Tag Archives: Library of Virginia

A Genius, A Recorder, and a Growler walk into an archive: What’s New on Virginia Chronicle

The Virginia Newspaper Project is thrilled to announce the latest additions to the Library of Virginia’s free, searchable online newspaper resource, Virginia Chronicle.

The recent additions to Virginia Chronicle are especially exciting as they include both early nineteenth century newspapers and newspapers published well into the twentieth century.Genius of LibertyWe’ll start with the earliest issues added to Virginia Chronicle. A collection of The Genius of Liberty, published in Leesburg from 1817-1839, was  originally borrowed from a private lender and filmed by the Library in 2009.  Now, 1817-1826 issues are available online–more will be added in the coming months until the run is complete. This is an important addition, since, before now, very little early nineteenth century material was available on Virginia Chronicle.

Next, we’ll look at the more recently published newspapers to be added to Virginia Chronicle. The Recorder, published in Monterey since 1877, is the newspaper of record for both Bath and Highland counties and can boast of being the oldest, continuously published weekly newspaper in Virginia.HRThanks to LSTA (Library Services and Technical Act) funds and an agreement with the publisher of The Recorder, the Library has digitized in-copyright issues–that is, issues published after 1923–for inclusion in Virginia Chronicle. Currently, 1921-1949 of this fantastic title can be searched–much more will be added in the coming months, as the Project plans to digitize issues up to 2007. Issues from August 2007 to the present can be found online at www.therecorderonline.com.GrowlerFinally, the Growler and the Free Lance have also been added to Virginia Chronicle. With the motto, “If it happens you can wager we’ll print it,” the tabloid sized Growler reported on local government and public utilities with a biting criticism. Though the newspaper  claimed it would be “breezy without being offensive, and … read more »

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A Bicycle Search For You


From the Times (Richmond, Va.), May 9, 1897.

As the UCI World Bike Championships unfold and professional road bikers from all over the map pedal by LVA down Richmond’s Broad Street, the Virginia Newspaper Project thought it a pertinent time to explore the search term “bicycle” in the Library’s free, online digital newspaper resource, Virginia Chronicle.

With nearly 500,000 newspaper pages, and more being added all the time, Virginia Chronicle is a fantastic tool for historical research. Among its features is an easy to use keyword search box, which we used for our “bicycle” search. “Cycling,” “wheeling” and “wheelmen” are a few alternate search terms for locating bike related articles.

While there is an advanced search feature on Virginia Chronicle, we did a simple search of the word “bicycle” which brought up an impressive 23,355 results. Each article in which bicycle was found is listed with title, date and page information. To the left of the results list, there is another column which breaks down search results by the different publications and decades in which our search term was found.

Interestingly, the first and only result for “bicycle” during the decade of 1860-1869 came from the Staunton Spectator of May 11, 1869. Bikes were novel at that time and the article, which claims that the “citizens of Staunton had their curiosity in reference to bicycles gratified,” is very brief.

First appearance Staunton Spectator 11 May 1869The search results get higher with each succeeding decade, with the highest result number, 11,615 to be exact, appearing during the decade of 1890 to 1899. This decade saw the rise of the “Safety” bicycle, a bike with front and back wheels of equal size and a chain drive that transferred power from the pedals to the real wheel, making riding easier and opening up the sport to men and … read more »

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Advertising the Big Top: 1870s Circus Ads from the Staunton Spectator

SS Sept 16, 1873 (Lent)It’s September 16, 1873 in the sleepy town of Staunton, Virginia. You can only imagine a reader’s excitement at turning to page three of the Staunton Spectator to discover an ad for Lewis Lent’s New York Circus with its illustrations and long list of spectacular attractions: For a mere seventy-five cent admission (fifty cents for children under ten), one could see grand balloon ascension, wild beasts, breathing sea monsters, ornately plumed birds, flesh eating reptiles and 5000 museum marvels!

Born in upstate New York in 1813, Lewis Lent began his circus career in 1834. Soon after, he became a partner in the Brown & Lent Circus, which moved from town to town via riverboat. Over the years, Lent joined various circus troupes, but his New York Circus, which ran from 1873 to 1874, advertised here in the Staunton Spectator, was the last show he owned and operated before retiring.Staunton Spectator 16 Sept 1873 (2)SS 16 Sept 1873SS 16 Sept 1873 (2)SS 16 Sept. 1873Though the heyday of the traveling circus in the US might have been a bit later, the circus advertisements in newspapers of the 1860s and 1870s are evidence of its growing popularity and allure. The impetus for such elaborate newspaper advertising was the fierce competition between traveling shows. With beautiful illustrations of zebras, elephants, hippos, giraffes and tigers, acrobats standing on horse back, uniformed musicians, dancing dogs and trapeze artists, circus advertisements were an enticing and powerful promotional tool.

In the October 12, 1877 issue of the Staunton Spectator on page three, next to want ads and announcements, there is a full two column ad for John O’Brien’s circus, “The Largest Show ever in Virginia!” The ad for O’Brien’s circus promised mechanical marvels, three full military bands, palace opera chairs, 53 dens of wild beasts and six (yes, six!) stupendous shows rolled into one.SS O'Brien's circusJohn O‘Brien, born in 1836, became … read more »

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The Princess Anne Times 1915-1918: Boosting the Beach

Princess Anne bannerOf historical anniversaries noted large and small, what follows is of the second type and left unremarked, if not here within this very blog.  Last Friday was the one hundredth birthday of the first issue of the Princess Anne Times, not a delicate imprint of royal society from a tiny office tucked within Windsor Castle, but a record of life from the southeastern corner of Virginia.

33 of the 95 counties of Virginia possess a name of royal origin, but Princess Anne is no longer among them.  The county disappeared from the map in 1963, closing a 272 year history when it was incorporated into the much larger independent city of Virginia Beach.  The chance observation of the newspaper’s birthday suggested an additional incentive to announce its arrival a few weeks ago to Virginia Chronicle, The Library of Virginia’s digital newspaper archive managed by the Virginia Newspaper Project.

6-25-15 Beach editorialReal estate adTo the person who turns his back to the Atlantic and faces west from the Virginia Beach boardwalk and wonders, “How did this happen?”, the Times offers propitious clues.  The current population of Virginia Beach stands near 450,000, making it the state’s most populous city.  The reader of the Times in May of 1915 shared residency with about 438,000 fewer.  Here’s the complete front page for that first issue (with a stage direction to the far left column).

Front page issue 1And now here’s a portion of the lead editorial, page 2.  Note at the bottom, the anticipated entry of enormous Federal expenditure-“monster guns etc.”- a springboard to prosperity.

Introductory wordsAnd those “public-spirited citizens” referenced above who sponsored the newspaper?  It seems more than likely that at least a few of them appear on this front page from volume one, number 2:

Officers of Virginia BeachThey assigned themselves a mission and it was propelling this county forward … read more »

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Spanning the Commonwealth: New to Virginia Chronicle

The Virginia Newspaper Project is excited to announce several new additions to Virginia Chronicle, the Library of Virginia’s digital newspaper database.

First, thanks to a generous private donation, the Evening News of Roanoke from 1903-1913 is now available. Look for more Roanoke newspapers to be added to Virginia Chronicle in the coming months, including earlier editions of the Roanoke Evening News, 1915-1922 of the Roanoke World News, 1883-1901 of the Salem Times Register, 1900-1917 of the Salem Times Register and Sentinel and the Roanoke Times from 1899-1910.

Evening NewsAlso available now on Virginia Chronicle, antebellum, Civil War and Reconstruction era newspapers from the Huntington Library in Huntington, California. Some of the Huntington additions enhance holdings already available, while others are entirely new:

Commercial BulletinDaily State JournalPenny PostRichmond RepublicanUnion RepublicanFinally, the Princess Anne Times, a newspaper published from 1915-1918 out of what is now Virginia Beach, has also been added. . .but more on that coming soon. . .

