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To review, here’s a newspaper roll call of the five daily newspapers (there were also weekly papers – four of them religious) in Richmond in late March at the close of the Civil War: the Richmond Examiner, Enquirer, Whig, Sentinel and (leaving no doubt about its frequency) the Daily Dispatch.
They publish in the war years (the Sentinel beginning in 1863) despite a “decrease in advertising, the shortage of ink and paper, the strike of printers, the loss of skilled workman by conscription, and…a depreciation of the currency, causing prices to rise to unprecedented levels,” as Lester Cappon writes in his introduction to Virginia Newspapers 1835-1935, a ready reference at the Project.
There’s no work around or compromise with fire, however, and the destruction of much of the city center April 3 (a Monday) one hundred and fifty years ago – marked with much ceremony here in Richmond over the weekend – left only the Whig capable of printing a narrative of the chaos accompanying the city’s surrender. And only after the approval, announced in an editor’s note, of the occupying Federal commander.
Given our task as preservers of Virginia’s newspaper heritage, we’re also interested readers. This includes the present day 21st century descendent of the Daily Dispatch, The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Especially when they reproduce the past in such compelling fashion as they did in last Saturday’s edition.
Something on page 2 caught our eye:
What’s that again? April 1, the last issue of the Daily Dispatch? What then of the April 3rd issue we have in hand and read in preparation for the blog the Friday previous? Bear in mind, if you’re an archivist, this advances the tingling onset of mystery and intrigue. Already we brooded with some … read more »
On Monday, April 3, the city burns. The following day Lincoln walks the still smoking ruins and the capital faces occupation by the Federal Army. April 9, about 90 miles west, Lee surrenders his force. And on the 14th of the month, the President is assassinated.
But on March 30, the beguiling calm of routine jurisprudence prevails in city court. The Examiner reports:
Only four days later, as the planned warehouse fires move beyond anything resembling a plan, the “presiding” Mayor Mayo sits within a carriage heading east to the Union lines, a note of capitulation on his person.
Anarchy, a massive munitions explosion its overture, plays out in the daylight, a wretched, sour bacchanalia no court can address.
The Examiner office yields to the inferno and has a share of black space on the map above. The Daily Dispatch and the Enquirer were consumed too. The winds favored the Whig. It’s their map.
Tomorrow, March 21, 2015, the Library of Virginia is co-hosting what promises to be a fascinating two city symposium To Be Sold: The American Slave Trade from Virginia to New Orleans. Noted speakers will discuss the slave trade between Richmond and New Orleans–how it operated and its impact on families and communities. Unfortunately, all spots for the event have been taken, but don’t despair! The event will be streaming live and filmed by the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab for later viewing through the Library’s website.
Featuring distinguished scholars Maurie McInnis, Charles B. Dew, Alexandria Finley, Calvin Schermerhorn, and Phillip Troutman, the first half of the event, from 9 am to 12:45 pm, will be held at the Library of Virginia. The afternoon session will shift focus to the Crescent City, as Walter Johnson, Stephanie Jones-Rogers, Larry Powell and Adam Rothman will be telecast from the Williams Research Center in New Orleans. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in discussions with panel members in both cities.
This highly anticipated event is in conjunction with the Library’s To Be Sold exhibit, which examines the slave trade in Richmond and the “second passage” or the forced passage of slaves from the Upper South to the Deep South. To tell the story, the exhibit relies on a wide variety of primary source materials from receipts and census records to slave inventories and newspapers—central to the exhibit, are oil paintings done by nineteenth century English artist Eyre Crowe, depicting slave markets in Richmond and Charleston, S.C. The collection of materials used in the exhibit, drawn from the Library and other institutions, powerfully conveys the devastation of slavery and the slave trade.
Because this is the Fit to Print blog, we’d like to mention newspapers and their part in telling the … read more »
The Virginia Newspaper Project will jump at any opportunity to publicize itself and Virginia Chronicle.
To that end, the 2015 issue no. 1 of the Library of Virginia’s Broadside magazine (page 8) offers an excellent article by Joanne Yeck that describes using Virginia Chronicle for genealogical and county research. Ms. Yeck wastes no time providing helpful search tips!
If your interest is at all related to Buckingham County and the immediate surrounding area, please take a look at Ms. Yeck’s blog, slate river ramblings, as well as her print publications, though they cover a wide range of topics.
Here is an image from a recent slate river ramblings blog entry:
Progress At Last-Twenty Years, Actually. The Caroline Progress of Bowling Green–Now Entering VNP Preservation.
Between 1883 and 1909 six of the seven newspapers that ever claimed Bowling Green as home appeared, and then disappeared, after publishing for no more than two or three years. Now I can’t describe the following as an especially significant curiosity, but it certainly qualifies as at least a noteworthy anomaly – though admittedly one only an archivist might find amusing. It so happens each of these papers chose the county name and a single word identifier for their title. This does, however, provide an excuse to summarize the disappointing state of the Project’s Caroline County collection at the Library of Virginia in the following abbreviated manner: a Courier without arrival, an Echo unheard, a Promoter without promotion, an Advance never forwarded, News never read, and a Sentinel in lonely solitude. Here’s the single Caroline Sentinel (minus a bite) in our possession.
That’s five members of the regrettably lengthy Project “wish list” (not to mention the “wish more” list of which the Sentinel is a part). We do learn from our 1936 go-to reference, Virginia Newspapers, 1821-1935, A Bibliography, by Lester Cappon, PhD. (the Mighty Cappon at the desk!…the reference desk) that the University of Richmond holds one copy of the Caroline Echo, the Virginia Historical Society has a few additional copies of the Sentinel and about a year of the Caroline Promoter. The Caroline Courier, Advance, and News-POOF–the departure sfx for transport to oblivion, the default site for the great unfound. Sigh.
