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Author Archives Henry
In November of 1852, William Makepeace Thackeray, still enjoying the considerable success and fame accruing from his novel of the previous decade, Vanity Fair, arrived after a two week voyage from Liverpool (on the Royal Mail ship “Canada”) in Boston harbor. Thackeray’s purpose, besides adventure, was financial gain, a cushion for his daughters from a life he suspected might be foreshortened. In fact, it was–He died ten years later at only 52.
The lecture route, somewhat planned and somewhat improvised, would take a leisurely southern direction, with an appearance in Richmond scheduled for the following February. Thackeray was accompanied by Erye Crowe, who acted as personal secretary, tour manager, amanuensis and, most importantly, good company during what promised to be a stimulating, but inescapably trying and lengthy journey.
Like Thackeray, Crowe was a skilled sketch artist. Unlike Thackeray, who abandoned art studies as a young man to sketch words as a journalist, Crowe, 29 years of age and about a dozen years the author’s junior, still aspired to be an artist. While Thackeray’s lectures and impressions of America inscribed in his letters now interest only scholars, Crowe’s oil painting, “Slaves Waiting for Auction”, derived from his drawing above, can still jab the conscience.
The work acts as centerpiece for the Library of Virginia’s exhibit opening later this month, “To Be Sold,” a close examination of Richmond as a distribution hub for the business of selling human beings.
Yet minus the intercession of a book and a newspaper, the painting might not exist at all. “I expended 25 cents”, writes Crowe in his memoir of 1893, With Thackeray in America, “in the purchase of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and was properly … read more »
“No man ever left behind him a character more venerated than George Wythe. His virtue was of the purest tint; his integrity inflexible, and his justice exact; of warm patriotism, and, devoted as he was to liberty, and the natural and equal rights of man, he might truly be called the Cato of his country.”
That’s Thomas Jefferson, not only a former student but trusted friend, and the statement most often quoted in biographical accounts, long or short, of Wythe’s life.
The following observation speaks to the maintenance of the body in support of that spirit so deservedly praised and is from William Munford, one of the last students Wythe (pronounced “with”) would mentor. It provides a better caption for the image above, 5th and Grace in downtown Richmond, as it fits the person into a space, bland though it may appear here in the historical present.
“”Old as he is, his habit is, every morning, winter and summer, to rise before the sun, go to the well in the yard, draw several buckets of water, and fill the reservoir for his shower bath, and then, drawing the cord, let the water fall over him in a glorious shower. Many a time have I heard him catching his breath and almost shouting with the shock. When he entered the breakfast room his face would be in a glow, and all his nerves were fully braced.”
No one’s nerves, however, could be braced for what would follow Wythe’s daily ritual the morning of May 25, 1806, almost 15 years after Wythe’s departure from Williamsburg to Richmond to preside over the Capital’s Chancery Court. That an 81 year old revered Founding Father (participant in the Second Continental Congress, signer of the Declaration of Independence, the country’s first law professor, classics scholar-a … read more »
A Muted Celebration: Independence Day, July 4th, 1902–A Quartet of Friday Fourths From the Newspaper Archive of Virginia Chronicle
The Civil War ended 37 years ago. A Republican, Theodore Roosevelt is President. A Democrat, Andrew Jackson Montague is Governor. A state constitutional convention, dominated by Democrats, just disbanded taking the regressive step, as the nation advanced into the Progressive Era, of drastically narrowing the voting rights of blacks. A Virginia small city editor, like our editors here, in sympathy with the Democratic party, perhaps now in his late fifties or early sixties and perhaps a Confederate veteran, might be inclined to more quickly recall that lost cause for independence instead of the found of 126 years ago. From the Lexington Gazette-right column, front page, starting above the fold:
This irascible appeal to the responsibilities of memory is the bluntest expression among our four papers of a lack of enthusiasm over the arrival of Independence Day. And Lexington, it deserves mention, the home of VMI and Washington and Lee University, was also the final home of Robert E. Lee whose name was attached to the school’s title upon his death in 1870,after acting as its director since the war’s close.
Further north in the valley, the Shenandoah Herald’s July 4 edition, it’s a challenge to locate anything associated with the holiday. A brief discussion of rattlesnake imagery in early American flags on the front page could qualify, but only maybe. Its editor, John H. Grabill, was a former captain in the Confederate cavalry.
At least the editor of the Farmville Herald delivers some assertion out his ambivalence. As well as a request to put down the bottle:
W. McDonald Lee, editor of Irvington’s Virginia Citizen, devotes five full columns to an often diverting … read more »
“Your Attention Residents, Now Arriving at Gates H and C, Dulles International Airport.” The Herndon-Chantilly Times (1958-1962).
