Monthly Archives: February 2011

- Grant Allows Jefferson’s Papers To Be Preserved

Thomas Jefferson was featured on this 1904 commemorative postage stamp.

The Library of Virginia recently received a highly competitive Save America’s Treasures grant in the amount of $110,000 for the conservation of the gubernatorial papers of Thomas Jefferson.

The correspondence, letters, and documents pertaining to Thomas Jefferson’s service as the second governor of Virginia bring to life the daily challenges faced by him and other leaders during the Revolutionary War, while drafting the Articles of Confederation, and when addressing frontier relations. The list of Jefferson’s correspondents in the collection reads like a who’s who of American history and includes John Jay, James Madison, Baron Frederick von Steuben, John Paul Jones, George Rogers Clark, among other notables. The collection consists of 1,992 manuscript pages, and three letterbooks. This Save America’s Treasures grant will facilitate the preservation and digitization of the entire collection, ensuring public access to these valuable materials.

 This will be the second time these particular documents will go through a preservation process. In the 1930s, The Library of Virginia (then the Virginia State Library) partnered with William J. Barrow, a pioneer in conservation practices. Barrow and his Richmond-based company began work on colonial- and revolutionary-era records held by the archives utilizing his new laminating technique. This new method, which used cellulose acetate film, was widely accepted as a stable and effective means of preserving documents. Within a few decades, however, archivists and librarians … read more »

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- Happy Belated Presidents Day

Writ of Capias for George Washington from Frederick County.

Washington Writ Transcript

This writ of capias caught our eye for two reasons. First, it concerns George Washington. Second, Washington, probably with sword or firearm, refused to enter the custody of the Frederick County Deputy Sherriff William Green to answer a complaint in court against him by John Harrow. Little is known about the circumstances surrounding this capias writ. Perhaps our readers could add some context to the events as described by Green.  Use the comment box below.

-Dale Dulaney, Archival Assistant… read more »

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- What’s New in the Archives

Interested in what’s new in the archives at the Library of Virginia? You can find out in two reports compiled quarterly by LVA staffers: The Library of Virginia Quarterly Report of Archival Accessions and Primary Sources: Quarterly Report of Newly Processed Collections.

The Report of Archival Accessions lists the creator, title, size, brief description, and accession number of the local, map, private, and state archival collections described and/or received during the time period. Some of the local and state records collections listed may be closed for processing; check with Archives Research Services regarding availability for research use.

Primary Sources lists the latest collections processed, microfilmed, or digitized by the Library. Like its companion publication, Report of Archival Accessions, Primary Sources gives the creator, title, size, and accession number for each collection processed during the previous quarter. It also contains links to published finding aids for each collection.

Current reports are located on the Library of Virginia’s Web site under the ”News and Events” section (linked above). Older reports are located under Library Collection Releases.… read more »

- Latest Issue of Broadside is Now Available

The winter 2011 issue of Broadside, the Library of Virginia’s quarterly magazine, is now available. Broadside describes and illustrates the holdings and happenings at the Library of Virginia. Discover fascinating items from the collections as well as events, exhibitions, educational programs, and opportunities to become more involved. The current issue focuses on the Library’s Union or Secession: Virginians Decide exhibition.

Click here to subscribe to Broadside or view past issues.… read more »

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- And They’re Off!

Plat from an Augusta County chancery cause.

The long anticipated start of the Augusta County Chancery scanning project has begun! The first 50 boxes of chancery cases were transferred to LVA’s digital vendor (Backstage Library Works) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, on February 4th. Scanning of the papers began last week on the portion of the collection dated from 1867 to 1912. Case files dated from 1745 to 1866 will be scanned at a later date after archivists complete additional arrangement, indexing, and conservation of these fragile papers.

