About: Vince

Vince joined the Library of Virginia in 1999. After serving in the archives research and private papers departments, he moved to the Local Records Services branch and his present position as a Senior Local Records Archivist. Vince has a Master's degree in Archives, Museum and Historical Editing Studies from Duquesne University.

Author Archives Vince

“Fit to Fight”: The Second Virginia Council of Defense

This is the latest entry in a series of blog posts spotlighting stories and records of Virginia’s involvement in World War I.


Camp A. A. Humphreys (now Fort Belvoir), ca. 1918, Box 279, Folder 9. Virginia War History Commission, Series XIV: Second Virginia Council of Defense, 1917-1921, 1923-1924. Accession 37219, State Records Collection, The Library of Virginia.

In 1915, as the guns thundered in Europe, America found itself at a crossroads. A small but vocal group, including Teddy Roosevelt and General Leonard Wood, called for preparedness– the immediate build-up of naval and land forces to make the nation ready for war. President Wilson and the Democrats, more inclined toward localism and the state-based National Guard, found these notions suspicious and did little to grow the existing military. Consequently, prior to the National Defense Act (June 1916), the U. S. Army consisted of about 100,000 men. Even combined with 100,000 National Guardsmen, it fell well short of the Imperial German Army by a factor of 20.

When United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, there immediately arose a critical need for able-bodied men to fight. Congress had created the Council of National Defense nearly a year earlier to coordinate all national resources relevant to efficient mobilization and maintenance of the armed forces. Each state created its own Council of Defense to carry out the directives of the national body. After a disorganized start in April 1917 by Governor Henry Stuart, Governor Westmoreland Davis established the Commonwealth’s Second Virginia Council of Defense (SVCD) in February 1918.

The Council’s activities … read more »

Mapping No-Man’s-Land: The Official War Atlas of the 1st Division, A. E. F.

This article originally appeared in slightly altered form in the Summer 2001 issue of “Virginia Cavalcade.”

 


The Official War Atlas of the 1st Division, American Expeditionary Force.

Between 1928 and 1930, the federal government published the official records of the 1st Division, American Expeditionary Force (AEF). The Library of Virginia recently conserved an atlas that complements those twenty-four massive volumes. Maps are, of course, crucial in warfare, and these twenty-six base maps and forty-two overlays provide topographic documentation of portions of the American—and Virginian—involvement in World War I.

The federal government distributed the canvas-bound atlas with the 1st Division’s published records in the early 1930s. Army cartographers and engineers at Fort Humphreys, Virginia (now Fort Belvoir) and Fort DuPont, Delaware (now a state park), created the atlas using French Cartographic Service maps purchased in 1928. The army made the overlays with lithography and reproduced original maps with mimeographs. Numbers on the overlay maps correspond to coordinates on the base maps, allowing the researcher to see precise positions of enemy lines, mustard-gas concentrations, machine gun nests, and the like. The army cartographers characterized these maps and overlays as “exact reproductions of all available maps, sketches, charts, etc., showing all of the troop dispositions, operations, plans, situation reports, diagrams, [and] barrage charts…which have been found in the World War Records of the First Division.”

The maps nearly languished in obscurity in the Library’s archives storage. They came … read more »

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Connect with Us


Connect logo

Libraries and the people that staff them, fund them, and use them have a long history of civic engagement—they’re involved in their communities and make positive changes that improve the quality of life for all. From reading to children at story time to upholding the Freedom of Information Act, library activities contribute to the greater good.

At the Library of Virginia, we’ve been working hard to be more open to collaboration and new directions based on the needs of the communities we serve and to welcome and encourage citizen engagement. We want to share our processes and invite people into them when possible. Projects such as our crowdsourcing transcription site Making History: Transcribe have brought together archivists, high school students, genealogists, computer programmers, and community volunteers. Working together has taught us a lot, and we want to learn more!

We’re launching a new website specifically for feedback,Making History: Connect. Through Connect, we want to gather opinions on Library of Virginia projects and services. The more you tell us what you like, or what we’re missing, the better we can meet your needs. You can help us brainstorm potential new directions for our projects, or tell us about things you’ve discovered in the collections. Quick polls will help us understand what you enjoy and what we might need to change. The first three areas … read more »

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The Courthouse Adventures of Morgan P. Robinson


Martinsville courthouse.

