About: Kelley

Kelley is a Senior Cataloger for the Virginia Newspaper Project at the Library of Virginia. She holds a Masters degree in American History from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Author Archives Kelley

The Amateur Press

SouthernerThe 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 Virginianseven inches by five inches) included three poems … read more »

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Pets in the Papers

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:Dog Comic 1DogComic2DogComic3

Bruno, the loyal watchdog, taking a break from his duties, from the Virginia Farm Bureau News:Bruno

Don’t worry about getting tired, young pup, you have Twee Deedle’s help! From the Times Dispatch, September 8, 1912:TeeDeedle

Sometimes, when it’s time to play, our canine friends get “In the Way.” Cartoon from the Richmond Planet, October 14, 1905:No Dogs allowed

“The Thrilling Experiences of a Loyal Young Unionist and His Noble Horse,” from the “Campfire Stories” series, published  in the Richmond Planet, October 21, 1899:Polly

From the article “Canine Globe-Trotters” published in the the Roanoke Times, March 17, 1892:Auchland


A fierce battle between man and shark and dinner for three sea cats, from the Richmond Planet, July 1, 1899:SharkCat

“Costly Cats” are all the rage in London and Paris. From the Richmond Planet, November 12, 1898:Costly Cats

And no animal blog is complete without a baby miniature horse. From the Virginia Farm Bureau News, June 1978:Minihorse

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Excavating the Collections–Using the Virginia Newspaper Project Database

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.VNPbib


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:County

Once you have chosen the county, click the “County” button:County

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:List 1

If, for example, you’d like to see what the Library of Virginia has in original format of the Amherst Enterprise, click on the Library of Virginia highlighted in blue:Holdings 1

This action will display holdings for Library of Virginia. In this case, the Library has both original and microfilm copies of the Amherst Enterprise:Holdings

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 »

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Happy Birthday John Mitchell, Jr.

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.

Front Pageread more »

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Elizabeth Van Lew: Portrait of a Union Spy, From Print to Video

Liz Van Lew portraitIn 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 »

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St. Patrick’s Day in Newspapers

St. Patrick’s Day News from the March 17, 1911 issue of the Times Dispatch. . .All images are from Chronicling America.

Headlines from the March 17, 1911 issue of the Times Dispatch. A prominent article on Ireland's home rule appears in the right column.

The Mar. 17 article detailed the continuing struggle for home rule of Ireland.


St. Patrick’s Day news from other newspapers around the state. . .

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Dark Day at City Hall

Earlier this month, WTVR Channel 6 news reporter Greg McQuade visited the Library of Virginia to assist in his research of Colonel J. M. Winstead, a North Carolina banker who committed suicide in Richmond, Virginia in August of 1894. The Richmond newspaper images that appear in this story are from the Library’s newspaper collection. We invite you to watch the story and check out related articles below. But be ready for the sad and grisly details.

The newspaper articles are from the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America, to which the Newspaper Project has contributed hundreds of thousands of pages.

For the full article from The Times (Richmond, VA), August 24, 1894: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85034438/1894-08-24/ed-1/seq-5/

For the full article from the Alexandria Gazette, August 24, 1894: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85025007/1894-08-24/ed-1/seq-2/

To see the full page from the Roanoke Times, August 24, 1894: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86071868/1894-08-24/ed-1/seq-1/

 … read more »

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Happy Valentine’s Day from the Virginia Newspaper Project

 … read more »

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100 Years Ago Today

100 Years Ago Today. . .News and advertisements from the News Leader of January 25, 1913.

The News Leader was formed in 1903 by a merger of Richmond News and Evening Leader. It became the Richmond News Leader in 1925 and was published until 1992.

 … read more »

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Playing it Safe With The Safety News

The most recent Ebay acquisition for the Library of Virginia’s newspaper collection is the Safety News of Omar, West Virginia. Published “monthly for employees of the West Virginia Coal and Coke Corporation,” it focused on topics related to company and employee news. The Library purchased three issues from March-June 1953, but the full publication span of the paper is unknown as there are no cataloged issues outside of these precious few.

Safety was of the utmost concern to the Safety News, hence its motto, “Wise men learn by other men’s mistakes—fools by their own.” The first page of Safety News sometimes included the feature “Safety Pays Everyone” describing recent accidents, injuries and deaths in mines. The brief accounts give a good deal of specific information related to each incident: “Arnold E. Lee, American Machine helper, Omar No. 15 Mine” included one report, “Injured February 4, 1953, at 3:30 a.m. Victim was caught between cutting machine and timber, resulting in fracture of seventh rib on left side. Disability undetermined. Foreman: Billy Bishop.”

Keeping things light, the following joke was printed just below the accident reports of the same issue:

The medical officer at the front was discussing the drinking water supply with the platoon sergeant:

“What precautions do you take against germs?”

“First, we boil it, sir.”


“Then we filter it.”


“And then, just to play it safe, we drink beer.”

Each month the Safety News also included the front page column “Our Board of Directors,” providing a detailed biography of a board member with accompanying photo. The March issue featured Charles R. Stevens, president of the consulting management firm Stevenson, Jordan & Harrison, Inc. “Mr. Stevenson’s firm,” the article explained, “consults to a number of important industrial companies, among which might be mentioned Pittsburgh Plate Glass … read more »

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