Tag Archives: Library of Virginia
The Critic was a weekly society paper bringing “news, society, drama, and history” to Richmond from September 1887 to December 1890. The paper entertained its readers with articles and jokes, household advice, etiquette, and a gossip column called “Society Chat”, while serving as a vehicle for advertisements directed toward women. Columns such as “The Stage”, a theatrical review, and a weekly column dedicated to ladies’ fashion, as well as advertisements for bicycles and sewing machines, and features about bathing and other leisure activities at the seashore, provide a window to the culture of Richmond society during the Gilded Age.
In March of 1890, proprietor and editor William Cabell Trueman transformed the paper into a weekly periodical offering more satire, fiction, and artwork with the intent to appeal to the whole family while still publishing a popular genealogy column and the familiar society, fashion, and household content. Under Trueman, The Critic aspired to rival Life magazine, promising to be a “startling innovation not only in Richmond, not only in Virginia, but in the South!”
While preparing the title history for The Critic, I was amused by similarities in social networking sites of today, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, to the paper. At one point, as I scrolled through the reel of microfilm, I exclaimed to no one in particular, “It’s the printernet!” Thank goodness nobody heard me.
A stroll through your typical Facebook news feed of 1888 might go something like this:
Your friend William Cabell Trueman has shared an article, “Animals that Laugh”.
As you may already know, even as far back as the 1870s humans were obsessed with ridiculous photos of cats. Maybe The Critic didn’t invent LOLcats, but it certainly supplied a demand. Right now … read more »
The most recent Ebay acquisition for the Library of Virginia’s newspaper collection is the Safety News of Omar, West Virginia. Published “monthly for employees of the West Virginia Coal and Coke Corporation,” it focused on topics related to company and employee news. The Library purchased three issues from March-June 1953, but the full publication span of the paper is unknown as there are no cataloged issues outside of these precious few.
Safety was of the utmost concern to the Safety News, hence its motto, “Wise men learn by other men’s mistakes—fools by their own.” The first page of Safety News sometimes included the feature “Safety Pays Everyone” describing recent accidents, injuries and deaths in mines. The brief accounts give a good deal of specific information related to each incident: “Arnold E. Lee, American Machine helper, Omar No. 15 Mine” included one report, “Injured February 4, 1953, at 3:30 a.m. Victim was caught between cutting machine and timber, resulting in fracture of seventh rib on left side. Disability undetermined. Foreman: Billy Bishop.”
Keeping things light, the following joke was printed just below the accident reports of the same issue:
The medical officer at the front was discussing the drinking water supply with the platoon sergeant:
“What precautions do you take against germs?”
“First, we boil it, sir.”
“Then we filter it.”
“And then, just to play it safe, we drink beer.”
Each month the Safety News also included the front page column “Our Board of Directors,” providing a detailed biography of a board member with accompanying photo. The March issue featured Charles R. Stevens, president of the consulting management firm Stevenson, Jordan & Harrison, Inc. “Mr. Stevenson’s firm,” the article explained, “consults to a number of important industrial companies, among which might be mentioned Pittsburgh Plate Glass … read more »
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 »
If you need proof, simply compare today’s copy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch to an issue of The North American, a newspaper published in Philadelphia in the late 19th century.
We bring to your attention what we believe to be the largest broadside newspaper in the vast newspaper collections at the Library of Virginia, measuring a whopping 30” x 24.5,” which means opened flat the paper spreads out to almost 50 inches in width!
The adjoining photo provides evidence that the paper was large and in truth pretty unwieldy. As Newspaper Project colleague, Silver Persinger, shows, it’s a wonder the average citizen could stand on a street corner and read the publication.
It recalls the great Buster Keaton site gag involving a newspaper in his classic short film, The High Sign. Check out Keaton’s comic hijinks in this excerpt from the movie:
Back to The North American. While the Library generally does not focus its newspaper collecting on out of state papers, it has acquired a select number of papers that provide some depth and texture to the LVA’s strong holdings of original Virginia imprint newspapers.
The North American out of Philadelphia, PA is such an example. The title had a healthy publishing run from 1839 to 1925, with strong Republican tendencies, and it wasn’t shy about announcing boldly on the banner that it is “The Oldest Daily Newspaper in America.”
