Tag Archives: Virginia Chronicle

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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Happy Mother’s Day from the Virginia Newspaper Project

Photo of Anna Jarvis, from the Times Dispatch (Richmond), 12 May 1912

Photo of Anna Jarvis, from the Times Dispatch (Richmond), 12 May 1912

The Virginia Newspaper Project wishes mothers everywhere a very happy Mother’s Day.

The idea for a Mother’s Day was originally conceived by Anna Jarvis, after her own mother’s death in 1905. The work her beloved mother, Ann Jarvis of Grafton, West Virginia, had done as a peace activist, Civil War nurse, and Sunday school teacher inspired Anna to want to create a day honoring “the person who has done more for you than anyone in the world.”

In May 1908, Senator Elmer Burkett, a Nebraska Republican, introduced a resolution to the Senate to establish a nationally recognized Mother’s Day. While many had already embraced the idea of signifying a day to honor mothers, creating an official holiday was met with resistance by some lawmakers.

By a vote of 33 to 14, the Senate referred the Burkett Resolution to a Judiciary Committee. The 9 May 1908 issue of the Alexandria Gazette reported on the proceedings of the committee and the resistance with which the resolution was met: “There are some things so sacred that they are belittled by such a movement,” said committee member Fulton, “If we are going into this thing, there should be a father’s day and a grandfather’s day and then bring in our cousins, our uncles, and our aunts.” Another committee member, Jacob Herold Gallinger, said he “never heard of this movement and he did not need to wear a flower to remind him of his mother.” Another senator called the idea “absurd” and “trifling.”

After years of persistent pressure by Jarvis to establish the holiday, West Virginia became the first state to officially celebrate Mother’s Day in 1910. By 1912, “every governor in the land [had] issued proclamations calling upon the people to spend one day. … 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. . .

PATimesread more »

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Buckingham County historian gives nod to Virginia Chronicle

The Virginia Newspaper Project will jump at any opportunity to publicize itself and Virginia Chronicle.

To that end, the 2015 issue no. 1 of the Library of Virginia’s Broadside magazine (page 8) offers an excellent article by Joanne Yeck that describes using Virginia Chronicle for genealogical and county research. Ms. Yeck wastes no time providing helpful search tips!

If your interest is at all related to Buckingham County and the immediate surrounding area, please take a look at Ms. Yeck’s blog, slate river ramblings, as well as her print publications, though they cover a wide range of topics.

Here is an image from a recent slate river ramblings blog entry:

Hanes Chapel

 … read more »

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The Mountain Laurel

Virginia Chronicle is currently home to over 50 newspapers online. We are particularly happy to include late 20th century newspapers such as the Virginia Farm Bureau News as part of the array of titles that provide rich content, documenting the events and lives of citizens throughout the commonwealth.

Main Page Mt. Laurel

Another newspaper/journal of note from the late 20th century is the Mountain Laurel: The Journal of Mountain Life, a publication that for years recorded engaging stories, both big and small, about the people living in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains in an area known as the Meadows of Dan.

The Library’s online collection matches the print run of the Mountain Laurel: 1983 – 1995.

But the Mountain Laurel lives on online at http://www.mtnlaurel.com/.


Bob Heafner, one of the founders of the Mountain Laurel, continues to add stories and photographs to the site and with each contribution the journal provides yet another tantalizing glimpse of mountain life.

I don’t think the founders and editors of the Mountain Laurel would be offended if it is said that the journal is redolent of the best that the Foxfire series had to offer over the years.  By reading the pages of the ML online at Virginia Chronicle or at the mtnlaurel.com, get ready to learn a few practical things about living in the mountains and to soak up a bit of timeless wisdom from voices that stretch back generations.


For example, I was curious about a couple of the more arcane food items that I have heard about over the years: ramps and poke sallet. Sure enough, a search on Virginia Chronicle of the pages of the Mountain Laurel gave me a nice starting point for additional research when it comes to local usage of each … read more »

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Air of Gloom: Orville Wright’s Ill-Fated Test Flight at Fort Myer, 106 Years Ago Today

On 17 September 1908, five years after the first successful flight at Kitty Hawk, Orville Wright and Thomas E. Selfridge test flew the Wright Flyer in a demonstration for the U.S. Army at Fort Myer, in Arlington, Virginia. The Army was considering contracting Wright’s aircraft to use as a military airplane, but, in order to win the contract, he needed to demonstrate the plane’s ability to carry a passenger.

Wright FlyerThe first two passenger trial flights, done earlier that week, proved successful. The third test flight, however, took a terrible turn.

The flight began without incident. As the Wright Flyer ascended to an altitude of 150 feet, it circled over Fort Myer. Three to four minutes into the flight, however, the plane’s propeller blade broke. With some 2000 spectators watching from below, Wright attempted to glide to a landing, but the plane went into a nose dive from seventy-five feet and crashed.

Wright was seriously injured, breaking several bones, but Selfridge, only twenty-six years old, suffered a fatal skull fracture. The death of the San Francisco native was the first recorded passenger death in a powered airplane crash.

In the days following the dramatic event, newspapers across the country reported with details of the crash and photos of the wreckage and its victims. From Washington DC to Los Angeles, the nation’s fascination with the relatively new phenomenon of flight and the potential danger that came with it was satiated by the stories printed in newspapers.

Photos of the victims, from the Washington Times, 18 Sept 1908

Photos of the victims, from the Washington Times, 18 Sept. 1908.

LA Herald Sept 18, 1908

Photos from the Los Angeles Herald, 18 Sept. 1908.

The headlines and articles below are from Virginia and national newspapers. They are just a fraction of what can be found on Chronicling America and Virginia Chronicle, free and searchable digital newspaper repositories–both are excellent … read more »

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The Casket and Institute Jewel

Located in Suffolk, Virginia and chartered in 1881, the Suffolk Female Institute was run by Misses Sallie Finney in what had once been the Central Hotel and offered a “thorough education. . .correct moral training and proper social cultivation” to “young ladies and little girls” for $160.00 per year. “The Corps of teachers is efficient and experienced,” an 1886 ad for the school explained, “The home training, moral and attractive. Fine advantages in music, art and languages, at moderate rates.”

An etching of the Suffolk Female Institute from the Sketch Book of Suffolk, Virginia written by Edward Pollock and published in 1886.

Advertisement for the Suffolk Female Institute from the Sketch Book of Suffolk, Virginia.

Like many schools, the Suffolk Female Institute, in operation from 1869-1908, published its own newspaper, the Casket. Where the title came from is anyone’s guess, but the content of the paper was not so macabre (actually, “Casket” had a not so macabre meaning in the 1800s–for an explanation, see Bill Bynum’s comment below). Poetry, personals, jokes, student news, alumni updates, homilies, the latest fashion trends and advertisements made up a typical issue, which was free to students and five cents for everyone else. Of course, sometimes the news could be melancholy: “A sudden death,” announced one headline, “Died at Suffolk Female Institute, Dec. 3d., 1877, little Frank, Miss Mattie’s darling little bird. We will all miss little Frank very much. We will no more be awakened from our slumbers by his sweet singing. He has sung his last song, and left us to mourn his loss.”

Thanks to generous patron Joe Neagle, the Library of Virginia now has four issues of the Casket on microfilm and one original copy. The papers, dating from 1878-1879, were originally collected by his great-grandmother while she attended the school. Mr. Neagle saved the papers and brought them to the Library of Virginia where they were microfilmed by the Virginia Newspaper Project.

December 1879 front page of the Casket, published by the students of the Suffolk Female Institute.The Casket is a rare gem of women’s history and offers insight … read more »