- No Retreat No Surrender? Not so Much: Yorktown Day

Yorktown Day marks the anniversary of the 19 October 1781 surrender of British forces to General George Washington ending the Revolutionary War. To celebrate, the Library is highlighting two maps in our collection related to the decisive battle at Yorktown.

Sebastian Bauman, A Plan of the Investment of York and Gloucester (1782), G3884.Y6S3 1782 .B3, Map Collection, Library of Virginia.

In 1956 the Library of Virginia purchased Sebastian Bauman’s A Plan of the Investment of York and Gloucester (1782) from Henry Stevens of Son & Stiles. At the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, Bauman commanded one of the allied batteries; he began drafting his map of the Yorktown battlefield shortly after British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington. His map was the first published in America to depict the American and French victory at the sleepy Virginia port town situated along the York River.

Engraved by Robert Scot of Philadelphia, the map was sold by subscription. Many viewers are immediately drawn to the elaborate scrollwork design along the map’s lower center, made up of flags, cannons, cannonballs, swords, drums, and trumpets. Within it is a description of the letters of the alphabet that identify specific locations on the battlefield. References to the British lines are printed in the upper left corner and the dedication and title are printed on rolled parchment on the map’s upper right corner.

Sebastian Bauman was trained in surveying and mapping as a soldier in the Austrian Army. … read more »

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- “Nat’s War”: The Southampton Slave Rebellion of 1831

Discovery of Nat Turner: wood engraving illustrating Benjamin Phipps's capture of Nat Turner. p. 154 of 1894's

On 23 August 1831, Governor John Floyd received a hastily written note from the Southampton County postmaster stating “that an insurrection of the slaves in that county had taken place, that several families had been massacred and that it would take a considerable military force to put them down.” Fifty-seven whites died, many of them women and children, before a massive force of militiamen and armed volunteers could converge on the region and crush the rebellion. Angry white vigilantes killed hundreds of slaves and drove free persons of color into exile in the terror that followed.

Early newspaper reports identified the Southampton insurgents as a leaderless mob of runaway slaves that rose out of the Dismal Swamp to wreak havoc on unsuspecting white families. Military leaders and others on the scene soon identified the participants as enslaved people from local plantations. Reports of as many as 450 insurgents gave way to revised estimates of perhaps 60 armed men and boys, many of them coerced into joining. The confessions of prisoners and the interrogation of eyewitnesses pointed to a small group of ringleaders: a free man of color named Billy Artis, a celebrated slave known as “Gen. Nelson,” and a slave preacher by the name of Nat Turner. Attention focused on Turner; it was his “imagined spirit of prophecy” and his extraordinary powers of persuasion that … read more »

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- October Is Pumpkin-Spice Archives Month

Virginia Archives Month Poster 2016

Every year, seemingly on cue, nature gets the message that we’ve had enough heat and humidity. October dawns and the mornings get crisper, the leaves begin their brilliantly-hued demise, and everything is suddenly pumpkin-spice flavored. October also ushers in the celebration of all things archival with the nationwide American Archives Month.

This year, the Virginia Caucus of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) adopted the theme of “Art in the Archives” to highlight the fine art, folk art, literature, poetry, sketches, and other artistic expressions that can be found in archives and special collections throughout the Commonwealth. Such materials can be housed in distinct art collections such as those in the archives of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, James Madison University, or the LVA’s own state art collection. Other examples can be found in non-art collections such as illustrated WWII-era letters from William & Mary or Virginia Union University’s model of the Liberty Ship SS Robert L. Vann.

Twenty institutions from around Virginia submitted images for use on the Virginia Archives Month 2016 poster. The handsome poster will be mailed to institutions, libraries, officials, and MARAC members around the state. Perhaps you’ll see a copy in your travels! If you would like you own copy, a downloadable PDF is found here.

In an effort to encourage a more participatory Archives Month, the … read more »

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- ‘It’s a Southern Sun That Shines Down on This Yankee Boy’: The E. L. Molineux Collection

The Edward L. Molineux collection, 1861-1915, was scanned as part of the CW150 Legacy Project and recently added to the Library of Virginia’s Transcribe web site. Molineux served in the Union Army and his letters document his military career and his experiences throughout the South during the Civil War. You can help make these fascinating handwritten letters more accessible by volunteering to help transcribe them.

