About: Henry

Henry has worked for the Virginia Newspaper Project since 2005.

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The Wawaset Disaster, August 9, 1873: An “Extra” Alexandria Gazette, Over The Transom And Into The Archive

Not the Wawaset, but very close. No archived photo of the Wawaset, to our knowledge, is available.

Each year the Newspaper Project receives papers from private collections which are generously offered as archival candidates.  Many are duplicates of papers already cataloged.  But some aren’t.  Some are added to our select collection of singular editions with headlines announcing moon landings, assassinations, the end of wars, and dramatic presidential elections. Then there is the unexpected item that provokes the response,  “Wait…what is…that?”   Most recently, the following:Virginia Gazette Extra

Curious, the masthead’s absence of a year and its resemblance to the precursor of the “extra” edition — the single page, single-sided broadside of early newspaper history.  Much like below (which I wish was in our collection, but is taken from a volume from the Library main stacks):

Boston Gazette extra


Alexandria GazetteBut do we already have this in our possession? Is this Gazette upstairs in the archive in original or on film?  Or both?  Our hard copy archive of bound editions of the Alexandria Gazette is as extensive and space consuming (and heavy, not to be dropped on a foot) as any on the shelf. But there is a gap of some years after the Civil War and among the years in that gap, yes, 1873.

What about the microfilm?  The film, shot by the Library of Congress, includes a complete run of 1873, and is the source of the digital images on both Chronicling America and Virginia Chronicle. While it does contain the standard edition of the Gazette for the 9th, there is no indication of the earlier extra edition.  In short, while we can’t conclusively speak to its rarity, so far our research points to a genuine find. Google map



In the links I’ll provide to the press coverage of the Wawaset’s demise you’ll see references … read more »

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A Tradition Of Disguise From Print To Pixels & A Motto For All Newspapers And All Time

The iron law of journalism: you can’t pursue civic virtues if you don’t make money. From our digital archive Virginia Chronicle (now at almost 700,000 pages!) a front page selected almost at random from 1905, Berryville’s Clark Courier, March 8. Advertisements are marked:Clarke Courier 1The intent is to blend in with the prevailing graphics of the page. The eye drifts easily from Theodore Roosevelt’s inauguration to a guaranteed cure for constipation and biliousness (happily we were unable to verify or falsify such claims).

For the following, don’t think “old school” vs. “new school” but rather instead “same school.” A screen shot from today’s New York Times web page:

Times #1How about we move one of those ad rectangles just a little closer to the others? Yes, lets:

nyt-1With the print versions of newspapers and magazines under a continual financial siege and their online editions still searching for a solid profit foundation, questions of news to ad ratio, design and general rules of cohabitation will persist and be debated internally with increasing intensity.

Entry into the Toyota ad posted on the Times reveals webpages resembling a kind of Mobius strip of information and embedded advertising messages. All this trouble just for a little…attention, the first welcome port of any passage to profit.

Now, please direct your attention to a newspaper out of the Valley of Virginia, 14 miles south of Staunton, the Greenville Banner of a small town of the same name, population 162, 250, 832 in 1810, 1928 and 2010, respectively.

Special distinction, we believe, is due for a motto delightful for its bluntness and freedom from the usual 19th century pieties:Banner mottoOur gratitude to owner, editor J. B. Burwell for surfacing expressing a sentiment suppressed by most others. He was not rewarded. In July of 1884, the Banner went up … read more »

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Radio Days: The Norfolk News Index and A Posting From the Electric Front, 1939-1940

Index-MastheadSeventy-five years ago, the media landscape was not nearly so vast, not nearly so individualized. An electronic device was not on your person, it was likely in your living room and the listening experience was shared. No headphones. No earbuds.

Courtesy of the Index (Film 2516, LVA microfilm collection), the Virginia Newspaper Project delivers a much less cluttered media landscape, then ruled by the newspaper and the radio, the latter still discovering its potential.

To appreciate the division of a typical radio day in 1940, click on the table for a closer look:Index WRVA schedule At the prices listed below, you would have been the exception if you enjoyed a radio in a room of your own:Index-Radio adA blow up of your exclusive features. Number six will put your mind at ease:Index-ad highlightYou’ll notice radios being sold at a furniture store. Here, an especially high end listening device, with the combination of Victrola (record player) and radio:Index-Zenith Radio ad 10-3-40

True portability arrived only with the advent of the transistor in the mid-1950s.

Please take note in the Sears ad below (remember, this is 1939) and the calling card of the coming leviathan stamped to its side.

