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Author Archives Kelley Ewing
It was out of necessity that Clementina Rind became Virginia’s first woman newspaper publisher. After the death of her husband, William, in 1773, she had to keep his printing office going to support herself and her children.
Though little is known of Clementina’s early life, she and her husband arrived in Williamsburg from Maryland in late 1765 or early 1766 on the invitation of influential Virginians, including Thomas Jefferson, to start a newspaper to compete with the already established Virginia Gazette.
The first issue of Rind’s Virginia Gazette was published May 16, 1766 with the motto, “Open to ALL PARTIES, but Influenced by NONE.” For seven years Rind built a successful newspaper and printing business in Williamsburg, also winning the appointment of public printer to the colony. But in 1773, in the midst of his success, William died from what was described as a “tedious and painful illness” at age 39.
“As Clementina traversed the liminal space that Saturday morning after the funeral,” explains biographer Martha J. King, “she was not simply retreating to a private domestic life but also entering a public arena as a printer’s widow. Home and work were integrally tied. With living quarters and printing office under the same roof, it is likely that Clementina and her older children had worked alongside William Rind (Virginia Women: Their Lives and Times, 75).”
Faced with the death of her husband and the reality of supporting her family without him—a daunting prospect, for sure—she seized the opportunity and used her skills to carry on as printer of the Virginia Gazette. She continued William’s endeavor without any suspension in publication and in the same issue of the Gazette which printed William’s obituary, Clementina is named as its printer.
“I was a race driver before I ever hit the track,” said Wendell Scott, the first African American to race NASCAR’s Grand National circuit, in a 1982 interview with the Richmond Times Dispatch. As a moonshine runner, Wendell Scott expertly skirted police on the winding country roads surrounding his Danville, Virginia home. In his own words, Scott proclaimed himself “the greatest moonshine runner of them all, dusting off deputies in a 1946 Packard loaded with jars full of white lightnin’ on a run between Danville, Va., and Charlotte, N.C.”[i]
During prohibition, bootleggers started modifying their cars to go faster and handle better than the cars pursuing them. Though prohibition ended in 1933, the South’s love of moonshine persisted, and so the time-honored custom of outrunning the police to transport illicit goods for profit continued. It was out of the necessity for a speedy vehicle that stock car racing was born. “The need to prove who had the fastest car,” Suzanne Wise explains, “led to weekend races at tracks carved out of pastures and corn fields.”[ii]
And it was via moonshine running that Scott found his way to becoming a bonafide stock car racer. In the 1950s, the Dixie Circuit, a competitor of NASCAR, in an attempt to attract larger audiences to its Danville events, came up with the idea of adding a black driver to its field of exclusively white competitors. Local authorities in Danville were asked who the fastest black driver in town was. The immediate answer was a resounding “Wendell Scott,” followed up by something along the lines of, “We’ve been chasing him for years.”[iii]
Running moonshine provided Scott with the skill he needed as a driver, but his mechanic’s knowledge would prove invaluable during his race career as well. As a child, Scott helped … read more »
“Who hath despised the day of small things?” read the motto of the Riverside, a company newspaper published in Shenandoah Iron Works (SIW), located in Page County, Virginia. To be sure, even the small things were important in what was then a remote and rustic company town, including a simple, little newspaper printed monthly for the people who lived in and worked for Shenandoah Iron Works.
Thanks to a cooperative partnership with the Huntington Library in Pasadena, California, the Library of Virginia has one issue of the very rare Riverside available in its Virginia Chronicle database, which now contains over 900,000 digitized newspaper pages.
Shenandoah Furnace was built in 1836, though what ultimately became the Shenandoah Iron Works was conceived after brothers Daniel and Henry Forrer purchased 34,483 acres of land from Samuel Gibbens in 1837. Soon after acquiring the land, the Brothers established a post office and named the town Shenandoah Iron Works. Two more furnaces, Catherine and No. 2, as well as a forge, were added to the iron works where pig iron and tools were produced.
After the Civil War, the Forrer brothers, financially scarred by the devaluation of Confederate currency, sold the operation to a group of Pennsylvania industrialists. “The scale of its operations as measured in the production of pig iron, blooms, iron manufacturers and numbers of employees made Shenandoah one of the foremost industrial establishments in the northern and central Shenandoah Valley,” wrote Charles Ballard in his history of the SIW, “This industry and the community clustered around it evolved from an antebellum iron plantation into a postbellum company town.(The Shenandoah Iron Works, 1836-1907, p.1)”
SIW reached … read more »
The end of January 2017 marks the beginning of the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese Zodiac. To celebrate, we searched Virginia Chronicle for rooster-related stories and images–below is a sampling of what we found. It includes how a rooster saved the day for one little boy.
We often talk about Virginia Chronicle and Chronicling America here at the Newspaper Project, but the library subscribes to a number of other excellent online newspaper and periodical databases you can access from home with a Library of Virginia library card.
Among the numerous databases that can accessed from home with your library card are: American Periodicals, Daily Press Digital Microfilm (2010-present), Gale Databases, HarpWeek (1857-1912), JSTOR, LexisNexis Library Express, Newspaper Archive, American Periodicals, Newspaper Source Plus, Proquest Civil War Era (1840-1865), Norfolk Journal and Guide (1921-2003), Washington Post (1877-1996), Richmond Times Dispatch (1985-present), Richmond Times Dispatch Historical (1903-1986), US History and the Washington Post Digital Microfilm (2008-present).
