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Awaiting the Great Path of Darkness – The Total Eclipse of 1900

27May_2

On a Monday, in late May, 1900, a corner of Virginia, under clear skies, experienced not the partial eclipse we’ll experience here in the Commonwealth, but a total eclipse of the sun.

Norfolk was one of the few major population sites in the United States situated in the path of totality. The eclipse path moved from the Gulf of Mexico into southeast America and then into the Atlantic Ocean.

We have selected images from the Newspaper Project’s digital archive, Virginia Chronicle, previewing a story of a celestial nature that previously had not been described in such detail by newspapers.

And consider that in-depth reporting of the eclipse belonged almost solely to the newspaper medium – before the advent of radio, television, and Instagram.  It is difficult to conceive, given our 21st century media landscape, that newspapers served as the primary source, and for many, the sole source, of information; hence the graphs, charts, and the heady mix of scientific facts and romantic conjecture.

The first front page coverage appeared on the preceding Thursday. It notes that teams of scientists and dozens of members of  the Geographical Society, as well as President William McKinley, will arrive to observe the phenomenon.

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Of the papers in the Tidewater region, only the Virginian-Pilot published illustrations like the following from Friday’s edition:

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Operating on the same principle that if you drain the Atlantic Ocean you’ll find the lost city of Atlantis, there was hope that the planet Vulcan would reveal itself during the solar eclipse. Alas, it remained undiscovered. For the curious, Wikipedia outlines the 19th century origins of the pursuit for the mystery planet.

More detail for the curious shows up, page 2, on Saturday:

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The Sunday edition featured the zodiac framed graphic shown at the top of this page, plus, … read more »

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The Beauty of Hand Lettering in Newsprint

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.

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Happy Valentine’s Day from the Virginia Newspaper Project

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100 Years Ago Today

100 Years Ago Today. . .News and advertisements from the News Leader of January 25, 1913.

The News Leader was formed in 1903 by a merger of Richmond News and Evening Leader. It became the Richmond News Leader in 1925 and was published until 1992.

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Happy Holidays from the Virginia Newspaper Project

Holiday themed images from the Bristol Herald Courier, 1935.

Holiday themed images from the Basset Journal, 1946.

Holiday images from Amherst Journal, 1977.

Similar to our friends at the Mecklenburg Times in 1941, above, the Virginia Newspaper Project is taking some time off for the holidays. Best wishes to you and yours! We’ll see you next year!… read more »

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How much was that? continued…

Advertisements from the Blue Ridge Herald (Purcellville, Virginia), Jan. 6, 1955

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How much was that?

What was the cost of tuna, sugar or rice in 1955?

How about a man’s coat?

A commode?A pair of pumps?

Advertisements are from the Blue Ridge Herald (Purcellville, Virginia) of January 6, 1955. Tune in tomorrow for more…….… read more »

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Donated to LVA-The Star-A High School Paper That Gets High Marks

While the Library of Virginia’s historical newspaper collection is extensive and varied, it has a genre of newspaper that may be surprising to some: twentieth century high school newspapers. Thanks to a generous donation, the Library of Virginia recently added another high school newspaper to its collection, the Star, of South Boston.  Edited and published by the students of Halifax County High School, it featured stories on student life with a graphic sophistication that encouraged comparisons to the look of a professional daily. That’s certainly one reason the Star attracted a diverse advertising base from a student hang-out such as Johnny’s Place (“Eat a Snack and You’ll Be Back”) to Wilborn’s Toytown and the Main Street department store G. J. Hunt & Son.

Issues of the Star span from 1955-1960, and offer a fascinating depiction of the teenage experience from a small city in Virginia’s southern Piedmont.

Other high school newspapers in the Library’s collection include, the Monocle (Richmond), the Highland Fling (Highland Springs), the Shooting Star (Middleburg) and Tattle Tale (Harrisonburg) among many others.

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