About: Errol

Errol is the Director of the Virginia Newspaper Project at the Library of Virginia. He has an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and a graduate degree from Columbia University.

Author Archives Errol

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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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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Researching African American Newspapers

The Virginia Newspaper Project loves promoting the Virginia Chronicle newspaper database, but if you need to expand your research from Virginia to other U.S. states, then Chronicling America is the place to visit.

One example of the breadth and depth of the Chron Am database is the 55 African American newspapers from across the US, available online in Chronicling America, (Twitter, #ChronAm).

From the District of Columbia and Virginia to Utah, Idaho, and Louisiana, you can search a wide array of African American titles, with issues dating back to 1850 (The National Era) and up to 1922 (The Richmond Planet, The Appeal, and others).

AATitlesread more »

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Nat Turner Re-examined

Professor Patrick H. Breen, author of The Land Shall be Deluged in Blood: A New History of the Nat Turner Revolt, spoke at the Virginia Historical Society on Thursday, November 10, 2016.

Here is a video of the talk which includes the question and answer segment:

Bloodread more »

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The Virginia Newspaper Project on TV, Live, and in Print

On October 28, 2016, a WTVR story aired about the Virginia Newspaper Project’s very own, Errol Somay. Greg McQuade, investigative reporter and history buff, visited the Library of Virginia to interview Errol about the Library’s extensive newspaper collection, as well as to learn a bit about Mr. Somay’s library career and his stint as a rock music critic.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Virginia Newspaper Project and Mr. Somay’s path to becoming Director of the Newspaper Project, check out the video by visiting: http://wtvr.com/2016/10/28/errol-somay-story/.

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Errol Somay (left), director of the Virginia Newspaper Project, pictured with Greg McQuade looking at an old newspaper from the Library’s collection.

The work of the Newspaper Project was also featured in the Rappahannock Record‘s 100th Anniversary Edition. Big thanks must go to those at the Record for their full cooperation with the Project over the years. It is because of rewarding partnerships like this, that the Rappahannock Record is now available on Virginia Chronicle.

Click here see the entire edition which provides in depth local history and photographs from a century of newspaper publishing in Kilmarnock, Virginia:

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Finally, at 7:00 pm on Monday, November 21, Errol will offer a brief presentation about John Mitchell, Jr. and the preservation of the Richmond Planet at Richmond’s Gallery 5 as part of, Headlines: Behind the Bylines of Richmond Journalism. Journalists will talk about their careers, the process and challenges of getting a story in print, and examples of their favorite reporting.… read more »

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ThroTTle is Here.

Throttle 3

It is said that companies from Apple, Amazon, and Google to Disney and Harley Davidson began in a garage. For the alternative journal, ThroTTle, it wasn’t even a garage but a local  sub sandwich shop in Richmond, Virginia where the idea for the publication was born.

The Library of Virginia and the VNP are very excited to announce that ThroTTle has been added to the burgeoning list of titles that make up Virginia Chronicle, the Library’s online database of newspapers spanning 200 years.

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We at Fit to Print will take every opportunity to encourage the dedicated use of Virginia Chronicle and to try out the many user friendly features that many researchers say allows them to make the best and most efficient use of their time.

But getting back to ThroTTle, you can get a quick feel for the style and contents just by breezing through one of the issues. You would learn that it was printed in a tabloid format, that it was published in Richmond, Virginia from the 1981 to 1999, and, that the magazine offered “an eclectic mix of fiction, news, humor, art and photography.” That is how Dale M. Brumfield – one of the founding members of ThroTTle – described the initial issue in his informative book, Richmond Independent Press. It seems that is a pretty good description of Throttle for issues to come.

But decide for yourself. Check out the wide array of topics and writings that ThroTTle offered in its near two decade run. Virginia Chronicle’s publication calendar reveals the life cycle of an alternative publication that was forever in search of financial solid ground. But today, in 2016, we can offer the reader a digitized version of what we think is a landmark publication in the world of the … read more »

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Soldier Newspapers in the Civil War

The Virginia Newspaper Project, ever in search of timely blog entries, encourages you to read the excellent article by Ralph Canevali of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Mr. Canevali writes about several soldier newspapers that cropped up throughout the South during the Civil War: How they were created and how they often just as quickly disappeared. The titles Mr. Canevali writes about can be found at Chronicling America, the online newspaper database maintained by the Library of Congress.

