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Author Archives Kelley
The Virginia Newspaper Project wishes you a very festive and super spooky Halloween. Enjoy some ghoulish tales, get helpful Halloween party tips and learn about some Halloween traditions of yesteryear in these articles from the Times-Dispatch, Free Lance and Our Church Paper. If you dare, read about the “Chain of Horrors” that haunted the site of Washington DC’s Commercial Club, and then savor the tale of Harry Brown and Frank Gray, who went into a haunted house to visit its ghostly inhabitants, and never came out. In “A True Ghost Story” learn how Mildred Edwards’s declaration that there are “no such things as ghosts” is challenged when she visits “the Old Walton Place.” For more tales of terror, visit Chronicling America and Virginia Chronicle and search “haunted house.” And, if you’re not sure how to decorate for a successful Halloween party, you can find creative ideas from the Woman’s Page of the October 27, 1912 issue of the Times Dispatch.
The R. M. S. Titanic sank 101 years ago but the memories of the disaster remain strong as ever as evidenced by the events at a recent auction.
A violin, confirmed to be on the Titanic, was sold at auction for 1.7 million dollars. Band leader Wallace Hartley played the instrument as the mighty ship slowly sank on a late night in April 1912. The final auction price is exhibit A for the enduring interest in one of the most notorious maritime disasters in modern history.
Many survivors said that the last tune played by the band was “Nearer My God to Thee,”
though Harold Bride, the surviving wireless operator, reported that he heard the band playing “Autumn.” But this creates its own sort of confusion as he didn’t say if he was referring to the Episcopal hymn or the popular song. Just one of the many details that provides a never ending source for discussion and investigation.
More evidence of the continued fascination with the sinking of the Titanic can be found in the R. M. S. Titanic: 100 Years Later, the Library’s web exhibit about the disaster created way back in 1996/97 – before the release of the blockbuster movie starring Leonardo DeCaprio and Kate Winslet!
For the video news report of the auction, please go to:
Tomorrow, a significant gift of historic African American newspapers is being given to the Library of Virginia thanks to the great generosity of the Augusta County Genealogical Society. Read about it here in the Staunton News Leader.
I will conclude this blog with a thank you to Virginia Chronicle text correctors, but first let’s begin with a quick explanation. . . .
Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, is a process by which software reads a scanned newspaper page and translates its print into searchable text. While OCR technology enables searching of large quantities of data, like that contained in Virginia Chronicle, results are never 100% accurate. Because digitized images are taken from microfilm, OCR accuracy depends on both the print quality of the original newspaper and the image quality of the microfilmed copy. If the original newspaper print is poor or damaged or if microfilm images are faded, unevenly exposed, dark or blurry, it will negatively affect OCR accuracy.
As a registered user of Virginia Chronicle, you can assist in making its searchability better by correcting inaccurate OCR. In order to do so, become a registered user by clicking “Register” in the upper right corner of the home screen. Once you’re registered, you can begin correcting text.
Next, go to the page you would like to correct, right click on the page and choose “Correct page text.”
You will then be asked to “select an area of the issue to correct its text.” After you have selected an area, the correctable text appears on the left of the screen and newspaper page on the right with a corresponding red box over the text to correct. At this point, you are ready to go. Don’t forget to click the “save” button to save any changes you’ve made.
The Virginia Newspaper Project would like to extend big thanks to registered users of Virginia Chronicle who have already corrected over 27,000 lines of text! Thanks to such engaged users, a great research tool is made even better.
The American Antiquarian Society recently donated two miniature amateur newspapers to the Library of Virginia from its large and impressive collection of early amateur publications. According to the American Antiquarian Society, the amateur newspaper occupies “an unusual place in the history of journalism” created “to afford pleasure to its readers as well as to its editor and its publisher. The rage to publish, rather than profit, is the motive that most often induces people to become amateur journalists; and, throughout the history of the genre, most but not all amateur journalists have been juveniles.”
The Southerner, published in Newport News by the Virginia Pub. Co., began in 1904 and was edited by A. M. Hamilton. Every issue of the Southerner had a different motto ranging from “The Virginia Boy Advocate” to “Virginia’s Monthly Magazinelet” to “The South’s Literary Exponent.” The subscription for the publication was a reasonable 25 cents a year (foreign subscriptions 50 cents) and advertising could be bought for five cents a line or fifty cents per inch, not a bad deal considering the paper’s size: seven inches by five inches. The Southerner contained poetry, editorials about the amateur press, character sketches, and short stories.
