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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.
The Virginia Newspaper Project and the Library of Virginia invite you to visit Virginia Chronicle, the Library’s online newspaper database and repository. We have added close to 300,000 pages to Virginia Chronicle that the Newspaper Project originally contributed to Chronicling America as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program.
But there’s more. Virginia Chronicle will include titles that are either outside the scope of the NDNP or that have particular interest for those doing Virginia related research. For example, the Library partnered with the Virginia Farm Bureau, an advocacy group for the farming industry, to include issues from the 1940’s to 1999 of the Farm Bureau News on Virginia Chronicle.
Our Church Paper (New Market, 1875-1904) will be added in the next few days.
Look for the following titles to be added to Virginia Chronicle in the coming weeks:
Amherst Progress 1904-1922
Campaign 1884-1888 Richmond
Afro-American Churchman 1886-1890 Petersburg
Missionary Weekly 1889-1890 Richmond
Jeffersonian Republican 1859-1889 Charlottesville
Children’s Friend 1865-1884 Richmond
Critic 1887-1889 Richmond
Evening News 1868-1873 Harrisonburg
Roanoke Baptist Union/Baptist Union 1888-1914
Evening Truth 1887 Richmond
Virginia Farmer 1908-1909 Emporia
Virginia Chronicle also offers patrons a text correcting option, a great new feature that we’re excited to have added to the database. By simply registering, users can assist in correcting text that may have been missed or “misread” by optical character recognition (OCR) software. OCR is impressive technology but it’s not perfect and through user participation, text correcting will improve search results while making a very good database even better.… read more »
New Market, established 1796 in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and settled largely by German Lutherans and Mennonites, was home to Our Church Paper, a Lutheran weekly published from 1873-1905 by Henkel & CO.’s Steam Printing House. Founded in 1806 by the Reverend Ambrose Henkel who, according to A History of Shenandoah County, got his start in the printing business when in 1802, at the age of 16, he walked to Hagerstown, Maryland from New Market to apprentice with a printer by the name of Gruber, who was known for almanacs. Shortly thereafter he purchased his own press and “hauled it up the valley to New Market” where he set up and began printing a German newspaper called The Virginia and New Market Popular Instructor and Weekly News. From 1806 to 1925 the press was operated by various members of the Henkel family, printing works in the interests of the Lutheran church.
Our Church Paper was perhaps the most well-known publication by the Henkel press. The paper was “devoted to the interests of the Evangelical Lutheran Church” and offered ”articles of faith and doctrine, it will contain much of admonition, besides matter of general interest to the family.” The first page was always a printed sermon, followed by local and national news of particular interest to Lutherans on pages two and three, and then a bounty of recipes, home remedies, household wisdom and light humor on page four.
From that last page today’s reader can get a sense of how it was to run a household around the turn of the last century. It certainly wasn’t easy; take for example the article on achieving the perfect cup of coffee at the top of the page. We can take for granted modern food processing and household improvements such as precise … read more »
In 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 »
The Short Happy Life of The Chickahominy Sun
The above stands as a slight upgrade, it is hoped, to the first headline of this small town weekly’s blog introduction, the simply descriptive-Now On Microfilm, The Chickahominy Sun. The Sun’s three year plus nine month duration is certainly not as short as many other newspapers nor is it possible to accurately attest to its comparable happiness. Yet sometimes, even a minor coincidence cannot be resisted. The Sun shares a year of origin, 1938, with the hardback publication of Hemingway’s short story “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”. So there you are. Let’s add one more word of description which could be applied to Macomber’s last moments (at least from his perspective) and to The Sun-perplexing. Perplexing, that is, to imagine how an eight page, six column paper found itself a home in Providence Forge. For in the time consumed reading to this point, a driver (at 45 mph, assuming a green light at the intersection of route 60 and state road 155) might have successfully traversed the town and turned back to relive it all over again.
Before reproducing the front page of the first issue, let’s take a closer look (necessary since the scale is so curiously small) at the unusual design work beneath the arched Chickahominy in the masthead.
Is this the sun? One supposes. As perhaps referenced via ancient Egypt and the eye of Horus? One supposes with a little less confidence. Turning to firmer ground, the paper takes its name not from the town but the Chickahominy River that acts as border to the two counties of principal coverage, New Kent and Charles City. The river is unidentified in this charmingly peculiar depiction but the residents know their own river and besides there’s … read more »
Courage Undaunted: Project staff brave the elements to help preserve and provide access to the Southwest Virginia Enterprise.
