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Titanic, Titanic, Titanic. One would think we’ve heard enough about a ship that sank over 100 years ago.
Well, the fact you’re reading this tells me there is still more compelling reports to convey, more theories to consider, more heart rending stories to spool out, because the sinking of the Titanic, for whatever reason, is one of the most compelling and dissected tragedies of the early 20th century. The fate of the ship now somehow has worked its way into our collective psyche and it won’t let go.
The Library of Virginia’s original Titanic web site went up before the 1997 release of the box office smash movie starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio; so the site was definitely due for an update. And we’re happy to announce that if you go to https://www.lva.virginia.gov/exhibits/titanic/index.php, you will find the new site with a new name:
Titanic in Black and White.
The Titanic has a seemingly endless archive of stories and many of the tales certainly qualify as out of the ordinary. Take Arthur John Priest, who served as a fireman and stoker on the Titanic. He survived but that’s nothing new for Priest as he was on the Olympic in 1911 when it collided with HMS Hawke. Priest was on other ships that managed to sink and yet he managed each time to cheat death, like the time he was serving on the Donegal when it too was sunk by a German torpedo in 1917.
Needless to say, many on the Titanic were not so lucky.
But Virginia born Robert Williams Daniel was one of the fortunate ones as he reportedly jumped from the Titanic, swam away from the ship and was pulled from the sub 40 degree Atlantic Ocean onto a lifeboat.
Daniel’s … read more »
The following titles are now on Virginia Chronicle:
Virginia Beach WeeklyThe Musical Advocate and Singer’s FriendAlexandria Daily Gazette, Commercial & PoliticalAlexandria Gazette, Commercial and PoliticalAlexandria Gazette & Daily AdvertiserAlexandria Gazette, 1835-1857Hall ChatterAugusta NewsTowers LeaderAnd the Library of Virginia has begun a project to digitize the Bath News (1895-1897), Salem Sentinel (1895-1902), Jeffersonian Republican (Lynchburg, 1828-1830), the Bedford Bulletin (1895-1903) and the Arcadian (1930-2007), a student newspaper published by St. Catherine’s School in Richmond. These will be available exclusively on Virginia Chronicle.
Listed below are titles arriving to both the Chronicling America site and Virginia Chronicle in the coming months. Digitized with generous funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the focus of this National Digital Newspaper Program grant cycle, the fifth for Virginia, is antebellum newspapers. So, the vast majority of this group of newspapers will be pre-Civil War era. A noteworthy exception is the Tribune, an African American newspaper published out of Roanoke from 1951-1957:
- Alexandria Herald, 1813-1825
- Central Gazette/Virginia Advocate (Charlottesville), 1824-1829
- Chronicle and Old Dominion (Norfolk), 1843-1845
- New Era (Portsmouth), 1845-1847
- The Recorder (Published in Richmond, includes infamous reportage of the Thomas Jefferson/Sally Hemmings relationship), 1802-1803
- Tribune (Roanoke), 1951-1957
- Virginia Argus (Richmond), 1797-1816
- Winchester Gazette, 1811-1824
- Additional issues of the Alexandria Gazette, Central Presbyterian, Richmond Enquirer, Richmond Planet and Staunton Spectator.
Keep a look-out for new newspapers arriving to Chronicling America and Virginia Chronicle soon!… read more »
African American Narratives at the Library of Virginia
Earlier this month, the 14th annual Virginia Forum convened at Longwood University in Farmville, VA. The three-day event was packed with presentations, learned papers, and lively discussions related to Virginia history.
The theme of this year’s Forum was “Crossroads,” which, as the program notes, is both a figurative and literal term as it relates to Farmville, the town where Longwood University is located.
Three colleagues from the Library of VA, Tracy Harter, Errol Somay, and Greg Crawford, teamed up to create an engaging session titled, VA Untold: African American Narratives at the Library of Virginia. In the photograph below you will see, from left to right, Greg Crawford, Tracy Harter, Errol Somay, and our moderator, John Deal (Also from the Library of Virginia).
The Journey of the Sixty-Six from Prince Edward County to Liberia,
Tracy Harter, Senior Local Records Archivist
Researchers use a variety of resources to get to the truth of a matter, or to gain a better understanding of a story’s complexities. Manuscript collections, newspapers, maps, census records, military records, and other more familiar sources come to mind for this purpose, but the Circuit Court Records at the Library of Virginia provide invaluable detail that cannot be found in other sources—or detail that can help corroborate (or dispute) other sources. The Circuit Court Records Preservation Program at the Library of Virginia strives to provide researchers access to these records.