The issue in hand was published April 14, 1877 and while it contains articles that may interest our patrons, the newspaper’s sheer size is probably one of its most noteworthy features.
The North American came to the Library as part of a larger gift of newspapers with issues spanning many decades and U.S. states, … read more »
From the Richmond Times dated April 21, 1865, Volume 1, Number 1.
The first edition of this newly established newspaper was published a full week after the assassination of President Lincoln. It is the predecessor of Richmond’s only remaining daily newspaper, The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Page one of the newspaper has a thorough account of the evacuation of Richmond which began on the morning of April 3, 1865.
From Page 2:
THE GREAT TRAGEDY!
Paticulars of the Assassination!
The President’s Death-Bed Scene!
Statement of an Eye-Witness.
Mr. James P. Ferguson, who was present at the theatre on the night of the assassination, makes the following statement:
When the second scene of the third act of the play was reached, Mr. Ferguson saw (and recognized) John Wilkes Booth making his way along the dress circle to the President’s box. Mr. Ferguson and Booth had met in the afternoon and conversed, and were well acquainted with each other, so that the former immediately recognized him. Booth stopping two steps from the door, took off his hat, and holding it in his left hand, leaned against the wall behind him. In this attitude he remained for half a minute; then he stepped down one step, put his hands on the door of the little corridor leading to the box, bent his knee against it, the door opened, Booth entered, and was for the time hidden from Mr. Ferguson’s sight.
The shot was the next Mr. F. remembers. He saw the smoke, then perceived Booth standing upright, with both hands raised, but at the moment saw no weapon or anything else in either. Booth then sprang to the front of the box, laid his left hand on the railing in front, was checked an instant evidently by his coat or pants being … read more »
With the renewed interest in President Abraham Lincoln due to Steven Spielberg’s latest movie, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at newspaper coverage of the assassination and the ensuing manhunt. In the spirit of full disclosure, much of Lincoln was filmed in Richmond, Virginia and I was an extra in the film, playing a Radical Republican. See photo below.
To my surprise, our collection has very few Virginia newspapers from the period just after the war. Many newspapers we have from that time seemed to have stopped publishing in March 1865 as a result of worsening conditions in wartime Virginia. It is helpful to know a few dates concerning the end of the war: Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox on April 9, 1865; Lincoln was assassinated on Friday evening of April 14, 1865 and died the following day at 7:22 AM.
I was able to find several papers from the days following the assassination that have interesting information I have never come across before. I thought it would be beneficial to simply transcribe some of these accounts to satisfy public curiosity.
Over the next several days, we will feature extracts of articles from the newspapers published shortly after Lincoln’s assassination.
From The Alexandria Gazette, April 21, 1865
On page 1, appeared the following:
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON CITY, April 20, 1865,
One Hundred Thousand Dollars Reward.
The murderer of our late beloved President, Abraham Lincoln, is still at large !!!
FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS REWARD will be paid by the Department for his apprehension, in addition to any reward offered by Municipal authorities or State Executives.
TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS REWARD will be paid for the apprehension of G. A. ATZEROT, sometimes called “Port Tobacco,” one of Booth’s accomplices!
TWENTY-FIVE … read more »
Recently, while visiting the Halifax County Public Library as part of a cooperative digitizing effort, Carl Childs, Local Records Services Director at LVA, was given a donation of historical newspapers by the library’s director, Joseph Zappacosta. The generous gift, comprised of thirty eight unique in state and out of state newspaper titles, turned up more than a few surprises. With newspapers from locales as near as South Boston, Virginia and as far as Laramie, Wyoming, it also contained two extremely rare finds, the Petalumian (Petaluma, CA) and the Investigator (Wilson, NC), which, until now, had never been cataloged. The newspapers, in fragile condition when they arrived, were lovingly mended and repaired by the Virginia Newspaper Project’s own Silver Persinger. With repairs completed, the newspapers will be microfilmed and then housed with LVA’s boxed newspaper collection. The preservation of this wonderful gift ensures its content will be studied for years to come without damage to the originals.
An auction purchase is but an occasional means of adding to the VNP archive but this was an occasion difficult to resist: some 100 copies of Page County papers, mostly post Civil War to early 20th century, presented for sale by Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates of Mt. Crawford, Virginia.
