About: Roger

Roger has worked at the Library of Virginia since 1997 and currently works in the state records section. Roger has a Master of Arts degree in Public History from the University of South Carolina. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History from Millersville University.

Author Archives Roger

Council of State Archivists Rising Star Award Goes to Kaine Email Project Team


Roger Christman accepts CoSA's Rising Star award on behalf of the Library's Governor Tim Kaine Email Project Team, 14 August 2014, CoSA/NAGARA/SAA joint annual meeting, Washington, DC.  Photo courtesy of Craig Huey Photography.

The Council of State Archivists (CoSA), a national organization representing the heads of the country’s 56 state and territorial archives, presented the Library of Virginia’s Governor Tim Kaine Email Project Team with its Rising Star award in recognition of being the first state government archives in the United States to make the emails of a previous administration freely available to the public online.  The award, which recognizes outstanding contributions by individual staff members or teams to their state archives and constituencies, was made at the joint meeting of the Society of American Archivists/National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators/Council of State Archivists in Washington, DC, on 14 August.


Rising Star Award certificate.

The Kaine Email Project Team put Virginia’s state archives on the forefront of open government in the modern age.  The Library received approximately 1.3 million email messages from the administration of Governor Kaine (2006-2010).  To date, the Library has reviewed 667,000 emails, and placed 130,644 archival records online in an organized searchable database, Kaine Email Project @ LVA.  Users can search and view email records from the Governor’s Office and his cabinet secretaries; learn about other public records from the Kaine Administration; go behind the scenes to see how the Library of Virginia made the email records available; and read what others are saying about the collection.

The lead project … read more »

Mug Shot Monday: Herbert Irving Roberts, No. 22087


Photograph of Herbert Irving Roberts, #22087, Escaped Inmate Card, Records of the Virginia Penitentiary, Series II. Prisoner Records, Subseries B.  Photographs, Box 44, Accession 41558, State Records Collection, Library of Virginia.

Welcome to Mug Shot Monday!  This is the latest entry in series of posts highlighting inmate photographs in the records of the Virginia Penitentiary.  Herbert Irving Roberts, the subject of this week’s post, was a career criminal, escaped from the Virginia Penitentiary in 1928, and was “taken for a ride” and killed in New York City in 1930.


Photograph of Mrs. Cook's Cafeteria, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 15 February 1927, page 3.

On the evening of 13 February 1927, Herbert Irving Roberts entered Mrs. Cook’s Cafeteria at 805 East Grace Street in Richmond.  His accomplice, John E. Morgan, waited outside as the lookout.  Roberts, armed with a gun, subdued and tied up a janitor and night watchman, cracked open the basement safe, and stole about $1,000.  Roberts went to the first floor to rob another safe when the door bell rang.  Frightened, Roberts left his tools and escaped through a rear window.  Roberts and Morgan hurried to the Broad Street railroad station and took the 11:50 p.m. train to Washington, D.C.  Richmond detectives contacted Washington police to be on the lookout for the two men.  They were arrested and transported back to Richmond.  Roberts, acting as his own lawyer, was tried and convicted on 14 April 1927 and sentenced to 18 years in the penitentiary.


Headline, Richmond News Leader, 4 July 1928, page one.

Roberts was not incarcerated very long.  On the night of 3 July 1928, Roberts made a dummy out of blankets, stuffing a … read more »

Mug Shot Monday: John Henry Ellis, No. 28276, 33714, and 43346


Photograph of John Henry Ellis, #43346, Prisoner Negative, Records of the Virginia Penitentiary, Series II. Prisoner Records, Subseries B. Negatives, Box 234, Accession 41558, State Records Collection, Library of Virginia.

Welcome to Mug Shot Monday!  This is the latest entry in a series of posts highlighting inmate photographs in the records of the Virginia Penitentiary.  John Henry Ellis, the subject of this week’s post, was convicted three times for housebreaking and grand larceny.  His temper got him in trouble several times while incarcerated.