In 1915, Richmond native Morgan P. Robinson became the chief of the Archives Department at the Virginia State Library (now the Library of Virginia); three years later he was appointed the first state archivist. Almost immediately he began surveying the city and county courthouses to determine the completeness of their holdings. During these examinations he also rated the environmental conditions at each facility and noted whatever other observations struck him. He was sometimes assisted in this endeavor by the clerks, who supplied him with inventories and other information about their records. Many times, however, he received field reports from Milnor Ljungstedt, a seasoned genealogist from New England who assisted him with his inspections. How Robinson and Ljungstedt began working together and what her official role was remains something of a mystery.

With dates ranging from 1915 to 1929, these courthouse surveys consist of a collection of files for each of the inspected Virginia localities which had surviving reports. Now housed at the Library of Virginia, the surveys vary in size and completeness from almost nothing to huge inventories and everything in between. A typical file contains a brief report by either Ljungstedt or Robinson and a few photographs to document the inspection. The reports were often scribbled on an envelope that presumably held the small photographs taken during the on-site visits.

Both Robinson and Ljungstedt … read more »

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Ibby Jane Smith: U.S. Pensioner

Ibby Jane Smith was born in January 1864 in Northampton County, Virginia, the daughter of Leah Smith, also called Leah Jacob, and Seth Smith, also known as Seth Scott. Ibby Jane’s father had served in Company C, 10th Infantry Regiment of the United States Colored Troops. Ibby received a pension from the United States government for her father’s service during the Civil War.  The information about Ibby Jane Smith, her parents, her grandparents, uncles and aunts is found in Northampton County Chancery Cause Harry Fitchett & wife, etc. VS admr. of Ibby Jane Smith (alias Ibbie Jane Smith) etc.1886-003.

The deposition of Jacob Fitchett, the acting Sergeant in charge of the Freedman’s Bureau at Town Fields (near present day Cheriton in Northampton County), tells how Ibby Jane’s mother, Leah, brought her to Town Fields in January 1864 when Ibby Jane was about two weeks old. Leah registered Ibby Jane as the legitimate child of Seth Smith, alias Seth Scott. Leah claimed Seth as her husband because they had lived together as husband and wife.

The deposition of John A. Nottingham, the son of James B. Nottingham, Leah’s former owner, stated that Leah and Seth began cohabiting in 1861 at Dr. George W. Smith’s farm. Dr. Smith, the son-in-law of James B. Nottingham, was the owner of Seth. While living at the Smith farm, Seth went off to … read more »

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Virginia’s CCRP Program Provides Preservation Grants


ccrplogo-2

The Circuit Court Records Preservation Program (CCRP) Grant Review Board met on 18 January 2017 at the Library of Virginia to consider records preservation grant requests from circuit courts across the commonwealth. Six members– four circuit court clerks, appointed annually by the president of the Virginia Court Clerks’ Association; and two staff members from the Library of Virginia, currently the State Archivist and the Deputy of Collections and Programs–comprise the board. Members meet twice a year to evaluate proposals. Clerks of the Circuit Courts apply for funds to conserve, secure, and increase access to circuit court records. A total of eighty applications were submitted from seventy-nine localities with requests totaling $1,746,149. After careful evaluation and discussion of all applications, the board approved seventy-nine grant projects totaling over $250,000 (CCRP Grant Awards 2017A). Seventy-seven of the approved applications covered professional conservation treatment for items including deed books, will books, order books, surveyor books, minute books, birth and death registers, and plat books housed in circuit court clerks’ offices which had been damaged by use, age, or previous non-professional repairs. The remaining two grants were for records reformatting projects and plat cabinets.

The following are a few of the items that received grant funding:

The CCRP is administrated as part of the Library of Virginia’s Government Records Division. Funded through $1.50 from the circuit court clerk’s … read more »

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Virginia Untold: Petitions to Remain


Eastman Johnson,

As told in an earlier blog, James Dunlop of Petersburg emancipated his slave, John Brown, in April 1822 through a deed of manumission. One would imagine that Brown must revel in his freedom following a lifetime of bondage. However, his joy over being emancipated was surely tempered by the fact that his wife and children remained slaves. Worse, Virginia law required that slaves emancipated after May 1806 leave the Commonwealth within twelve months. One year after receiving his freedom, Brown would be forced to leave his family and reside in a free state where he knew no one.

