Soybeans and Beauty Queens: Newspaper Coverage of the Queens of the Crop

Apple Queen 1 Sept 1982

The Virginia Farm Bureau News, September 1982

The Virginia Farm Bureau News has been the go-to publication for farming news since it first appeared in 1941. With articles like “Should Grades be ‘Beefed’ Up” and “Choose Tobacco Varieties to Suit Soil and Climate” anything and everything related to agriculture has been printed on its pages. With its focus on agricultural news, it’s no wonder that the Virginia Farm Bureau News has, over the years, reported on annual festivals which celebrate the regional crops of Virginia, from peanuts and soybeans to apples and tobacco. These festivals have become important cultural events, not only for the excitement they generate, but also in shaping a town’s identity and creating a sense of local pride.

An important feature of local festivals, which often include food, music, dancing, a parade, and other general merriment, has been the crowning of a queen to represent the town’s respective main crop or agricultural product. “Be it pecans, asparagus or watermelons,” as the NPR story “All Hail the Asparagus Queen! How Ag Pageants Lure New Contestants,” recently explained, “many farming communities have also had a tradition of granting their prized commodity crops their very own monarchs.”  The Queen Arachis Hypogea (a.k.a Queen Peanut) once garnered as much attention as the illustrious queen of state, Miss Virginia. Here are a few queens of the crops the Farm Bureau News has celebrated over the decades:

Miss VFBF Jan 1976

Virginia Farm Bureau News, January 1976

Not only has the Farm Bureau News provided faithful coverage of festival beauties, but the Farm Bureau organization has also chosen its own representative annually since the 1950s.  The conditions for competing for Miss VFBF (Virginia Farm Bureau Federation) in 1970 were that the contestant “must be a daughter of a producer member of the Farm Bureau. She must be read more »

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John Mitchell, Jr. Strong Men & Women Panel Discussion at LVA

Come on down to the Library of Virginia tomorrow night for what promises to be a fascinating discussion of the life and legacy of John Mitchell, Jr. For details, read the description below, taken from the Library’s calendar of events:

STRONG MEN & WOMEN PANEL DISCUSSION John Mitchell: Life and Legacy of Richmond’s “Race Man”
Planet's ForceWednesday, February 19, 2014
Time: 7:00 PM–8:30 PM
Place: Lecture Hall,  Free

Early in the 20th century, the term “race man” described a public figure who promoted the interests of African Americans on every front. John Mitchell published the Richmond Planet from 1884 to 1929 and made it one of the most influential black newspapers of its time. Greg McQuade of Richmond news station WTVR moderates a conversation on this important figure with historian Roice Luke, biographer Ann Field Alexander, and journalist Brenda Andrews.

 

A reception follows the program and rarely seen editions of the Planet will be on display.

This program, part of the Strong Men & Women in Virginia History project, is free and open to the public. It is underwritten by a generous gift from Dominion.… read more »

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Snow Dazed

Front page of the Richmond Times Dispatch, Feb. 8, 1936

Front page of the Richmond Times Dispatch, Feb. 8, 1936

A perennial subject for newspapers is snow storms. In Richmond, forecasters are calling for 4 – 8 inches on Wednesday and Thursday. The debilitating effects of snow are much the same today as they were 75 years ago. Here are a couple of samples from historic snowfalls in Richmond, Virginia from January 24, 1940 and February 8, 1936.

Snow related articles from Richmond Times Dispatch, Feb. 8, 1936

Snow related articles from page 1 of Richmond Times Dispatch, Feb. 8, 1936

Page 2 from Richmond Times-Dispatch of Feb. 8, 1936

Page 2 from Richmond Times-Dispatch of Feb. 8, 1936

Article about snowstorm from Jan. 24, 1940.

Article about snowstorm from Jan. 24, 1940 Richmond Times-Dispatch.

As we all know, today’s storms are nothing compared with the blizzards of yesteryear. That’s as true today as it was in 1936 and here’s proof.