After the demise of the Caroline Echo in 1909, Cappon tells us, for the next ten years local readers had no choice but to seek a newspaper from Ashland to the south (the Hanover Weekly Herald or Progress-they merged in 1919), Fredericksburg to the north (most likely the Daily Star… read more »
Virginia Chronicle is currently home to over 50 newspapers online. We are particularly happy to include late 20th century newspapers such as the Virginia Farm Bureau News as part of the array of titles that provide rich content, documenting the events and lives of citizens throughout the commonwealth.
Another newspaper/journal of note from the late 20th century is the Mountain Laurel: The Journal of Mountain Life, a publication that for years recorded engaging stories, both big and small, about the people living in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains in an area known as the Meadows of Dan.
The Library’s online collection matches the print run of the Mountain Laurel: 1983 – 1995.
But the Mountain Laurel lives on online at http://www.mtnlaurel.com/.
Bob Heafner, one of the founders of the Mountain Laurel, continues to add stories and photographs to the site and with each contribution the journal provides yet another tantalizing glimpse of mountain life.
I don’t think the founders and editors of the Mountain Laurel would be offended if it is said that the journal is redolent of the best that the Foxfire series had to offer over the years. By reading the pages of the ML online at Virginia Chronicle or at the mtnlaurel.com, get ready to learn a few practical things about living in the mountains and to soak up a bit of timeless wisdom from voices that stretch back generations.
For example, I was curious about a couple of the more arcane food items that I have heard about over the years: ramps and poke sallet. Sure enough, a search on Virginia Chronicle of the pages of the Mountain Laurel gave me a nice starting point for additional research when it comes to local usage of each … read more »
A now chastised member of the Project staff expressed the feeling that the newspaper editorial “Yes, Virginia” was perhaps reaching the end of its cultural lifespan–that the heartbeat of this century old defense of Santa Claus was fading fast and exiting the collective memory.
This person was misinformed. And promptly Wiki-corrected. And then experienced the Wiki-fatigue he richly deserved. You may follow in his tracks if you wish: Yes, Virginia.
If you made it through the opening section of the Wiki entry, you now know the history of the “most reprinted editorial ever to run in any newspaper in the English language.” To further reinforce that reputation, we’re reprinting it below, from the 21 September 1897 issue of the New York Sun.How many newspapers reproduced this editorial in the next century? Lots. Lots and Lots. For example, here it is in the Clinch Valley News of 23 December 1921.
All of us here at the Virginia Newspaper Project want you to know that we believe in Santa Claus. And we believe in a newspaper editorial that supports the belief in Santa Claus. And we believe in the reprinting and reproduction of editorials that support the belief in Santa Claus. And we believe in the historical preservation of editorials that support the belief in Santa Claus. And we believe in the historical preservation of editorials that support the belief in Santa Claus in both microfilm and digital formats.
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE VIRGINIA NEWSPAPER PROJECT!
p.s. The editorial read by Virginia, herself.
The Library of Virginia’s current exhibit, “To Be Sold,” open through 30 May 2015, examines the slave trade in Richmond. Viewed through the lens of primary source material–broadsides, court records, city directories, business receipts, census records, artifacts, books and paintings–the exhibit provides the visitor with vital information from which the stories of Richmond’s past emerge.
Newspapers, of course, are another critical resource for historical study in this area–free, online digital resources, like Virginia Chronicle and Chronicling America, provide easy access to hundreds of thousands of newspaper issues and the history therein.
Together, the documents of the time create a more complete, deeply layered account of those directly involved in and affected by Richmond’s slave trade: Like Robert Lumpkin, one of the city’s most active slave dealers from the 1840s until 1865. And Anthony Burns, a slave who escaped to Boston, only to be captured and returned to Virginia under the Fugitive Slave Law.
The storied land that was home to Lumpkin’s Jail, aptly called the Devil’s Half Acre is, today, mostly covered by a sprawling parking lot and interstate 95. But from 1844 until the end of the Civil War, it was “a human clearinghouse and. . .purgatory for the rebellious.”[i]
In 1844 Robert Lumpkin purchased three lots on Richmond’s Wall Street, a commercial district and home to several of the city’s profitable slave auction houses. The lots, previously owned by Lewis Collier, contained a brick dwelling house, outbuildings and a jail when Lumpkin bought them. Under his ownership, the jail became known as “Lumpkin’s Jail” and established itself as Richmond’s most notorious compound for runaway slaves and slaves … read more »
Thanksgiving 1958Thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s work. Who needs a drink? Four of the six liquor ads from this 1958 issue.Thanksgiving 1968Thanksgiving 1978Thanksgiving 1988And the Christmas encroachment begins…
p.s. One more from 1958. Something to consider when you’re deciding whether to leave your phone in your pocket or on the Thanksgiving table…
… read more »
The Virginia Newspaper Project recently added issues to three titles that are currently available on Virginia Chronicle.
The added issues help to fill gaps in three popular titles published in three different parts of the state.
The Monocle was the high school newspaper for John Marshall High School in Richmond, VA while the Peninsula Enterprise was published for years in Accomac and eventually superseded by the Eastern Shore News.And then there’s the Alexandria Gazette, a daily that has origins dating back to the early 19th century. The Newspaper Project’s plan is to eventually have a complete run of the Alexandria Gazette from 1836 through 1922.The new issues push the total number of pages in Virginia Chronicle to just fewer than 400,000. Look for another spike in Virginia Chronicle’s page count in the coming weeks as we add new issues as well as brand new titles to our ever growing database.