from the various Virginia suffrage leagues, national news items relating to women’s suffrage, and information regarding both past and upcoming suffrage … read more »

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Mary Johnston: A Suffragist of, and Ahead of, Her Time

This gallery contains 9 photos.

By Claire Johnson, Virginia Newspaper Project Intern

Mary Johnston, circa 1908Mary Johnston, born 1870 in Buchanan, Virginia, was a prolific author of 23 books, outspoken suffragist, and founding member of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. Her most critically successful books were historical romantic fiction, though her writing also focused on her personal beliefs, including women’s rights, and later, race and lynching.

In 1909, Mary Johnston, Ellen Glasgow, and Lily Meade Valentine founded the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. On November 20, 1909, the inaugural meeting was held at Anne Clay Crenshaw’s home at 919 West Franklin. At the meeting, Valentine was chosen as president by the group of women in attendance.1

Fittingly, the site of this first meeting, purchased by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in the 1960s, is now Crenshaw House, the home of the department of Gender,
Sexuality, and Women’s Studies.

Equal Suffrage League of Virginia, The News Leader, November 23, 1909

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not long after this first meeting, on December 12, 1909, the Times-Dispatch published Johnston’s essay, “The Status of Women.” Johnston believed women should gain the vote for multiple reasons, but a common thread in her writing was the idea that throughout human history, men placed an undue burden on women. Johnston expands her theory, writing that long before men had gained social power over women, cavemen had seen the advantages of selecting a mate “not so physically strong as himself, upon whom, therefore, he could impose his will.” In her article, she detailed at length what this “stone” placed on women entailed:

[An] enormous top-heavy mass of conventions, senseless restrictions, superstitions, sentimentalities, mock modesties, rules of conduct dating from nowhere on earth, but her seraglio experience, sequestration from healthful activities, premiums on mental indolence, a vast incubus of bric-a-brac and filigree teachings, of discriminating laws, taboos, taxes, vetoes, and

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VNP Announces the CCC

Big Timber Times Onion CCCThe Virginia Newspaper Project (VNP) is thrilled to announce an ongoing project to make the Library of Virginia’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) newspapers available on Virginia Chronicle. The camp newspapers in the LVA’s collection, published from 1934 to 1941 by the young men of the CCC, were mostly distributed in camps throughout the Commonwealth, though a handful are from locales outside Virginia.

The array of titles vary in sophistication, regularity and skill, but as a whole they offer a vivid picture of camp life during the Depression.  Though the physical demands of CCC work could be exhausting, a youthful spirit radiates from the pages of the CCC newspapers: work safety reminders, camp classes and events, health columns, editorials, sports reports, cultural news and illustrations were regular features in many of the papers, but each had its own distinct flavor.

The camp newspapers are also packed with the names of people who were active in the CCC–you might find a mention of one of your relatives among the pages. Click here to learn more about the CCC and the newspapers they produced.

There is a great side note to this project we can’t neglect to mention. The CCC newspaper collection was preserved on both microfilm and microfiche for the Center for Research Libraries in 1991 by MicrogrAphic Preservation Service (MAPS):Kally targetDid you happen to notice the name “Kelly L. Barrall” under the list of camera operators? The very same Kelly L. Barrall recently managed the project to digitize the microfiche she  helped create over 25 years ago! Though MAPS has changed its name to Backstage Library Works, the company is still going strong, microfilming and digitizing archival collections.

Kelly Barrall digitizing the very same microfiche she helped create over 25 years ago.

Kelly Barrall digitizing the same microfiche she helped create over 25 years ago.

Big thanks to all of those at Backstage … read more »

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From Decoration Day to Memorial Day

Editorial cartoon from the Highland Recorder, 29 May 1925:Memorial Day

For a history of the holiday once known as “Decoration Day,” read Ralph Cavenali’s excellent article, “The Evolution of Memorial Day.” Cavenali is Deputy Director of the Division of Preservation and Access at the National Endowment of the Humanities.… read more »

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Seeds of Resistance: The Richmond Streetcar Boycotts

A graduate student in Public History and two film students have created a short but excellent documentary for The National Museum of African American History and Culture. Titled  Seeds of Resistance,  the film is described as, “An untold story of community activism centered around the African American community in Richmond, Virginia during the 1904 streetcar boycotts.”

The documentary focuses on Richmond in the early 20th century, local activism, and the crushing impact of Jim Crow laws on the African American community.

Errol Somay, Director of the Library of Virginia’s Virginia Newspaper Project, contributed to the narration. Also included, from the Library of Virginia’s collection, are stunning images from the Richmond Planet.

Anyone interested in the Richmond streetcar boycotts will benefit from viewing Seeds of Resistance.

Produced by: Bethany Nagle
Associate Producer: Chelsey Cartwright
Cinematography and Editing: Elizabeth Herzfeldt-Kamprath… read more »

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Woe Unto Him: Anti-Liquor on Virginia Chronicle & Say Goodbye to Booze tonight at the LVA

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In conjunction with the Library of Virginia’s current exhibition, Teetotalers & Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia, the Virginia Newspaper Project has made its sole issue of the Prohibition newspaper Anti-Liquor available on Virginia Chronicle.

Established in 1890 by John R. Moffet, Reverend of Memorial Baptist Church in Danville, Virginia, the weekly newspaper was, “issued for the sole purpose of educating the people upon the evils of the drink habit, and especially to turn light upon the question of Legal Prohibition.”

According to Lester Cappon’s Virginia Newspapers 1821-1935, a Lynchburg temperance monthly, the Truth, was absorbed by Anti-Liquor in 1891. Moffet continued editing the paper after the merger until he was gunned down by one of his many political opponents in Danville on November 11, 1892.  A history of the Reverend Moffet’s church explained, “John R. Moffett died a martyr’s death at the hand of an assassin’s bullet for the cause of temperance.” Anti-Liquor ceased publication shortly after his death.

And visit the Library tonight, May 5, for what promises to be a fun event: “Goodbye, Booze”: The Music of Prohibition (with a Beer Chaser), offering traditional live music and beer crafted in honor of the Library’s exhibition. The event goes from 5:30 to 7:30, so come thirsty and ready to learn more about Prohibition, one of our nation’s most intriguing experiments.

 … read more »

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Yes, The Titanic

The Virginia Newspaper Project cannot resist the compelling story that is the Titanic. On April 16, 1912, the Richmond Times Dispatch issued its Tuesday morning paper with a full report about a tragedy at sea. The newspaper’s staff could not possibly know that 100 plus years later, the story would continue to fascinate and be studied in minute detail.

Fit to Print offers just one image, the front page of the Times Dispatch, April 16, 1912. While reporting a story of disaster, hubris, and loss of life, the staff at the RTD also managed to assemble one of the most beautifully designed front pages that the Newspaper Project colleagues have seen, given that we have scanned literally hundreds of front pages over the years.

Times Dispatch April 16, 1912read more »

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