12 lithographic cards, 2 x 3 inches
The mild pastels of these lithographic novelty cards belie their content, which is uncharacteristically downbeat for Southern wartime images. They feature Dixie caricatures populating scenes of defeat and despair, such as a man in gray—who appears to be lonesome, cold, and hungry—reminiscing about the “good times” of 1861. Most of these “life scenes” are not historically specific. “A Flank Movement” visually puns military action, showing a hungry soldier armed with a stiletto stalking an oblivious pig. “Heroes Still,” apparently a post-War scene, or one anticipating the fruits of pursuing a lost cause, shows humbled white Southerners tilling their own fields. Other scenes include “In a Bad Place,” “First Winter,” “Homesick,” “In the Trenches,” “The Vidette,” “The Camp Darkey,” “Following Stonewall,” and a sea battle captioned “No. 290.” The cards were originally held together into a dainty, homemade fascicle, fashioned from sackcloth, which includes the handwritten title of the collection along with an almost indecipherable name written in pencil: “Hope Stewart.”
Six of the images were reproduced in Cavalcade (winter, 1951).… more
approx. 318 stereographs (most albumen) and other photographic prints mounted on 4 x 7 inch cards
Stereographic views were a popular nineteenth-century novelty that enabled photographs to be viewed in three dimensions. What appear to be identical photographic images paired adjacently on a cardboard support are actually slightly different and, when viewed through the lenses of a stereoscope, they “merge” to yield an unexpectedly convincing 3D effect. The Library’s Stereograph Collection contains over 300 images from many prominent photographers from the Civil War to the World War I eras. Photographs and publishers represented in the collection include the Keystone View Co., George S. Cook, Lee Gallery, D. H. Anderson, E. S. Lumpkin, Underwood & Underwood, George Ennis, Selden & Co., the Kilburn Bros., and Timothy O’Sullivan. Most of the images offer views of Richmond and other Virginia locales, such as the Old Stone House (now the Poe Museum), interiors of Washington’s Tomb, Salt Point, the Executive Mansion and Capitol Grounds (including the long-vanished wrought iron gazebo that housed the statue of Henry Clay), Monumental Church, and Libby Prison. There are also several rare photographs of Blue Ridge Springs and other long-defunct Virginia resorts, as well as a one-of-a-kind series of homemade stereographs with views of late- nineteenth-century Petersburg.
Arrangement and access:
The collection is available for view on Digitool.
average size 11 x 15 inches
The state’s bicameral legislature, consisting of the House of Delegates and the Senate, was confirmed in the Virginia Constitution of 1776, but can trace its lineage directly to the 1619 Jamestown House of Burgesses, making it effectively the oldest legislative body in the Western Hemisphere. The present Virginia Constitution requires that the House consist of 90–100 members and the Senate of 33–40 members. Arranged chronologically, the Virginia Legislature Photograph Collection contains annual composite portraits of the General Assembly, beginning near the advent of photography in 1857, which are primarily the work of Richmond’s Foster Studio, and later Dementi Studio. The rosters witness the emergence of women, and the re-emergence of black Virginians, in the realm of state policymaking. Although not every year is represented in the collection, in many cases the rosters feature the only known photographs of early Virginia lawmakers.
Failed insurance salesman Dugald Stewart Walker (1883–1937), a native Richmonder and self-styled eccentric very much in artistic and cultural sympathy with the British aesthetes of a generation before, studied drawing at the University of Virginia and the New York School of Art, and was by the late 1920s internationally renowned as both a fine artist and popular illustrator of children’s books. While his gallery work was praised in the museums of London, Paris, and Rome, Walker’s elegant grotesqueries fared poorly back home in Depression-era Richmond—though he was keenly sought after as a bookplate designer by the Richmond and New York elite.
With striking black-and-white prints reminiscent of the work of Aubrey Beardsley but distinctly his own, Walker created a whimsical, slightly sinister, and technically precise “Once Upon a Time” world of pleasure gardens, peacocks, satyrs, clowns, archers, and mounted knights. Often in his bookplates the highly personalized iconography of client preference is brought to bear on quaint themes and high modernist design. In the plate for the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, for example, delicately rendered chemistry beakers positioned above a “window” become, in their self-mirroring symmetry, a kind of ornamental pediment. In another plate, otherwise naturalistic boxers, poised for battle, become pilaster-like ornaments on either side of a monumental baroque doorway through which lovers can be glimpsed embracing in a glade. Perhaps the strangest item in this collection … more
74 chromolithographs in original bound volume, 6.5 x 10 inches
With the extraordinary popularity of cigars in late-nineteenth century America, and the consequent birth of the cigar-box-label salesman, came colorful catalogs and sample books, of which ours is an intact example, “showcasing” the variety of label designs available to cigar manufacturers and merchants. By the early 1880s most label production had shifted from small towns to large specialty printing firms on the east coast, among these the Manhattan-based O. L. Schwencke, begun in 1884 and absorbed by Moehle Lithographic Co. in 1900. Done in luxurious chromolithography, the embossed labels in our Schwencke sample book contrast scenes of leisure, privilege, and high sophistication, such as operagoing and pleasure-boating, with a dizzying array of images to appeal to all manner of disposition and fantasy: sentimental courtships and family tableaux, patriotic allegories, scenes of foreign travel, sportsmanship, war, adventure, and industry, elaborate and indecipherable insignia, exotic animals and cherubs, caricatures of Arabs and Native Americans, mildly sexualized women, and American playboys and tycoons. These scenes usually appear under very broad legends such as “Leader,” “Beauty,” and “Peerless,” with more specific-sounding legends such as “Santiago,” “La Rosa Especial,” and “La Amenidad” posing as exotic brand names but in fact easily mapped over whatever generic cigar the merchant or manufacturer might have had on hand or been eager to push on customers. One label, “Life Saver,” … more
194 glass-plate negatives, 21 film negatives
Architects William Leigh Carneal Jr. (1881–1958) and James Markam Ambler Johnston (1885–1974) founded their firm about 1908, after a year working independently but sharing office space in Richmond. Carneal & Johnston went on to become one of the most prolific and long-lived architectural practices in the state, by 1950 having shaped the distinctive architectural character of central Virginia, especially Richmond, with the completion of more than 1,300 buildings. The architects worked on a wide range of project types, from the mundane to the monumental, suburban bungalows to a proposed but never realized Ninth Street Victory Arch.
