Monthly Archives: June 2011

- Kilroy Was Here. Pennsylvania Infantry Left Their Mark on Lynchburg’s Courthouse Records.

 

We presume this G-rated graffiti was provided courtesy of the 206th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry while it was stationed in Lynchburg Virginia just weeks after Robert E. Lee's surrender.

Blog AJ_Ledger_Transcript

Sometimes archivists encounter the unexpected. While looking through an unidentified business record, I expected to see the usual debits and credits typically found in nineteenth century business volumes. The ledger, found in the Lynchburg (Va.) Courthouse, belonged to a group of volumes entered as an exhibit in some long ago settled court case. Only one of the volumes was labeled – with “A. J. Ledger” inscribed on its spine. This volume turned out to be A. J. Ledger C (Barcode 1097496), but it contained more than the financial activities of an unknown Lynchburg area merchant.

 Amidst the notations of customer purchases and payments made in 1812, names were written in pencil at the bottom of pages – Charles B. Stewart, James Ellis, William H. McCune. Additional names and doodles were scribbled over the carefully organized ledger entries. Curious, I continued to thumb through the ledger and discovered it had been autographed by the 206th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry while the unit was on provost duty in Lynchburg, Va. The 206th  was among the first to march through Richmond after it fell, and the troops were later sent to Lynchburg where they spent two weeks on provost duty.

 Many members of the regiment signed their names in the ledger. Lieutenant Abraham E. Litz wrote an account of their march on Richmond in the … read more »

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- LVA and CCRP Assist Hampton Circuit Court Clerk.

 LVA archivists in the Hampton Courthouse records room.

On Tuesday June 14, a team of archivists were in Hampton to assist circuit court clerk Linda Batchelor Smith in completing a records inventory of the court’s record room and to transfer selected archival records to the Library of Virginia (LVA) Archive. This visit is but one part of the Circuit Court Records Preservation Program’s (CCRP) effort to assist clerks and records officers statewide in managing their records more efficiently.

 A records inventory is a tool employed by archivists and records managers to gain intellectual control over a group of records and to help institute more efficient records-keeping practices. Once an inventory is completed, a records analyst will apply relevant records retention and disposition schedules – documents that inform record keepers how long they must keep and maintain certain types of records.

The LVA is charged by the Virginia Public Records Act (PRA) with publishing these records retention and disposition schedules .  The PRA also authorizes the LVA’s role in ensuring that public records are maintained and available throughout their life cycle. The Library presents workshops, monitors the disposal of non-permanent records, and assists with the transfer of permanent records to the Archives.

Besides helping to better identify hundreds of years of records, the consultation in Hampton also resulted in the transfer of approximately 120 drawers of pre-1913 law and chancery case files to the … read more »

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- Fowl Play.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia/Katie Brady photo.

Death records provide familial information to genealogists, statistical information for researchers, and an occasional chuckle for archivists.  My morbid fascination with death registers paid off one day when I found the 1876 death record of one John Smith of Fairfax County.  The person who recorded his death couldn’t resist adding:

 ”Killed by trap gun set to shoot thieves.  It got Mr. S. on the first fire – It is feared there are no chickens where John has gone.”

 Naturally, this made my whole week.  Hope you enjoy it too!

 -Kelly Gilbert Sizemore, Senior Reference Archivist 

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- FIRST AUGUSTA COUNTY IMAGES ARE HERE!

The Augusta County Courthouse in Staunton. Image by Taber Andrew Bain/Courtesy Wikimedia. 

The first images from the Augusta County chancery scanning project have been posted to the Library’s Chancery Records Index (CRI).  This initial posting represents the first 35 scanned boxes and includes over 550 case files ranging from 1867-001 to 1874-039. The cases can be viewed by accessing the CRI, selecting “Augusta” from the drop down menu and entering “1867” and “1874” into the two “Year of Case” fields.

The scanning portion of this 2-year project began in February 2011 with grant funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

All scanned documents undergo a vigorous review process to ensure image quality and that proper file-naming conventions are followed. The Library’s Imaging Services Section, a part of the Local Records Services Branch,  completes a variety of quality control processes prior to the images being posted.

This will be the first of many announcements of Augusta images being posted to the CRI – we will continue to keep you informed as we add new content. In the meantime,  please post a message and let us know what you think so far!

-Carl Childs Local Records Director… read more »

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- Follow LVA on Twitter!

The Library of Virginia is now on Twitter, so there’s yet another way you can keep in touch with what’s happening at the library. We’ll use Twitter to post news about events, services, new resources, and everything else. Look for us to highlight some of our more interesting collections and resources. And, we will even answer your questions if you send us a Tweet. To follow us, simply visit our Twitter page at http://twitter.com/#!/LibraryofVA and click FOLLOW.  

-Bari Helms, Local Records Archivist… read more »

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- CSI: OLD VIRGINIA: SCENES OF MURDER AND MAYHEM IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT RECORDS COLLECTION

Chesterfield County, County Court, Criminal Causes, and Grand Jury Presentments, Commonwealth v. Willis and Whitehead, 1870.

Editors Note: This post originally appeared in the former ”Virginiana” section of Virginia Memory.