From Feb. 8, 1936 Richmond Times-Dispatch

From Feb. 8, 1936 Richmond Times-Dispatch

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Chronicling America: The Key to Roller Skate Research

Marriage Iowa State Bystander 21 April 1905The February 4 Out of the Box blog, Fancy Skating, focused on John J. Christian Jr., champion “fancy skater of Virginia.” The first clues about Christian’s life came with the discovery of a broadside (to see the broadside, visit the Out of the Box blog) found in a Rockingham County chancery case. The broadside announced that Christian would give a roller skating exhibition at Mozart Hall on 5 May 1888.

Not long after the Out of the Box blog was published, alert reader Hank Trent notified the Archives of some newspaper articles he discovered in the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America database which provided additional information about the obscure – now a little less obscure – John J. Christian. One article Mr. Trent found, from the 21 April 1905 issue of the Iowa State Bystander, detailed Christian’s marriage to Julia C. Wilkes of Boston, Massachusetts. “The bride wore a beautiful gown of silk voile trimmed in crepe de chiene, with hat to match,” the Bystander recounted, “She carried a very pretty bouquet of Bride’s roses.”

The article not only gives more clues to Christian’s life, but also raises some interesting questions, such as what were the circumstances that brought Christian to marry a woman from Massachusetts in Iowa, so far from their home states? Another article Mr. Trent found from the 8 March 1890 Richmond Planet revealed that Christian was from Staunton and, because he was a “Jr.,” was most likely the son of John J. Christian, Staunton confectioner and bartender.

This unfolding of information once again proves the astonishing value of using digital materials for NewspaperStackhistorical research, especially when those resources are cross referenced. The discovery of the broadside, a researcher’s curiosity and the accessibility to digital resources shed the first rays of light on the, … read more »

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University President Ed Ayers Boosts Digital Scholarship

In September 2013, the National Digital Newspaper Program held its annual meeting in Washington, DC. Over 30 participating states attended. Included in the varied agenda were a series of presentations, beginning with a captivating talk by Ed Ayers, President of the University of Richmond and former professor of history at the University of Virginia. While at UVA, Ayers became one of the creators of a landmark digital history project titled, The Valley of the Shadow, a digital repository concentrating its scanned content on two localities on opposite sides of the Civil War.

Following Ayers on the video is a fascinating talk by Ryan Cordell and David Smith from Northeastern University on the old newspaper tradition of re-publishing items from one newspaper to another. Republished content included news items, poems, short stories, and the like, while often being edited or “improved” upon as it moved from newspaper to newspaper. Talk about digging into data!

The final presentation by Ahmed Johnson from the Library of Congress provides a concise and informative overview to doing genealogy at the Library of Congress.… read more »

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Happy New Year from the VNP!

The Virginia Newspaper Project wishes you and yours a very happy New Year!

New New Year

The Bassett Journal wishes its readers a prosperous New Year in the December 30, 1948 issue.

 

 … read more »

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Dear Santa

Letters to Santa Claus printed in the Richmond Evening Leader, December 23, 1902. A copy of the full page is now on display on the second floor of the Library of Virginia near the microfilm readers. If you find yourself in the building, take a look. . .letters1Rosa was kind enough to think of her father’s horse:

RosaletterAnd Herbert was honest enough to admit that he’d been “a right bad little boy”:

bad boyNellie letterSeveral of the letters reminded Santa not to forget other family members and those less fortunate:

letters2Linwood letterAlivin

 … read more »

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Richmond Newspapers to Lincoln: Address, What Address? An “Entirely Yankeeish” Affair. 150 Years Ago Today.

Examiner Masthead

Dispatch Masthead

What did readers of Richmond’s press in late November of 1863 learn of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and the events attending to the dedication of a new National Cemetery? Not much, not even a reproduced text, which, we’ve been reminded in recent days, totaled but 272 words.

For the editors of the Richmond Enquirer, Dispatch, Examiner, Sentinel and Whig a fuller journalistic experience (after four days of perilous navigation through a war environment) was in hand: five pages of detailed reportage in the New York Herald. These editors paid close attention the Herald output.  Below is what the Daily Dispatch decided to deliver (click to expand):

The Gettysburg Commemoration as reported by the Daily Dispatch, Nov. 25, 1863.

