Category Archives: State Records Blog Posts

- “We Give Thanks for Thanksgiving”

Telegraph to Gov. James Price, August 1939

As a holiday, Thanksgiving has a long history in Virginia. Arguably the first Day of Thanksgiving intended to serve as an annual holiday was celebrated at the Berkeley Hundred plantation on 4 December 1619, although thanksgiving services were a commonality in all areas settled by Europeans. George Washington issued the first proclamation of a day of Thanksgiving under the new national government in 1789, following up with a second Thanksgiving proclamation in 1795. It was under President Abraham Lincoln that the day became a true federal holiday; Lincoln was prompted by a series of editorials and letters written by Sarah Josepha Hale to proclaim the final Thursday in November 1863 as the national Thanksgiving Day.

In the years following 1863, presidents followed Lincoln’s example and proclaimed the final Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day. State governors would also issue Thanksgiving proclamations for their individual states. The Library of Virginia has several examples of proclamation issued by Governors McKinney, O’Ferrall, and Tyler between 1893 and 1898. In these proclamations, governors encouraged citizens to gather with their friends and families, do “some good deed,” and to help those less fortunate by “brining comfort and happiness to homes and hearts that have been darkened by adversity.” The governors reference national events such as the Spanish-American War and the Panic of 1896, praising the “wonderful courage and firmness” of … read more »

- Blood Brothers: the Virginia World War II Separation Notices

Yalta Conference in February 1945 with (from left to right) Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. Also present are Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov (far left); Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham, RN, Marshal of the RAF Sir Charles Portal, RAF, (standing behind Churchill); General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, and Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, USN, (standing behind Roosevelt).  The National Archives (United Kingdom) [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

In observance of Veteran’s Day, Out of the Box would like to spotlight the Virginia World War II Separation Notices (accession 23573). Part of the records of the Virginia World War II History Commission, the collection contains approximately 250,000 notices for World War II veterans discharged between 1942 and 1950 (with the bulk between 1944 and 1946) who sought employment in Virginia. Most of the notices are for military personnel who were born or raised in Virginia prior to the war and returned to Virginia after their discharge from service. While not a complete military service record, the separation notices provide a glimpse into the combat and wartime experiences, background, and post-war lives of Virginia World War II veterans.

The one page separation notice packs in a wealth of information including date and place of birth, physical description, race, marital status, and civilian occupation for each individual. Also included is rank, military organization, date of induction or enlistment, place of entry into service, military occupation, battles and campaigns, decorations and citations, wounds received in action, service outside the continental United States, prior service, total lengthy of service, and reason for separation. Naval records also list training schools attended and places of service (ships and naval stations). In addition to the separation notice, many of the army records also contain a qualification record documenting the … read more »

- DAR Sponsorship to Preserve Records of Revolutionary War Payments

The Library of Virginia (LVA) recently completed the reformatting of the Auditor of Public Accounts, Receipts and Disbursements Journals, 1778-1797, (Accession APA 45). These twenty-one volumes are now available in our Reading Room as Miscellaneous Reels 6251-6262. Funding for this project was made possible in part through the sponsorship of the Virginia State Society, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR).

These volumes are comprised of daily entries of revenues and expenditures, many of which document payments for Revolutionary War service and public service contributions. Entries include payments for military service in the militia and Continental Line and for other military services rendered, relief payments to disabled soldiers and widows, interest paid on military certificates, and reimbursement for impressed property, as well as payments to individuals for civil services and to members of the General Assembly.

Typical examples from this time period include the warrant on 27 April 1782 for Elizabeth Jones, the poor widow of soldier Richard Jones who was killed at Sewell’s Point in 1777; the authorization on 15 December 1778 to pay Thomas Jefferson for provisions furnished to the Albemarle Militia; a warrant from 4 February 1779 to James Nichols for lodging three prisoners belonging to the British warship Swift; a payment authorization from 27 April 1782 for George Rogers Clark, for building boats to be used on the western … read more »

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- Ten Years Burning Down the Road: Web Archiving at LVA

Gov. Mark R. Warner (left) and U.S. Sen. John Warner (second from left) tour an intake center and temporary shelter for Gulf Coast hurricane evacuees at Fort Pickett Army National Guard Base near Blackstone, Virginia, on Friday, Sept. 9, 2005. Governor Warner says Fort Pickett and the nearby Virginia United Methodist Assembly Center are ready to house up to 1,400 evacuees, offering them medical, educational and social services at the base before dispatching them to longer term housing at the church center and other locations. From the archived version of, captured Sept. 19, 2005.

