About: Silver

I am a citizen of Richmond, Virginia since 1990 when I moved here to attend VCU. I've been at the Library of Virginia for over ten years and worked with the Virginia Newspaper Project for most of that time. When I'm not working, I spend much of my time editing and uploading videos of live music, stand-up comedy, and Richmond City Council meetings.

Author Archives Silver

Newly Established Union Newspaper in Richmond on the Assassination of Lincoln

The Library of Virginia does have the Saturday, April 15, 1865 issue of The Richmond Whig, but the paper made no mention of the assassination attempt from the previous night. In the April 15 issue, the first item on page one is an account of a speech given by President Lincoln on April 11 from a window at the White House on the subject of Reconstruction. Here is one interesting bit from the President’s speech, “The colored man, too, in seeing all united for him, is inspired with vigilance, energy and daring to the same end. Granting that he desires the elective franchise, will he not attain it sooner by saving the already advanced steps toward it than by running backward over them? Concede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be as the egg is to to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it. [Laughter.]”

Richmond has a long history of Whig newspapers, but similarly to The Richmond Times mentioned in the previous post, this edition of The Richmond Whig was a new newspaper, starting up in the days following the conclusion of the war.

Lester J. Cappon wrote about The Richmond Whig in his book Virginia Newspapers 1821-1935: “Publication suspended M[arch] 31, 1865, because of war conditions and ‘resumed this afternoon Ap[ril] 4–new ser., v.1, no. 1] with the consent of the military authorities. The editor, and all who heretofore controlled its columns, have taken their departure. The proprietor [William Ira Smith, April 4 - June 22, 1865] . . . has had a conference with Gen. Shepley, the Military Governor. . . . The Whig will therefore be issued hereafter as a Union paper,’ (cf. issue of Ap 4) the first … read more »

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Eye Witness Account of Lincoln’s Assassination and Funeral Preparations

From the Richmond Times dated April 21, 1865, Volume 1, Number 1.

The first edition of this newly established newspaper was published a full week after the assassination of President Lincoln. It is the predecessor of Richmond’s only remaining daily newspaper, The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Page one of the newspaper has a thorough account of the evacuation of Richmond which began on the morning of April 3, 1865.

Image of masthead from April 21, 1865 issue of The Richmond Times.

From Page 2:

THE GREAT TRAGEDY!
Paticulars of the Assassination!
The President’s Death-Bed Scene!
FUNERAL CEREMONIES!

Statement of an Eye-Witness.

Mr. James P. Ferguson, who was present at the theatre on the night of the assassination, makes the following statement:

When the second scene of the third act of the play was reached, Mr. Ferguson saw (and recognized) John Wilkes Booth making his way along the dress circle to the President’s box. Mr. Ferguson and Booth had met in the afternoon and conversed, and were well acquainted with each other, so that the former immediately recognized him. Booth stopping two steps from the door, took off his hat, and holding it in his left hand, leaned against the wall behind him. In this attitude he remained for half a minute; then he stepped down one step, put his hands on the door of the little corridor leading to the box, bent his knee against it, the door opened, Booth entered, and was for the time hidden from Mr. Ferguson’s sight.

The shot was the next Mr. F. remembers. He saw the smoke, then perceived Booth standing upright, with both hands raised, but at the moment saw no weapon or anything else in either. Booth then sprang to the front of the box, laid his left hand on the railing in front, was checked an instant evidently by his coat or pants being … read more »

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Newspaper Accounts on the Death of Lincoln

With the renewed interest in President Abraham Lincoln due to Steven Spielberg’s latest movie, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at newspaper coverage of the assassination and the ensuing manhunt. In the spirit of full disclosure, much of Lincoln was filmed in Richmond, Virginia and I was an extra in the film, playing a Radical Republican. See photo below.

Photo of Silver Persinger in costume as a 19th Century Congressman.

I played Republican #17 in Spielberg's "Lincoln."

To my surprise, our collection has very few Virginia newspapers from the period just after the war. Many newspapers we have from that time seemed to have stopped publishing in March 1865 as a result of worsening conditions in wartime Virginia. It is helpful to know a few dates concerning the end of the war: Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox on April 9, 1865; Lincoln was assassinated on Friday evening of April 14, 1865 and died the following day at 7:22 AM.

I was able to find several papers from the days following the assassination that have interesting information I have never come across before. I thought it would be beneficial to simply transcribe some of these accounts to satisfy public curiosity.

Over the next several days, we will feature extracts of articles from the newspapers published shortly after Lincoln’s assassination.

Masthead of The Alexandria Gazette

From The Alexandria Gazette, April 21, 1865

On page 1, appeared the following:

OFFICIAL
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON CITY, April 20, 1865,

One Hundred Thousand Dollars Reward.
The murderer of our late beloved President, Abraham Lincoln, is still at large !!!
FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS REWARD will be paid by the Department for his apprehension, in addition to any reward offered by Municipal authorities or State Executives.
TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS REWARD will be paid for the apprehension of G. A. ATZEROT, sometimes called “Port Tobacco,” one of Booth’s accomplices!
TWENTY-FIVE … read more »

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When in Our Nation’s Capitol

There was a story on yesterday’s Morning Edition about an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The exhibit is called “Shock of the News” features works of art that utilize newspaper.

Listen to the NPR story (7:20 minutes) and see some photos from the exhibit, here.