The Virginian, published, coincidentally, in Tiny, Virginia, was edited by Elihu J. Sutherland, scholar, genealogist, member of the National Genealogical Society, WW I soldier, teacher, lawyer, and noted local historian. Several historical works by Sutherland on Dickenson County can be found at the Library of Virginia, including Dickenson County in War Time, Pioneer Recollections of Southwest Virginia, Folk Games from Frying Pan Creek in Dickenson County, In Lonesome Cove; Poems from TVA-Land and Meet Virginia’s Baby.
Volume one, number one of The Virginian, distributed in March 1908 (also measuring seven inches by five inches) included three poems … read more »
With the “Importance of Being Cute, Pet Photography in Virginia 1840-2013″ exhibit currently at the Library of Virginia, the Virginia Newspaper Project thought it a pertinent time to feature pet related images and stories from its newspaper collection. Animals have always been a popular topic in newspapers and these are only the tip of the iceberg of what’s available. The newspapers featured here can be found on Virginia Chronicle, the Library’s database of digitized historical newspapers.
A gift for Maud, from the comic pages of the Times Dispatch, April 26, 1903:
Bruno, the loyal watchdog, taking a break from his duties, from the Virginia Farm Bureau News:
Sometimes, when it’s time to play, our canine friends get “In the Way.” Cartoon from the Richmond Planet, October 14, 1905:
From the article “Canine Globe-Trotters” published in the the Roanoke Times, March 17, 1892:
Sometimes, trying to figure out what libraries have in their collections is like excavating for buried artifacts. The Virginia Newspaper Project database provides a well organized and easy to use bibliography of American newspapers held in some of Virginia’s largest academic institutions. The database makes it easy to find newspapers in the collections of not only the Library of Virginia, but also contains information for the newspaper collections of UVA, Virginia Tech, William and Mary, Virginia Union, VCU, and the University of Richmond, among others. While many newspapers have been digitized, many more are on microfilm, so it’s important to remember microfilm when using newspapers for research. To search the newspaper database, click here.
Once you reach the bibliography, you can search for newspapers by county, city, state or country. For example, to find newspapers published in Amherst county, click the county menu and choose Amherst:
A list of newspapers published in Amherst County will display with some bibliographic information. A list of institutions who have specific titles will appear as well, along with microfilm and hard copy holdings information:
In this example, holdings for original copies would be deciphered like this: 1879 July 17, Aug. 7, 28 and Sept. 4-18. A hyphen means the holdings are continuous, while a comma indicates gaps in the holdings. Reference librarians are happy to assist if you need help deciphering the dates.
The bibliography also has … read more »
John Mitchell, Jr., fighting editor of the Richmond Planet, was born 150 years ago today.
Celebrate Mitchell’s birthday by checking out digitized copies of the Richmond Planet on Virginia Chronicle and Chronicling America.
In recent years, Greg McQuade, morning anchor of WTVR in Richmond, Virginia, has produced award winning news segments on local Richmond history. Some of the stories have focused on people who are now all but forgotten, but who were, during their lives, groundbreaking members of the community. John Mitchell, Jr., “fighting editor” of the Richmond Planet is a perfect example.
Often, McQuade uses historic newspapers to accompany his reports and the Newspaper Project is always happy to assist him when he visits the Library of Virginia. Recently, he highlighted another pivotal, and, sadly, largely forgotten figure of Richmond’s past, Elizabeth Van Lew.
Van Lew, abolitionist and fierce opponent of succession, risked her life as a spy for the Union during the Civil War. Surrounded by Confederate sympathizers, she lived in Richmond’s Church Hill district and carried out activities that would have been considered treasonous had they been discovered. None of her neighbors, though, ever suspected her of any wrongdoing during the conflict.
Because of Van Lew’s daring and heroic deeds (which included helping prisoners escape Libby Prison), she was appointed Postmistress of Richmond by the US government after the war’s end. As her wartime activities came to light, she was maligned by many in the community as a traitor.
“The most hated woman in Virginia changed state’s course” tells the tale of a heroine who risked her life, her wealth and her social status to assist the cause of the Union. Historians elaborate on why she has been forgotten and if she will re-emerge with the recognition she is due for her role in shaping the course of the war.
To learn more about Elizabeth Van Lew, check out Elizabeth R. Varon’s comprehensive history, Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A … read more »