To demonstrate the value of Circuit Court Records, Tracy’s talk drew from two Prince Edward County chancery causes[i] and from the Dupuy Family Papers 1810-1866, a collection of private papers housed at the Library of Virginia. The individual sources seemed to tell three different stories; however, when Tracy studied them together, she was able to reveal the … read more »
Recently, while researching a totally unrelated topic in the Richmond Times Dispatch, I stumbled upon an intriguing article from Dec. 2, 1928 titled, “Ninth Woman in Congress Believes Men Spendthrifts,” about New York Congresswoman, Ruth Pratt.
In the article, Pratt called men “the spenders, the happy-go-luckies, the sentimentalists, the ‘bunk artists.’” She went on to say that, “Men do not like strong and brainy women. They prefer them helpless.” While in Washington, she hoped to put her thrifty-mindedness and managerial skill to good use. She also mentioned her relief at not being the sole woman in Congress—as she entered office in 1928, she shared the sorority of seven fellow Congresswomen.
But the first woman to win a seat in the US Congress actually came 12 years before Pratt. Jeannette Rankin of Montana was elected in November 1916, well before the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Being the first and only woman in Congress inspired much newspaper commentary–both critical and complimentary–not only across the country, but in Virginia’s press as well.
The Nov. 15, 1916 issue of Presbyterian of the South announced her election with little fanfare—as a matter of fact, the publication didn’t even take the time to learn which party she belonged to, but it did comment that she’d “feel pretty lonesome in Washington.”
The Highland Recorder, to its credit, not only knew what party she belonged to, but also printed a large photo of America’s “First Congresswoman” on the front page of its Nov. 24, 1916 issue:Commenting on Rankin’s record, the author of this the Richmond Times Dispatch article, published August 11, 1917, obviously had little confidence in her abilities. “Mrs. Jeannette Rankin’s record in Congress thus far,” reported the RTD, “does not very much encourage the idea of filling men’s places … read more »
And we’re not talking about Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio!
In advance of our soon to be released new and improved Titanic web site and in honor of Valentine’s Day, the Virginia Newspaper Project offers a unique story, a heady combination of Tragedy and Romance.
Must reading as you prepare to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
The male suitor, Robert Williams Daniel, a Virginian, managed to survive the sinking of the Titanic. To read more about this compelling story, click on the image above.
By Gregg D. Kimball, Library of Virginia
The close of the American Civil War brought two young men back to a devastated Shenandoah Valley and an uncertain future. Aldine Silliman Kieffer had joined the Tenth Virginia Volunteer Infantry and campaigned with the Army of Northern Virginia until his capture and imprisonment in 1864. Waiting to greet him on his release from Fort Delaware was his brother-in-law and friend, Ephraim Ruebush, who had served in the Union Army. The war divided many Valley families, but Kieffer and Ruebush put the past aside and renewed their friendship.
Before the war, both had worked for Kieffer’s grandfather, the pioneering Mennonite music publisher and singing master Joseph Funk. Now Funk was dead and the business lay in ruins. These two men would revive Funk’s legacy and build a company that was the foremost publisher of sacred shape-note books in the nineteenth century South: the Ruebush-Kieffer Company of Singer’s Glen and later Dayton, Virginia, in Rockingham County. To honor that legacy, the Library of Virginia’s Virginia Chronicle website has launched a fully searchable run of the company’s music journal —The Musical Million: A Journal of Music, Poetry, and Chaste Home Literature. We give special thanks to Eastern Mennonite University and Simone Horst for facilitating the digitization of their copies of the journal. The Musical Million spread the Gospel of congregational shape-note singing far and wide and laid the groundwork for the proliferation of singing schools across the South.
Shape-note hymnody came about because of a practical problem—Protestant denominations became convinced that the people of the church should praise the Lord through song, but how to accomplish this end was uncertain. Churchmen had long puzzled over how to lead congregational singing among the untutored and often illiterate. The first solution … read more »
From Virginia Chronicle, One Century Ago: Three Dailies & Four Weeklies Report the End of the Great War
“It was a few minutes before the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. I stood at the window of my room looking up Northumberland Avenue towards Trafalgar Square, waiting for Big Ben to tell that the War was over. . .And then suddenly the first stroke of the chime. I looked again at the broad street beneath me. It was deserted. From the portals of one of the large hotels absorbed by Government Departments darted the slight figure of a girl clerk, distractedly gesticulating while another stroke of Big Ben resounded. Then from all sides men and women came scurrying into the street. Streams of people poured out of all the buildings. The bells of London began to clash. Northumberland Avenue was now crowded with people in hundreds, nay, thousands, rushing hither and thither in a frantic manner, shouting and screaming with joy. I could see that Trafalgar Square was already swarming. Around me in our very headquarters, in the Hotel Metropole, disorder had broken out. Doors banged. Feet clattered down corridors. Everyone rose from the desk and cast aside pen and paper. All bounds were broken. The tumult grew. It grew like a gale, but from all sides simultaneously. The street was now a seething mass of humanity. Flags appeared as if by magic. Streams of men and women flowed from the Embankment. They mingled with torrents pouring down the Strand on their way to acclaim the King. Almost before the last stroke of the clock had died away, the strict, war-straitened, regulated streets of London had become a triumphant pandemonium. At any rate it was clear that no more work would be done that day.”
