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
1 volume, 10 pages
The collectible cigarette card, as a cultural phenomenon, originated in Richmond in 1875, created as a marketing tool by the Richmond-based tobacco manufacturer Allen & Ginter. Cigarette cards were among the first items of ephemera produced specifically for collecting and trading, to be used as proof of purchase for promotional giveaways and, in the long term, to cultivate brand loyalty. Premium albums of this type are much rarer than the individual tobacco cards and were available from the tobacco company issuing the cards in exchange for a complete set of the individual cards or in exchange for coupons issued with the cigarettes. While the tobacco cards were free in packs of cigarettes or tobacco, these albums had to be purchased (or stamps had to be sent in for postage charges). By late in the nineteenth century, the production of cigarette cards had become an industry in itself, practically independent of its tobacco-based origins.
The album, featuring lithography by Lindner, Eddy & Clauss and published by Allen & Ginter, seems to have educational aspirations, though it has a sometimes whimsical sense of geography, suggesting that kangaroos can be found in India, and it mischaracterizes primates as quadrupeds. The album is also, to a modern sensibility, startlingly violent. The cover illustration, for starters, shows a desert with Bedouins on camel and horseback violently stealing lion cubs and slaughtering their parents … more
John Shaw (1942–2010) was a prolific wildlife photographer and painter strongly associated with Virginia, where he was born and made his home. Quitting his day job as a military satellite tracker in 1982, Shaw, largely self-taught, committed himself to his art, which appeared in countless incarnations—as paintings in private homes, in wildlife magazines and illustrated calendars, on postage stamps and birdseed packages.
The 35mm images in our collection demonstrate a technical sophistication and commitment to realism and detail for which Shaw’s later work was so widely admired. Striking shots of songbirds taking wing, casting shadows on what are apparently artificial backdrops, intermingle with more casual photos of Copper and Butch, the family spaniels, and colorful domestic interiors featuring a reserved older couple, probably Shaw’s parents. Other images include opossum and deer, skunks and flying squirrels, a dozen species of songbird, as many national and state parks, and locales such as California wine country and the covered bridges of Pennsylvania. Of special interest to Virginians may be Shaw’s photos of Monticello, Shenandoah National Park in autumn, and the Blue Ridge Parkway—with images of Mabry Mill and the Puckett Cabin, home of “Aunt” Orelena, the famous midwife. While most of the slides themselves are undated, images of the Seattle World’s Fair place their creation in the early 1960s.
Arrangement and access:
The 1,288 Kodachrome slides are arranged as received, labeled … more
ca. 1940–1975, bulk 1947–1957
3,888 negatives, photographs
Spanning nearly three decades, this collection includes candid images documenting the growth of an industrial city. In 1912, the DuPont Company selected the Hopewell area as the site of its explosive powder production operations. Completion of the factory coincided with the start of World War I. DuPont built a company town around the factory, providing housing for the workers. As with other industrial planned communities of the early twentieth century, DuPont also provided for the physical, intellectual, and social lives of its workers by building schools, churches, gymnasiums, libraries, clinics and hunt clubs. By the 1930s, several local and national industries recognized Hopewell’s pool of workers and established factories alongside DuPont.
In an effort to preserve individual employee rights in a town largely controlled by industry, Hopewell plant workers joined labor unions such as District 50 of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA). The UMWA industrial union was formed in 1890 by the amalgamation of the National Progressive Union (organized 1888) and the mine locals under the Knights of Labor. The UMWA’s stated purpose was to address the lack of continuity of employment, limited access and ownership in company-owned towns, and the extreme occupational hazards that led to regular strikes and constant efforts to improve conditions through collective bargaining. At the time of the construction of Union Hall in 1952, five local chapters were represented within … more
16 stock certificates
On February 19, 1906, twenty-one years after it began in Richmond as a dry goods shop, Miller & Rhoads department store was legally incorporated with the issue of sixteen stock certificates, representing a total of 350 one-thousand dollar shares, combined holdings of $350,000 against an authorized Capital Stock of $500,000. Miller & Rhoads, Inc., would go on to become an anchor of Richmond’s economy, making a name for itself as “the largest department store in the South,” combining genteel service with sophisticated taste.
The founding certificates were issued as follows: nos. 1–7 to president Linton Miller, 8–14 to treasurer Webster Rhoads, and 15 and 16 to secretary A. B. Laughon. The ornate certificate templates were printed locally at Southern Stamp and Stationery Co., and feature large embossed seals. All are “cancelled” in various handwritings.
Arrangement and access:
Numerical by certificate
Purchased, date unknown
mid-18th century through mid-20th century
Bookplates, small paper panels denoting book-ownership, have their origins in Renaissance Germany. Their use was standard in the eighteenth century, when books were vastly expensive and hard to produce, and they became popular as status symbols and collectibles during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries’ renewed interest in “the culture of the book.” Our collection demonstrates the extraordinary aesthetic range of bookplates, including abstract designs, landscapes, human subjects, crests, and mythological figures, ranging in style from the staid and classically armorial to the privately iconographic and bizarre.
The majority of this collection consists of bookplates belonging to notable Virginians, including Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie, Declaration-signatory George Wythe, Constitutional co-author Gouverneur Morris, Revolutionary general Hugh Mercer, Col. George Lee Turberville, DAR Magazine contributor (and great-granddaughter of Patrick Henry) Elizabeth Henry Lyons (“Lift the Latch and Find Me,” her bookplate says), Civil War major and correspondent John Hooper, Richmond city councilman and industrialist James Branch Ransom (whose mock-armorial crest features a cartoon chicken), prominent Richmond physicians Samuel Dove and John Brodnax, authors John R. Witcraft and the Rev. Philip Slaughter, Powhatan-born U.S. comptroller John Skelton Williams, and aviator, polar explorer, and Medal-of-Honor-winner Rear Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, of Winchester, a descendant not only of Pocahontas and John Rolfe but of William Byrd II, founder of Richmond. Also included are bookplates from Rainbow & Hannah’s Circulating Library in … more
64 albums, approx. 3,500 photographs
On June 15, 1942, the army officially activated the Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation, under the command of the army’s Transportation Corps, with its headquarters in Newport News. By the end of World War II, more than 772,000 men and women had gone to war via the port. Hampton Roads saw even more arrivals than departures: 915,116 people, including U.S. wounded and European POWs. The Transportation Corps maintained a port historian’s office and regularly assigned Signal Corps photographers to document as much port-related activity as possible. In almost all cases, the individuals in the photographs are identified by name and rank.
Our U.S. Army Signal Corps Photograph Collection includes more than 3,500 individual 8 x 10″ black-and-white photographs from the Hampton Roads Embarkation Series, 1942–1946. These photos show, often in intimate and unexpected detail, the preparation and loading of war materials, daily activities of the U.S. Quartermaster Corps, U.S. military personnel arriving and departing through the ports of Hampton Roads, the work of civilian employees, WACs, Japanese-American servicemen, and the Red Cross, group portraits, wounded personnel, entertainers, animals, German and Italian prisoners of war, military funerals and religious observances, training and drills, equipment, vehicles and warships, aerial views of the port, and servicemen going to the barber or dentist, receiving communion, and relaxing in racially segregated dining facilities. The collection is significant for its account of all aspects … more