Monthly Archives: May 2010

- Keys of Death

These records are part of the Virginia State Penitentiary Collection, 1796-1991 (Accession 41558).  Access to the execution files and four audio cassettes is restricted for 50 years from date of execution.  This collection is currently closed for processing.  [Update:  this collection is now open to researchers. ]

–Roger Christman, LVA Senior State Records Archivist… read more »

- Reuse, recycle…

One of the receipts removed from the account book.

During the Civil War, the scarcity and high cost of writing paper often led people to reuse it. They wrote new letters across existing ones, made account books from old ciphering books, and turned ledgers into scrapbooks. In cases such as these, it is not unusual for archivists to find records that are more than what they appear at first glance.

One such example exists in the Henkel Family Business Records (Acc. 28040), a collection of 137 volumes related to the family’s general store, farm, and mill businesses in New Market, Virginia. While processing the collection, I came across an L.P. Henkel and Brothers account book, 1869–1872, containing business receipts pasted over handwritten text.

The Library of Virginia’s conservation lab removed each receipt, conserving both the receipts and the ledger pages beneath. This process uncovered a Civil War-era register, 1863–1865, listing conscripts from the 10th Virginia Congressional District (Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Prince William, and Warren Counties), with entries for name, age, occupation, physical description, date and place of enrollment, and company assigned. Also included were special orders regarding enlistment and assignments written from headquarters in New Market and Winchester, Virginia. Thanks to careful conservation, these formerly inaccessible records may help researchers uncover more about their own ancestors’ stories.

The original account book and receipts remain with the Henkel Family Business Records. The … read more »

- “You Like Me… You Really Like Me!”

Local Records Archivist Callie Freed (right) demonstrates a DIY humidification chamber.

The Library of Virginia’s Chancery Records Index (CRI) program received an impromptu endorsement last week from members of Virginia’s local historical societies attending the Where History Begins workshop held at the Library.

During a panel discussion titled Facing Digitization Issues, Digital Initiatives & Web Services Manager Kathy Jordan was showing off the LVA website and highlighting various digital collections. When she mentioned the Chancery Records Index, “the room broke out into loud, sustained applause,” according to Local Records Services Director Carl Childs. “Needless to say, [it was] a good feeling and testament to our good work and how much it is appreciated.”

In addition to historical and genealogical information, chancery court records offer a unique glimpse into the everyday lives of Virginians from the early 18th century on because the records rely so heavily on testimony from witnesses. The CRI is the result of a sustained effort to process, preserve, microfilm and digitize those records to make them available to the public. Access the CRI at

It is always nice to feel appreciated but it is especially nice to know that local historical society members – the people who are often on the front lines of preserving and celebrating Virginia’s local history – recognize the LVA’s work.

An estimated 115 people representing 58 local historical societies from around Virginia attended the workshop. It … read more »

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