Amassed by the firm for documentary and promotional purposes, the Carneal & Johnston Collection photographically captures interior and exterior views of many commercial and municipal buildings, bridges, factories, apartments, and private residences, and includes a number of concept drawings entered into architectural competitions. Some of the most notable and easily recognizable structures represented in the collection include the First Virginia Regiment Armory (1913), the Richmond Dairy (1914) with its colossal milk bottles, the Colonial Theater (1919–1920), the Virginia State Office Building (1922–1923), and many collegiate gothic structures on the campuses of Richmond College (now the University of Richmond) and the Virginia Military Institute.
ca. 1900–1990s, bulk 1930s-1960s
What makes this collection unique is its focus on the depots of smaller cities, towns, and whistle-stops of rural Virginia, rather than the palatial rail hubs of major cities, such as Richmond’s Main Street Station, of which there is already an abundant visual account. The images date from the very early twentieth century to the mid-1970s, with some images from as late as the 1990s. Almost all the images were daytime shots and practically none document human activity or presence. Instead they focus on the architectural qualities of the depots themselves, significantly without regard to any depot’s ostensible architectural importance. Indeed, the passenger shelter in Ashcake, Virginia, looks to be a tiny shack overtaken by shrubbery. Williamsburg’s looks more like a faux-colonial bank than a depot, and Danville’s is an aluminum modular building. Most of the depots featured, however, are in the more familiar “cottage” style.
Arrangement and access:
Alphabetically by location
Related resources and collections:
Prince Railroad Collection
2 albums, 7 x 11 and 9 x 11 inches, 200 photographs, along with 66 modern copy photographs from albums belonging to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources
In the early twentieth century, the Appalachian Power Company built a series of hydroelectric dams on the New River in Carroll County, Virginia. Completed in 1912, the Byllesby Dam took its name from H. M. Byllesby and Company, a Chicago investment firm that helped start Appalachian Power, and it created the serene 335-acre Byllesby Reservoir still popular with local fishermen and recreational boaters.
The photographs in this collection document the phases of the dam’s construction and the building methods of the period, with interior shots of the transformer house and its giant turbines and wide-angle exterior views of the dam and cement-mixing plant with its and volute casing and draft tube forms, like abstract sculptures in the wilderness, awaiting cement. As significantly, the photographs capture the daily lives of the workers who made their home in the camp, with images of black-papered dormitories for engineers and office staff, tidy vegetable gardens growing beneath power lines, a pair of well-dressed women on horseback (on the same horse), candid shots of “natives” (locals), and various shots of workers at rest and play and gathered around a campfire at night. The collection also includes two commercially produced scenic postcards of the completed dam and an original … more
36 posters, 5 house-finding guides, and related ephemera. Posters range in size from 11 x 17 to 22 x 27 inches.
Known for its architecturally eclectic early-twentieth-century townhomes and picturesque shady streets, Richmond’s Fan District is an 85-block residential neighborhood immediately west of the downtown commercial area. The Fan District Association Poster and Ephemera Collection includes many of the creative and memorable marketing campaigns for the Holiday House Tour and a variety of similar community events. Included among the posters are designs by Perrine, Kennedy & Green Advertising; Reed Advertising & Marketing; the King Agency; and the Martin Agency. Also included in the collection are house-finding guides and ticket stubs from the Holiday House Tour.
Arrangement and access: Chronological
Provenance: Gift of Fan District Association, 2009
approx. 270 Kodak prints with negatives
Receiving its first prisoners in 1800, the Virginia State Penitentiary in Richmond had by the 1980s, through a series of radical redesigns, grown from architect Benjamin Latrobe’s elegant horseshoe-shaped loggia on the banks of the James to an enormous modern complex of cellblocks and administrative buildings, mostly constructed with inmate labor, and partly from the brick and stone of Latrobe’s original horseshoe, itself fallen into disuse and razed in 1928.
In 1991, with the inmate population decentralized and relocated to various facilities throughout the state, and the penitentiary buildings themselves doomed to obsolescence, the Virginia Film Office sent photographers to survey the complex as a potential movie location. While ultimately no movies were filmed in “the Pen,” the photographers did gather the most comprehensive and intimate visual account of the penitentiary made near the end of its long life cycle, a year before its demolition by the state. The exterior and interior photos are rich in detail and include views of the dining hall, the chapel, and the infirmary with its distinctive green-and-white checkered floor, as well as glimpses along the inner lengths of the tiered cellblocks, various furniture, lamps, and other unexpected details of life behind bars, such as houseplants and an umbrella casually hung by its handle on an open door. One long panorama, composed of five separate snapshots, captures the penitentiary’s high-walled athletic … more