September 2015 marks the ten year anniversary of web archiving at the Library of Virginia. In the fall of 2005, the Library partnered with the Internet Archive for a pilot program using their new web archiving tool, Archive-It (AI). The pilot program ran from September to November 2005 and captured the websites of Governor Mark Warner’s administration, campaign web sites for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and selected Virginia political blogs. After the successful completion of the pilot program, the Library used funding provided by Congress for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) to subscribe to Archive-It. Over the past ten years, the Library has created 21 collections containing over 3000 URLS and has crawled over 89 million documents and 5.1 terabytes of data. Following the Library’s web archiving collection guidelines, the Virginia Web Archive includes the web content of Virginia State Government and Virginia’s political leaders.

Some notable collections include:

This collection preserves the web sites that document Virginia’s November 2005 state-wide election. Included are former Governor Mark Warner’s website, the first lady’s website, the Virginia Democratic and Republican Party websites, as well as sites for the candidates for the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General. Also included are blogs related to the election, websites of cabinet secretaries, and sites for Warner

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- Are You Ready for Some Football?

Photo of Carl Hairston, NFL Historical Imagery

This week marks the start of the NFL’s regular season. In honor of the return of football, this week’s Out of the Box spotlights an unusual discovery from the state records collection:  two NFL contracts from a former member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

In Virginia, unclaimed property is remitted to the state if it has been abandoned, meaning it has been held for an extended period of time with no owner contact and there has been a “good faith” effort to locate the owner. This includes safe deposit boxes, which are presumed abandoned after five years. The Department of the Treasury, Division of Unclaimed Property, then sends any papers or records from those lots to the Library of Virginia.  State records archivists appraise these records to identify papers with historical, legal, informational, or intrinsic value. For more information, check out this blog post on unclaimed property.

Lot number 13019 contains two contracts between Carl Hairston and the Philadelphia Eagles Football Club, the first beginning on 1 April 1981 and the second on 1 April 1982, although both were signed 8 July 1980. The contracts stipulate the expectations of the club for Hairston’s participation in training, practice, and publicity, as well as the details of compensation, conduct, and cases of injury.

The contract makes other expectations clear as well; for instance, it states that “Without read more »

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- Kaine Email Project @ LVA: Tim Butcher’s Hurricane Katrina Story

Kaine Email Project @ LVA:  Tim Butcher’s Hurricane Katrina Story

This is the eleventh 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).

Photograph of Tim Butcher, undated, from the 11 January 2008 issue of This Week, the LSU Hospitals newsletter.

Last week’s post focused on Bill Leighty’s first-hand account of the earliest days of the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. This post will focus on the experience of Thomas “Tim” Patrick Butcher as shared in an email forwarded to Leighty. Butcher, a registered nurse, was the University Hospital Emergency Preparedness Director for the Medical Center of Louisiana in New Orleans (MCLNO) during Katrina. Flooding stranded Butcher and his staff at University Hospital for five days without power and low supplies.

In a 19 September 2005 email to Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Director of Emergency Preparedness Erin Downey, Butcher thanked Downey for her assistance. “There were some glitches in how things played out after landfall (to put it MILDLY),” Butcher wrote, “but all of our staff got out along with patients on [F]riday after the storm. I hope to be at as many of the after action meetings (assuming they will let me in, ha ha….for at a number of higher levels, those charged with making decisions failed miserably in their responsibilities to do so).”… read more »

Also posted in Kaine Email Project
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- Kaine Email Project @LVA: 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

This is the tenth 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).

William H. Leighty, Chief of Staff to Governor Mark Warner (2002-2006) and Governor Tim Kaine (2006-2007)

This week marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in Louisiana. The costliest natural disaster in the history of the United States, Katrina caused widespread damage from Texas to Florida. The storm surge breached the levee system surrounding New Orleans, flooding most of the city and the surrounding parishes.  The Kaine email collection would be the last place one would expect to find records related to the aftermath of the destruction in Louisiana, given that Tim Kaine was not governor in 2005.  However, the Kaine email collection includes the email of William H. Leighty,  who served as chief of staff to Governor Mark Warner (2002-2006) and held the same position under Governor Kaine (2006-2007). On 1 September 2005, Governor Warner dispatched Leighty and Policy Aide Ryan Childress to Louisiana for two weeks to coordinate state-to-state assistance and supplementing the relief operations of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Leighty’s email dispatches document their travel to Louisiana, Leighty’s responsibilities, clashes with the federal government, and their work assisting fire fighters.

