Monthly Archives: March 2011

- Dear Governor

Note: This stack of envelopes from the Gravely Family Papers (Acc. 34126) is used as an illustration for this post. Actual letters from Governor Letcher's papers are scanned below.

Editor’s Note: Guest contributor Brent Tarter offers the following post, pointing out some interesting finds made by the creators of the Library of Virginia’s Union or Secession exhibition.

During Virginia’s secession crisis in the winter and spring of 1860-1861, men and women across the state wrote to Governor John Letcher to comment on public affairs. They wrote to tell the governor what to do, to ask for help, to offer advice and assistance, or to get something off their chests. While researching in preparation for the Library of Virginia’s exhibition, Union or Secession: Virginians Decide , we spent time looking through the letters received by Governor Letcher. Like the records of every Virginia governor since 1776, the letters are preserved in Record Group 3 of the state’s archives in the Library of Virginia. The Governor’s Office records are an extremely rich source for the beliefs and words of ordinary Virginians.

During 1860 and 1861 the governor received letters from men and women in every part of the state who expressed every possible opinion and political allegiance. “I would like to Know from you what is to prevent me from Voting for Lincoln,” Giles County resident John M. Smith asked Governor Letcher in September 1860. “As he is the man I prefer. the reason of this letter is that there is a great deal of threatning … read more »

- Pre-Civil War Chancery Causes Rediscovered in Middlesex County Courthouse.

This volume in the Middlesex County Courthouse was no more exciting than the title though the lipstick promised more.

Local Records archivists recently travelled to the Middlesex County Circuit Court Clerk’s office to transfer their pre-1913 chancery causes to the Library of Virginia as well as identify a large number of volumes stored in a small room separate from the main records room. While one group pulled the boxes of chancery causes, another group conducted an inventory of the volumes. They identified permanent records such as court minute books, bond books, business records, election records, and fiduciary records that dated from the 1790s to mid-1900s.

 The archivists also located two boxes of early 1800s chancery causes that had been pulled from their original drawers in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) as part of its inventorying of courthouses. This was a significant discovery given that much of Middlesex County’s loose records were destroyed during the Civil War.  They were transferred to LVA along with the aforementioned pre-1913 chancery causes to be processed and indexed.  Budget permitting, they will be digitally scanned and the images will be added to the Middlesex County chancery presently found in the Chancery Records Index.

 The archivists also identified records that are nonpermanent, mainly printed material, of which the circuit court clerk can dispose. Moreover, the archivists identified volumes in need of conservation treatment including the county’s Free Negro Register, a record of great historical importance to African American … read more »

- First L.A., then Manhattan. LVA Staff in the News.

Two Library of Virginia staff members were mentioned in recent newspaper stories in both the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

 Edwin Ray, Reference Services Librarian, was featured in a Wall Street Journal story about the recent rethinking of accepted Civil War casualty figures. Ray is the driving force behind the Virginia Military Dead database which draws from 937 different  sources to document the death of Virginia soldiers in service to Great Britain, the United States of America, and the Confederates States of America. The database is an ongoing project and should prove useful to historians and genealogists.

 A Los Angeles Times story gave a touching account of the CW 150 Project’s visit to Warrenton. Renee Savits, Senior Project Archivist, is part of a team that is travelling the state to digitize Civil War-related documents that have, until now, remained hidden from public view in family hands. We are so happy to know that these stories will be preserved for future generations.

 -Dale Dulaney, Local Records Archival Assistant.… read more »

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- America’s Oldest Brewery Offers Governor Kemper a “Delicious Stimulant”

The James River Steam Brewery. There appears to be a beer garden and hops growing in the foreground. Image LVA Special Collections.

An interesting letter was recently uncovered while processing the Executive Papers of Governor James L. Kemper. The letter, dated 28 September 1874, is written by David G. Yuengling, Jr., of the Champagne Ale Brewery in Harlem, New York. In the letter, Yuengling writes that he is sending the governor some bottles of old stout and discusses the progress of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad.

Transcripts of Yuengling Letters to Governor Kemper

David G. Yuengling, Jr., was the son of a German brewer who immigrated to Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and established the Eagle Brewery in 1829. Yuengling partnered with his son in 1873, changing the name of the brewery to the present name of D. G. Yuengling & Son, famous for its Yuengling Lager. It was the junior Yuengling who oversaw the construction of a new brewery in Richmond in 1866. Located at 912 East Main Street, the brewery became known as the James River Steam Brewery and was later sold to the Richmond Cedar Works in 1878. Yuengling’s letter does not originate from Richmond, but instead from Harlem, on Ryerson & Yuengling, Champagne Ale Brewery stationary.

David G. Yuengling, Jr., was sent to Europe to learn brewing techniques and sought to expand his father’s business outside of Pottsville. The move to Richmond was one such venture, as was the establishment of the Champagne Ale Brewery on … read more »

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- Antique License Plates

The tin wagon license plate submitted by J. H. Gallagher as part of his bid for a contract to make the plates of the City of Manchester.

At the 24 February 1910, meeting of the Manchester Ordinance Committee, committee member W. W. Workman moved that the city auditor be requested to advertise for bids for tin wagon license plates.  J. H. Gallagher, house and sign painter, submitted his bid for the job by letter declaring he would do the job at 5 cents per license for the year 1910.  Included with his letter were two identical samples of his work.  Measuring 2 x 7 inches, the tin signs are painted a dark yellow with black numbers and red letters.  The initials l.H.W. possibly mean licensed hack wagon, while C.M. surely stands for the City of Manchester.

