It provides great satisfaction to the Virginia Newspaper Project staff when rare, historical newspapers surface thanks to thoughtful Library patrons–recently some twentieth century newspapers were donated that are wonderful additions to the Library of Virginia’s current collection.
The Camp Pickett News, a weekly camp newspaper published out of Blackstone, Virginia during World War II, was given to the Library by the daughter of a soldier stationed at the camp during the war.
Three issues, from July 1942, offer a vibrant picture of camp life for the young soldier. The News included articles like “V-Mail Forms Now Available at Post Office” and “An Innocent Looking Weapon,” with a photograph of a machine gun that could “spew death at the enemy too fast for comfort.” Each issue also listed a schedule of religious worship services and contained an array of photographs, comics, sports news and local advertisements.
One article, “Soldiers Take 300 Pictures of Themselves,” foretold of the now common selfie:”‘Vanity, vanity, all is vanity,’” the story reported, “When the Bard of Avon penned those immortal lines he, of course, had no idea there would ever be a World War 2, nor that hundreds of perspiring Camp Pickett soldiers would be cheerfully standing in line awaiting the opportunity to drop their dimes in an automatic picture-taking machine.”
The July 29, 1942 issue contains a sweet personal touch on its masthead. Referring to an article about a royal holiday in Lynchburg, there is a hand written note, penned by our donor’s father to his mother which reads, “This is the trip I was going to make. It fell through but will try it again, probably Aug. 8th.”
A newspaper called Onward was also recently given to the Library by a patron whose mother had collected it. The donated issues of Onward, a tabloid size newspaper geared towards a young adult audience and published by the Presbyterian Committee of Publication, date from the First World War. Unexpectedly, while organizing the issues, another title, Junior Life, was discovered within the donation as well.Junior Life, also published by the Presbyterian Committee of Publication, was a monthly newspaper written for a younger audience than its sister publication, Onward. It described itself as “an illustrated paper, endeavoring to meet the needs of boys and girls by entering into their church life, home life, school life, outdoor life.” The fragile group of papers was conserved by the Project’s Silver Persinger so they can be microfilmed and likely digitized at some point as well.
Fast forward to 1970, where we find vol. 2, no. 4 of the Eagle, the official monthly newspaper of George Wallace’s conservative American Party, headquartered in Richmond, Virginia. The astute donor of this paper discovered an October 1970 issue on Ebay and generously purchased it for the Library.
The Eagle endorsed the “Wallace philosophy of government,” but, more than clearly explaining that philosophy, the paper provided the names of American Party candidates running throughout the country. One article, about Douglas Heinsohn, American Party candidate running for governor in Tennessee, does briefly mention his thoughts on socialism, medicare, university dissent and welfare. In the current political environment, where partisan passions are inflamed by a constant barrage of internet and cable news, it is noteworthy that the monthly Eagle seems restrained in comparison.
The Virginia Newspaper Project would like to express deep thanks to all those who donate newspapers to the Library–you are a big part of what makes the Library of Virginia a vital research destination for Virginia history and genealogy.