Prior to emancipating Brown, Dunlop filed a petition with the General Assembly in December 1821 to permit Brown to remain in the Commonwealth following his emancipation. Dunlop asked the General Assembly “to suffer this faithful slave to spend the remainder of his days, in the enjoyment of freedom, and in the bosom of his family.” Dunlop had nearly one hundred white citizens of Petersburg sign the petition. They acknowledged Brown as worthy of emancipation and deserving of the opportunity to remain in Virginia. The committee in the General Assembly found the petition “reasonable,” drew up and reported a bill, however, the full legislature never acted on the bill.

Brown then had to apply to the local court for permission to remain in Petersburg. Before applying, Brown … read more »

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It’s A Virginia Thing: Helping One Native Colleague at a Time

Back in 2010 when I was processing the Nelson County chancery suits, I found a remarkable genealogical chart of the prominent Carter family. From that discovery, I wrote my first Out of the Box blog—A Tree Grows In…Chancery! Now, I am here to testify that not only does lightning strike twice, but in the same place as well. Mary Dean Carter, an archival assistant at the Library of Virginia since 2007, was thrilled about my first revelation related to her father’s lineage.

While helping process the Halifax County chancery in 2014, it was my second discovery though that really hit home for Mary Dean. In the beginning of the project Mary Dean had a simple request, let me know if you come across any suits with these last names: Long, Woodall, Land, Burton, Hudson, or VanHook. These surnames belong to her known relatives residing in Halifax County. In a rather lengthy chancery suit from 1869, Heirs of Jesse (Jessee) Ballow v. Exr of Jesse (Jessee) Ballow, etc., 1869-021, I uncovered relatives on her mother’s side of the family.

With the discovery of another well-preserved genealogical chart, Mary Dean determined that her third great grandfather, Hyram Hudson, was a direct descendant of Jesse Ballow’s sister, Anne. A color coded key is provided for reading the chart. Jesse Ballow died in Cumberland County and … read more »

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York County’s Forgotten Founder


York County (Va.) Wills, 1719-1885. Local Government Records Collection, York County Court Records. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

York County, originally named Charles River County for King Charles I, was one of the eight Virginia shires (counties) first enumerated in 1634. A document dated 7 January 1634 employs the name York County; a statute from that same year, officially changed the name to York County. This change was probably in honor of James, Duke of York, the second son of Charles I and, later, King James II. York County is one of Virginia’s Lost Records localities. Most of its pre-Revolutionary War era loose records are missing. A will that was discovered in a transfer of court records from York’s Circuit Court to the Library of Virginia is a significant historical find given the absence of so many original records. Recorded in York County on 16 February 1789, it is the last will and testament of General Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Thomas Nelson, Jr., was born on 26 December 1738 in Yorktown, Virginia, to William Nelson, a former colonial governor of Virginia, and Elizabeth Burwell Nelson. Among his many accomplishments, he served in the House of Burgesses from York County from 1761 to 1775, and represented Virginia in the Continental Congress. He is one of fifty-six signatories to the Declaration of Independence, seven of whom were from Virginia. Nelson represented York County in the House of Delegates between 1777 and 1783 and again between 1786 … read more »

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Court Records Preservation Pioneers: Martha Woodroof Hiden


Portrait of Martha Hiden, Courtesy of Newport News Public Library.

The naming of the local history and genealogy reading room at Newport News Public Library after Martha Woodroof Hiden is well deserved. Born in Orange County, Virginia, in 1883, Hiden graduated from Randolph-Macon College and went on to graduate school at the University of Chicago and The College of William & Mary. In 1909 she married Philip W. Hiden, who became the first mayor of Newport News, the city where she spent the rest of her life. She ran her husband’s business after his death in 1936, and went on to serve as a member of the board of visitors at William & Mary, an executive at the Virginia Historical Society, and a board member of the Virginia State Library (now the Library of Virginia). An accomplished and scholarly researcher, she authored numerous reviews, articles, and books on Virginia history and genealogy.

With all those accomplishments, however, her work with Virginia city and county court records might be her most important achievement. More than most, she understood the historical significance of the records and their need to be preserved. Among her writing on Virginia history, she published essays on court records, outlining the importance of each of the “classes” or record groups, explaining their use and purpose as few had done before, and laying the groundwork for social historians of the future. In her aptly … read more »