Author Archives Henry
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 »
An earlier posting promised some additional remarks about a pair of recent arrivals to the LVA/VNP microfilm collection: the Metro Virginia News and the Public Pamphlet of Leesburg, Virginia. Rather than just a masthead, as earlier, let’s take a look at a complete front-page for each of these Northern Virginian papers. First the weekly Metro Virginia News:
This copy of July, 1974 is an example of the paper at its best. It provides to readers detailed coverage of a local governing decision relating to an issue of increasing concern and debate: managing economic growth. The goal was to provide an alternative to the more established Loudoun Times-Mirror, a paper without competition since the mid 1950’s, and to the advantage of interested readers, they often succeeded. But, as journalist A. J. Leibling reminds, “The function of the press in society is to inform, but its role in society is to make money.” The enterprise was ill-timed. It coincided with a recession.
The Metro Virginia News published for just over two years, November of 1972 until December 1974, reaching a circulation of about 4000, some 8000 shy of the Times-Mirror. A financial sinkhole, not profit, beckoned. The newspaper, as well as ownership of the more solidly grounded Fauquier Democrat to the county south, was sold to Arthur Arundel, publisher of, pause, the Times-Mirror. The Democrat continued while the Metro Virginia News, to no one’s surprise, was shuttered.
But to return to the paper’s origin – an experienced editor, a young and extremely capable staff cannot simply will itself into being. Who provided the catalyst of money?
Again Leibling, a remark in greater circulation than of previous: “Freedom of the Press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” Helmi Carr, unhappy with her representation in the local … read more »
What follows is a listing of some recent additions to the Project microfilm archive, each from Northern Virginia and each resulting from a generous loan by the Thomas Balch Library of Leesburg.
The Times-Mirror publishing history begins in 1924 and continues today in a decentralized form, with separate bureaus and editions spread across Northern Virginia. Our holdings are strong from the mid century on but there are gaps especially in the late 1920’s and into the early years of the Depression. It is most gratifying then, for this addition from the Balch which addresses one year, 1934, in a complete January to December run.
The image above (click to enlarge) is the front page of February 22. The paper, a weekly, with its seven column width and assortment of staggered, vertically stacked headlines suggests the vitality of a more metropolitan base than its actual home in Leesburg. The use of the Cheltenham font in three headlines (“Racing Bills Pass Today In House”, for example) and, for that matter, the design of the masthead, lend a curiously contemporary quality to the Times-Mirror by mirroring (sorry) today’s New York Times (print edition, for readers of only the internet).
That drawn depiction of George Washington on this same front page provides a segue to the next paper from Leesburg,
With a lifetime five years shy of a hundred (1808-1903) perhaps no other Virginia newspaper crosses the breadth of the 19th century with so continuous an identity. You’ll see below examples here of The Washingtonian early and late from its history.
The roughly 300 hundred copies loaned to us by the Balch Library filled numerous gaps in our microfilm archive and replaced earlier images with improved versions. Restoration prior to filming was no minor undertaking, so credit here to Silver Persinger of … read more »