Three photograph albums containing 207 photographs and newspaper clippings, an assortment of 147 loose photographs, 3 school certificates, and an employment service certificate from Bassett Furniture, where Wray worked for 21 years.
Born and raised in Henry County, Virginia, Rosa Brown Wray (1934–2006) collected hundreds of photographs of her friends and family. The majority of the photos are labeled with the name, age, and hometown of those pictured. Many family surnames—including Hairston, Ross, Williams, Thomas, and Nolen—appear consistently throughout the collection. The majority of the newspaper clippings and other ephemeral items that Wray saved are related to school events in 1952, such as class valedictorians, school track meets, and news about classmates and friends.
Of special interest are 83 photographs that capture the daily life (1952–1953) of an African American soldier’s service during the Korean War. Wray’s brother Charles Brown Jr. is the subject of the photos, presumably showing his family in Virginia what life was like in Korea. Rather than action shots, however, these photos show Brown lounging, drinking Coca-Cola, barbering, playing guitar, and relaxing with fellow soldiers. The Korean War was the first in which the military desegregated its units, following President Harry S. Truman’s 1948 executive order requiring the military to end racial discrimination. Brown’s photographs reflect this, indicating a camaraderie between the black and white soldiers in his unit. The men posed for group photos, putting their arms … more
ca. 1870–1918, negatives 1900–1918
58 8 x 10-inch glass-plate negatives, 12 carte de visites
Michael Miley (1841–1918), probably most famous for his portraits of Robert E. Lee, was a Rockbridge County native who contributed greatly to the burgeoning field of photography. After serving under General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in the Civil War, Miley moved to Staunton to study photography under J. H. Burdett, where he learned to print positive images using the albumen wet-plate process. He returned to Rockbridge County a year later and joined forces with Andrew Plecker, a traveling photographer from Lynchburg, which led to his most famous photograph: Robert E. Lee with his horse Traveller at the Rockbridge Baths.
In 1866, Miley partnered with businessman John C. Boude to open a photography studio at the corner of Main and Nelson Streets in Lexington. He purchased Boude’s half of the business in 1870, named the studio the Stonewall Art Gallery, and found his niche as a portrait photographer. Miley also photographed classes and athletic teams at Washington and Lee University and the Virginia Military Institute. In 1895 his son Henry Miley joined the photography business and renamed the studio M. Miley & Son. Around this time, Miley began experimenting with carbon printing, a process that produced a permanent print in one color. The resulting experiment led to a patent on his color process in 1902, and in 1905 Michael and Henry Miley … more
883 photographic prints, approx. 19.5 x 19.5 inches
These large-format aerial photographs cover extensive portions of Virginia, and include parts of the bordering states of North Carolina, Maryland, and West Virginia. They were produced as part of efforts coordinated by the U.S. Geological Survey to provide cloud-free aerial photography coverage of the United States for use by state and federal agencies.
The National High Altitude Photography program (NHAP) photographs were taken from an altitude of 40,000 feet. Each image covers approximately 68 square miles.
The National Aerial Photography Program (NAPP) photographs were taken from an altitude of 20,000 feet, and each image covers approximately 32 square miles.
Both groups were taken with color infrared film, which renders most of the vegetation in red or magenta.
Arrangement and access:
The NHAP set includes 629 photographs taken from 1980 to 1986. The NAPP set includes 254 photographs taken from 1989 to 1991. Both sets are organized by a film roll number followed by a frame number (example: 513-171 is Roll 513, Frame 171). Roll and frame numbers as well as photography dates are printed on the images. Inventories have been created for both sets, searchable by state/county and by roll/frame numbers. These inventories also include latitude and longitude data for each photograph.
Transferred from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2012.
