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
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.
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
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.
178 photographs, 158 film negatives, 13 etchings
Courthouses were essential in establishing a sense of permanence and rule in early Virginia communities, being not only centers of legal and civic activity but venues for business and barter, playing host likewise to a spectrum of community-building social activities such as picnics and games. In the winter of 1940–1941, the Virginia-based Hirst Dillon Milhollen (1906–1970), an etcher by trade and chairman of the exhibits committee for the Washington Society of Etchers, photographed courthouses throughout the commonwealth, the only criterion for inclusion being that the courthouse had to predate 1871 in its construction. The following year, Milhollen privately printed Old Virginia Court Houses, a 100-edition loose-leaf portfolio whose etchings drew upon Milhollen’s own gathering of original photos.
Arrangement and access:
Alphabetical by county.
Etchings purchased 1973, photos and negatives purchased 1992
Hirst D. Milhollen, Old Virginia Court Houses (1942)—original limited edition portfolio held in LVA Special Collections
Related resources and collections:
Carl Lounsbury, The Courthouses of Early Virginia: An Architectural History (2005)… more
A companion to our larger Harry C. Mann Photograph Collection, this digitized set of 58 panoramic images of Norfolk and Virginia Beach provide a sense of scale (often epic) for collective human activities in environments specific to those activities. Included are early-twentieth-century panoramic views of Virginia Beach First Baptist Church, the Chautauqua Building, O’Keefe’s Casino, Norfolk’s Miller & Rhoads department store on Plum Street, McKendree Methodist Church, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Norfolk Harbor, Willoughby Spit, Elizabeth City, and Glenwood Park.
Arrangement and access:
The original negatives are part of the collection at Norfolk Public Library.
Norfolk Public Library Newsletter, vol. 2, no. 3 (Spring 2008)
Related resources and collections:
Harry C. Mann Photograph Collection, C1: 008
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