John Henry Ellis was convicted in March 1932 in Richmond Hustings Court for housebreaking and sentenced to three years in the Penitentiary.  Ellis was sent to work on State Convict Road Force Camp 19 in Wythe County where he immediately clashed with the guards.  “Ellis has been saucy and impudent with the guard and foreman here,” reported Camp Sgt. M.C. Russell to Penitentiary Superintendent Rice M. Youell on 19 October 1932.  His work was unsatisfactory as well.  “The [State Highway Department] foreman called him out without any results,” Russell wrote.  “Finally he threatened to stand him on the bank and Ellis told him he didn’t give a damn what he did with him.”  Russell punished him on 5 October 1932 by making him “stand in cuffs from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. taking him down only for meals and to use the bucket.”

Ellis turned violent on 17 October 1932.  While a group of prisoners worked in a quarry, one of them broke wind.  Another prisoner, Robert Coleman, said to … read more »

Mug Shot Monday: Clinton Kirby, No. 25830, 42236, and 49236


Photograph of Clinton Kirby, #42236, Inmate Photographs, Records of the Virginia Penitentiary, Series II. Prisoner Records, Subseries B. Photographs, Box 38, Accession 41558, State Records Collection, Library of Virginia.

Welcome to Mug Shot Monday!  This is the latest entry in a series of posts highlighting inmate photographs in the records of the Virginia Penitentiary.  Clinton Kirby, the subject of this week’s post, was convicted three times for housebreaking, shot while trying to escape from the Medical College of Virginia, and diagnosed as psychotic.


Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1932 August 20, page one.

On 19 August 1932, Clinton Kirby, a convicted felon serving a ten-year sentence for robbery, was brought from the State Farm in Goochland County to the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) in Richmond.  Kirby was at MCV to have his arm x-rayed.  He broke it in 1931 and it had caused him discomfort ever since.  Within minutes of arriving at the Dispensary Building, Kirby rushed out the front door and ran north on 11th Street trying to escape.  H.H. Bowles, the guard who accompanied Kirby to MCV, raced after him firing two warning shots in the air.  “But after wasting two good bullets that way,” reported the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Bowles fired two shots directly at Kirby.  The first shot missed.  The second shot hit Kirby in his left arm just after he crossed Leigh Street in front of the city dump.  Bowles apprehended him within seconds.   Kirby returned to the hospital by ambulance and surgeons removed the slug from his arm.

Kirby was convicted in July 1930 … read more »

Kaine Email Project @ LVA – Tysons Tunnel Edition


Photograph of Governor Tim Kaine, announcing the signing of the MOU between the Commonwealth and Metropolitian Washington Airports Authority, 27 March 2006.  [no title], 2006-03-27 08:58, Inbox.pst (Winchell, Robin), Email Records from the Office of the Governor (Kaine: 2006-2010), Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA.

This is the sixth in a series of posts spotlighting recently released email from Governor Tim Kaine’s administration.  These posts are not meant to be comprehensive but to encourage further exploration in the Kaine administration records (electronic and paper).

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority announced on 23 June 2014 that the first phase of Metro’s Silver Line11.4 miles of track beginning in East Falls Church station, through Tysons Corner, and ending at Wiehle Avenue in Reston – will begin service on 26 July 2014.  When finished the 23-mile Dulles Corridor Metro Project will provide service to Dulles International Airport.   The Tysons Corner portion of the project – to build a tunnel or an elevated track – was an ongoing issue for the Kaine administration in 2006.


Photograph of United States Senator John Warner with Governor Tim Kaine, announcing the signing of the MOU between the Commonwealth and Metropolitian Washington Airports Authority, 27 March 2006.  [no title], 2006-03-27 08:58, Inbox.pst (Winchell, Robin), Email Records from the Office of the Governor (Kaine: 2006-2010), Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA.

