Author Archives Kelley Ewing
Just in case you caught yesterday’s depressing article in the RTD about Virginia’s own groundhog (warning, it’s sad) and his tragic demise, we thought we’d share some sunnier stories on the forecaster of spring’s arrival. We searched “Groundhog Day” in Virginia Chronicle, and here’s a sampling of what we found:
First, a quick note that the Library’s Out of the Box and Fit to Print blogs will be joining forces under one name in the new year, so look for the new blog in 2018! Archived entries from both blogs will continue to be available. Stay tuned. . .
The Virginia Newspaper Project is delighted to announce digitized copies of Richmond Whig and Commercial Journal, a daily published by John Hampden Pleasants and Josiah Abbot from 1831-1832, are now available on Virginia Chronicle.
Thanks to a partnership with the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, which generously shared its collection with the Library of Virginia, the digitized issues on Virginia Chronicle represent a nearly complete run of Richmond Whig and Commercial Journal. This title is one among many in the Whig family of newspapers published in Richmond during the nineteenth century.
John Pleasants, born in Goochland and educated at William and Mary, practiced law before becoming a newspaper publisher. He began printing the Whig in 1824 in response to the Democratic Richmond Enquirer, published by Thomas Ritchie. The political and personal discord between the two editors became so intense it culminated in a duel on Feb. 27, 1846. Pleasant’s eventually died, at age 49, from wounds he suffered in the brutal encounter, but the Whig carried on in his absence.
Initially, the Whig was published semiweekly as the Constitutional Whig, until the name changed to the Richmond Whig and Public Advertiser in 1833. A daily edition of the paper commenced in 1828 as the Daily Richmond Whig. The name changed to the Richmond Whig and Commercial Journal from 1831-1832, and then changed again to the Daily Richmond Whig & Public Advertiser. If you’re not confused … read more »
The Virginia Newspaper Project (VNP) is thrilled to announce an ongoing project to make the Library of Virginia’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) newspapers available on Virginia Chronicle. The camp newspapers in the LVA’s collection, published from 1934 to 1941 by the young men of the CCC, were mostly distributed in camps throughout the Commonwealth, though a handful are from locales outside Virginia.
The array of titles vary in sophistication, regularity and skill, but as a whole they offer a vivid picture of camp life during the Depression. Though the physical demands of CCC work could be exhausting, a youthful spirit radiates from the pages of the CCC newspapers: work safety reminders, camp classes and events, health columns, editorials, sports reports, cultural news and illustrations were regular features in many of the papers, but each had its own distinct flavor.
The camp newspapers are also packed with the names of people who were active in the CCC–you might find a mention of one of your relatives among the pages. Click here to learn more about the CCC and the newspapers they produced.
There is a great side note to this project we can’t neglect to mention. The CCC newspaper collection was preserved on both microfilm and microfiche for the Center for Research Libraries in 1991 by MicrogrAphic Preservation Service (MAPS):Did you happen to notice the name “Kelly L. Barrall” under the list of camera operators? The very same Kelly L. Barrall recently managed the project to digitize the microfiche she helped create over 25 years ago! Though MAPS has changed its name to Backstage Library Works, the company is still going strong, microfilming and digitizing archival collections.
Big thanks to all of those at Backstage … read more »
Editorial cartoon from the Highland Recorder, 29 May 1925:
For a history of the holiday once known as “Decoration Day,” read Ralph Cavenali’s excellent article, “The Evolution of Memorial Day.” Cavenali is Deputy Director of the Division of Preservation and Access at the National Endowment of the Humanities.… read more »
In conjunction with the Library of Virginia’s current exhibition, Teetotalers & Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia, the Virginia Newspaper Project has made its sole issue of the Prohibition newspaper Anti-Liquor available on Virginia Chronicle.
Established in 1890 by John R. Moffet, Reverend of Memorial Baptist Church in Danville, Virginia, the weekly newspaper was, “issued for the sole purpose of educating the people upon the evils of the drink habit, and especially to turn light upon the question of Legal Prohibition.”
According to Lester Cappon’s Virginia Newspapers 1821-1935, a Lynchburg temperance monthly, the Truth, was absorbed by Anti-Liquor in 1891. Moffet continued editing the paper after the merger until he was gunned down by one of his many political opponents in Danville on November 11, 1892. A history of the Reverend Moffet’s church explained, “John R. Moffett died a martyr’s death at the hand of an assassin’s bullet for the cause of temperance.” Anti-Liquor ceased publication shortly after his death.
And visit the Library tonight, May 5, for what promises to be a fun event: “Goodbye, Booze”: The Music of Prohibition (with a Beer Chaser), offering traditional live music and beer crafted in honor of the Library’s exhibition. The event goes from 5:30 to 7:30, so come thirsty and ready to learn more about Prohibition, one of our nation’s most intriguing experiments.
It provides great satisfaction to the Virginia Newspaper Project staff when rare, historical newspapers surface thanks to thoughtful Library patrons–recently some twentieth century newspapers were donated that are wonderful additions to the Library of Virginia’s current collection.
The Camp Pickett News, a weekly camp newspaper published out of Blackstone, Virginia during World War II, was given to the Library by the daughter of a soldier stationed at the camp during the war.
Three issues, from July 1942, offer a vibrant picture of camp life for the young soldier. The News included articles like “V-Mail Forms Now Available at Post Office” and “An Innocent Looking Weapon,” with a photograph of a machine gun that could “spew death at the enemy too fast for comfort.” Each issue also listed a schedule of religious worship services and contained an array of photographs, comics, sports news and local advertisements.
One article, “Soldiers Take 300 Pictures of Themselves,” foretold of the now common selfie:”‘Vanity, vanity, all is vanity,’” the story reported, “When the Bard of Avon penned those immortal lines he, of course, had no idea there would ever be a World War 2, nor that hundreds of perspiring Camp Pickett soldiers would be cheerfully standing in line awaiting the opportunity to drop their dimes in an automatic picture-taking machine.”
The July 29, 1942 issue contains a sweet personal touch on its masthead. Referring to an article about a royal holiday in Lynchburg, there is a hand written note, penned by our donor’s father to his mother which reads, “This is the trip I was going to make. It fell through but will try it again, probably Aug. 8th.”
A newspaper called Onward was also recently given to the Library by a patron whose mother had collected it. The donated issues of Onward, a … read more »
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.