Tag Archives: Virginia History

Prelude to Prohibition: The State Referendum Vote September 22, 1914: The Recorder, Post & Enterprise

BallotIt was Wet vs. Dry and City vs. Country and Dry Country won.  It wasn’t even close.  The advocates for Prohibition themselves might have been surprised by the disparity of the result–a win for Virginia prohibition by over thirty thousand votes–94,251 to 63,086.  City drinkers likely peered into their empty glasses the evening of September 22, 1914, surer in the knowledge that legislation to ban liquor in the state would soon follow.  And it did.

For more detail and the broader context of this debate–more votes were cast in the prohibition referendum vote than in the presidential election that November!–I refer you to two articles by our LVA sister blog “Out Of The Box.”

The Mapp Act passed and went into effect November 1, 1916.  Virginia, then, had a head start of four years to the arrival of national prohibition.

The specific purpose of this blog entry is the encouragement of your physical presence at the Library of Virginia’s exhibit “Teetotalers & Moonshiners:  Prohibition in Virginia, Distilled,” now open to the public.  A hundred years after prohibition, we’re confidant you’ll depart with a different awareness of an unusual episode in the state’s history.MapEach state in the Union took its own particular route to prohibition until the constitutional amendment of 1920. A key date in Virginia’s path was the approval of local option in 1886, allowing for a community or county’s voters to determine their stance on the sale and distribution of alcohol.  The map above illustrates the camps and lines of the liquor divide.  Note, for example, in a concentration of ink, Fort Norfolk, a seaside stronghold hostile to the dry life.

There was no shortage of political contentiousness in the run-up to the referendum. The very organized, determined drys, abetted by grassroots religious fervor, drove the … read more »

Leave a comment

Nat Turner Re-examined

Professor Patrick H. Breen, author of The Land Shall be Deluged in Blood: A New History of the Nat Turner Revolt, spoke at the Virginia Historical Society on Thursday, November 10, 2016.

Here is a video of the talk which includes the question and answer segment:

Bloodread more »

Leave a comment

Old Time Religion: Virginia’s First Freedom and LVA’s Religious Press Collection

Exhibit

The First Freedom Exhibit in the Library of Virginia’s Exhibit Hall

The current exhibit at the Library of Virginia, First Freedom: Virginia’s Statute for Religious Freedom, explores the meaning and evolution of this significant legislation. Written by Thomas Jefferson in 1777, it was not enacted into law until January 16, 1786, when it was passed by the Virginia General Assembly. The statute disestablished the Church of England, allowed citizens the freedom to practice any religion and assured the separation of church and state–innovative precepts later incorporated into the US Constitution’s First Amendment.

By showing episodes from Virginia’s past which involved questions of religious tolerance and practice, the exhibit raises important and often difficult questions, such as what actually constitutes the separation of church and state? How is “establishment of religion” defined? And how have perceptions of “religious freedom” changed since the statute was written?

In recognition of First Freedom, the Virginia Newspaper Project spotlights the Library of Virginia’s large collection of religiously affiliated newspapers which offer insight into religion’s role in local culture, morality and life. The papers also show how the understanding of religious tolerance and separation of church and state have changed over the past 200 years. For example, this article from the Lutheran weekly Our Church Paper of Feb. 16, 1904, fully endorsed church involvement in the development of the public educational system. “What part shall she play in the education of the youth of this country,” it asked, “and how shall she play it?” It warned that without the church’s intervention, public education might become “completely secularized.”

OCP 16 Feb 1904OCP (2) 16 Feb 1904Virginia has a long and rich tradition of religious press with Episcopalian, Baptist, Jewish, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Catholic publications, dating back well over one hundred years. Virginia Chronicle, the Library of Virginia’s digital newspaper repository, contains … read more »

Leave a comment

Happy Holidays from the VNP and the Rappahannock Record

Ad Dec. 21, 1944 (3)The Virginia Newspaper Project is excited to announce that digitized issues of the Rappahannock Record from 1925-1958 are now available on Virginia Chronicle. Published in Kilmarnock, Virginia from 1917 to the present day, the Rappahannock Record is a wonderful example of a quality local weekly that is quickly approaching a notable milestone: its 100th year of publication.