–Winston Churchill (From The World Crisis 1911-1918, Vol. 2)
By Kevin Shupe, Senior Reference Archivist at the Library of Virginia.
In 1871 Massachusetts-born Edward Daniels became the editor of the state’s flagship Republican newspaper, the Daily State Journal. He had moved to Virginia just three years previously, purchasing Gunston Hall – the formerly grand estate near Mount Vernon that had once belonged to George Mason. Daniels undoubtedly brought a Northerner’s viewpoint to the newspaper. Not only had he spent 40 years residing in New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, and most recently Chicago, he had also taken a leading role in agitating against slavery before the Civil War, was one of the founders of the Republican Party, and he had commanded a Wisconsin cavalry unit early in the war. Within a few months of taking over the newspaper, Daniels tried to win elected office. In 1871, he ran for a seat in the Virginia state legislature. A year later, he was the Republican candidate for a seat in U. S. House of Representatives. While he made a respectable showing, he lost both elections.
By all appearances, Daniels fit the stereotype of the dreaded carpetbagger — a Northerner who moved to the South after the Civil War, seeking to impose Northern political beliefs and looking to benefit from the chaotic post-war economy. This stereotype, conjured in the struggles of Reconstruction, remains a vivid censure, but it is one that in ways obscures the motives that brought Daniels briefly into the spotlight of Virginia politics. Daniels came of age in an era of rapid cultural changes, a seemingly progressive trajectory that envisioned a modern America grounded on economic and social equality. To that end he became a leading voice in a chorus of reformers who sought answers to the nation’s economic … read more »
Richmond’s John Marshall High and its outstanding student newspaper, the Monocle, have had a lot to be proud of over the years and a recent Style article reminded readers of just that, with a story on prominent artist and John Marshall alum, Nell Blaine.
Born in Richmond in 1922, Blaine attended John Marshall High during the late 1930s and worked on the Monocle’s editorial staff, contributing writings and illustrations. Known as a visual artist, her writings in the Monocle convey serious talent on the literary front as well. She also worked on other student publications, including the Recorder and El Aguila, a Spanish language newspaper created by John Marshall’s Spanish Club. Below is an excerpt of one of her articles published in the Feb. 10, 1939 issue of the Monocle:
After high school, Blaine attended Richmond Professional Institute (RPI)—what later became Virginia Commonwealth University—where she studied art and served as associate editor of RPI’s newspaper the Postscript. Her artistic talent won her two Virginia Museum of Fine Arts traveling fellows, leading her to New York to study under artists Hans Hofmann and Stanley William Hayter. As the Style article points out, she also became the first art director of New York City’s beloved and long running Village Voice, designing its original masthead:
As an eminent “Marshallite,” Blaine’s name appears in the Monocle many times over the years from 1937 until well into the 1960s. To be exact, a search of “Blaine” in the Monocle in LVA’s Virginia Chronicle database turns up over forty articles written by or about her. Long after Blaine’s graduation, the paper continued to report on aspects of her life from her rising art career to a bout with polio in 1959. Check out the Monocle… read more »
What’s true of most conferences was true of ours last week in Washington: An opportunity to share a common language with people of the same mission in the same space. The space was provided by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the co-administrators and grant source for our Project and others across the country. The mission, no longer young, now entering its thirteenth year, seeks to rescue from an unstable environment to a manageable digital home as many historical newspapers as possible.The circled total of pages on the screen shot above from the Chronicling America homepage is a number to which we’ve made a significant contribution already. It’s always increasing and at least two hundred thousand of that increase a year from now will come from the Virginia Newspaper Project (VNP). One half of that contribution will be additional Virginia newspapers prepared by VNP and the other from an ongoing partnership with West Virginia University in which we split responsibility-research and selection on their side, digitizing on ours.
The annual NDNP conference is proper reminder to its participants of the considerable effort the IT staff of the Library of Congress devotes to not merely the website’s current … read more »