51 4 x 5-inch photographic cards
These photographs conform to the Kodak 1 camera’s distinctive 2.5-inch circular iris, and often capture those in the unidentified photographer’s entourage from a considerable distance, reducing them to delicate miniatures on hillsides or in sylvan glades. Tighter shots reveal happy-looking men and women in comfortably rumbled Victorian traveling clothes—apparently early enthusiasts of historic tourism. Other photos show an oxcart on the road to Petersburg, Grant’s headquarters at City Point (present-day Hopewell), Gen. William “Baldy” Smith’s headquarters during the Siege of Petersburg (referred to in the photo’s handwritten caption as “The Old Friend House”), a group luncheon on the grass of Petersburg’s famous “Crater,” St. John’s churchyard in Richmond, the State Capitol building, the bell tower and statues of Washington and Henry Clay (since removed) on the Capitol grounds. Also shown is a mothballed monitor-class gunship on the James, which, given the time and place the photo were taken, would have to be the Manhattan, Mahopac, or Tippecanoe.
Most of the photos have handwritten captions and are dated, with most taken on October 9, 1889.
90 glass slides, 3 x 4 inches, housed in original wooden box
These rare slides, many of which are hand-colored, offer a glimpse into the founding of the Richmond branch of Goodwill Industries by Dr. J. T. Mastin and the Rev. Samuel Coles in 1923, before its eventual merger with Citizens’ Service Exchange. Featured are detailed interior and exterior shots of early Goodwill-related activity, including refurbishment of furniture and clothing, horse-drawn Goodwill wagons, volunteers and patrons, several scenes of prison interiors (presumably in connection with Mastin’s correctional work), and many images unrelated to Richmond, including views of England and South Africa. The Goodwill headquarters featured so prominently in these images stood at 1814 E. Grace Street, only a few yards from the Craig House in Shockoe Bottom, and has since vanished without a trace.
The slides most likely served as a visual aid to educational or religious lectures. Lantern slides, as a technology, were popular in America as early as 1850, yielding “magic” projections of images large enough to be easily visible to large audiences.
The accompanying collection file contains much biographical information about Mastin (1855–1943), a Methodist minister, secretary of the State Board of Charities and Corrections, a native Virginian and, according to one article, “the South’s greatest social worker.”
1 album, 10 x 7 inches; 43 images
This album bears a handwritten inscription by Charles T. Cobb, dated March 1935: “The photographs in this album are of my deceased father and his Wolf Pitt Copper Mines, which he once owned and operated at Virgilina, Virginia, in the early 1900s, during the time we lived in the South. He sold the mine holdings in 1907 to the owners of the Blue Wing Copper Mines Co. for a very large amount.”
In addition to its photo-documentation of Virginia copper-mining practices of the turn of the century, this album contains rare visual information about Virgilina itself in its “boom days”—a busy little town of mining and moonshining, muddy roads and newly built hotels, houses and storefronts in a rugged landscape stripped of trees. Included are photos of the Jones Distillery, where corn whisky was manufactured (“by U.S. permit,” the handwritten caption assures us), local mining bosses William Battershill and George B. Cobb, and even the Hungarian “Count Carachristy” [sic], an expert in coal distillation.
27 posters, 10 x 28 inches to 29 x 45 inches
Billed as “the South’s most beautiful ballroom, cooled by nature’s breezes,” the whimsically named Tantilla Garden opened in the 3800 block of Richmond’s West Broad Street in 1931. On the ground level was a miniature golf range (at some point converted to Tiny Town Bowling Alley). The dance hall opened later on the upper level. Ironically, the inclusive dates of Virginia’s prohibition of “liquor by the drink” (1933–1968) coincide almost precisely with Tantilla’s dates of operation. Patrons of “the Garden” were required to “brown bag” it, arriving with their own liquor and mixing cocktails at the table under the gaze of cooperative management. The bar supplied soda and fruit juices.
Tantilla Garden was a destination on the Big Band circuit, hosting nationally popular performers such as Duke Ellington and Tommy Dorsey in addition to beloved local bands and performers, some of whose names have become pop-cultural footnotes. Among those featured on the posters in our collection are Spyder Turner, Jan Garber, Pat Patton, Charlie Wakefield, Earl Mellen and his Melodies, Benny Benson and the Texas Cyclone, Ron Moody and the Centaurs, the Continentals, the Coquettes, the Dynamic Blazers, Glen Gray and the Casa Loma Orchestra, Red Nichols and His Pennies, Johnny Mack, Sammy Kaye, Lang Thompson, Jokers Wild, the Escorts, the Mind Expansion Club, Skeets Morris, Jelly Leftwich, and Viola Smith, … more
884 slides and approx. 500 electronic images
This collection contains the photographer’s 35mm Ektachrome color slides and digital scans of original prints. The images capture architectural, environmental, commercial, and cultural subjects in Virginia, including private homes, schools, restaurants, hotels, bridges, theaters, barns, churches, cemeteries, courthouses, post offices, fire and railway stations, drug stores, barber shops, banks, and service stations.