Thanks to the many alert colleagues throughout the Commonwealth, the Virginia Newspaper Project continues to receive tips from the field about original ink press newspaper files in need of preservation and cataloging. And if the title meets certain criteria, the Newspaper Project will place the title in the queue for digitization for inclusion in both the NDNP database (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov) and the Library of Virginia’s digital repository at http://virginiachronicle.com
A recent example of a great find comes from the western regions, in Wytheville, Virginia. Cathy Reynolds, Archivist at the Wytheville Community College has put together a fantastic run of the Southwest Virginia Enterprise from the earlier years in the 1880’s right up to 1923.
There’s actually more, but we wanted to make sure we were able to get the job done on this initial batch before moving forward with the post-1923 issues.
As many of you know it can be a bit of an adventure traveling from Richmond to Wytheville and back again. This time around, members of team VNP were caught in a flash snow storm that, as if on cue, produced heavy downpours and a thick fog on Afton Mountain.
However, despite the slow going, we made it back to the Library of Virginia and the handsome 11 volumes are safe and sound at VNP Headquarters.
According to Lester Cappon’s Virginia Newspapers 1821-1935, the Southwest Virginia Enterprise began in 1870 as a weekly and then moved to semi-weekly later that year. From 1870 to 1900, the Enterprise appears to have moved through a number of changes in publishers including J. A. Whitman, who, in 1908, merged the SWVE with the Wytheville Dispatch, a venerable newspaper that began publishing in 1862.
We include a few images happy to have the opportunity to preserve and provide better … read more »
There is a growing interest in the lost art of hand-lettering as evidenced by the recent premier of Sign Painters at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. in March.
At a time, when many young people have spent their entire lives with a computer in their home and Photoshop has become a verb, there is a renewed appreciation for the unique look that hand lettering produces. Here is a collection of random photos I have taken over the years, while I have worked with original newspapers here at the Library of Virginia.
These pieces are most likely from newspapers ranging from the 1900′s into the 1940′s, though hand lettering continued to be seen well into the 1970′s. Even before computers came along and completely decimated the craft there were other methods of photo-mechanical reproduction of type that severely limited the need for hand lettering.
Enjoy the lettering.
Don’t miss this second gallery of images.
Richmond panned by press! — Restauranteurs “swindlers and knaves” say soldiers — One dollar twenty-five cent outrage!
The Family Budget was a hand-written camp newspaper by Edward Budget, Confederate soldier in Hampton’s Legion which was formed after South Carolina seceded. The Library of Virginia holds this issue from July of 1861 in which Budget describes camp life on a rainy day, the arrival of artillery from Tredegar Iron Works, and criticizes Richmond at length for taking advantage of soldiers, and of being too “Yankee,” among other offenses. The text is transcribed below.
July 14th, 1861
We had hoped to have been able to chronicle in this issue an account of the presentation by Pres. Davis of a flag to Hampton Legion as the Legion were informed several days ago that said presentation would take place on the afternoon of Saturday the 13th […]; this however we are unable to do, not through any fault of our reporters but simply because the presentation did not take place, owing to the fact that the Executive was on that day too unwell to come out to Camp. The presentation will probably take place tomorrow at any rate in time for us to give an account of it in our next. The [stand] of colors is a present from Carolina ladies.
Yesterday two six-pound rifle cannons arrived for the artillery and received a hearty welcome; these pieces were cast in the Tredegar Works Richmond and are beautiful specimens of workmanship.
Judging from appearances we would think that some important military movement was on foot in the neighborhood of Yorktown this morning. There were […] about fifty or sixty feet long passed here on the rail road on their way to said place yesterday, a number of gun carriages, [timber chests], etc. and the day before several heavy pieces of artillery all … read more »
I would like to introduce you to the Mountain Laurel, a unique paper from Meadows of Dan, Virginia. The Mountain Laurel warned readers that it would “not keep you informed of world events” but instead sought to “portray mountain people with honor and distinction”, hence the double-meaning in the title: a laurel is not only a native flower but also means “honor and distinction”.
Distinctly Appalachian, the paper introduced readers to Glendon Boyd, wood carver and artisan rake-maker, and it told the tale of the man who once fell out of his cornfield and broke his leg because the land there was so steep. It would keep readers up to date with a report from the Floyd County Public Library which once resided in the basement of the Floyd courthouse. Readers clamored to contribute their own stories and memories making the paper a rich and entertaining resource full of oral history. The Mountain Laurel has been collecting and printing the lore, history, culture, and happenings of their Blue Ridge Mountain community since Bob and Charlotte Heafner and Susan Thigpen set up shop with an electronic typewriter in a rented farmhouse in March 1983.
A few years ago, Bob Heafner generously lent his collection of the Mountain Laurel to the Library of Virginia so it could be preserved on microfilm. Issues for March 1983 through Winter 1995 are available on Film 2025A.
The Mountain Laurel maintains a website for the journal with many transcribed articles available and they are still accepting submissions of readers’ stories. Please visit mtnlaurel.com for more of these wonderful stories.… read more »