Category Archives: Acquisitions
Horrible Butcheries at Wilmington—The Richmond Planet’s coverage of the 1898 insurrection in Wilmington, North Carolina
By Anne McCrery, Virginia Newspaper Project Volunteer
On November 10, 1898, in response to the election of a biracial Fusionist government, a group of white Democrats in Wilmington, North Carolina organized a mob, attacking the city’s African American community and ultimately overthrowing the city’s government. Within a couple of days, the mob had killed between 15 to 60 African Americans, destroyed the office of the Daily Record, Wilmington’s black newspaper, and run its editor out of town.
It had also succeeded in enacting the only coup d’etat in American history. Despite the mob’s complete chaotic defiance of the law, little was done by governmental authorities to quell the violence, with President McKinley ignoring pleas for assistance. Unsurprisingly, the Richmond Planet covered the events in Wilmington extensively. With headlines such as “Horrible Butcheries at Wilmington–the Turks out done,” the Planet decried the racialized violence of the mob and lambasted the government for its failure to respond. The Richmond Planet, as an African American newspaper, offers a unique and valuable perspective on the 1898 Wilmington insurrections, as much of the mob’s animosity was directed toward Wilmington’s black newspaper, the Daily Record. Prior to the 1898 elections, significant tension had been building between the Daily Record and the white media of North Carolina, particularly the Raleigh News & Observer, over the issue of sexual relationships between black men and white women. The white media had engaged in a propogandic panic that black men were sexually predatory toward white women, a common assertion by white supremacists that had dangerous repercussions for black men, who were frequently lynched due to false accusations of sexual assault.
Alex Manly, the editor of the Daily Record, responded to these inflammatory assertions by stating that when sexual relationships between white women and black men did exist, they were consensual. … read more »
Recently, while visiting the Halifax County Public Library as part of a cooperative digitizing effort, Carl Childs, Local Records Services Director at LVA, was given a donation of historical newspapers by the library’s director, Joseph Zappacosta. The generous gift, comprised of thirty eight unique in state and out of state newspaper titles, turned up more than a few surprises. With newspapers from locales as near as South Boston, Virginia and as far as Laramie, Wyoming, it also contained two extremely rare finds, the Petalumian (Petaluma, CA) and the Investigator (Wilson, NC), which, until now, had never been cataloged. The newspapers, in fragile condition when they arrived, were lovingly mended and repaired by the Virginia Newspaper Project’s own Silver Persinger. With repairs completed, the newspapers will be microfilmed and then housed with LVA’s boxed newspaper collection. The preservation of this wonderful gift ensures its content will be studied for years to come without damage to the originals.
An auction purchase is but an occasional means of adding to the VNP archive but this was an occasion difficult to resist: some 100 copies of Page County papers, mostly post Civil War to early 20th century, presented for sale by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates of Mt. Crawford, Virginia.
This constitutes a significant boost to the Project’s holding for this northern Shenandoah Valley county, modest in population (about 8500 in 1870, just under three times that figure today), but varied and active in its publishing history.
The discovery in 1878 of an enormous and oddly decorated hole in the ground transformed Luray, the county seat, from a quiet Page Valley town to a still reasonably quiet but increasingly popular tourist destination. Visitors arrived first by train and then, as the 20th century progressed, by car and then even more cars after the completion in the 1930’s of Skyline Drive atop the Blue Ridge, the town’s very permanent neighbor to its immediate east. Of the eight Luray papers in the purchase, the Times claims the most impressive and detailed masthead. From an issue of 1890:
The Reconstruction period is represented by copies of the Page Valley Courier, which in two years underwent a rapid turnover of owners resulting in a trio of mottoes reflecting the political reordering of the time. Pictured below (click to enlarge), the masthead as it appeared in its inaugural issue of March 15, 1867:
By the issue below of January 10, 1868, original editors Larkins and Price have departed, and for that matter so have two other editors, H. H. Propes and J. D. Price. The Courier is now run by James F. Clark who chose a motto endorsing the primacy of white citizenship over that of recently emancipated blacks and the paper’s … read more »
The Tennessee State Library and Archives donated to the Virginia Newspaper Project some rare finds never held by the Library of Virginia until now. One of the titles, of special historical import, is called Anti-Liquor. As the name implies, Anti-Liquor was just that: a monthly newspaper committed to the prohibition of alcohol. Established in 1890 by John R. Moffet, Reverend of Memorial Baptist Church in Danville, Virginia, the paper 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 essential work, 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 assassinated in Danville on November 11, 1892. The 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.
The Tennessee State Library and Archives also gave the Library a May, 15, 1869 issue of The Collegian published by Washington College, what is today Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. Published semi-monthly by literary societies of the college, The Collegian focused on various aspects of academia and student news. The entire front page of this particular issue is taken up by one article titled, “Claims of the German Language” proposing the utility of learning German, as opposed to French. “Thus the study of German is not only interesting in itself and affords vigorous intellectual exercise,” the article concluded, “but … read more »