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Author Archives Kelley Ewing
The Virginia Farm Bureau News has been the go-to publication for farming news since it first appeared in 1941. With articles like “Should Grades be ‘Beefed’ Up” and “Choose Tobacco Varieties to Suit Soil and Climate” anything and everything related to agriculture has been printed on its pages. With its focus on agricultural news, it’s no wonder that the Virginia Farm Bureau News has, over the years, reported on annual festivals which celebrate the regional crops of Virginia, from peanuts and soybeans to apples and tobacco. These festivals have become important cultural events, not only for the excitement they generate, but also in shaping a town’s identity and creating a sense of local pride.
An important feature of local festivals, which often include food, music, dancing, a parade, and other general merriment, has been the crowning of a queen to represent the town’s respective main crop or agricultural product. “Be it pecans, asparagus or watermelons,” as the NPR story “All Hail the Asparagus Queen! How Ag Pageants Lure New Contestants,” recently explained, “many farming communities have also had a tradition of granting their prized commodity crops their very own monarchs.” The Queen Arachis Hypogea (a.k.a Queen Peanut) once garnered as much attention as the illustrious queen of state, Miss Virginia. Here are a few queens of the crops the Farm Bureau News has celebrated over the decades:
Not only has the Farm Bureau News provided faithful coverage of festival beauties, but the Farm Bureau organization has also chosen its own representative annually since the 1950s. The conditions for competing for Miss VFBF (Virginia Farm Bureau Federation) in 1970 were that the contestant “must be a daughter of a producer member of the Farm Bureau. She must … read more »
Come on down to the Library of Virginia tomorrow night for what promises to be a fascinating discussion of the life and legacy of John Mitchell, Jr. For details, read the description below, taken from the Library’s calendar of events:
Early in the 20th century, the term “race man” described a public figure who promoted the interests of African Americans on every front. John Mitchell published the Richmond Planet from 1884 to 1929 and made it one of the most influential black newspapers of its time. Greg McQuade of Richmond news station WTVR moderates a conversation on this important figure with historian Roice Luke, biographer Ann Field Alexander, and journalist Brenda Andrews.
A reception follows the program and rarely seen editions of the Planet will be on display.
The February 4 Out of the Box blog, Fancy Skating, focused on John J. Christian Jr., champion “fancy skater of Virginia.” The first clues about Christian’s life came with the discovery of a broadside (to see the broadside, visit the Out of the Box blog) found in a Rockingham County chancery case. The broadside announced that Christian would give a roller skating exhibition at Mozart Hall on 5 May 1888.
Not long after the Out of the Box blog was published, alert reader Hank Trent notified the Archives of some newspaper articles he discovered in the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America database which provided additional information about the obscure – now a little less obscure – John J. Christian. One article Mr. Trent found, from the 21 April 1905 issue of the Iowa State Bystander, detailed Christian’s marriage to Julia C. Wilkes of Boston, Massachusetts. “The bride wore a beautiful gown of silk voile trimmed in crepe de chiene, with hat to match,” the Bystander recounted, “She carried a very pretty bouquet of Bride’s roses.”
The article not only gives more clues to Christian’s life, but also raises some interesting questions, such as what were the circumstances that brought Christian to marry a woman from Massachusetts in Iowa, so far from their home states? Another article Mr. Trent found from the 8 March 1890 Richmond Planet revealed that Christian was from Staunton and, because he was a “Jr.,” was most likely the son of John J. Christian, Staunton confectioner and bartender.
This unfolding of information once again proves the astonishing value of using digital materials for historical research, especially when those resources are cross referenced. The discovery of the broadside, a researcher’s curiosity and the accessibility to digital resources shed the first rays of light on the, … read more »
The Virginia Newspaper Project wishes you and yours a very happy New Year!
Letters to Santa Claus printed in the Richmond Evening Leader, December 23, 1902. A copy of the full page is now on display on the second floor of the Library of Virginia near the microfilm readers. If you find yourself in the building, take a look. . .Rosa was kind enough to think of her father’s horse:
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 »