Horrible Butcheries at Wilmington—The Richmond Planet’s coverage of the 1898 insurrection in Wilmington, North Carolina

By Anne McCrery, Virginia Newspaper Project Volunteer

On November 10, 1898, in response to the election of a biracial Fusionist government, a group of white Democrats in Wilmington, North Carolina organized a mob, attacking the city’s African American community and ultimately overthrowing the city’s government. Within a couple of days, the mob had killed between 15 to 60 African Americans, destroyed the office of the Daily Record, Wilmington’s black newspaper, and run its editor out of town.

It had also succeeded in enacting the only coup d’etat in American history. Despite the mob’s complete chaotic defiance of the law, little was done by governmental authorities to quell the violence, with President McKinley ignoring pleas for assistance. Unsurprisingly, the Richmond Planet covered the events in Wilmington extensively. With headlines such as “Horrible Butcheries at Wilmington–the Turks out done,” the Planet decried the racialized violence of the mob and lambasted the government for its failure to respond.RP1 RP2The Richmond Planet, as an African American newspaper, offers a unique and valuable perspective on the 1898 Wilmington insurrections, as much of the mob’s animosity was directed toward Wilmington’s black newspaper, the Daily Record. Prior to the 1898 elections, significant tension had been building between the Daily Record and the white media of North Carolina, particularly the Raleigh News & Observer, over the issue of sexual relationships between black men and white women. The white media had engaged in a propogandic panic that black men were sexually predatory toward white women, a common assertion by white supremacists that had dangerous repercussions for black men, who were frequently lynched due to false accusations of sexual assault.

Alex Manly, the editor of the Daily Record, responded to these inflammatory assertions by stating that when sexual relationships between white women and black men did exist, they were consensual. … read more »

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A High Altitude Halloween: Searching Monterey’s Highland Recorder, 1920-1929

This photo was peeled off and expanded from Monterey’s Wiki page and presents to the eye a view likely little changed since the decade of our interest here, the 1920’s.  In fact, the town’s population was twice then was it is today which the latest census reports as 147 and projected to be even less in the next.  Somewhat surprising, then, the Recorder takes the honor of claiming status as Virginia’s longest consecutive published newspaper. It’s maybe a little less surprising when its geographical isolation is considered, yet still impressive, just the same.

That firm handhold half way up on the state’s western border is the high edge of Highland County and the solitude therein might be reconsidered as you imagine this community before the arrival of outside voices vibrating from a strange, boxed device of irresistible magnetic intimacy, the radio.

And a special link persists still, despite the lure of television and internet, between subscriber and paper. Thanks to that connection, as announced in a Fit To Print blog of earlier this month, the Project was granted permission by the current publisher to digitize beyond 1922, where copyright fencing begins.  Within our digital archive of the The Highland Recorder, a pursuit into the past is aided by finer search tools—as demonstrated here in a search entry of simply the word “Halloween” specific to the decade of the 1920’s.

searchAs noted in the margin, the result:  39 discoveries.

Are you thinking, only 39?  Bear in mind, commercial America has not yet come to borrow the Halloween imagery so familiar to later generations.  You’ll find no ads embracing the occasion to their product. Nearly all references are found in the social columns contributed by correspondents scattered about the county.

And now a collection of social events, comings and goings, pulled … read more »

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Text Correcting with Virginia Chronicle

Hello Virginia Chroniclers:

Here’s a reminder that as a registered user of Virginia Chronicle, the Library of Virginia’s digital newspaper collection, you can assist in improving search results by correcting inaccurately translated newspaper text.

Optical Character Recognition (OCR), the software which reads a scanned newspaper page to create a searchable text file, is not 100 percent accurate. Many things can affect OCR accuracy, including broken or blurry type, text that is too dark or too light, mixed fonts, etc. Therefore, we need users to correct words the human eye can read that OCR cannot.

To become a registered user, go to the Virginia Chronicle page and click “Register” in the upper right corner of the home screen and enter the necessary information. Once you are registered, you will need to log in with your email and password whenever you would like to correct text in Virginia Chronicle.

Home page


LoginNext, go to the newspaper page you would like to correct, right click on the page and choose “Correct page text” from the three options. There is also a “correct this text” option on the left side of the screen under “Why may this text contain mistakes?”

CorrectA “Correct Text” column appears on the left with text that has been read by Optical Character Recognition software while the newspaper image displays on the right. You can place your cursor anywhere under the “Correct text” column on the left and begin text corrections–a corresponding red box will appear over the newspaper image to show you where you are on the page. Before leaving each section–usually pages are sectioned by column indicated by a blue block–click the “save” button to save any changes you’ve made.

And that’s all there is to it! You’ll see that the it’s a fairly easy process once you actually … read more »


That Was A Good Idea, Keeping Count. The Library Of Congress Achieves Ten Million Pages In Chronicling America-The Nation’s Newspaper Archive

could be no. 6,568,116

could be no. 6,568,116      

possibly no. 8,745,522

possibly no. 8,745,522

And the Virginia Newspaper Project was there.  At Chronicling America‘s start in 2007 as well as today in continuing to provide digitized Virginia imprint newspapers and in a recently renewed cooperative grant providing tech support to West Virginia University.  Here’s the ten million page mark announcement from the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2015/15-171.html.