On 24 March 2006, the Commonwealth and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) signed a memorandum of understanding to transfer the Dulles Toll Road and control of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project to the MWAA.  The agreement, announced by Governor Kaine three days later, guaranteed the completion of the entire Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport, enabled the project to be completed sooner than otherwise possible, and guaranteed all toll revenue would be dedicated to transportation improvements in the corridor.

The day before the signing of the Virginia/MWAA agreement, Dulles Transit Partners, the design-build … read more »

Digital Images of All Legislative Petitions Now Available on Virginia Memory

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce that the final batch of digital images of legislative petitions to the Virginia General Assembly, 1776-1865, is now available on Virginia Memory, the Library of Virginia’s digital collections website. The list of localities added includes present-day West Virginia and Kentucky counties and numerous localities classified as Lost Records Localities.  With this addition, the number of legislative petitions available online number over 24,000.

Legislative petitions are one the few primary source documents that provide valuable insight concerning the plight of Native Americans during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In reading them, one will discover the depth of poverty and disease Native Americans experienced in Virginia.  An example can be found in a petition filed in October 1786 by Simon and John Turner of Southampton County asking the General Assembly for an act appointing trustees to join them in the conveyance of land owned by the Nansemond Indian tribe located on the north side of the Nottoway River. They introduced themselves as the “only surviving men of the Nansemond Indians.” Proceeds from the sale would be used to bring relief from “bodily infirmities” and oppressive poverty for the last of the Nansemond tribe, the two petitioners and three women, who currently resided with their friend and neighbors in the Nottoway tribe. The … read more »

We Remember: Bedford County and the 70th Anniversary of D-Day


Into the Jaws of Death, A LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (the Big Red One) wading onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach (Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France) on the morning of June 6, 1944. American soldiers encountered the newly formed German 352nd Division when landing. During the initial landing two-thirds of the Company E became casualties.  23-0455M, Chief Photographer's Mate (CPHoM) Robert F. Sargent - This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

On 6 June 1944, soldiers of the Allied Expeditionary Force stormed the beaches of Normandy as part of Operation Overlord, the largest seaborne invasion in history.  Thirty soldiers from Bedford, Virginia, members of Company A of the 116th Infantry assaulted Omaha Beach.  “By day’s end,” according to the National D-Day Memorial, “nineteen of the company’s Bedford soldiers were dead.  Two more Bedford soldiers died later in the Normandy campaign, as did yet another two assigned to other 116th Infantry companies. Bedford’s population in 1944 was about 3,200. Proportionally this community suffered the nation’s severest D-Day losses.”  The Personal War Service Record of Virginia’s War Dead, part of the records of the Virginia World War II History Commission, documents the sacrifice of 15 of the 19 Bedford soldiers.

The Virginia World War II History Commission was established by an Act of the Virginia General Assembly approved on 8 March 1944. The commission was a policy-making body comprised of twelve non-salaried citizens appointed by the Governor. Its purpose was “to collect, assemble, edit, and publish. . . information and material with respect to the contribution to World War II made by Virginia and Virginians.”  One of the most important records created by the Commission were the Personal War Service Record of Virginia’s Dead, a questionnaire completed by the next-of-kin of Virginians killed during … read more »

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Mug Shot Monday: Kenneth Frederick Thomas, No. 15150


Photograph of Kenneth F. Thomas, #15150, Escaped Inmate Card, Records of the Virginia Penitentiary, Series II. Prisoner Records, Subseries B. Photographs, Box 42, Accession 41558, State Records Collection, Library of Virginia.

Welcome to Mug Shot Monday!  This is the latest entry in a series of posts highlighting inmate photographs in the records of the Virginia Penitentiary.  Kenneth Frederick Thomas, the subject of this week’s post, was either a bigamist or a decorated World War I hero.  Thomas’ version of his military service and his The Hangover-like courtship and wedding, stand in stark contrast to the evidence gathered by two Virginia governors.