Edward L. Molineux was born in London, England on 12 October 1833, and later moved to New York. He joined the 7th New York Infantry Regiment, 2nd Company, at the start of the war and participated in organizing the 23rd Regiment, 11th Brigade of the New York National Guard. In August 1862 he organized the 159th New York Infantry Regiment and rose to the rank of Colonel. He served as military commander of the La Fourche district, Louisiana in 1864; Savannah, Georgia in 1865; and the northern Georgia district in 1865. He married Harriet D. Clark on 18 July 1861. Molineux died on 10 June 1915 and was buried at Saint James the Less Cemetery in Scarsdale, Westchester County, New York.

Throughout his career Molineux and his family gathered a large collection of papers and photographs relating to his military career and experiences during the American Civil War. The collection includes circulars, drawings, letters, memoirs, orders, photographs, reports, and reunion … read more »

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- It’s A Virginia Thing: Helping One Native Colleague at a Time

Back in 2010 when I was processing the Nelson County chancery suits, I found a remarkable genealogical chart of the prominent Carter family. From that discovery, I wrote my first Out of the Box blog—A Tree Grows In…Chancery! Now, I am here to testify that not only does lightning strike twice, but in the same place as well. Mary Dean Carter, an archival assistant at the Library of Virginia since 2007, was thrilled about my first revelation related to her father’s lineage.

While helping process the Halifax County chancery in 2014, it was my second discovery though that really hit home for Mary Dean. In the beginning of the project Mary Dean had a simple request, let me know if you come across any suits with these last names: Long, Woodall, Land, Burton, Hudson, or VanHook. These surnames belong to her known relatives residing in Halifax County. In a rather lengthy chancery suit from 1869, Heirs of Jesse (Jessee) Ballow v. Exr of Jesse (Jessee) Ballow, etc., 1869-021, I uncovered relatives on her mother’s side of the family.

With the discovery of another well-preserved genealogical chart, Mary Dean determined that her third great grandfather, Hyram Hudson, was a direct descendant of Jesse Ballow’s sister, Anne. A color coded key is provided for reading the chart. Jesse Ballow died in Cumberland County and … read more »


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- Man at the Top: The Kaine Administration Cabinet Week Reports Collection

Kaine Cabinet Weekly Reports, 2009-07-31, Secretary of Natural Resources (2009-07-30), page one, Timothy M. Kaine Administration (2006-2010) Cabinet Weekly Reports Digital Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce a new digital collection:  the Kaine Administration Cabinet Weekly Reports Collection (2006-2009). Accessible through Digitool (and linked to from the “Related Content” section of the Kaine Email Project @ LVA page), this collection consists of weekly reports submitted to Governor Tim Kaine by the governor’s cabinet members, advisors, policy, press, and constituent services offices, and the Virginia Liaison Office. Reports were submitted each Thursday and placed in a binder for the governor that he took with him at the end of the day on Friday. While the level of detail varies, each report contains information on legislation, Governor’s initiatives and special projects, agency matters and operations, events and agency visits, audits or investigations, stakeholder issues, and pending decisions. This collection, which is full-text searchable, provides a weekly account of the issues and policy decisions of the Kaine Administration.

The weekly reports address a wide variety of issues and topics including:  avian flu, state budgets, the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC), renovations of the Capitol, creation of a Civil Rights Memorial, early childhood education, planning for the 2008 presidential election and the January 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama, land conservation, minority procurement, transportation, federal recognition of Virginia’s Native American tribes, IT issues, and workforce development.

Kaine Cabinet Weekly Reports, 2009-08-07, Secretary of Natural Resources (2009-08-06), page one, Timothy M. Kaine Administration (2006-2010) Cabinet Weekly Reports Digital Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.

Governor Kaine often … read more »

- Bring On Your Wrecking Ball: The Battle of Hampton Roads

The Battle of Hampton Roads was one of the most important naval battles in the American Civil War. It was fought over two days, 8-9 March 1862, in Hampton Roads, Virginia. During the CW150 Legacy Project we uncovered a letter from a Union soldier who was at the battle and wrote home about what he had witnessed. The letter was written on 15 March 1862 by John “Johnnie” Torrance while he served with the 2nd New York Infantry Regiment, Company H and was stationed at Camp Butler, Newport News, Virginia.

In the letter written to “Libbie,” Torrance describes the naval battle he witnessed stating “I suppose you have heard of [it] before this time. I though[t] you would have saw something about it in the paper.” Torrance mostly describes the first day of the battle – detailing the attack by the CSS Virginia and CSS Patrick Henry and CSS Jamestown on the USS Cumberland and USS Congress. The Virginia rammed the Cumberland causing it to sink and taking nearly 150 lives. The captain of the Congress ran his ship aground in shallow waters and after some combat the ship surrendered. While the crew was being ferried off the ship a Union battery on the north shore opened fire on the Virginia. In response the Virginia fired with hot shot (cannonballs heated red-hot) … read more »

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- W.C. and Earl and the Popular Girl: The Virginia Yearbook Project


In the summer of 2012, the Library Development and Networking Division started a project that included loaning scanners and computers to Virginia libraries in the hope of bringing to light hidden local history collections housed in public libraries. These collections hold items of local interest and historical value, and many of these items are unique to their region or locality. This project was started and continues to be funded with grants provided by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), whose mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people with ideas, administers LSTA funds.

A team of Library of Virginia staff traveled to public libraries to deliver the scanners and peripheral equipment, providing training on using the equipment, guidance on organizing materials to be digitized as well as file-naming conventions, and conducting an assessment of items to determine their value for scanning.

In August 2012, the LVA team visited the Halifax County South Boston Public Library. As part of the discovery process, the team was told about a safe located in the local history room of the library. While library staff believed that this safe might contain some important documents that should be scanned, no one had been able to open the safe even with instructions provided. Luckily, LVA’s former Local Records Director (and … read more »

- Every Dog Will Have His Day

Editor’s note: This piece was originally published as an artifact spotlight for Discover Richmond, a magazine published by the Richmond-Times Dispatch. It is posted here with additional images of the Fredericksburg Dog Mart, which are part of the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce Photograph Collection.

These photographs from the Fredericksburg Dog Mart capture the heyday of an event that traces its roots to 1698.

At that time, one day a year was set aside by law to accommodate trade between the Manahoac Tribe (and later, the Pamunkey and Mattaponi) and English settlers in the area that later became Fredericksburg. The Native Americans would provide furs and produce in exchange for English hunting dogs. This practice occurred annually until the start of the Revolutionary War.

An annual dog mart resumed in 1927, known then as the Dog Curb Market, and coincided with the start of hunting season — the event gave hunters an opportunity to purchase hunting dogs. The dog mart also drew wider attention: it was featured in a Pathé Newsreel in 1928, and Time magazine wrote an article about it in 1937. By the following year, the dog mart drew a crowd of 7,000 people and 641 dogs.

The event was suspended during World War II but was restored in 1948 by the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce. In 1949, the dog mart … read more »

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- The Return of Virginia’s Lost History


If you live in the Richmond area or are connected to the Library of Virginia through social media, you may have seen the recent announcement of the return of the Charles City County Record Book, 1694-1700. This volume, taken from the Charles City courthouse in 1862 during the Peninsula Campaign of the Civil War, was returned by a Pennsylvania family who had cared for it for over three decades. In anticipation of the record book’s return, I had occasion to review other replevined records from Charles City County—a saga with its own century-long history.

First, a bit about replevin. No, it doesn’t mean to plevin again. Officially, it’s a common law action that allows a person or entity to recover wrongly or unlawfully taken personal property. In the archives and records profession, it refers more specifically to the recovery of public records (with or without legal action) by an agency or organization. The Virginia Public Records Act (§ 42.1-89) vests the power to petition a local circuit court for the return of public records held by an unauthorized custodian in the Librarian of Virginia or designee. Public records never cease being public records; so, unless lawfully and properly destroyed, they should remain with the appropriate custodian.

Thankfully, in the case of the Charles City County records and most other examples, legal action was … read more »



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