A newspaper enthusiast on the staff of The Atlantic Monthly was quick to post on the occasion:


There is also this from Time:


Read ‘em and cheer.… read more »

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A Genius, A Recorder, and a Growler walk into an archive: What’s New on Virginia Chronicle

The Virginia Newspaper Project is thrilled to announce the latest additions to the Library of Virginia’s free, searchable online newspaper resource, Virginia Chronicle.

The recent additions to Virginia Chronicle are especially exciting as they include both early nineteenth century newspapers and newspapers published well into the twentieth century.Genius of LibertyWe’ll start with the earliest issues added to Virginia Chronicle. A collection of The Genius of Liberty, published in Leesburg from 1817-1839, was  originally borrowed from a private lender and filmed by the Library in 2009.  Now, 1817-1826 issues are available online–more will be added in the coming months until the run is complete. This is an important addition, since, before now, very little early nineteenth century material was available on Virginia Chronicle.

Next, we’ll look at the more recently published newspapers to be added to Virginia Chronicle. The Recorder, published in Monterey since 1877, is the newspaper of record for both Bath and Highland counties and can boast of being the oldest, continuously published weekly newspaper in Virginia.HRThanks to LSTA (Library Services and Technical Act) funds and an agreement with the publisher of The Recorder, the Library has digitized in-copyright issues–that is, issues published after 1923–for inclusion in Virginia Chronicle. Currently, 1921-1949 of this fantastic title can be searched–much more will be added in the coming months, as the Project plans to digitize issues up to 2007. Issues from August 2007 to the present can be found online at www.therecorderonline.com.GrowlerFinally, the Growler and the Free Lance have also been added to Virginia Chronicle. With the motto, “If it happens you can wager we’ll print it,” the tabloid sized Growler reported on local government and public utilities with a biting criticism. Though the newspaper  claimed it would be “breezy without being offensive, and … read more »

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A Bicycle Search For You


From the Times (Richmond, Va.), May 9, 1897.

As the UCI World Bike Championships unfold and professional road bikers from all over the map pedal by LVA down Richmond’s Broad Street, the Virginia Newspaper Project thought it a pertinent time to explore the search term “bicycle” in the Library’s free, online digital newspaper resource, Virginia Chronicle.

With nearly 500,000 newspaper pages, and more being added all the time, Virginia Chronicle is a fantastic tool for historical research. Among its features is an easy to use keyword search box, which we used for our “bicycle” search. “Cycling,” “wheeling” and “wheelmen” are a few alternate search terms for locating bike related articles.

While there is an advanced search feature on Virginia Chronicle, we did a simple search of the word “bicycle” which brought up an impressive 23,355 results. Each article in which bicycle was found is listed with title, date and page information. To the left of the results list, there is another column which breaks down search results by the different publications and decades in which our search term was found.

Interestingly, the first and only result for “bicycle” during the decade of 1860-1869 came from the Staunton Spectator of May 11, 1869. Bikes were novel at that time and the article, which claims that the “citizens of Staunton had their curiosity in reference to bicycles gratified,” is very brief.

First appearance Staunton Spectator 11 May 1869The search results get higher with each succeeding decade, with the highest result number, 11,615 to be exact, appearing during the decade of 1890 to 1899. This decade saw the rise of the “Safety” bicycle, a bike with front and back wheels of equal size and a chain drive that transferred power from the pedals to the real wheel, making riding easier and opening up the sport to men and … read more »

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Advertising the Big Top: 1870s Circus Ads from the Staunton Spectator

SS Sept 16, 1873 (Lent)It’s September 16, 1873 in the sleepy town of Staunton, Virginia. You can only imagine a reader’s excitement at turning to page three of the Staunton Spectator to discover an ad for Lewis Lent’s New York Circus with its illustrations and long list of spectacular attractions: For a mere seventy-five cent admission (fifty cents for children under ten), one could see grand balloon ascension, wild beasts, breathing sea monsters, ornately plumed birds, flesh eating reptiles and 5000 museum marvels!

Born in upstate New York in 1813, Lewis Lent began his circus career in 1834. Soon after, he became a partner in the Brown & Lent Circus, which moved from town to town via riverboat. Over the years, Lent joined various circus troupes, but his New York Circus, which ran from 1873 to 1874, advertised here in the Staunton Spectator, was the last show he owned and operated before retiring.Staunton Spectator 16 Sept 1873 (2)SS 16 Sept 1873SS 16 Sept 1873 (2)SS 16 Sept. 1873Though the heyday of the traveling circus in the US might have been a bit later, the circus advertisements in newspapers of the 1860s and 1870s are evidence of its growing popularity and allure. The impetus for such elaborate newspaper advertising was the fierce competition between traveling shows. With beautiful illustrations of zebras, elephants, hippos, giraffes and tigers, acrobats standing on horse back, uniformed musicians, dancing dogs and trapeze artists, circus advertisements were an enticing and powerful promotional tool.