Leighty traveled to Baton Rouge at the suggestion of Governor Warner and at … read more »

- Hampton Roads Group Features Kaine Emails in Open Government “Hack-a-Thon”

Editor’s Note:  This article first appeared in the July 2015 Library of Virginia Newsletter.

Governor Kaine attending launch of the Virginia Higher Education Wizard, Virginia State Police Headquarters, Richmond, 11 March 2009, Office of the Governor (Kaine : 2006-2010), State Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.

One of the Library of Virginia’s newest online collections was recently hacked, and we could not be more excited. The Kaine Email Project has caught the attention of a group of civic hackers called Code for Hampton Roads. As the local chapter of the Code for America Brigade, Code for Hampton Roads provides opportunities for people to marry technological skills with a desire to foster open government and improve communities through open-source web solutions. The group’s recent projects include web apps for finding local restaurants’ health inspection results and for searching all of Virginia’s civil court records from a single search page.

@StanZheng explaining his work on the Governor's Emails project #NDoCH2015 #Code4HR, 6 June 2015, photo from Code for Hampton Roads Twitter feed, (accessed 7 July 2015).

In the case of the Kaine Email Project, on 6 June 2015, hackers got a chance to tackle this massive data set (currently composed of more than 130,000 processed records) as part of the third annual National Day of Civic Hacking. The hackers’ goal was to devise new entry points for researching the collection, such as visualizations of topic frequency in Kaine administration email discussions or maps showing which correspondents interacted with each other the most. An immediate output of the hack-a-thon was a “word cloud” of the most common terms used in the set of emails currently available for public viewing. A word-cloud generator … read more »

- Kaine Email Project @LVA: Oliver Hill

This is the ninth 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).

Governor Tim Kaine, Oliver Hill, Governor Linwood Holton, First Lady Anne Holton, Oliver Hill Reception, Executive Mansion, 28 April 2006, Office of the Governor (Kaine : 2006-2010), State Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.

On Tuesday, 23 June, a portrait on loan from the University of Richmond of civil rights activist and attorney Oliver Hill (1907-2007) will be unveiled at the Virginia Executive Mansion. Larissa Smith Ferguson wrote in the Encyclopedia Virginia that as the lead attorney for the Virginia State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) “Hill and his colleagues filed more legal challenges to segregation than any other lawyers in the South and successfully undermined segregation and discrimination in all walks of southern life.” The mansion was also the location of a more somber event during Governor Tim Kaine’s administration (2006-2010):  Hill’s viewing was held there on 11 August 2007.  His funeral took place the next day at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.  The Kaine email collection tells the story of these events.

Oliver Hill was a hero and inspiration to Tim Kaine. He first learned about Hill while attending the University of Missouri where he read Richard Kluger’s Simple Justice, a history of desegregation. “The example of Mr. Hill and the other courageous lawyers of the era,” Kaine wrote … read more »

- “Lafayette, we are here!”


Twenty years ago, a small group of businessmen and former diplomats conceived a plan to build an authentic replica of the French frigate Hermione, the ship that carried Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roche Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, to America in 1780 with the news of French support for the American Revolution.  The group hoped that this project would rekindle close ties between France and the United States, create a lasting educational legacy, and bring life to both Lafayette’s memory and the spirit of liberty that he embodied.  The reconstructed Hermione is now a reality and the tall ship is currently en route to the United States, where it will visit twelve ports along the Eastern Seaboard over the course of the summer.  Hermione will be docked at Yorktown from 5-7 June, and Alexandria from 10-12 June, and the public are invited to the festivities.  A schedule of tours and events can be found at

Marquis de LaFayette

Lafayette played a crucial role in American and Virginia history.  Without his dedication to the cause of independence and his ability to persuade others to provide much needed financial and military resources, the outcome of the American Revolution might have been very different.  “The moment I heard of America, I lov’d her,” Lafayette recalled in 1778, a year after he set sail from France to … read more »