I didn’t anticipate opening today’s “Fit To Print” blog entry in quite this manner but I stumbled on it mainly by chance and, for someone with an already strong fondness for maps, the opportunity proved irresistible. Below, the center two pages of the November 9, 1944 issue of the Herndon News-Observer:
“Poor Fairfax County, it didn’t know what was coming”, remarked a colleague. I imagined Til Hazel (if unfamiliar, google away) replying, “Poor?” In 1950 the county knew a major airport in its borders was a real possibility; Congress had green lighted appropriation. By 1955, it was determined that Burke (just east of the city of Fairfax on the map) would not be the site. Organized resistance prevailed. For planners now, the priorities were less resistance, a warmer welcome, and much more space-an important consideration for an airport with jets foremost in mind. The decision was made to move west, to Loudoun County, leaving a trailing foot in Fairfax. Here’s the Loudoun Times-Mirror, January 16, 1958.
This was without question an economic life-changer and, for the local press, a huge story with multiple angles and it was forming directly in the front yard of the Leesburg based Times-Mirror. But for Herndon (a historic town, incorporated in 1879) and Chantilly (an intersection) it was on their front porch pressing against the door and promising a revenue wind velocity not previously reckoned. The News-Observer was long gone, having departed later in the 1940’s. An opportunity beckoned to establish a presence in boomtown, west Fairfax County. The first issue of the Herndon-Chantilly Times (like the Times-Mirror, a weekly) appears on May 15 with the masthead describing it as an “edition of the Loudoun Times-Mirror”. By this issue the following July it reads … read more »
Richmond Newspapers to Lincoln: Address, What Address? An “Entirely Yankeeish” Affair. 150 Years Ago Today.
What did readers of Richmond’s press in late November of 1863 learn of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the events attending to the dedication of a new National Cemetery? Not much, not even a reproduced text, which, we’ve been reminded in recent days, totaled but 272 words.
For the editors of the Richmond Enquirer, Dispatch, Examiner, Sentinel and Whig a fuller journalistic experience (after four days of perilous navigation through a war environment) was in hand: five pages of detailed reportage in the New York Herald. These editors paid close attention the Herald output. Below is what the Daily Dispatch decided to deliver (click to expand):
And, with special vitriol directed to the comparably verbose Edward Everett, here’s the choice of The Examiner (again, click to expand):
Other members of the Confederate press took their cue from Richmond and distributed similarly censored, sketchy accounts of the day. A speech reminding citizens of the Union’s loyalty “to the proposition that all men are created equal” was not a message deemed germane to the day.
Nor was it in 1913, when the fifty year anniversary coverage of the Times Dispatch republished its old inaccuracies without correction. Another newspaper that same year in its marking of the date did publish the complete Gettysburg Address-the black owned and operated Richmond Planet.
For more detail of the Virginia press response to the Gettysburg Address try this link to a book published just last month: http://www.siupress.com/product/The-Long-Shadow-of-Lincolns-Gettysburg-Address,6023.aspx
In the last month the Project has transitioned a number of newspapers, granting an allowance of alliteration, from danger and decay to safety and stability.
As, for example, the following:
Maybe our most challenging, and time consuming, restoration task in the Project’s history and so quite satisfying to at last advance into film this very large, three pallet sized early 20th century archive kindly loaned to us by the Northern Virginia Daily (“The Best Small Daily Newspaper in Virginia!”, http://www.nvdaily.com/). Owner and publisher E. E. Keister consolidated his quartet of newspapers (see Fit To Print August, 2012) to create the NVD (the local shorthand) in September of 1932 and, as is evident above, possessed a tight, seven columned and copy rich, illustration free sense of design. Here’s a contrast between the Woodstock Times and the Edinburg Sentinel before Keister purchased it and folded the smaller town’s paper into the Times four miles north.
Edinburg lost its paper decades ago but it will, at least, be the claimant of this microfilm collection headed for storage soon within the Shenandoah County Library (http://shenandoah.co.lib.va.us/) as well as, of course, here at the Library of Virginia.
Prolonging the repair time of the Valley papers was the continuing arrival of additional papers in need of microfilm preservation forcing an additional press on the time of our restorer Silver Persinger and his two assistants Silver Persinger and Silver Persinger who, what makes you ask?, is not at all overburdened. The completed filming of the Review and its predecessor, The West Point News, marks the last of a trio of loans by the present day Tidewater Review (http://www.tidewaterreview.com/) that addressed significant gaps in the Project’s microfilm holding. The previously uncataloged Chickahominy Sun profiled last May in Fit To Print was … read more »
The Short Happy Life of The Chickahominy Sun
The above stands as a slight upgrade, it is hoped, to the first headline of this small town weekly’s blog introduction, the simply descriptive-Now On Microfilm, The Chickahominy Sun. The Sun’s three year plus nine month duration is certainly not as short as many other newspapers nor is it possible to accurately attest to its comparable happiness. Yet sometimes, even a minor coincidence cannot be resisted. The Sun shares a year of origin, 1938, with the hardback publication of Hemingway’s short story “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”. So there you are. Let’s add one more word of description which could be applied to Macomber’s last moments (at least from his perspective) and to The Sun-perplexing. Perplexing, that is, to imagine how an eight page, six column paper found itself a home in Providence Forge. For in the time consumed reading to this point, a driver (at 45 mph, assuming a green light at the intersection of route 60 and state road 155) might have successfully traversed the town and turned back to relive it all over again.
