Category Archives: Uncategorized

- “Our share in the war is no small one”: Virginia Women and World War I, Part II

This is the second of a two-part blog post adapted from an article originally written for the Summer 2001 issue of Virginia Cavalcade.

Liberty Day opening U.S. Gov't Bag Loading Plant : Seven Pines, October 12, 1918 / Frederic H. Spigel.

While nurses and female yeomen filled military roles, civilian women’s organizations of all kinds worked on the home front. In fact, such groups composed three-fourths of the wartime organizations in Virginia. The state Equal Suffrage League temporarily suspended agitation for women’s voting rights and joined with dozens of other organizations, including the Virginia Association Opposed to Women Suffrage, to support the war effort. For instance, both groups supported the Khaki and Blue Kitchen, at 210 East Grace Street in Richmond, which provided meals for servicemen visiting the city. Richmond’s suffragists (including Adele Clark, Nora Houston, and Eudora Ramsay Richardson) transformed the Equal Suffrage League headquarters and worked tirelessly for the suffrage auxiliary of the Red Cross. “We have a sewing machine,” one member reported, “and [a] pleasant work-room.” The auxiliary also purchased a knitting machine and pledged to provide mittens for the hundred nurses assigned to U.S. Base Hospital No. 45. By November 1917, the women already had produced 1,244 garments, including bedshirts, bathrobes, pajamas, pillowcases, sheets, and towels, and had knitted sweaters, mufflers, mittens, and socks. In Roanoke, the Equal Suffrage League joined with twenty local women’s groups to encourage the cultivation of home gardens. As a result, agricultural production … read more »

- “To Pass Without Delay or Hindrance”: Passports in the Unclaimed Property Collection

A passport is both a highly practical and importantly symbolic item. It provides not only identification but also identity, allowing the bearer to travel to new lands or to start a new life as an immigrant. We recently discovered a born-digital project called Let Me Get There, which contains images from passport applications from US consulates around the world, between 1914 and 1925. This project inspired us to search our own collections for passports.

While the Library does not have any specific collections of old passports, one state records collection did have a large number of passports featured. The papers of the Treasury Department’s Division of Unclaimed Property consist of lots from abandoned safe deposit boxes, whose contents have reverted to the ownership of the state. In several instances, the personal papers left unclaimed in these boxes include passports. Several examples of these appear below.


A Greek passport issued to David Lifschitz in 1913, from the Papers of Samuel P. Ratner, Lot 358.


A seaman’s passport issued to Barclay Lyon, 1942, from the Papers of Barclay Lyon, Lot 636.


A passport issued to Arline Mae Gales in 1975, showing her with an unnamed minor, from the Papers of Arline M. Gales and Cheryl L. Hales, Lot 6414.


The Korean passport of Mrs. Duk Hyun Hunt, nee Kim, issued in … read more »

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- Oh, You Classy Skirt: Valentine Cards in a Norfolk County Divorce Case

Cards sent to Iva Robinson Titzel, found in Norfolk County (Va.) Chancery Cause 1911-072, Iva Robinson Titzel vs. John A Titzel Jr., Local Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA.

Happy Valentine’s Day from Out of the Box! Although today is meant to be a celebration of love and romance, not all valentine cards have a happy back-story. This set of cards served as evidence in the 1911 divorce case between Iva Robinson Titzel and John A. Titzel, Jr., in Norfolk County (now Chesapeake). The couple met and married in Norfolk County in 1909. They moved to Brooklyn shortly thereafter and to Boston in February 1910. Iva returned to Norfolk County with her mother in April 1910, after a stay in the hospital for surgery for blood poisoning in her foot. John returned to Norfolk County at the end of September that year, and they made a brief attempt at reconciliation. By January 1911, however, Iva had decided she “could no longer live with him in safety” and by February had asked for a divorce.

Apart from those few facts, the couple disagreed on everything else that contributed to the disintegration of their brief marriage. John, a Spanish American War veteran and petty officer in the U. S. Navy, maintained that the marriage was a happy one, and that he had to no reason “to anticipate any trouble whatsoever between himself and wife.” He claimed that Iva’s mother persuaded her to leave Boston for Norfolk County, and that she “so poisoned the mind of the … read more »

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- Wartime Christmas at Camp Lee


The holidays are an excellent time to eat, drink, and be merry. The soldiers training at Camp Lee (now Fort Lee) during World War I weren’t able to spend Christmas with their loved ones, but they did at least get an excellent meal and maybe some entertainment on the day. These menus and programs were collected by the Virginia War History Commission, who worked hard to commemorate the war and collect related resources in the following. Our Out of the Box bloggers will be taking a break until the new year, so happy holidays to all of you!

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- “My place of residence is Camp Lee, Virginia”: World War I Military Naturalizations

Beginning in 1795, the United States required individuals who wished to become United States citizens to file a declaration of intent, followed by a petition for naturalization a few years later. In the midst of World War I, Congress decided on 9 May 1918 that “any alien serving in the military or naval service of the United States during the time this country is engaged in the present war may file his petition for naturalization without making the preliminary declaration of intention and without proof of the required five years’ residence within the United States.” The Library of Virginia holds 29 volumes of federal naturalization records from courts in Prince George County, Petersburg, and Hopewell, most of which document the naturalizations of soldiers stationed at Camp Lee (now Fort Lee) in Petersburg during World War I. Most volumes contain indices.

The petitions are the same form used for federal naturalizations beginning in 1906 and contain information on the petitioner’s birth, residence, occupation, military unit, immigration, spouse, and children, as well as the date that the individual became a citizen. But in this case, there was usually no supplemental paperwork, such as a declaration of intent.

