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 … read more »
Check out this video of our own Tom Camden, Special Collections Director, discussing a rarely seen copy of the Ordinance of Secession at the Library of Virginia. It’s provided courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.… read more »
(Note: Guest contributor Mari Julienne joins us this week with some timely background information on a pivotal document in the state’s history. Virginia’s signed Ordinance of Secession will be on display at the Library of Virginia on Saturday, 16 April 2011. See our schedule for other events related to the Library’s exhibition, Union or Secession: Virginians Decide.)
17 April 1861. While meeting in secret session, the Virginia Convention took a vote on whether to secede from the United States. Two weeks earlier, on 4 April, the convention delegates rejected a resolution to secede by a vote of 90 to 45. The convention, which was called to consider Virginia’s response to the secession crisis, had been meeting in Richmond since 13 February. The delegates had spent many weeks debating whether secession was legal, wise, or in the state’s best interest. Following the surrender of Fort Sumter on 13 April and President Abraham Lincoln’s call for troops on 15 April, the question facing the delegates became which side to take: to fight with or against the new Confederate States of America. Late in the afternoon on 17 April, the convention chose the Confederacy and voted 88 to 55 to submit an ordinance of secession to the voters in a referendum. On 23 May, Virginia voters approved the Ordinance of Secession, which repealed Virginia’s 1788 ratification of … read more »
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 on … read more »
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 »
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 »
In case you missed it the CW 150 Legacy Project ‘s visit to the Campbell County courthouse in Rustburg was featured recently in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and on WSET-TV which covers Lynchburg, Danville, and Roanoke. See the newspaper story here and the video here. Both stories cover the project’s continuing mission to to locate Civil War-era materials held by private citizens, digitize them, and place them online.… read more »
“The indecision and the absence of energy in the convention of Virginia which does not dare proclaim itself either for or against secession have ended by making the situation intolerable for everyone,” wrote Alfred Paul, the French consul in Richmond, in March 1861. “This lack of spontaneity after the inauguration of the new administration destroys the sympathies of the two sections, North and South, toward Virginia.” Paul closed his report of 9 March thusly: “all that the convention has done up to the present can be summed up in three words or in a single word: nothing, nothing, nothing.”
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the secession crisis and the commencement of the Civil War. Among The Library of Virginia’s many collections concerning secession and the war is the Alfred Paul Reports, 8 December 1860-9 March 1861 (Accession 22992). Paul proved to be a keen observer of events in Virginia during the Winter of 1860-1861, providing the French government with valuable analysis of the state’s actions during the secession crisis. [Note: The original reports are written in French; English translations are provided by the Library.]
Southerners, Paul stated, “want secession.” South Carolina seized on the election of Abraham Lincoln to leave the Union, even though Lincoln had been “called to the presidency of the United States…in a general election, regular, legal, constitutional, in … read more »
Have you ever wondered how fragile or damaged documents are repaired or preserved? Check out this behind-the-scenes look at preservation efforts undertaken to conserve one of the documents used in the new “Union or Secession: Virginians Decide” exhibition at The Library of Virginia (LVA). Visit the innovative online classroom to see more about the people, events, and documents that were a part of this crucial time in Virginia history. The exhibition is open now until October 29, 2011. For more video created by LVA staff, see our YouTube channel.… read more »
As you may have heard from this blog and other sources, the CW 150 Legacy Project: Document Digitization and Access is an effort to locate Civil War-era materials held by private citizens, digitize them, and place them online. It is a joint project between the Library of Virginia (LVA) and the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission.
Now that the project is underway, the motto “Have Scanner, Will Travel” aptly applies to my colleague Renee Savits and me. We are the CW 150 Legacy Project archivists, often seen in the LVA building rolling large plastic travel boxes containing our scanners, loading up our vehicle for the latest event. Renee is responsible for the project’s Eastern Region, and I am responsible for the Western Region.
In September, Renee and I hit the road, beginning what will be nearly two years of traveling across the commonwealth in search of these materials. We knew people would be interested in the project, but the level of interest we are encountering is beyond our expectations. At most of our events, all appointment slots are filled. We meet wonderful people who are excited to have the opportunity to share their items with us. A story about the project in the Washington Post in November generated even more interest.
A typical scanning event is scheduled through a given locality’s Civil War Sesquicentennial … read more »