Tag Archives: Virginia Newspaper Project
Reading between the lines: the Comstock Act and ads for the treatment of “female complaints” from the Fairfax Herald.
By Anne McCrery, Virginia Newspaper Project Intern
If you read a newspaper from the late 19th century, you’re liable to be bombarded by various medical advertisements—treatments for catarrh, scrofula, and “watery-blood;” cure-alls like sarsaparilla and cod liver oil (described in an ad found in the Fairfax Herald as “palatable as milk”); and vegetable compounds that passionately avow efficacy in curing cancer.
Amongst these medical advertisements appear a multitude of supplements for treating “female complaints.” On first glance, these treatments appear to be simply another amusing example of 19th century medical quackery; however, these were not just any pills—these were abortifacients.
Abortion was a relatively common method of limiting family size in the 19th century, an era lacking in other forms of birth control; however, women did not truly consider themselves to be pregnant prior to the “quickening” of the fetus, the point in which she could feel the fetus move, usually around the fourth month of gestation. Abortifacients, therefore, were taken to relieve “obstructed menses.” Traditionally abortions were induced by ingesting home-remedies prepared with toxic herbs, such as pennyroyal, to induce miscarriage. By the mid-19th century abortifacients were widely available commercially, appearing frequently in newspaper advertisements which described the products in vague and euphemistic terms.
Despite the commonality of abortifacients in the 19th century, the emergence of anti-abortion campaigns in the mid-19th century ultimately led to the prohibition of abortion that lasted until the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. Moreover, the Comstock Act of 1873 banned the circulation of abortifacients and information about them, including advertisements, as they were deemed “obscene.”
Despite the restrictions placed on abortifacients in the late 19th century, advertisements for them continued to … read more »
The last of the Triple Crown’s three stakes races will be run at Belmont Park tomorrow. In the history of the Triple Crown, its winners number only eleven–will there be a twelfth added to this illustrious group of thoroughbreds on Saturday? If American Pharoah wins the Belmont Stakes, he’ll be the first to take the crown since 1978. As you’ll read below, it was not until War Admiral’s win in 1937 that the term “Triple Crown” was used to describe the “great turf stakes of the season.” Here’s a look back at the eleven horses who managed the exceptional feat as seen through the Richmond Times Dispatch:
Sir Barton, 1919
Gallant Fox, 1930
War Admiral, 1937
Count Fleet, 1943
Of 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.
To 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).
They assigned themselves a mission and it was propelling this county forward … read more »
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 »
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.
Also 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:
Finally, 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. . .
To review, here’s a newspaper roll call of the five daily newspapers (there were also weekly papers – four of them religious) in Richmond in late March at the close of the Civil War: the Richmond Examiner, Enquirer, Whig, Sentinel and (leaving no doubt about its frequency) the Daily Dispatch.
They publish in the war years (the Sentinel beginning in 1863) despite a “decrease in advertising, the shortage of ink and paper, the strike of printers, the loss of skilled workman by conscription, and…a depreciation of the currency, causing prices to rise to unprecedented levels,” as Lester Cappon writes in his introduction to Virginia Newspapers 1835-1935, a ready reference at the Project.
There’s no work around or compromise with fire, however, and the destruction of much of the city center April 3 (a Monday) one hundred and fifty years ago – marked with much ceremony here in Richmond over the weekend – left only the Whig capable of printing a narrative of the chaos accompanying the city’s surrender. And only after the approval, announced in an editor’s note, of the occupying Federal commander.
Given our task as preservers of Virginia’s newspaper heritage, we’re also interested readers. This includes the present day 21st century descendent of the Daily Dispatch, The Richmond Times-Dispatch. Especially when they reproduce the past in such compelling fashion as they did in last Saturday’s edition.
Something on page 2 caught our eye:
What’s that again? April 1, the last issue of the Daily Dispatch? What then of the April 3rd issue we have in hand and read in preparation for the blog the Friday previous? Bear in mind, if you’re an archivist, this advances the tingling onset of mystery and intrigue. Already we brooded with some … read more »
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:
The Virginia Newspaper Project recently added issues to three titles that are currently available on Virginia Chronicle.
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.And 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.The 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.
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 »
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: