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
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.”
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
1 album, 16 x 11 inches, 111 pages, 310 photographs, typed narrative
More than a picture album, this carefully composed narrative history of the Petersburg Federal Reformatory (now the low-security Federal Corrections Institute outside Hopewell, Virginia) describes and photographically documents the institution’s first eighteen years. Founded in 1930 as a makeshift camp on former farm properties along the Appomattox, the reformatory quickly achieved “an atmosphere of permanency” through the efforts of a relatively small inmate population the narrative characterizes as enthusiastic, industrious, and dignified.
Indeed, with its stately administrative building and quadrangle of formal hedges, the reformatory, in these photos, looks more like an English country estate than a Depression-era prison. According to the narrative, the inmates took great pride in beautifying the reformatory, which they essentially built from the ground up with local materials and resources, including dogwood, mimosa, redbud, and rambler roses. An ornamental fish pond was even created by flooding the cellar of a vanished farmhouse. A beautiful Arts and Crafts house, built by inmates for the warden, featured a fireplace of petrified wood. The reformatory was from its earliest days almost completely self-sustaining, with vast fields of alfalfa, squash, and potatoes; horse and mule barns; a dairy herd and modern milking machines; a piggery and slaughterhouse; a cinderblock-making facility; a power plant; and even its own fire station with homemade firefighting vehicles. The changing demographics of the prison … more
1 album, 11 x 14 inches, containing 78 prints; 32 glass-plate negatives with corresponding contact prints
Willoughby Reade (1865–1952), author of several books, including When Hearts Were True (1907), a set of short stories set in Virginia, was born in London, England, educated at Howard College in Alabama, and served for most of his life as a professor of English at Episcopal High School in Alexandria. His first wife was Mary Wheeler Robinson, of Abingdon, Virginia, whose childhood home, the Meadows, became the Reades’ annual summer place, the site of the first national camp for girls (Camp Glenrochie, officially founded by the Reades in 1910), and one of the main subject locales for this collection.
Reade’s original platinum prints are mounted in the album with handwritten captions. The dramatic natural landmarks of White Top, Red Rock Cove, Pinnacle Rock, Backbone Rock, Watauga River, and South Holston River—environs that would have been familiar to the sporting girls of Camp Glenrochie in its heyday—appear in shots with a dreamy, almost Proustian quality. Sunlight seems to drip onto the ferny forest floors. Toward the end of the album, nature studies give way to photos of white-frocked campers at the Meadows, the great white house smothered in trees.
Arrangement and access:
The album prints are numbered sequentially, 1 through 78. Those glass plate negatives and contact prints corresponding to the album prints share those numerical designations.… more
approx. 16,400 photographic negatives, 5,000 prints, 12 vintage 16 x 20″ exhibition prints, and a mix of 8 x 10″ negatives, transparencies, and additional vintage prints
Adolph Bransford Rice (1909–1960) was a prolific photographer, addressing a range of commercial needs in Richmond throughout the 1950s. A well-liked businessman, Rice was active in Richmond’s Catholic community, as evidenced by his frequent photographic coverage of church activities, as well as a member of several photographic associations, and regularly contributed images to the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the News Leader. After Rice’s death at age 51, the studio went to his son, Adolph Rice Jr., who went on to serve as a staff photographer for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Library of Virginia, eventually donating his father’s entire photographic inventory to the latter.
Browsing the collection is an exercise in discovery as one stumbles upon subjects as eclectic as funerals and Noel Coward plays, broken sidewalks and local celebrities, austere priests and laughing nuns, retail displays and Tobacco Festival parades, highway construction and traffic accidents, groundbreaking ceremonies and retail showrooms, office parties and stag parties, school field trips and Civil War reenactments, elevator operators and Easter bunnies. Unlike many commercial photographers of the period, Rice seems to have had a personal ease with his subjects, who never come off as posed or awkward.
Rice also cultivated, as a specialty, aerial views of … more
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