Monthly Archives: December 2014

Yes Virginia, there is a Yes, Virginia

SantaA now chastised member of the Project staff expressed the feeling that the newspaper editorial “Yes, Virginia” was perhaps reaching the end of its cultural lifespan–that the heartbeat of this century old defense of Santa Claus was fading fast and exiting the collective memory.

This person was misinformed. And promptly Wiki-corrected. And then experienced the Wiki-fatigue he richly deserved.  You may follow in his tracks if you wish: Yes, Virginia.

If you made it through the opening section of the Wiki entry, you now know the history of the “most reprinted editorial ever to run in any newspaper in the English language.” To further reinforce that reputation, we’re reprinting it below, from the 21 September 1897 issue of the New York Sun.Yes, Virginia 1Yes, Virginia 2Yes, Virginia 3How many newspapers reproduced this editorial in the next century? Lots. Lots and Lots. For example, here it is in the Clinch Valley News of 23 December 1921.

Clinch ValleyAll of us here at the Virginia Newspaper Project want you to know that we believe in Santa Claus. And we believe in a newspaper editorial that supports the belief in Santa Claus. And we believe in the reprinting and reproduction of editorials that support the belief in Santa Claus. And we believe in the historical preservation of editorials that support the belief in Santa Claus. And we believe in the historical preservation of editorials that support the belief in Santa Claus in both microfilm and digital formats.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE VIRGINIA NEWSPAPER PROJECT!

p.s. The editorial read by Virginia, herself.

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My Heart Went Right Down–The Devil’s Half Acre and the Richmond Slave Trade

The Library of Virginia’s current exhibit, “To Be Sold,” open through 30 May 2015, examines the slave trade in Richmond. Viewed through the lens of primary source material–broadsides, court records, city directories, business receipts, census records, artifacts, books and paintings–the exhibit provides the visitor with vital information from which the stories of Richmond’s past emerge.

Newspapers, of course, are another critical resource for historical study in this area–free, online digital resources, like Virginia Chronicle and Chronicling America, provide easy access to hundreds of thousands of newspaper issues and the history therein.

Together, the documents of the time create a more complete,  deeply layered account of those directly involved in and affected by Richmond’s slave trade:  Like Robert Lumpkin, one of the city’s most active slave dealers from the 1840s until 1865. And Anthony Burns, a slave who escaped to Boston, only to be captured and returned to Virginia under the Fugitive Slave Law.

Lumpkin's Jail

The small piece of open land in the middle of the photo, which sits between a parking lot and route 95, was the site of Lumpkin’s Jail.

The storied land that was home to Lumpkin’s Jail, aptly called the Devil’s Half Acre is, today, mostly covered by a sprawling parking lot and interstate 95. But from 1844 until the end of the Civil War, it was “a human clearinghouse and. . .purgatory for the rebellious.”[i]

In 1844 Robert Lumpkin purchased three lots on Richmond’s Wall Street, a commercial district and home to several of the city’s profitable slave auction houses. The lots, previously owned by Lewis Collier, contained a brick dwelling house, outbuildings and a jail when Lumpkin bought them. Under his ownership, the jail became known as “Lumpkin’s Jail” and established itself as Richmond’s most notorious compound for runaway slaves and … read more »

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