To access any of these databases from home, go to the LVA Homepage, click on “Using the Collections,” click on “Databases and EBooks,” choose “Newspapers and Magazines” (though there are several other categories to choose from as well), click on a database you’d like to use (for example, Norfolk Journal and Guide, 1921-2003) and enter your Library of Virginia library card number when prompted to do so. Then you’re ready to go.
Try it out today–a world of information awaits!
The Virginia Newspaper Project is delighted to announce the newest title, The Smithfield Times, available on Virginia Chronicle, the Library of Virginia’s online digital newspaper database. With its first issue published in 1920, the Smithfield Times was known as the ”Official paper of Isle of Wight County” and the earliest issue on Virginia Chronicle, dated Jan. 28, 1928, is chock full of colorful local news.
Making the front page of this issue were the details of Mary Hatchell’s divorce, newsworthy for divorce’s near nonexistence at the time.”The sadness of the situation,” the Times reported, “was brought forcefully before the court when the 14 year old daughter of the couple, Jacqueline, bared unrelentlessly the conditions which had existed in their home.” On the front page of the same issue, an article outlining a bill to protect Smithfield Hams from what amounted to counterfeiting. The bill hoped to limit the “fattening territory” for hogs labeled “Smithfield” from Virginia and North Carolina to exclusively the peanut growing territory of Eastern Virginia.
With nearly a century of local news stories like the ones mentioned above, plus its birth and marriage announcements, social columns, editorials, obituaries, classifieds, cartoons, photographs, and advertisements, the now digitized Smithfield Times offers a rich and detailed look at the history, the people and the places of southeastern Virginia. Issues from 1928-1984 of the Times are currently accessible on Virginia Chronicle and 1985-2013 will be available soon.
And today, nearly 100 years after its inaugural issue, the Smithfield Times is still going strong, serving the Isle of Wight and Surry counties.
From the Highland Recorder, November 28, 1947
The Virginia Newspaper Project would like to give a big thank you to those who transcribed the Petersburg Classical Institute manuscript newspapers on the Library of Virginia’s Transcribe page–It happened faster than we could have imagined!
We encourage those who have not yet visited Transcribe to do so to see the many other documents awaiting transcription. The image below shows some of the varied collections on Transcribe:
Another way history lovers can help make historical information more accessible is to become a registered member of Virginia Chronicle and correct OCR text. To learn how, simply go to the Virginia Chronicle site, click the “help” tab and choose “how to correct OCR text.” If you have questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. So far, volunteers have corrected over 615,000 lines of newspaper text in the Virginia Chronicle database. Huge thanks to them too!
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software does the amazing work of converting newspaper type into searchable text, but the task of making hand written documents searchable requires human intervention.
Transcribe, the Library of Virginia’s crowdsourcing transcription tool, gives volunteers the opportunity to transcribe digitized primary source materials from the LVA’s collections, thus making the documents searchable and much more accessible. Letters, diaries, legislative petitions, court records, receipts, coroners’ inquisitions, WPA life histories and, now, newspapers, can all be found on Transcribe.
While manuscript, or hand-written, newspapers are exceedingly rare, the Library has a notable collection (part of the Petersburg Classical Institute records, 1838-1847 Accession 23479) dating from 1842-1843 done by the students of the Petersburg Classical Institute. Because OCR will not work on these pages, we thought they’d be a perfect addition to the Transcribe catalog where they can now be transcribed by dedicated volunteers.
The Petersburg Classical Institute, originally known as Petersburg Academy, was incorporated in 1838 under the guidance of Rev. Ephraim D. Saunders. Its aim was to teach the “higher branches of liberal education” to boys ages ten to eighteen and it generally taught 140-150 pupils per year. Richard McIlwaine, eleventh president of Hampden-Sydney College, attended in 1844 and described it as “one of the finest, if not by all odds ahead, of all schools of its grade in the Commonwealth.” Many of its students went on to prominent careers as clergymen, educators, lawyers, and businessmen.
The Tattler, Hit Him Again, Dies Festus Tempora and The Democrat, beautiful examples of manuscript newspapers, were written with humor and sarcasm by the Institute’s students–it is not a stretch to imagine K-12 aged boys creating something similar today. Typical content consisted of student gossip, political news, poetry and advertisements–columns also contained cut out etchings, … read more »
“I have a horrible and heart-rending tale to relate,” read a letter from the editor of the Norfolk Herald and printed in the Sept.3, 1831 issue of the Genius of Liberty, “and lest even its worst features might be distorted by rumor and exaggeration, I have thought it proper to give you all and the worst information that has reached us through the best sources of intelligence which the nature of the case will admit.”
The “horrible and heart-rending tale” the letter described was a violent slave rebellion which had taken place about sixty miles west of Norfolk in Southampton County, Virginia. “A fanatic preacher by the name of Nat Turner (Gen. Nat Turner),” reported the Richmond Enquirer, “was at the bottom of this infernal brigandage. (Aug. 30, 1831)”
By the time the revolt was over, sixty men, women and children had been killed. But as Scot French’s book, The Rebellious Slave: Nat Turner in American Memory, explains, “First the white people fell. . . Then the black people fell.” The Richmond Constitutional Whig of Sept. 3, 1831 reported that many slaves were slaughtered by retaliating mobs “without trial and under circumstances of great barbarity.” The death toll among the enslaved, many of whom played no part in the revolt, was in the hundreds.
Rather than describe the events of “Nat’s War”, the Newspaper Project hopes to show how newspapers talked about Nat Turner and how they variously portrayed him in the decades following his life and death. With a myriad of descriptions over the years, from “distinguished immortal spirit” to “wild fanatical,” Turner’s legacy was appropriated by different groups to both frighten and inspire.