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Richmond, April 1865. The History Forecast: Fateful Lightning, Terrible and Swift.


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:

court1Only 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.

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My Heart Went Right Down–The Devil’s Half Acre and the Richmond Slave Trade

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.

Lumpkin's Jail

The small piece of open land in the middle of the photo, which sits between a parking lot and route 95, was the site of Lumpkin’s Jail.

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 »

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In Leaps of Ten: A Six Decade Tour of Seasonal Ads from The Clarke Courier, Berryville, 1928-1988

Thanksgiving 19281928 Grocery #21928 Highest Prices

Thanksgiving 19381938 Masthead1938 Norfolk & Western1938 Grocery1938 A & P1938 Phone1938 Ramsburg's Grocery1938 Shk. Grocery

Thanksgiving 1948

Mast 1948#2  1948Norfolk and Western 1948No Va Power 1948Thanksgiving 19581958 Grocery1958 Norfolk and WesternThanksgiving. Sometimes it’s work. Who needs a drink? Four of the six liquor ads from this 1958 issue.1958 Bellows Bourbon1958 Old Stagg1958 Apple Jack1958 Alcohol adThanksgiving 1968Mast 19681968 Bank of1968 Car Dealer1968 Clarke County Motors1968 SafewayThanksgiving 1978Mast 19781978 Bank of Clarke1978 Farm Credit1978 The Barn1978 Men's WearThanksgiving 19881998 Masthead1988 Food Lion1988 Bank of Clarke County1988 Black Penny1988 Chevy Turkey ShootAnd the Christmas encroachment begins…1988 Christmas Open House

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…1958 Phone
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Mind the Gaps: The Virginia Newspaper Project Adds Issues to Fill Gaps on Virginia Chronicle.

The Virginia Newspaper Project recently added issues to three titles that are currently available on Virginia Chronicle.

The Monocle.
Peninsula Enterprise.
Alexandria Gazette.

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.MonPEAnd 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.AGThe 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.

 … read more »

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A Newspaper Connection–”Slaves Waiting for Auction”–Thackeray & Crowe Check-In

Left: William M. Thackeray. Center: Crowe's illustration of Richmond 1853. Right: Eyre Crowe.

Left: William M. Thackeray. Center: Crowe’s illustration of Richmond 1853. Right: Eyre Crowe.

Daily Dispatch, March 2, 1853

Daily Dispatch, March 2, 1853

In November of 1852, William Makepeace Thackeray, still enjoying the considerable success and fame accruing from his novel of the previous decade, Vanity Fair, arrived after a two week voyage from Liverpool (on the Royal Mail ship “Canada”) in Boston harbor.  Thackeray’s purpose, besides adventure, was financial gain, a cushion for his daughters from a life he suspected might be foreshortened. In fact, it was–He died ten years later at only 52.

The lecture route, somewhat planned and somewhat improvised, would take a leisurely southern direction, with an appearance in Richmond scheduled for the following February.   Thackeray was accompanied by Erye Crowe, who acted as personal secretary, tour manager, amanuensis and, most importantly, good company during what promised to be a stimulating, but inescapably trying and lengthy journey.

Like Thackeray, Crowe was a skilled sketch artist.  Unlike Thackeray, who abandoned art studies as a young man to sketch words as a journalist, Crowe, 29 years of age and about a dozen years the author’s junior, still aspired to be an artist.  While Thackeray’s lectures and impressions of America inscribed in his letters now interest only scholars, Crowe’s oil painting, “Slaves Waiting for Auction”, derived from his drawing above, can still jab the conscience.

The work acts as centerpiece for the Library of Virginia’s exhibit opening later this month, “To Be Sold,” a close examination of Richmond as a distribution hub for the business of selling human beings.

Yet minus the intercession of a book and a newspaper, the painting might not exist at all. “I expended 25 cents”, writes Crowe in his memoir of 1893, With Thackeray in America, “in the purchase of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and was properly … read more »

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