The Augusta County chancery causes are the most voluminous of any locality in Virginia and are one of the longest and most complete continuous collections of chancery records of any locality in the country. They document an unusually large geographic area. For the period 1745 to 1770, the boundaries of Augusta County encompassed most of western Virginia and what became the states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, and Ohio, and parts of present-day Pennsylvania as far north as Pittsburgh. In fact, the Augusta County court held sessions at Fort Pitt in Pittsburgh when claim to that area, known as the West Augusta District, was in dispute. Even after the county was reduced to roughly its present size in 1778, the Augusta County Court continued to be the repository for chancery causes from 28 localities, which were heard by the Staunton Superior Court of Chancery from 1801 … read more »

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- CW 150 coverage from the Richmond Times-Dispatch

Check out this video of the CW 150 Legacy Project in action here at the Library of Virginia. It’s provided courtesy of the Richmond Times Dispatch. The accompanying newspaper story is here.… read more »

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- Ensuring quality education for all

New Kent Training School teachers, 1944-1945

Editors Note:  This post is a modified version of an article that originally appeared in the former “Virginiana” section of Virginia Memory.

The Watkins Family Papers (Accession 42063) include certificates, newspaper clippings, photographs, postcards, programs, and yearbooks documenting a prominent African American family in New Kent County, Virginia. While much of the collection consists of Jones and Watkins family photographs from Richmond and New Kent County, the collection is also significant for its connection to the struggle for school desegregation in Virginia.

Dr. George Washington Watkins (1898-1972) was born in Pickens County, South Carolina, the son of James and Lattie Watkins. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree (and later an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity) from Virginia Union University, and a Master of Arts degree from Hampton Institute.  

Watkins is perhaps best known for his work in education, chiefly as principal of the New Kent Training School (renamed the George W. Watkins School in 1950).  This school played an important role in the education of African Americans in the area and was at the center of one of the most significant school integration rulings to follow Brown v. Board of Education (1954).  He was also a pastor, heading congregations at Second Liberty Baptist Church of Quinton, and Elam Baptist Church of Ruthville.

In 1930, there were 15 elementary schools in New Kent County, … read more »

- David Walker’s Appeal: Anti-Slavery Literature in the Executive Communications


Title page for David Walker's Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World, Virginia General Assembly, House of Delegates, Speaker, Executive Communication, 7 January 1830, Accession 36912, Miscellaneous Reel 5391.

“Remember Americans, that we must and shall be free and enlightened as you are,
will you wait until we shall, under God, obtain our liberty by the crushing arm of power?
Will it not be dreadful for you? I speak Americans for your good. We must and shall be free
I say, in spite of you. You may do your best to keep us in wretchedness and misery,
to enrich you and your children; but God will deliver us from under you.
And wo, wo, will be to you if we have to obtain our freedom by fighting.”

David Walker, Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World

David Walker, a free black man from Boston, wrote to Thomas Lewis in Richmond on 8 December 1829 enclosing thirty copies of the first edition of his pamphlet An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World. Walker instructed Lewis to sell the pamphlet for twelve cents among the Richmond’s African-American population or to provide them free of charge. Walker used Old Testament theology and the natural rights philosophy of the Declaration of Independence to describe the plight of African-Americans, both slave and free, in four articles: “Our wretchedness in consequence of slavery,” “Our wretchedness in consequence of ignorance,” “Our wretchedness in consequence of the preachers of the religion of Jesus Christ,” and “Our wretchedness in … read more »

- Who Do You Think You Are?

Emmitt Smith in the Mecklenburg County courthouse. Photo by Kent Eanes courtesy of NBC.

Genealogists, take a break from the microfilm machine and those dusty documents! Find a seat on the couch and get ready to see your passion brought to life on the small screen.

The second season of NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? begins this Friday, February 4, at 8 P.M. As you may know, each episode of the show follows a celebrity whose family tree is researched by experts – how fabulous it is to be a celebrity! The celebrities discover their hidden family stories and secrets as they travel to the archives that house their family records and the places where their ancestors lived. One episode last season featured Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith and revealed his family’s connection to Mecklenburg County, Virginia. See the episode here. Smith traveled to the county courthouse in Boydton to view records there and visited historic Boyd Tavern across the street.

This season promises more connections to Virginia with celebrity participants Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim McGraw, Rosie O’Donnell, Steve Buscemi, Kim Cattrall, Lionel Richie, Vanessa Williams, and Ashley Judd.

If you are inspired to begin tracing your ancestry after watching the show, the Library of Virginia is a great place to start. Our collection contains a wealth of Virginia records that cannot be found anywhere else. We also provide free access to Ancestry.com … read more »

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