Pete Calos, an engineer at Allied Chemical for most of his professional life, made the images between 1977 and 2005 for local and architectural historians. In retirement, Calos began to write and illustrate his own travelogue presentations, with titles such as “Back Roads of Virginia,” “All 100 County Courthouses,” “Virginia Diners,” “Historic Route 1,” “Where Are You in Richmond?,” “Where Are You in Danville?,” and “McDonald’s Symphony.” Though a recreational photographer, Calos proved to have a sharp eye for the transience of the modern, and the foresight and technical ability to capture it, finding beauty in the open girder work of rural bridges and uncanny precision in typical bacon-and-eggs breakfasts. His “Diner Series,” focusing on River City, Tastee 29, Surrey House, and Virginia Diners, and the now-vanished Skull and Bones Restaurant on Virginia Commonwealth University’s medical campus, a haunt of medical students for decades, captures not only the restaurant buildings themselves but the staff, interior décor and fixtures, menus, and food. Similarly, his photographs of Virginia’s monumental Works Progress Administration murals in post … more
approx. 3,000 vintage glass-plate negatives
Harry Cowles Mann (1866–1926) was a vastly prolific commercial photographer based in Norfolk, Virginia, specializing in industrial views, portraits, and landscapes, particularly artful Cape Henry beach scenes. Though he hailed from the large and socially prominent Mann family of Virginia (his uncle was Gov. William Hodges Mann and his father was Edwin Mann, a judge on Petersburg’s Hustings Court), little is known of his personal life other than that he was a confirmed bachelor, of fragile health for the second half of his life, and died—for reasons that remain unclear—at the State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded in Lynchburg. Sometime after being commissioned to photograph the 1907 Jamestown Exposition, Mann rented a studio space at 286 Main Street in downtown Norfolk, where he specialized in commercial photography, including “Buildings, Machinery, Landscapes and All Photographic Work for Half-Tone Reproduction.” Mann’s work was featured in National Geographic and his “nature portraits” of Craney Island and the Dismal Swamp won awards in photo competitions in Paris, London, and New York.
The Library’s collection of more than 3,000 prints and glass-plate negatives—more than half of which are available online—show Norfolk during and immediately after World War I. These include images of plantation houses; historic churches; public schools; department store display windows; architectural interiors of every description, including formal parlors, bedrooms, factory work spaces, restaurant dining rooms, and retail spaces; and even … more
approx. 1,600 3.5 x 5 inch negatives, approx. 450 “116″ (2 x 4 inch) negatives, 49 5 x 7 inch silver emulsion glass-plate negatives
A native of Norfolk, Virginia, mechanical engineer Richard E. Prince Jr. (1920–2002) was an authority on the cultural, historical, and technical dimensions of the American railway, publishing extensively on the subject in the 1960s and 1970s. Almost all of the film negatives in our collection were created by Prince, while the glass plates were created by E. F. Horn, who worked at the South Louisville yards of the Louisville-Nashville line. The original negative envelopes, which have been preserved, are inscribed with various technical designations and codes that may be understood by railway aficionados but will mean little to the layperson. Prince also includes notes on the photographs’ location, date, history, and subject. The vast majority of these black-and-white photos are of steam locomotives, with occasional images of diesel engines, yard scenes, railcars, and cabooses.
Arrangement and access:
The collection is arranged in three series. Series A represents numerical index 1 through 642, and are arranged in order of engine number, lowest to highest, subcategorized under the proper name of each railroad line. Almost all images in Series A predate 1940. Series B is similarly arranged, containing approximately 1,600 images dated between 1937 and 1948, and contains copy film of existing photographs not taken by Prince. The glass-plate … more