As with all naturalization records of this era, an individual’s movements may be traced. Friedel Rosenquist was born in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, but immigrated … read more »

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- Election Time: Poll Books of the 1867 Election

On 22 October 1867, African American men cast votes for the first time in Virginia; this significant event was recorded in poll books in counties and cities across the state. After the Civil War, Congress passed the 14th Amendment which, among other things, provided citizenship for freedmen and women born in the United States, guaranteed them equal protection under the law, and included provisions protecting the right to vote for male citizens over the age of twenty-one. The Virginia General Assembly failed to ratify this amendment, and as a result, Virginia was placed under federal military rule. Under the provisions of the Reconstruction Acts of 1867, it was necessary for the states of the old Confederacy to call conventions to draft new state constitutions. The commander of the Military District No. 1, to which Virginia belonged, registered male citizens twenty-one years of age or older and supervised the election that asked voters to vote for or against a convention to draft a new constitution and also to elect delegates to the convention, if held. The call for convention was approved and twenty-four African American men were elected as delegates to the constitutional convention. Over 93,000 African American men participated in this election and as each voter arrived at his polling place, his name was dutifully recorded in the poll book for that district.


The … read more »

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- It Came From YouTube!: the State Records Film Collection


Have you ever been curious about the birds who call Virginia home? Or wanted to explore the history of Richmond? Or maybe take a closer look at the administration of Governor Linwood Holton? Or perhaps catch a view of the early years of Pony Penning Day in Chincoteague? If so, check out the State Government Records Collection Playlist on the Library of Virginia’s YouTube channel.

The Library of Virginia has a small collection of motion picture films that were created for K-12 classroom education or for other documentary purposes. These films were originally part of a circulating collection managed by the Library, providing libraries, public schools, and the general public with educational film resources. Some of the films are informative, some are entertaining, and some are just plain outdated, but all provide a glimpse into what students may have been learning in classrooms across the state before filmstrips went the way of the typewriter and the mimeograph machine. The following films have been digitized and are now available online:

See the collection’s finding aid for more … read more »

- “Of Liquid Death, To Which Men Flee:” Temperance Reform Efforts in Antebellum Norfolk

Restricting the use of alcohol was not a novel idea in the Roaring Twenties when Prohibition banned illicit spirits nationwide. Inspired by the reforming impulses of the Second Great Awakening, civic leaders across the country prior to the Civil War worked to curb alcohol consumption, which they viewed as a threat to the individual and society. One temperance advocate wrote, in the 18 March 1847 issue of the American Beacon and Norfolk and Portsmouth Daily Advertiser, that great efforts were needed for the “extermination of the ruinous flood which belches forth from the distillery, the extinguishment of the liquid fire, which has so long been the devil’s chief instrument in peopling jails, alms houses, hospitals, jails, grave-yards, and the bottomless pit.” By eliminating one of the root causes of society’s ills—drunkenness—businessmen, religious leaders, and reformers sought to help the intemperate become productive members of society and by extension elevate the community.


Norfolk’s stagnant economy during the 1840s and 1850s pushed local boosters to embrace temperance organizations to help revive the city’s fortunes. By November 1841 teetotalers could attend a meeting of the Norfolk Total Abstinence Society and five years later the Young Men’s Temperance Society was organized. Reformers aimed their efforts at males arriving in the seaport who might be open to temptation and vice; during this period it would be unthinkable that … read more »

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- A Few of Our Favorite Things: Letterhead in the Archive, Prohibition Edition

As promised in a previous post, here’s another look at some of the plethora of letterheads and stationery found in our archives. In honor of our current exhibition, the letterheads in this post are all related to Prohibition. The original text by Vince Brooks is included here for context.

Commercial stationery can offer a fascinating snapshot of a place or time. Scholars of this subject point out that the rich illustrations and elaborate printing of commercial letterheads, billheads, and envelopes correspond with the dramatic rise in industrialization in America. According to one expert, the period 1860 to 1920 represents the heyday of commercial stationery, when Americans could see their growing nation reflected in the artwork on their bills and correspondence. As commercial artists influenced the job printing profession, the illustrations became more detailed and creative.

Robert Biggert, an authority on commercial stationery, wrote an extensive study of letterhead design for the Ephemera Society of America entitled “Architectural Vignettes on Commercial Stationery” and donated his personal collection of stationery, now known as the Biggert Collection, to the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University.

The primary role of these illustrations at the time of their use was publicity. The images showed bustling factories, busy street corners, and sturdy bank buildings–all portraying ideas of solidity, activity, and progress. Other types of symbolism … read more »

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- The Temperance Movement and The Road to Prohibition

From the earliest days of European settlement, Americans drank prodigious amounts of alcohol. Almost every aspect of early American economic and social life involved alcohol. Far from being seen as evil, alcohol was an essential element of the table, a stimulant for work, and a social lubricant for good fellowship—especially in a world where water purity was always in question. One estimate puts annual per capita consumption of alcohol at almost 4 gallons in 1830.

The temperance movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries grew as a reaction to the perceived overconsumption of alcohol. It was one of the longest lasting social reform movements in the United States and sought to radically change the way Americans consumed alcohol. Public support of the temperance movement was a major impetus for the 18th Amendment establishing national Prohibition. Followers of the temperance movement believed alcohol was to blame for societal problems like unemployment, crime, poverty, and domestic abuse.

Many women recognized the damaging effects of drinking on the family and worked through anti-liquor organizations and moral persuasion to regulate alcohol consumption. They supported the power of the state to curb drinking and alcohol, even as the state denied women an essential political right—voting. Instead, women who supported the temperance movement sponsored parades, established rooms stacked with prohibition literature, and canvassed for the prohibition vote. Involvement in the … read more »

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