About: Henry

Henry has worked for the Virginia Newspaper Project since 2005.

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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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In Leaps of Ten: A Six Decade Tour of Seasonal Ads from The Clarke Courier, Berryville, 1928-1988

Thanksgiving 19281928 Grocery #21928 Highest Prices

Thanksgiving 19381938 Masthead1938 Norfolk & Western1938 Grocery1938 A & P1938 Phone1938 Ramsburg's Grocery1938 Shk. Grocery

Thanksgiving 1948

Mast 1948#2  1948Norfolk and Western 1948No Va Power 1948Thanksgiving 19581958 Grocery1958 Norfolk and WesternThanksgiving. Sometimes it’s work. Who needs a drink? Four of the six liquor ads from this 1958 issue.1958 Bellows Bourbon1958 Old Stagg1958 Apple Jack1958 Alcohol adThanksgiving 1968Mast 19681968 Bank of1968 Car Dealer1968 Clarke County Motors1968 SafewayThanksgiving 1978Mast 19781978 Bank of Clarke1978 Farm Credit1978 The Barn1978 Men's WearThanksgiving 19881998 Masthead1988 Food Lion1988 Bank of Clarke County1988 Black Penny1988 Chevy Turkey ShootAnd the Christmas encroachment begins…1988 Christmas Open House

p.s. One more from 1958. Something to consider when you’re deciding whether to leave your phone in your pocket or on the Thanksgiving table…1958 Phone
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A Newspaper Connection–”Slaves Waiting for Auction”–Thackeray & Crowe Check-In

Left: William M. Thackeray. Center: Crowe's illustration of Richmond 1853. Right: Eyre Crowe.

Left: William M. Thackeray. Center: Crowe’s illustration of Richmond 1853. Right: Eyre Crowe.

Daily Dispatch, March 2, 1853

Daily Dispatch, March 2, 1853

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 »

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George Wythe: FFDWR (Founding Father Deserving Wider Recognition)

Wythe“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 »

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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:

Tuttle's poem, "The Boys in Gray," published in the 4 July 1902 edition of the Lexington Gazette.

Tuttle’s poem, “The Boys in Gray,” published in the 4 July 1902 edition of the Lexington Gazette.

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.SH close up

At least the editor of the Farmville Herald delivers some assertion out his ambivalence.  As well as a request to put down the bottle:

Excerpt from 4 July 1902 Farmville Herald editorial.

Excerpt from 4 July 1902 Farmville Herald editorial.

W. McDonald Lee, editor of Irvington’s Virginia Citizen, devotes five full columns to an often diverting … read more »

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