Before reproducing the front page of the first issue, let’s take a closer look (necessary since the scale is so curiously small) at the unusual design work beneath the arched Chickahominy in the masthead.
Is this the sun? One supposes. As perhaps referenced via ancient Egypt and the eye of Horus? One supposes with a little less confidence. Turning to firmer ground, the paper takes its name not from the town but the Chickahominy River that acts as border to the two counties of principal coverage, New Kent and Charles City. The river is unidentified in this charmingly peculiar depiction but the residents know their own river and besides there’s … read more »
Readers of Fit To Print know of the Newspaper Project’s growing enthusiasm for preservation microfilming and archiving college as well as some high school student papers. See, for example, the blog entry of last September 10, describing John Marshall High School’s The Monocle. Our latest filming initiative in this category is also, like The Monocle, from Richmond. This time however, the paper originates not from a public, but a private institution-St. Catherine’s School, the longest standing all girls school in the city and a school of equally long-standing high reputation.
Here are some sample images from this new holding:
The Scrap Basket appeared in 1927, some six years after St. Catherine’s relocated to its current site just shy of Three Chopt and Grove, to what was then the city’s far West End and now the very near West End. Our first microfilmed issue (above, click to expand) dates from the Fall semester of the 1930 school year.
Odds ‘n’ Ends addressed the interests of those younger students in the Middle School and published for about ten years beginning in 1932. The copy pictured above is from the close of the school year 1933 and the first we had available to microfilm.
In 1940 it was decided that the title The Scrap Basket on the masthead was a little too divorced from the pride and aspirations of the students responsible for the paper’s content. A poll was conducted of the upper students and the resulting choice, The Arcadian, was inspired by an architectural feature of the campus-its two distinctive arcades. An article from the second page of the May, 1940 issue shown above speaks to the increased ambitions of the student staff.
Cost considerations during the war years shifted The Arcadian from the print shop … read more »
An auction purchase is but an occasional means of adding to the VNP archive but this was an occasion difficult to resist: some 100 copies of Page County papers, mostly post Civil War to early 20th century, presented for sale by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates of Mt. Crawford, Virginia.
This constitutes a significant boost to the Project’s holding for this northern Shenandoah Valley county, modest in population (about 8500 in 1870, just under three times that figure today), but varied and active in its publishing history.
The discovery in 1878 of an enormous and oddly decorated hole in the ground transformed Luray, the county seat, from a quiet Page Valley town to a still reasonably quiet but increasingly popular tourist destination. Visitors arrived first by train and then, as the 20th century progressed, by car and then even more cars after the completion in the 1930’s of Skyline Drive atop the Blue Ridge, the town’s very permanent neighbor to its immediate east. Of the eight Luray papers in the purchase, the Times claims the most impressive and detailed masthead. From an issue of 1890:
The Reconstruction period is represented by copies of the Page Valley Courier, which in two years underwent a rapid turnover of owners resulting in a trio of mottoes reflecting the political reordering of the time. Pictured below (click to enlarge), the masthead as it appeared in its inaugural issue of March 15, 1867:
By the issue below of January 10, 1868, original editors Larkins and Price have departed, and for that matter so have two other editors, H. H. Propes and J. D. Price. The Courier is now run by James F. Clark who chose a motto endorsing the primacy of white citizenship over that of recently emancipated blacks and the paper’s … read more »
After the passage of 80 years, let’s go ahead and submit that publisher and editor E. E. Keister had a worthwhile idea-the consolidation of his four Northern Virginian newspapers in 1932 to form (why don’t we call it…) the Northern Virginia Daily whose ownership remained in the Keister family all of those 80 years until last February. Presumably the new owners, Ogden Newspapers of West Virginia, will maintain a self image that boasts at the bottom of their website (nvdaily.com), “Best Small Daily Newspaper in Virginia!”.
The Library of Virginia microfilm holding of the Northern Virginia Daily is strong, in fact almost uninterrupted since its first issue. Our interest in this blog entry is the happy announcement of a major addition to a rather weak holding, the Project catalog of those four newspapers dissolved back in 1932: The Strasburg News, Woodstock Times & Edinburg Sentinel of the Shenandoah Valley, the Chief Justice of Marshall in Fauquier County, and Warren County’s Front Royal Record. Some 50 volumes of these papers were loaned and transported to the LVA last month from the basement of the Northern Virginia Daily’s Strasburg office with the permission (and assistance, for which I was grateful on a hot July day) of the paper’s editor, Michael Gochenour. Among those volumes were two discoveries not at all anticipated, one of them a newspaper without archive in any institution in Virginia (or elsewhere)-the Middletown Weekly (Clarke County, north of Strasburg) published between 1912 and 1916 (?). I’ve borrowed that question mark from the Project’s go-to reference of 1936, Virginia Newspapers 1821-1935, compiled by the gray eminence of Virginia newspaper cataloging, Dr. Lester Cappon of UVA. His description includes those three words we enjoy retiring, “no copy known”. We now know 24 copies, about six … read more »