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It is a timely article, given that the horrors of the Civil War led eventually to what was called Decoration Day and Memorial Day.

Near the end of the piece, we learn about the Soldier’s Journal, a title published, “Every Wednesday Morning, at Rendezvous of Distribution, Virginia.” The title can also be found at Virginia Chronicle, the Library of Virginia’s online newspaper resource.

Mr. Canevali’s article offers a series of images, including a few by such Civil War-era artists as Edwin Forbes and Arthur Lumley.

 … read more »

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Our Back Pages: The VNP Adds Three Current Newspapers to Virginia Chronicle

Given copyright restrictions, the majority of the text searchable issues of newspapers found on Virginia Chronicle were published prior to 1923.

However, thanks to two forward thinking publishers, three Virginia newspapers are now available online from the earliest extant issues right up to the beginning of the 21st century.

This is exciting stuff. The titles that have been digitized and added to Virginia Chronicle are:

The Recorder (formerly the Highland Recorder. Monterey),

Highland RecorderThe Rappahannock Record (Kilmarnock), and

Rapp RecordThe Southside Sentinel (Urbanna)

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The three titles represent over 300 combined years of newspaper publishing. That means newspaper issues from the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, right up to the early 2000’s can be searched using the time saving features found at Virginia Chronicle.

The three papers mentioned above have publishing offices that span the Commonwealth, from a few miles from the WV border to publishing offices located in the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula.

These new additions to the Library’s online newspaper database provide readers with free access to the news and stories that helped shape this state over the past 100+ years.… read more »

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US News Map: Newspaper Coverage over Space and Time

This will be quick because we want you to drop what you’re doing and try out the latest newspaper resource.

When alert colleagues at the Virginia Newspaper Project find a research tool or web site that we think might be useful and cool, we want to pass it along to our faithful readers.

So check out USNewsMap.com

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Brought to you by a joint effort from Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia, the US News Map database allows you to search words or terms and then to track how coverage traveled over time and geographically throughout the U.S.  The smart folks at Georgia Tech use Chronicling America as its source database, which currently holds over 10 million pages and nearly 2,000 newspapers, not to mention hundreds of millions of words.

From John Toon’s article about the initiative, he writes, “With U.S. News Map, it is easy to trace the evolution of a term – to see where it originated and how it spread – something that linguists are deeply interested in…Historians will be able to see how news stories moved across the continent, and rose and fell over time.”

To read more, please go to, http://www.news.gatech.edu/2016/03/06/what-going-viral-looked-120-years-ago

And for the total Youtube experience, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrL-eZWNRiMread more »

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Journey to the Center of the State: Appomattox and Buckingham Times enters Virginia Chronicle

Those who are members of the smart set like to think they are at the center of things.  But Appomattox, a small town in Piedmont Virginia, literally is at the center of Virginia. If you don’t believe us, see the image below. If you’re like me and believe everything you read, then here’s the proof:

Road MarkerDespite the important geographical distinction, few newspapers remain from Appomattox and the Buckingham County region. In fact, it seems they are as rare as hen’s teeth.

But the Library has cleverly managed to pull together a collection of the Appomattox and Buckingham Times (1892-1909) and has made them available online, thanks in large part to a private donation which helped give wings to this initiative. Herein is one recipe for success: a generous donation to the Library of Virginia’s Foundation coupled with Team VNP’s seasoned technical know-how to process in a few short months the pages now present on Virginia Chronicle.  As with just about every title found on the database, the titles are fully text searchable and available for text correcting by enthusiastic volunteers.

We cannot thank enough those who participate in what we like to call citizen history.

When you get a chance, please visit Virginia Chronicle to view our select but important collection of issues of the Appomattox and Buckingham Times. And while you’re at it, check out Slate River Ramblings, an engaging blog about life in Buckingham County. Actually life and death. You’ll see what we mean as you fall into engrossing stories involving murder and lawless gangs terrorizing the countryside at the turn of the 20th century.Appomattoxread more »

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