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 »
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.
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.
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 »
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.
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 »
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.
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 »
The 2014 Alan M. and Nathalie Voorhees Lecture on the History of Cartography will be held at the Library of Virginia on Saturday, 12 April. This year’s lecture features two guest speakers: Dr. Maury Klein, “Railroad Maps as Promises of the Future,” and William C. Wooldridge, “Tracks on Maps: Showcasing Virginia’s 19th Century Railroads.” This event includes a special one-day exhibition of maps relating to the talks from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Out of the Box presents a sneak preview of two of the maps from the Library’s collection that will be on display.
Railroad construction boomed in 1850s Virginia. Railroad companies drafted and published maps to raise support for and to alert the public about ongoing railroad track construction. One example is the Map and Profile of the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. This shows the railroad track from Lynchburg to Bristol, Virginia, and highlights the technical surveys of the project in tables printed below the map. Coalfields and coal pits are shown.
In 1858, A Map of the Rail Roads of Virginia by Ludwig von Buchholtz was lithographed by Ritchie and Dunnavant, a Richmond publishing firm. The map clearly shows the railroad lines completed in the commonwealth, those in progress, and those proposed. When compared to the 1848 Internal Improvements Map of Virginia drawn by Claudius Crozet it clearly shows … read more »
This is the fourth 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).
Sunshine Week “is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.” In honor of Sunshine Week, 16-22 March 2014, this week’s post focuses on how a 2008 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by a state delegate led to a Kaine administration prohibition on printing by state agencies.
In November 2008, Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31) submitted a FOIA request to all state agencies asking for a copy of each publication with a print run exceeding 100 copies. He also wanted to know the printing costs for each publication and the name of the printer. Upon receipt of Lingamfelter’s letters, agencies contacted Kaine administration staffers for further guidance. Gena Boyle, special assistant to the governor for policy, forwarded one such email to Chief of Staff Wayne Turnage on 1 December 2008. Turnage replied that “I’m sure he [Lingamfelter] expects to find millions in printing costs. With the advent of web to hold reports he will be disappointed – I hope.”
With the support of Delegate Lingamfelter, the administration consolidated his requests and treated them as one FOIA … read more »
Digital images of legislative petitions to the Virginia General Assembly, 1776 to 1865, from Fairfax County through King William County have been added to the Legislative Petitions Digital Collection available on Virginia Memory, the Library of Virginia’s digital collections website. The list of localities added includes the present-day West Virginia counties of Fayette, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Hampshire, Hancock, Hardy, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson, and Kanawha, as well as Kentucky County, now a part of the state of Kentucky. It also includes numerous localities classified as Lost Records Localities such as Fairfax, Gloucester, Hanover, James City, King and Queen, and King William Counties. With this addition, the number of legislative petitions available for viewing online currently exceeds 11,000.
One common topic found in the legislative petitions that would be of particular interest to genealogists is that of name changes. Virginia citizens could petition the General Assembly to have their names changed. Typically this was done for inheritance purposes. In 1851, Richard Ballinger of Floyd County filed a petition to change the surname of his nine stepchildren from Lovell to Ballinger so that they could be heirs at law of his estate. William W. Finney of Accomack County filed a petition to change not just his surname but his whole name in order to receive his inheritance. Finney’s uncle, John Arrington, wrote in his will that the only … read more »
This is the third 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).
Much of the Kaine email deals with public policy, legislation, and governing. Issues such as the state budget, transportation legislation, and the governor’s State of the Commonwealth Address garner wide media attention. But there other messages that focus on less publicized aspects of a governor’s administration: life and death decisions, grief, and remembrance. This week’s post focuses on, for me, some of the most powerful and moving email in the Kaine collection.
Tim Kaine opposes capital punishment. But when he ran for governor in 2005, he promised, if elected, he would uphold the law. Eleven executions took place during Kaine’s administration. The decision to proceed with an execution was not easy for Kaine. John Yancey Schmitt was executed on 9 November 2006. This brief exchange that night between Sherrie Harrington, Kaine’s confidential assistant, and Larry Roberts, Counselor to the Governor, that evening conveys this.
Capital cases also took a toll on Larry Roberts. A few days before the 10 June 2006 scheduled execution of Percy Lavar Walton, Marilyn Tavenner, Secretary of Health and Human Resources, reached out to Roberts. There was some question … read more »
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. Ed Carr, the subject of this week’s post, escaped from a convict road camp in 1913. Jealousy led to his recapture in 1932.
Ed Carr was arrested in April 1913 and charged with grand larceny of a diamond ring. Hoping to get a shorter sentence, Carr lied about his age. “At this time,” Carr wrote Governor John Pollard in 1932, “I was 15 years old. When I was arrested on the charge the people who were in jail with me, told me that if I told my correct age they would send me to a reform school until I was 20 or 21 years old, but that if I ran my age up, and in case of conviction, I would get a year in the Penitentiary. I listened to this, and gave my age as 25 when I came up for trial.” It did not work. Carr was convicted on 3 May 1913 in the Corporation Court of Norfolk City and sentenced to 10 years in the Virginia Penitentiary. Carr was assigned to State Convict Road Force Camp No. 5 in Russell County. He didn’t stay long. Carr escaped on 7 August 1913 having served less than 90 … read more »
This is the second 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).
Transportation was one of the issues that dominated the Kaine administration. In 2007, Kaine reached an agreement with the Republican General Assembly on a compromise transportation package that would have been the largest transportation funding increase since 1986. This week’s post focuses on this legislation, HB 3202, and the controversial abusive driver fees it contained. The legislative process is messy and complicated. John Godfrey Saxe’s quote, “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made,” applies to this blog post. Consider yourself warned.
House Bill 3202, Chapter 896 of the 2007 Acts of Assembly, was enacted on 4 April 2007. Through a mixture of bonds, new taxes and fees, the law was designed to generate more than $500 million in new dedicated funding for highway construction and transit capital projects as well as highway maintenance and transit operating costs. Passing this package required compromises from both Republicans and Democrats. In this series of emails from February 2007, Governor Kaine informs his senior staff of conversations he’s had with members of the General Assembly and his thoughts … read more »