Tag Archives: Virginia History

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

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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 »

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Elizabeth Van Lew: Portrait of a Union Spy, From Print to Video

Liz Van Lew portraitIn recent years, Greg McQuade, morning anchor of WTVR in Richmond, Virginia, has produced award winning news segments on local Richmond history. Some of the stories have focused on people who are now all but forgotten, but who were, during their lives, groundbreaking members of the community. John Mitchell, Jr., “fighting editor” of the Richmond Planet is a perfect example.

Often, McQuade uses historic newspapers to accompany his reports and the Newspaper Project is always happy to assist him when he visits the Library of Virginia. Recently, he highlighted another pivotal, and, sadly, largely forgotten figure of Richmond’s past, Elizabeth Van Lew

Van Lew, abolitionist and fierce opponent of succession, risked her life as a spy for the Union during the Civil War. Surrounded by Confederate sympathizers, she lived in Richmond’s Church Hill district and carried out activities that would have been considered treasonous had they been discovered.  None of her neighbors, though, ever suspected her of any wrongdoing during the conflict.

Because of Van Lew’s daring and heroic deeds (which included helping prisoners escape Libby Prison), she was appointed Postmistress of Richmond by the US government after the war’s end. As her wartime activities came to light, she was maligned by many in the community as a traitor.

“The most hated woman in Virginia changed state’s course” tells the tale of a heroine who risked her life, her wealth and her social status to assist the cause of the Union. Historians elaborate on why she has been forgotten and if she will re-emerge with the recognition she is due for her role in shaping the course of the war.

To learn more about Elizabeth Van Lew, check out Elizabeth R. Varon’s comprehensive history, Southern Lady, Yankee Spy: The True Story of Elizabeth Van Lew, A read more »

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