Monthly Archives: June 2017

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

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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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