Index-Sears Radio ad-tvread more »

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A High Altitude Halloween: Searching Monterey’s Highland Recorder, 1920-1929

This photo was peeled off and expanded from Monterey’s Wiki page and presents to the eye a view likely little changed since the decade of our interest here, the 1920’s.  In fact, the town’s population was twice then was it is today which the latest census reports as 147 and projected to be even less in the next.  Somewhat surprising, then, the Recorder takes the honor of claiming status as Virginia’s longest consecutive published newspaper. It’s maybe a little less surprising when its geographical isolation is considered, yet still impressive, just the same.

That firm handhold half way up on the state’s western border is the high edge of Highland County and the solitude therein might be reconsidered as you imagine this community before the arrival of outside voices vibrating from a strange, boxed device of irresistible magnetic intimacy, the radio.

And a special link persists still, despite the lure of television and internet, between subscriber and paper. Thanks to that connection, as announced in a Fit To Print blog of earlier this month, the Project was granted permission by the current publisher to digitize beyond 1922, where copyright fencing begins.  Within our digital archive of the The Highland Recorder, a pursuit into the past is aided by finer search tools—as demonstrated here in a search entry of simply the word “Halloween” specific to the decade of the 1920’s.

searchAs noted in the margin, the result:  39 discoveries.

Are you thinking, only 39?  Bear in mind, commercial America has not yet come to borrow the Halloween imagery so familiar to later generations.  You’ll find no ads embracing the occasion to their product. Nearly all references are found in the social columns contributed by correspondents scattered about the county.

And now a collection of social events, comings and goings, pulled … read more »

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That Was A Good Idea, Keeping Count. The Library Of Congress Achieves Ten Million Pages In Chronicling America-The Nation’s Newspaper Archive

could be no. 6,568,116

could be no. 6,568,116      

possibly no. 8,745,522

possibly no. 8,745,522

And the Virginia Newspaper Project was there.  At Chronicling America‘s start in 2007 as well as today in continuing to provide digitized Virginia imprint newspapers and in a recently renewed cooperative grant providing tech support to West Virginia University.  Here’s the ten million page mark announcement from the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2015/15-171.html.

A newspaper enthusiast on the staff of The Atlantic Monthly was quick to post on the occasion:


There is also this from Time:


Read ‘em and cheer.… read more »

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The Princess Anne Times 1915-1918: Boosting the Beach

Princess Anne bannerOf historical anniversaries noted large and small, what follows is of the second type and left unremarked, if not here within this very blog.  Last Friday was the one hundredth birthday of the first issue of the Princess Anne Times, not a delicate imprint of royal society from a tiny office tucked within Windsor Castle, but a record of life from the southeastern corner of Virginia.

33 of the 95 counties of Virginia possess a name of royal origin, but Princess Anne is no longer among them.  The county disappeared from the map in 1963, closing a 272 year history when it was incorporated into the much larger independent city of Virginia Beach.  The chance observation of the newspaper’s birthday suggested an additional incentive to announce its arrival a few weeks ago to Virginia Chronicle, The Library of Virginia’s digital newspaper archive managed by the Virginia Newspaper Project.

6-25-15 Beach editorialReal estate adTo the person who turns his back to the Atlantic and faces west from the Virginia Beach boardwalk and wonders, “How did this happen?”, the Times offers propitious clues.  The current population of Virginia Beach stands near 450,000, making it the state’s most populous city.  The reader of the Times in May of 1915 shared residency with about 438,000 fewer.  Here’s the complete front page for that first issue (with a stage direction to the far left column).

Front page issue 1And now here’s a portion of the lead editorial, page 2.  Note at the bottom, the anticipated entry of enormous Federal expenditure-“monster guns etc.”- a springboard to prosperity.

Introductory wordsAnd those “public-spirited citizens” referenced above who sponsored the newspaper?  It seems more than likely that at least a few of them appear on this front page from volume one, number 2:

Officers of Virginia BeachThey assigned themselves a mission and it was propelling this county forward … read more »

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An Unexpected Survivor of the Day: The Daily Dispatch April 3, 1865/The Puzzle of Issue No. 77

Daily Dispatch mastheadDispatch full page

To review, here’s a newspaper roll call of the five daily newspapers (there were also weekly papers – four of them religious) in Richmond in late March at the close of the Civil War: the Richmond Examiner, Enquirer, Whig, Sentinel and (leaving no doubt about its frequency) the Daily Dispatch.

They publish in the war years (the Sentinel beginning in 1863) despite a “decrease in advertising, the shortage of ink and paper, the strike of printers, the loss of skilled workman by conscription, and…a depreciation of the currency, causing prices to rise to unprecedented levels,” as Lester Cappon writes in his introduction to Virginia Newspapers 1835-1935, a ready reference at the Project.

There’s no work around or compromise with fire, however, and the destruction of much of the city center April 3 (a Monday) one hundred and fifty years ago – marked with much ceremony here in Richmond over the weekend – left only the Whig capable of printing a narrative of the chaos accompanying the city’s surrender. And only after the approval, announced in an editor’s note, of the occupying Federal commander.