This constitutes a significant boost to the Project’s holding for this northern Shenandoah Valley county, modest in population (about 8500 in 1870, just under three times that figure today), but varied and active in its publishing history.
The discovery in 1878 of an enormous and oddly decorated hole in the ground transformed Luray, the county seat, from a quiet Page Valley town to a still reasonably quiet but increasingly popular tourist destination. Visitors arrived first by train and then, as the 20th century progressed, by car and then even more cars after the completion in the 1930’s of Skyline Drive atop the Blue Ridge, the town’s very permanent neighbor to its immediate east. Of the eight Luray papers in the purchase, the Times claims the most impressive and detailed masthead. From an issue of 1890:
The Reconstruction period is represented by copies of the Page Valley Courier, which in two years underwent a rapid turnover of owners resulting in a trio of mottoes reflecting the political reordering of the time. Pictured below (click to enlarge), the masthead as it appeared in its inaugural issue of March 15, 1867:
By the issue below of January 10, 1868, original editors Larkins and Price have departed, and for that matter so have two other editors, H. H. Propes and J. D. Price. The Courier is now run by James F. Clark who chose a motto endorsing the primacy of white citizenship over that of recently emancipated blacks and the paper’s … read more »
But the Newspaper Project has also gathered up many other species of papers in its statewide search for ink press issues, including political broadsides, “company town” and military papers, and even the occasional high school newspaper.
Thanks to a few savvy collectors and the Library’s Newspaper Project operatives who can sniff out a collection of papers the way a good reporter gravitates to a great story, the Library is fortunate to have a significant collection of the early decades of The Monocle, the newspaper for John Marshall High School here in Richmond.
It’s just one of the many gems in the Library’s newspaper collection, and The Monocle is noteworthy, not only for being from a prominent Richmond high school from the mid-twentieth century, but also for its design and content which are at a very high level.
Steve Clark, one of the best columnists ever to grace the pages of the Richmond Times Dispatch, contributed a stirring piece a few years back about the John Marshall High School newspaper and its founder and faculty advisor, Miss Charles Anthony. (Yes, Miss Charles Anthony. That’s what her father named her.) The paper and Miss Anthony had a synergy that was nearly magical with its impressive broadside format and professional layout, and well, why not read an excerpt from Clark’s article:
Great teachers are ne’er forgotten, which is why Calvin T. Lucy Jr. always will remember Miss Charles Anthony. Miss Anthony as Lucy still calls her, taught English at Richmond’s John Marshall High School from 1926 until 1953, when she retired at age 70.
But Miss Anthony was more than an exceptional English teacher. She also was the … read more »
Published every Friday between 1891 and 1913, the Virginia Citizen (Check digitized issues at Chronicling America.) was the first paper to serve Lancaster County, part of the Northern Neck region of Tidewater Virginia. The paper’s office in Irvington—located on an inlet from the Rappahannock River and Chesapeake Bay—was just across the street from a landing for the Rappahannock River Line, one of several steamer services linking the region’s many villages and transporting farm produce and seafood between eastern Virginia and processing plants in Baltimore. From 1897 until 1913, the newspaper proudly stated its mission: “A Weekly Journal Devoted to the interests of Lancaster County in particular, the Northern Neck and Rappahannock Valley in general, and the world at large.” By the early 1900s, circulation totaled 1,827, a heady number considering that Irvington had but 750 residents and the county 8,949. In hard times, though, the editor was not above accepting vegetables or a load of hay—almost anything other than soft-shell crabs, strawberries, or peas—in lieu of cash.
Editor since 1892, W. McDonald Lee brought considerable prestige to the paper. Lee had served as county Commissioner of Revenue and president of the Virginia Press Association in the late 1890s and during the early 1900s served as a commissioner for Virginia fisheries and president of the National Association of Fisheries Commissioners. He was particularly interested in promoting the county’s oyster (“the succulent bivalve”) industry and the welfare of “the toiling masses of Virginia oystermen.”
Lee also brought a strong, sometimes sensational, editorial fervor to the Virginia Citizen—favoring the Democratic Party, the total abstinence of alcohol, and evangelical Christianity. His mastheads mirrored these positions. An 1897 banner-line declared that the paper was “Conservative in All Things, Neutral in Nothing.” He also vigorously prodded the paper’s readers never to be “mealy-mouthed or … read more »