If you find yourself in Washington, D.C. you should check out the show. Admission is free. The National Gallery of Art, located on the National Mall between 3rd and 7th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW, is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Gallery is closed on December 25 and January 1.… read more »

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100 Years Ago Today: Chaos at the Republican Convention

Front page of June 21, 1912 issue of the Times Dispatch.
The ascension of Mitt Romney, though drawn out, is boring by comparison to the Republican Convention of 1912. The June 21, 1912 issue of the The Times Dispatch devoted nearly the entire front page to the activities of the major parties in preparing for the November election. The headline declares “Beat to Frazzle, Roosevelt May Quit Republican Party.” The previous evening in Chicago, former President Theodore Roosevelt spoke to the convention saying, “If the people want a progressive party, I’ll be in it,” and “I shall have to see if there is a popular demonstration for me to run.” There were challenges to the credentials of delegates for Taft and Roosevelt, each seeking to advance their own candidate’s interests.

Two articles describe the chaos of the day’s events at the Republican Convention. One article describes that the official business at the meeting for the previous day lasting 5 minutes.… read more »

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Conserving to Preserve or “Ironing Newspapers”

Original condition of the May 13, 1862 issue of The New York Tribune we recently received, showing tattered edges, large tears, and old tape repairs

One of the things that I do with the Newspaper Project is mending newspapers.  Last week I repaired an issue of The New York Tribune, a 12-page newspaper from New York City dated May 13, 1862 that was recently donated to the Library.  Although it is not a Virginia newspaper, it still contains relevant information about the conduct of the war in Virginia.  Many of the articles are simply reprinted dispatches from Union Generals.  The articles on the front page describe the capture and occupation of Norfolk, Virginia.  The map depicts Union and Confederate positions just southeast of Williamsburg, Virginia.

Another interesting feature of the paper is a 4 page section listing of properties that were going to be auctioned off in order to pay off assessments.  This was a public notice that the properties could be redeemed if the owner paid the amount due with a penalty of 14% interest per year within a 2 year period.

Below are before and after photographs of reassembled pages.

Before and after images of page 1.

Before and after images of page 2. The dark spots on the paper are the result of tape residue left behind from a previous attempt to repair the newspaper.

Detail photographs of repairs using Filmoplast R.

How It is Done

With a few household items and one specialty item, I am able to make my repairs.  The required items are a pair of scissors, parchment paper (like what you would use to bake cookies — I also prefer the unbleached parchment paper), an electric iron, and Filmoplast R.   Another item that is helpful is a large smooth board to iron on.  I use a piece of 1/8″ cardboard that is not corrugated and I also have a piece of parchment paper taped onto the board.… read more »

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Do you have old Virginia Newspapers?

A storage shelf holding stacks of deteriorating newspapers.

Despite the fact that the Library of Virginia holds the largest collection of historic Virginia newspapers with 2616 titles on microfilm and over 2000 titles in original format, we are always interested in locating new issues of old Virginia newspapers to enhance our collection.  If you or someone you know has old newspapers moldering away in an attic or basement, please send them our way.

We may be interested in your collection (even if it only a few scattered issues), especially if it contains newspaper titles we do not currently have represented in our collection.   One of our main goals at the Virginia Newspaper Project is to promote access to these one-of-a-kind primary sources.  You may donate your old newspapers or loan them to us long enough to allow us to microfilm them.  Once on microfilm, they will be available to the public at the Library of Virginia and through our inter-library loan service.  We are available to travel to your location to pick-up original newspapers, and depending on the quantity and condition of your newspapers, we can usually complete the microfilming task in the course of several months.  If it is a significant collection, we can also provide a copy of the microfilm to be deposited to your local library so it may be used by your community.

You may direct your questions and inquiries to our Director Errol Somay at 804-692-3559 or by email errol.somay@lva.virginia.gov .

 … read more »

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Real Estate Newspaper Sheds Light on Role Played by Developers


richmondprogress1886-1

The Virginia Newspaper Project recently purchased two issues of an eight page newspaper entitled The Richmond Progress from a historic newspaper dealer. The issues are not dated but believed to be from 1884 and 1886 and they are printed as Volume I, numbers 4 and 6 respectively. The Library of Virginia previously had just one issue in our collection, Volume 1, Issue 1 which is only 4 pages and appears to be from 1882.

The paper was published in Richmond, Virginia by J. Thompson Brown & Co., Real Estate Agents and Auctioneer with offices at 1113 Main Street. The papers are largely made up of listings for houses, buildings, and land for sale.

The later issues are interesting for their feature articles. In the 1884 issue, one article references the illustrations that had been prepared for the publication. Three etchings depict the growth of the city in 1800, 1830, and 1870. Brief historical sketches are drawn for each period. I enjoyed hearing the population numbers for Richmond; 5,730 in 1800, 16,000 in 1830, and 65,000 by 1870.

There are brief articles about the value of owning real estate, a short history of City Directories in Richmond, articles advocating a bridge between Church Hill and Shockoe Hill and a street railway line to Manchester, largely to promote business and increase real estate values. In recent years, there has been discussion about the City purchasing Mayo Island and developing it as a park. So it is humorous to see on page 5 proposals to develop the same lands. “By opening up pleasure resorts along the route, which is most peculiarly adapted by nature for these purposes, such as boat houses, dancing pavilions, mercantile and mechanics’ pleasure clubs of every variety–that something, in which our city is woefully deficient, to attract business like … read more »

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