And speaking of milestones, with the most recent additions to Virginia Chronicle, it too has reached a landmark of note: the half million page mark! There are now well over 500,000 Virginia (as well as a small selection of West Virginia and Maryland) newspaper pages available online through this resource.

To celebrate the holidays and the arrival of new issues to Virginia Chronicle, here are a few Christmas announcements and advertisements from the Rappahannock Record of the 1940s and 1950s.

Rappahannock Record, Dec. 21, 1944

Rappahannock Record, Dec. 21, 1944

Rappahannock Record, Dec. 21, 1944

Rappahannock Record, Dec. 21, 1944

Rappahannock Record, Dec. 21, 1944

Rappahannock Record, Dec. 21, 1950

Rappahannock Record, Dec. 15, 1955

Rappahannock Record, Dec. 22, 1955

Rappahannock Record, Dec. 15, 1955

Rappahannock Record, Dec. 21, 1944

Rappahannock Record, Dec. 21, 1944

Rappahannock Record, Dec. 21, 1944

Wishesread more »

1 Comment

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 »

1 Comment

Before & After: The Staunton Tribune and Staunton Reporter

Last year, The Augusta County Genealogical Society generously donated rare African American newspapers to the Library of Virginia.

While the collection is comprised of a mere five issues, three issues of the Staunton Tribune from 1928-1931 and two of the Staunton Reporter from 1916, as historical resources these items are priceless, invaluable for the study of African American and Virginia history.

Historical newspapers such as these are especially rare and often in deteriorating condition when they are discovered–when this collection arrived at the Library, the papers were torn, brittle and extremely fragile. It is often the case that newspapers from the early twentieth century are in worse condition than papers published 100 years earlier due to the evolving methods of mass paper production.

The Library’s talented conservator, Leslie Courtois, de-acidified, mended and encapsulated the newspapers so they may be handled safely and studied for generations to come. After conservation, the originals were able to be microfilmed, making them even more accessible to researchers, students, historians, authors and genealogists.

Below are the photographs of the newspapers before and after conservation. The pictures speak for themselves:

BEFORE CONSERVATION14_0407_01

AFTER CONSERVATION15_0256_002BEFORE 14_0407_06Before 1AFTER15_0256_001After 1BEFORE14_0407_07AFTER15_0256_006read more »

3 Comments

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 »

Leave a comment

George Wythe: FFDWR (Founding Father Deserving Wider Recognition)

Wythe“No man ever left behind him a character more venerated than George Wythe.  His virtue was of the purest tint; his integrity inflexible, and his justice exact; of warm patriotism, and, devoted as he was to liberty, and the natural and equal rights of man, he might truly be called the Cato of his country.”

That’s Thomas Jefferson, not only a former student but trusted friend, and the statement most often quoted in biographical accounts, long or short, of Wythe’s life.

The following observation speaks to the maintenance of the body in support of that spirit so deservedly praised and is from William Munford, one of the last students Wythe (pronounced “with”) would mentor.  It provides a better caption for the image above, 5th and Grace in downtown Richmond, as it fits the person into a space, bland though it may appear here in the historical present.

“”Old as he is, his habit is, every morning, winter and summer, to rise before the sun, go to the well in the yard, draw several buckets of water, and fill the reservoir for his shower bath, and then, drawing the cord, let the water fall over him in a glorious shower. Many a time have I heard him catching his breath and almost shouting with the shock. When he entered the breakfast room his face would be in a glow, and all his nerves were fully braced.”

No one’s nerves, however, could be braced for what would follow Wythe’s daily ritual the morning of May 25, 1806, almost 15 years after Wythe’s departure from Williamsburg to Richmond to preside over the Capital’s Chancery Court. That an 81 year old revered Founding Father (participant in the Second Continental Congress, signer of the Declaration of Independence, the country’s first law professor, classics scholar-a … read more »

Leave a comment

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

read more »

1 Comment

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 »

Leave a comment