The Gettysburg Commemoration as reported by the Daily Dispatch, Nov. 25, 1863.

And, with special vitriol directed to the comparably verbose Edward Everett, here’s the choice of The Examiner (again, click to expand):

The Gettysburg Commemoration as Reported by the Daily Richmond Examiner, Nov. 25, 1863.

The Gettysburg Commemoration as Reported by the Daily Richmond Examiner, Nov. 25, 1863.

Other members of the Confederate press took their cue from Richmond and distributed similarly censored, sketchy accounts of the day.  A speech reminding citizens of the Union’s loyalty “to the proposition that all men are created equal” was not a message deemed germane to the day.

Nor was it in 1913, when the fifty year anniversary coverage of the Times Dispatch republished its old inaccuracies without correction.  Another newspaper that same year in its marking of the date did publish the complete Gettysburg Address-the black owned and operated Richmond Planet.

For more detail of the Virginia press response to the Gettysburg Address try this link to a book published just last month: http://www.siupress.com/product/The-Long-Shadow-of-Lincolns-Gettysburg-Address,6023.aspx

 

 

 

 … read more »

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100 Years Ago Today – Tragedies, Currency Bill, & the Trivial

From the Times Dispatch, Nov. 14, 1913

An advertisement at the bottom of page one says, “Shop Now — There are only 35 more shopping days before Christmas.” Some things never change.

Great Lakes blizzard killed 167 and destroy 10 ships.

Lack of Tiller of Soil Given as Reason for Present High Cost of Living
“Professor Kennedy stated that since 1800 cities and towns had gained three inhabitants to the rural districts’ one. Ninety per cent of the population in 1800 was farmers, as against 33 per cent to-day.” Compare with today, farmers represent just 2 percent of the U.S. population.

Senator Asks Investigation of Telephone Company
Senator Norris, of Nebraska, suspected a violation of the Sherman antitrust act.
“ ‘The local phone company is doing business under a charter granted in New York,’ said Norris. ‘It’s stock is owned by another corporation, whose stock in turn is owned by still another corporation. Then, too, the Chesapeake owns the stock of several other companies. It is a perfect mass of corporations.’ ”

Several rail accidents were reported. One near Eufaula, Alabama killed 13 and injured over 100 more. Another wreck near Wooster, Ohio killed 3 and injured another 12. Then there was the “Strange Wreck” in Joliet, Illinois. “Running forty miles an hour, a Santa Fe train carrying many passengers, ran through an open switch in Joliet to-day, but outside of slight injuries to the engineer when the engine plunged thirty feet to the street below, no one was hurt. The first coach alighted on top of the engine and retained its balance. Officials pronounced it the strangest wreck in the road’s history.”

New York City Mayor-elect, John Purroy Mitchel, filed a campaign report the day before. “Two hundred and seventy dollars for boxing lessons and a course in physical … read more »

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Happy Halloween From the Virginia Newspaper Project

 

vintage-halloween-black-cat-pumpkin-card

The Virginia Newspaper Project wishes you a very festive and  super spooky Halloween. Enjoy some ghoulish tales, get helpful Halloween party tips and learn about some Halloween traditions of yesteryear in these articles from the Times-Dispatch, Free Lance and Our Church Paper. If you dare, read about the “Chain of Horrors” that haunted the site of Washington DC’s Commercial Club, and then savor the tale of Harry Brown and Frank Gray, who went into a haunted house to visit its ghostly inhabitants, and never came out. In “A True Ghost Story” learn how Mildred Edwards’s declaration that there are “no such things as ghosts” is challenged when she visits “the Old Walton Place.” For more tales of terror, visit Chronicling America and Virginia Chronicle and search “haunted house.”  And, if you’re not sure how to decorate for a successful Halloween party, you can find creative ideas from the Woman’s Page of the October 27, 1912 issue of the Times Dispatch.

Hauntedread more »

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