Virginian-Pilot, 17 March 1918

Kenneth Thomas arrived in Norfolk in early March 1918.  On Saturday, 9 March, Thomas, dressed in the uniform of an aviator of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), attended a dance at the Fairfax Hotel where he met 20-year-old Rose Eugene Swindell.  Thomas wooed Swindell with tales of air battles with the Germans on the Western Front as a Canadian pilot.  Thomas’ stories, reported the Virginian-Pilot, “blinded the young girl and she married her romantic suitor” on 12 March.  The newlyweds lived at the Lorraine Hotel until the bridegroom was arrested 16 March by agents of the United States Department of Justice at the request of Canadian authorities.  Thomas was wanted for desertion and bigamy.


Virginian-Pilot, 25 March 1918.

Upon his arrest, Thomas told a very different story than the one he told his bride.  He claimed he was an American citizen, had never served in the Royal Flying Corps, and was a victim of mistaken … read more »

Kaine Email Project @ LVA – Phone Call Edition



Governor Tim Kaine, WRVA's Ask the Governor, Richmond, 29 June 2006, Office of the Governor.

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts spotlighting recently released email from Governor Tim Kaine’s administration.  These posts are not meant to be comprehensive but to encourage further exploration in the Kaine records (electronic and paper).

During his administration, Governor Kaine did two call-in radio shows (Ask the Governor) each month hosted by WRVA Richmond and Washington Post radio (WTOP).  The governor would take questions from constituents and the shows’ hosts.  For Kaine’s final Ask the Governor show on WTOP on 22 December 2009, Lynda Tran, communications director, arranged for a surprise caller:  President Barack Obama.  Her email shows how much work went into making the 90-second call happen.


Anne Holton, Governor Tim Kaine, U.S. Senator Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, outside Executive Mansion, 17 February 2007, Office of the Governor.

On 17 December 2009, Tran emailed Patrick Gaspard, director of the White House Office of Political Affairs, with a personal request for Kaine’s final Ask the Governor program:  “What are the chances we could have the President call in for 90 seconds that day?”  Tran included a detailed event briefing form including message points for the president.  Two hours before the start of the show, Gaspard agreed that President Obama would call in.  Gaspard had one condition:  “I just need an ironclad assurance that we aren’t going to get crazy qs (sic) from mark plotkin (one of the show’s hosts).  It has to be a quick dial in and out.”  … read more »

Library Makes Second Batch of Emails from Governor Timothy M. Kaine Administration Available Online


Governor Tim Kaine, Press Gaggle, Patrick Henry Building, 26 June 2008, Office of the Governor.

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the release of an additional 44,534 emails from the administration of Governor Timothy M. Kaine (2006-2010).  This second batch comprises emails from individuals in Kaine’s Policy and Communication/Press Offices.  Since January 2014, the Library has made 110,956 of the approximately 1.3 million emails from the Kaine administration freely available to the public online.

The Kaine administration online collection is arranged alphabetically by administration staff member and is full-text searchable.  The email messages reveal the real-time reactions of the governor’s policy and communication staff members to the issues facing the commonwealth.  Whether tracking legislation, coordinating projects funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, implementing the governor’s education initiatives, or weighing in on drafts of the governor’s speeches to the Joint Money Committees of the General Assembly, the emails reveal the behind-the-scenes strategizing and communication among the governor and his staff.

Included in the Policy Office release (23,004 emails) are the email files of Steven Gould, Suzette Denslow, Felix Sarfo-Kantanka, Gena Boyle, Jennie Moline, Maribel Ramos, Megan Root, and Barbara Reese.  The Communication/Press Office release (21,530 emails) includes the email files of Lynda Tran, Jeff Kraus, Gordon Hickey, Michael Kelly, and Amanda Howe.

United States Senator Jim Webb (left) and Brian Shepard, Policy Director, Virginia Congressional Delegation Meeting, Executive Mansion, 9 February 2009, Office of the Governor.

This release of electronic materials and the availability of the paper records of the Kaine administration in the Library of Virginia’s reading … read more »