In the October 12, 1877 issue of the Staunton Spectator on page three, next to want ads and announcements, there is a full two column ad for John O’Brien’s circus, “The Largest Show ever in Virginia!” The ad for O’Brien’s circus promised mechanical marvels, three full military bands, palace opera chairs, 53 dens of wild beasts and six (yes, six!) stupendous shows rolled into one.SS O'Brien's circusJohn O‘Brien, born in 1836, became … read more »

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From Middletown to Salem: Virginia Chronicle takes a road trip

The Virginia Newspaper Project is happy to announce new additions to the Library of Virginia’s Virginia Chronicle. The number of historical newspaper pages available on Virginia Chronicle continues to grow–We’ll take a quick road trip to discover the latest titles that have been added:Middletown Weekly Masthead

Let’s start in northwestern Virginia in Middletown, located fourteen miles south of Winchester in beautiful Frederick County. The Middletown Weekly began in 1912 and was in the family of titles published by the Strasburg News Company. The last known issue, printed December 20, 1912, claimed the paper was taking a Christmas hiatus, but it may have been a permanent hiatus as there are no known copies found that were published after the yuletide. Thirty years later, in the 1940s, Patsy Cline, who was born in nearby Gore, VA, would make regular visits to Middletown.google maps

Now we’ll hop onto route 81, or route 11 if you prefer the scenic route, and drive ninety miles south of Middletown to visit the small and bucolic town of Greenville, Virginia. From 1882-1885, Greenville had its own newspaper, the Greenville Banner In its introductory issue it explained, “We will do the best we can to present a readable sheet and ask its patrons to make all allowance in reason and bear with its imperfections.” A motto we subscribe to ourselves! One fun fact about Greenville: It is where Kate Smith, famous for her rousing rendition of God Bless America, was born. Greenville Banner Masthead

Let’s get back in the car and go another seventy six miles down 81 until we hit Salem, Virginia, home to Roanoke College and the Salem Red Sox. Newspaper issues from 1883-1920 of the The Salem Times Register (called the Salem Times Register and Sentinel from 1903-1920) are now available on Virginia Chronicle as well. Additional issues of … read more »

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A History of the Fairfax Herald

By Anne McCrery, Virginia Newspaper Project Intern

Founded in 1882 by Captain Stephen Roszel Donohoe, the Democratically-affiliated Fairfax Herald was published weekly in Fairfax, Virginia, where it served as the area’s dominant newspaper for many years. Fairfax, located near Washington D.C., underwent significant industrialization and population growth throughout the twentieth century, with the city’s population reaching 21,970 and the county’s reaching 455,021 by 1970, around the end of the Fairfax Herald’s run. In 1880, however, just prior to the Herald’s founding, the town of Fairfax had only a population of 376, while the county had a population of 16,025. The community was largely agricultural, producing “corn, wheat, oats, butter, hay; livestock,” according to the 1890 Ayer and Son’s American Newspaper Annual.

It was in this small farming community that S. R. Donohoe founded the Fairfax Herald, bringing the town its first printing press, advertisements for which stated: “Equipped with Type Setting Machine and Steam Press. All kinds of job printing. Splendid advertising medium.” The Fairfax Herald was four pages long and 20 inches by 26 inches in size originally. It had a circulation of 1,225 in 1904, 900 in 1911, and 1,000 in 1920.

FH 1886Born February 1, 1851 in Loudoun County, Donohoe was successful in multiple ventures of public service, in addition to his prolific career in newspapers. He served in the Spanish-American War as a lieutenant with the Fairfax company. He then served as Treasurer of Fairfax County between 1889 and 1891; state senator for two terms, beginning in 1900; Auditor of Public Accounts of Virginia from 1910-1912; a member of the State Tax Commission in 1914, and Federal Prohibition Director of the State, beginning in 1919. Moreover, he is listed as a director at the National Bank of Fairfax in advertisements appearing for the … read more »


Seeing the light of capitalism–Virginia Electric and Power Company ads in the McCarthy era.

By Anne McCrery, Virginia Newspaper Project Intern

Emblematic of Cold War era America, these anti-socialist advertisements for the Virginia Electric and Power Company appear in issues of the Fairfax Herald from the 1950s. These ads emblematically reflect America’s fears over the internal threat of communism, driven by McCarthy’s anti-communist efforts, such as the formation of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. One ad reflects the fears created by this political climate, urging people to “help your friends and neighbors see the danger.”

They also seek to assert American superiority, with one ad saying, “forbidden would be a frequently used word if you had the unhappy task of teaching young Russians…you couldn’t tell them that in America opportunity is unlimited…”

In many respects, an electric company advertisement seems a strange place for fear-mongering propaganda; however, during this time technologies that served to make life more convenient and comfortable were lauded as symbols of capitalism’s success and America’s superiority. This would later become epitomized in the 1959 “Kitchen Debate” between Richard Nixon and Nikita Krushchev, wherein Nixon presented a model American kitchen, adorned with modern appliances, and argued that the conveniences it offered were evidence of capitalism’s superiority over communism.

April 25, 1952.

April 25, 1952.

September 7, 1951.

September 7, 1951.

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