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

The Fighting Editor and his Stanley Steamers

Most of us know John Mitchell, Jr. as the tireless “fighting” editor of the Richmond Planet, a newspaper he ran for 40 plus years beginning in the mid-1880′s. But Mitchell was a complex, multi-faceted person whose varied interests included a fascination for the Stanley Steamer, an automobile of the early 20th century that ran on steam produced by a vertical fire-tube boiler.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has a great article that focuses specifically on John Mitchell, Jr. and the Stanley Steamers he owned during his lifetime.

http://www.timesdispatch.com/news/local/city-of-richmond/editor-s-travelogues-highlight-story-of-the-stanley-steamer/article_1c4e7e0a-7eff-11e2-8bd0-001a4bcf6878.html

The automobile’s steam boiler mechanism was based on technologies that had existed for decades, so it’s no surprise that someone would develop a personal vehicle based on the same concepts that drove railroad locomotives and factory motors. For an informative master class on the workings of a classic Stanley Steamer, check out Jay Leno’s Garage where he shows you all the necessary steps to getting the vehicle steamed up and ready to roll: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Me8b0ed59s

To-date, thousands of pages (1889-1910) of the Richmond Planet have been made available online at Chronicling America and well over 300,000 pages of Virginia imprint newspapers which makes up the Newspaper Project and the Library’s contribution to the National Digital Newspaper Program.

 

 

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The more things change, well, the more things change.

If you need proof, simply compare today’s copy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch to an issue of The North American, a newspaper published in Philadelphia in the late 19th century.

We bring to your attention what we believe to be the largest broadside newspaper in the vast newspaper collections at the Library of Virginia, measuring a whopping 30” x 24.5,” which means opened flat the paper spreads out to almost 50 inches in width!

The adjoining photo provides evidence that the paper was large and in truth pretty unwieldy. As Newspaper Project colleague, Silver Persinger, shows, it’s a wonder the average citizen could stand on a street corner and read the publication.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It recalls the great Buster Keaton site gag involving a newspaper in his classic short film, The High Sign. Check out Keaton’s comic hijinks in this excerpt from the movie:

 

 

Back to The North American. While the Library generally does not focus its newspaper collecting on out of state papers, it has acquired a select number of papers that provide some depth and texture to the LVA’s strong holdings of original Virginia imprint newspapers.

 

The North American out of Philadelphia, PA is such an example. The title had a healthy publishing run from 1839 to 1925, with strong Republican tendencies, and it wasn’t shy about announcing boldly on the banner that it is “The Oldest Daily Newspaper in America.”

The issue in hand was published April 14, 1877 and while it contains articles that may interest our patrons, the newspaper’s sheer size is probably one of its most noteworthy features.

The North American came to the Library as part of a larger gift of newspapers with issues spanning many decades and U.S. states, … read more »

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Virginia Farm Bureau News Goes Digital

The article below was published in the Fall 2012 issue of the Library of Virginia’s Broadside. Check out Broadside for all things LVA related. . .

Voice of Virginia Agriculture: Back issues of Virginia Farm Bureau News are now online

In a welcome public-private partnership, the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Farm Bureau have combined resources to present an online version of the Virginia Farm Bureau News, providing images and full-text searching capability for issues dating back to 1941, the first year of the title’s publication. The current edition of the database offers access to issues through 1999. To quote from the bureau’s website, “With more than 150,000 members in 88 county Farm Bureaus, the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation is Virginia’s largest farmers’ advocacy group. Farm Bureau is a nongovernmental, nonpartisan, voluntary organization committed to protecting Virginia’s farms and ensuring a safe, fresh, and locally grown food supply. The VFB is the chief advocacy group representing the farming community in Virginia.” The Library had significant holdings of the Virginia Farm Bureau News and filled in gaps with the help of the Farm Bureau. The title was microfilmed. While one might describe microfilming as being on the cutting edge of yesterday’s technology, preservation microfilming offers two important and very desirable advantages: it provides a stable preservation medium that can be archived for hundreds of years and it serves as the perfect cost-effective foundation for digital transfer. You can see for yourself by visiting digitalvirginianewspapers.com or virginiachronicle.com to browse through almost 60 years of Virginia farming news.

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Take a Look through The Monocle.

The Virginia Newspaper Project has cataloged over 7,000 newspapers, most of them local dailies and weeklies that you all grew up reading.

But the Newspaper Project has also gathered up many other species of papers in its statewide search for ink press issues, including political broadsides, “company town” and military papers, and even the occasional high school newspaper.

Thanks to a few savvy collectors and the Library’s Newspaper Project operatives who can sniff out a collection of papers the way a good reporter gravitates to a great story, the Library is fortunate to have a significant collection of the early decades of The Monocle, the newspaper for John Marshall High School here in Richmond.

It’s just one of the many gems in the Library’s newspaper collection, and The Monocle is noteworthy, not only for being from a prominent Richmond high school from the mid-twentieth century, but also for its design and content which are at a very high level.

Steve Clark, one of the best columnists ever to grace the pages of the Richmond Times Dispatch, contributed a stirring piece a few years back about the John Marshall High School newspaper and its founder and faculty advisor, Miss Charles Anthony.  (Yes, Miss Charles Anthony. That’s what her father named her.) The paper and Miss Anthony had a synergy that was nearly magical with its impressive broadside format and professional layout, and well, why not read an excerpt from Clark’s article:

 

Great teachers are ne’er forgotten, which is why Calvin T. Lucy Jr. always will remember Miss Charles Anthony. Miss Anthony as Lucy still calls her, taught English at Richmond’s John Marshall High School from 1926 until 1953, when she retired at age 70.

But Miss Anthony was more than an exceptional English teacher. She also was the … read more »

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John Mitchell, Jr. Remembered

The grave markers of John Mitchell, Jr. and his mother, Rebecca

Evergreen Cemetery is located a few miles from downtown Richmond and even farther from Monument Avenue. Much of the cemetery is overgrown by junk trees, ivy, brambles and kudzu. In a small clearing is a tallish grave stone in the form of a cross and this is where Maggie Walker is buried.

And nearby is the newly placed gravestone to John Mitchell, Jr., one of the towering figures in Virginia’s African American history.

Until recently the cemetery had been overrun by creeping nature and the inexorable effects of time and human neglect.

But if you read any one issue of the Richmond Planet, it becomes clear that John Mitchell, Jr. should not be neglected or forgotten. As editor and publisher of the Planet from 1885 to 1925, Mitchell carried out a life story that is the stuff of fiction. As one colleague put it, if you summarized his life in a couple of pages, one would swear it was mostly made up.

And so, on a blustery Saturday, February 25, 2012,  a few family members and interested onlookers attended a simple, yet heartfelt ceremony to commemorate the unveiling of a new grave marker for John Mitchell, Jr., a ceremony that serves in a humble way to give the “fighting editor” his due, 83 years after his death in 1929.

To browse through hundreds of issues of the Richmond Planet and other historical newspapers, visit Chronicling America, a searchable online database with nearly 5 million pages and  more than 725 titles from around the country. And visit the Library of Virginia’s web exhibit about Mitchell, “Born in the Wake of Freedom.“… read more »

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