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
1 album, 7.5 x 9 inches; 360 cards
With the invention of wrapping machines in the 19th century, pieces of plain card were used as protective stiffeners to protect the contents of paper packages. By the late 1870s in the United States, Allen & Ginter were embellishing these inserts with advertisements and illustrations. This quickly became an efficient and creative means of cultivating brand loyalty, and the practice spread rapidly to Great Britain and other foreign manufacturers. By the 1890s, many of the larger British tobacco companies were issuing cards, and they soon progressed to series on particular themes: actresses, soldiers, ships, kings and queens, etc.
The outbreak of war in 1914 inspired many patriotic card issues. Multiple influences were at work: the spontaneous expression of national pride; a desire to help the war effort; an insatiable public craving for news, particularly good news and information; a wish to glorify the heroism of British forces; and a determination to demonstrate the supporting role of civilians on the home front. Three of the seven sets in the British Cigarette Card Collection represent this time period: Army Life (October 1910), Regimental Uniforms (July 1912 and July 1914), and Military Motors (October 1916).
The popularity of cigarette cards grew during the 1920s and 1930s. Many of the sets issued during this time were reissues of earlier series with a timeless appeal. Drum Banners & Cap … more
Mixed materials—including vintage prints, color snapshots, oil studies, finished drawings, process drawings, ink-jet printouts, flyers, and posters—ranging in size from 2 x 3 to 26 x 36 inches
Richmond-based painter J. Bohannan was born in New York City in 1950 and moved with his family at age two to Hilton Village, Newport News, and later, as a teenager, to Hopewell. After studying art at the Richmond Professional Institute (now Virginia Commonwealth University) in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Bohannan worked as a salesman in his father’s art supply store, selling his own original artwork on the side. By his own admission, his paintings of the time were derivative of the European high art and contemporary abstraction he had studied at RPI. Then one day he picked up a copy of Matthew Baigell’s The American Scene: American Painting of the 1930s (1974) from a discount book bin. Until then, Bohannan says, he had never really seen, much less studied, modern American painting, despite four years of formal art education.
Working alongside street artists in Verona and Munich, copying famous Caravaggios and Bouchers in pastel on public sidewalks, Bohannan developed a passion for “plastic realism,” embedding human forms in visual space in a way that is, as Bohannan puts it, “more there than right”—that is, more materially present than technically correct. After his return to Virginia from Europe, Bohannan began developing … more
Among our most unique holdings, this small and unassuming piece, assembled by Dr. J. H. Breazeale (1889–1966), a veterinarian who served in the Army Medical Corps, reflects the striking public-private dichotomies of life in wartime, serving apparently as both a family photo album and work journal. Approximately half of Breazeale’s forty-eight amateur photos endearingly capture his wife and young sons at home, with handwritten captions such as “Branson’s first trousers” and “Calling kitty.” The rest of the images document the grim duties of a wartime veterinarian, with sobering captions such as “These pens contain 1300 Missouri Mules,” “Shot for losing foot,” “Burial at sea,” and “Loading the dead wagon, Newport News, Va.” At the outset of World War I, the mule was indispensible for moving artillery, ammunition, and other supplies. It’s estimated that during the war more than 500,000 horses and mules were processed for use in Europe, with more than 68,000 killed in the course of action.
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
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