 The following meeting of the Ordinance Committee was held on 23 March 1910, when Mr. Broaddus moved that the bids for the license plates be laid on the table until the next meeting.  Unfortunately for Mr. Gallagher and any other bidders, no one was to receive the job.  The City of Manchester was annexed to the City of Richmond in April 1910.

 The original licenses and the Ordinance Committee Minute Book, 1904-1910, are available on microfilm.

-Sarah Nerney, Senior Local Records Archivist

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- New Children’s Book About LVA Published! Book Signing March 17.

Tameka Hobbs will sign your copy on March 17th from 4:00 PM to 7:30 PM at the Library of Virginia.

Tameka Hobbs will sign copies of To Collect, Protect, and Serve: Behind the Scenes at the Library of Virginia at the Virginia Shop on March 17 from 4:00 to 7:30 PM. The new children’s book, published by the Library of Virginia, teaches young people about the important work done by Library staff. The book uses engaging cartoon figures—Archie the Archivist, Libby the Librarian, and Connie the Conservator dedicated to fighting Archival Enemies called Liquid Lenny, Andy Acid, Mildred Mold, Bartholomew B. Bug, Fred the Flame, Lucia Light, Surge, and Worm.i.am—to explain the roles of librarians and archivists in keeping historical documents safe for future generations. The illustrations are by Les Harper of Lightbox Studios, who previously worked with the Library on the graphics for the Library’s 2009 exhibition Poe: Man Myth, or Monster.

 The first 50 elementary teachers will receive a FREE copy of the book. The Virginia Shop will offer a special discount to educators throughout the evening. The book was funded through a grant from the Garland and Agnes Taylor Gray Foundation. The Library will distribute copies of the 36-page softcover book to students who attend programs at the Library and to select schools in Virginia. Individual copies can be purchased through the Virginia Shop (804-692-3592) for $15.99.

 There is free parking under the Library for this event. Enter from … read more »

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- Introducing… the Organization Records Guide

Detail shot of the July 1843 issue of "Dies Testus Tempara" (part of LVA Accession 23479).

Fraternal orders.  Military regiments.  Agricultural societies.  Women’s organizations.  Religious associations.  Political parties.  Schools.  The Library of Virginia houses more than 650 collections of organization records from a variety of groups.  Ranging in size from one leaf of paper to over 70 cubic feet of material, these collections contain accounts, agendas, architectural drawings, correspondence, financial records, minutes, photographs, programs, reports, schedules, and other papers that detail the goals and histories of these groups.  Organization records include other types of media, including audio recordings in reel-to-reel tapes, cassette tapes, and CDs; video recordings in cassettes and DVDs; and even archived websites.  Now, information about all of these collections is gathered in the Organization Records Guide, an on-line resource located on the Library of Virginia’s website.

The guide is organized alphabetically by organization name and includes a letter index at its top to facilitate searching.  Each entry contains the name of the organization, the title of the collection (whether records, account book, etc.), date range and size, accession number, a description of the material, and whether the materials are originals or copies.  Entries link to catalog records and, where applicable, to on-line finding aids and databases created for the collections, or to archived websites.  The Organization Records Guide will be updated on a regular basis as new collections are added to the Library and catalogued.  Jason Roma … read more »

- David Walker’s “Appeal” in the News


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.

On 3 March 2011 the University of Virginia’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library announced that it recently purchased a copy of David Walker’s anti-slavery “Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World” from a New Jersey rare-book dealer for $95,000. Readers of Out of the Box will remember that last month Craig Moore, State Records Appraisal Archivist, wrote a post on Walker’s “Appeal”. Not only does the Library of Virginia have a copy of the “Appeal”, we also have the only known extant document written in the hand of David Walker. See Craig’s post to view the letter and read the transcription. The Library’s copy of Walker’s “Appeal” has been microfilmed and is available to researchers in the Library’s West Reading Room (Miscellaneous Reel 5391) and through interlibrary loan.

-Roger Christman, Senior State Records Archivist… read more »

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- Murder at the Second Market

View of Western State Hospital, Staunton, undated.
Editors Note: This post is a modified version of an article that originally appeared in the Virginiana section of Virginia Memory.

The following story was gleaned from a case book found in the Western State Hospital collection (Accession 41404). Included in this volume are approximately twenty pages of physician’s entries, as well as a copy of the commitment order, a letter to the court, and several Richmond Dispatch newspaper articles relating to Mrs. Anne E. Kirby. Some of the dates and information are conflicting, but I have done my best to present the story as accurately as possible, well aware of the sometimes questionable nature of 19th century journalism and the possibility of human error within the case book entries.

NOVEMBER 21, 1865…

A shot rings out in the middle of a bustling crowd at Richmond’s Second Market. A fish and oyster vendor staggers through Pink Alley, bleeding from the neck, only to die minutes later in the back of a wagon. Several stunned witnesses pounce on the shooter. Holding the gun is the victim’s young wife, Anne, the mother of his three children. What might have driven her to commit such a bold act in a busy public place? Was the murder in retaliation for her husband’s infidelity or was it merely the work of a mad woman? Depending upon what one … read more »