The beautiful maps in the Voorhees collection and those that reside in Special Collections are well known to Library of Virginia researchers. Yet thousands of rough but informative maps exist in the Library’s local government records collection. Often classified as “plats,” these detailed property maps were created and filed as part of county land records, chancery records, or other legal proceedings.

Some of the most interesting local plats are found within criminal papers. Murder trials occasionally required jurors to consider a particular crime scene, and the resulting sketches created for this purpose offer fascinating glimpses into landscapes and violent episodes. One is featured on the Library’s 1997 web exhibit The Common Wealth: Treasures from the Collections of the Library of Virginia. This drawing shows a portion of Manchester, Virginia, in 1869, at the time of a barroom-related shooting, complete with building facades and streets. And in her 2003 book A Murder in Virginia, based on three Commonwealth Causes against Pokey Barnes, Solomon Marable, and Mary Abernathy, historian Suzanne Lebsock drew upon a court-directed plat from Prince Edward County to illustrate the scene of an infamous 1895 crime involving four black defendants.

While processing Henry County’s criminal causes, I came across a number of particularly gruesome plats. The most … read more »

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- A River Runs Through It.

 Cartouche from the Fry-Jefferson map of Virginia and Maryland. Call number G3880 1755 .F72.

INTRODUCTION            The two transcribed letters below are found in the Prince Edward Chancery case Gdns. of Jacob Michaux vs. William Smith, 1788-001. The case has been scanned and is available through Virginia Memory.

            The first letter is from William Tompkins, a London silk weaver with mercantile aspirations, and is written to Jacob Michaux, his wife’s cousin in Cumberland County, Virginia. (The part of Cumberland County in which Michaux lived became Powhatan County in 1777.) Tompkins’ wife was a member of the Michaux family, Huguenots who fled France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and settled in England and in Virginia. Tompkins lived in Spittlefield, an area of London with a high concentration of Huguenot weavers. His letter concerns family matters and a recent shipment of goods he made to Virginia. Unfortunately the shipment arrived a few days before the flood of 1771, one of the worst floods in eighteenth-century Virginia.

The second letter is Jacob Michaux’s reply to William Tompkins.  Jacob Michaux, grandson of Abraham Michaux of the Manakin Town (Virginia) Huguenot settlement, was a planter and ran a ferry across the James River. Michaux’s letter describes in detail the flood of 1771, the loss of Tompkin’s goods, consumer tastes along the upper James River, and family matters.

Chris Kolbe, Archives Reference Coordinator

Michaux-Tompkins transcripts (PDF Version of the transcriptions below)… read more »

- And They’re Off Too!

 

The van is loaded and ready to go to our digital imaging vendor Backstage Library Works.

The City of Petersburg chancery records scanning project officially began on Friday June 3! The first 50 boxes of case-files were loaded for transfer to LVA’s digital vendor (Backstage Library Works) in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Imaging of these fragile court papers will begin next week and resulting images will be posted to the Chancery Records Index (CRI) after ensuring they meet strict preservation and quality control standards. The records date from 1787 to 1912 and consist of 150 cubic feet, including bills of complaint, affidavits, wills, business records, correspondence, and photographs.

Partially funded by a $155,071 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), this project marks the second chancery collection housed at the Library of Virginia to receive federal grant support in 2011. The Library was one of only 33 institutions nationwide to receive a grant in the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources category and one of only two state archives awarded grants by NEH.

Prior to 1860 Petersburg had the largest population of freedmen in the Mid-Atlantic states. The records offer social, demographic, and economic details that affected state, regional, and national politics; legal decisions; and institutions. The evolution of Petersburg’s economy from one based on tobacco to one centered on milling and manufacturing can be explored through the chancery records. The importance of Petersburg as a prosperous and diverse city—the … read more »

- Peabody’s Improbable History: “Sherman, set the Wayback Machine to 2008….”

February 11, 2009, image of President Barack Obama, with Governor Tim Kaine, speaking about infrastructure at a Fairfax County road construction project. Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Last week President Barack Obama made minor news when he incorrectly signed the guest book at Westminster Abbey in London “24 May 2008.” Obama did not make the same mistake when, as a U.S. senator from Illinois and Democratic presidential candidate, he signed the guest book at the Virginia Executive Mansion on 17 February 2007.  Obama was the keynote speaker at the state Democratic Party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Richmond.  Governor Tim Kaine endorsed Obama for president that night, becoming the first governor outside of Illinois to endorse a 2008 candidate for president.  The guest book page signed by Obama is a good example of what archivists call a record with secondary value.  The Society of American Archivists defines secondary value as “the usefulness or significance of records based on purposes other than that for which they were originally created.”  The significance of the guest book is derived from future events:  Obama winning the 2008 presidential election and Kaine’s importance as an early supporter.  Another example of secondary value is a 21 July 1987 letter written by Mark R. Warner to Governor Gerald L. Baliles.  The content of the letter is quite ordinary – a young businessman wants to get involved in Virginia politics and requests a meeting with the governor.  The letter’s secondary value originates from Warner’s election as governor in 2001 and United … read more »