Given our task as preservers of Virginia’s newspaper heritage, we’re also interested readers. This includes the present day 21st century descendent of the Daily Dispatch, The Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Especially when they reproduce the past in such compelling fashion as they did in last Saturday’s edition.

New Dispatch

Something on page 2 caught our eye:


New Dispatch 1What’s that again?  April 1, the last issue of the Daily Dispatch?  What then of the April 3rd issue we have in hand and read in preparation for the blog the Friday previous?   Bear in mind, if you’re an archivist, this advances the tingling onset of mystery and intrigue.  Already we brooded with some … read more »

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Richmond, April 1865. The History Forecast: Fateful Lightning, Terrible and Swift.


On Monday, April 3, the city burns.  The following day Lincoln walks the still smoking ruins and the capital faces occupation by the Federal Army.  April 9, about 90 miles west, Lee surrenders his force.  And on the 14th of the month, the President is assassinated.

But on March 30, the beguiling calm of routine jurisprudence prevails in city court. The Examiner reports:

court1Only four days later, as the planned warehouse fires move beyond anything resembling a plan, the “presiding” Mayor Mayo sits within a carriage heading east to the Union lines, a note of capitulation on his person.

Anarchy, a massive munitions explosion its overture, plays out in the daylight, a wretched, sour bacchanalia no court can address.

The Examiner office yields to the inferno and has a share of black space on the map above.  The Daily Dispatch and the Enquirer were consumed too.  The winds favored the Whig.  It’s their map.

ruins1read more »

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Progress At Last-Twenty Years, Actually. The Caroline Progress of Bowling Green–Now Entering VNP Preservation.

Caroline Progress MastheadCaroline County mapBetween 1883 and 1909 six of the seven newspapers that ever claimed Bowling Green as home appeared, and then disappeared, after publishing for no more than two or three years.  Now I can’t describe the following as an especially significant curiosity, but it certainly qualifies as at least a noteworthy anomaly – though admittedly one only an archivist might find amusing.  It so happens each of these papers chose the county name and a single word identifier for their title.  This does, however, provide an excuse to summarize the disappointing state of the Project’s Caroline County collection at the Library of Virginia in the following abbreviated manner:  a Courier without arrival, an Echo unheard, a Promoter without promotion, an Advance never forwarded, News never read, and a Sentinel in lonely solitude.  Here’s the single Caroline Sentinel (minus a bite) in our possession.

Caroline SentinelThat’s five members of the regrettably lengthy Project “wish list” (not to mention the “wish more” list of which the Sentinel is a part).  We do learn from our 1936 go-to reference, Virginia Newspapers, 1821-1935, A Bibliography, by Lester Cappon, PhD. (the Mighty Cappon at the desk!…the reference desk) that the University of Richmond holds one copy of the Caroline Echo, the Virginia Historical Society has a few additional copies of the Sentinel and about a year of the Caroline Promoter.  The Caroline Courier, Advance, and News-POOF–the departure sfx for transport to oblivion, the default site for the great unfound.  Sigh.

Caroline ProgressAfter the demise of the Caroline Echo in 1909, Cappon tells us, for the next ten years local readers had no choice but to seek a newspaper from Ashland to the south (the Hanover Weekly Herald or Progress-they merged in 1919), Fredericksburg to the north (most likely the Daily Starread more »

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Yes Virginia, there is a Yes, Virginia

SantaA now chastised member of the Project staff expressed the feeling that the newspaper editorial “Yes, Virginia” was perhaps reaching the end of its cultural lifespan–that the heartbeat of this century old defense of Santa Claus was fading fast and exiting the collective memory.

This person was misinformed. And promptly Wiki-corrected. And then experienced the Wiki-fatigue he richly deserved.  You may follow in his tracks if you wish: Yes, Virginia.

If you made it through the opening section of the Wiki entry, you now know the history of the “most reprinted editorial ever to run in any newspaper in the English language.” To further reinforce that reputation, we’re reprinting it below, from the 21 September 1897 issue of the New York Sun.Yes, Virginia 1Yes, Virginia 2Yes, Virginia 3How many newspapers reproduced this editorial in the next century? Lots. Lots and Lots. For example, here it is in the Clinch Valley News of 23 December 1921.

Clinch ValleyAll of us here at the Virginia Newspaper Project want you to know that we believe in Santa Claus. And we believe in a newspaper editorial that supports the belief in Santa Claus. And we believe in the reprinting and reproduction of editorials that support the belief in Santa Claus. And we believe in the historical preservation of editorials that support the belief in Santa Claus. And we believe in the historical preservation of editorials that support the belief in Santa Claus in both microfilm and digital formats.


p.s. The editorial read by Virginia, herself.

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