- The Return of Virginia’s Lost History


If you live in the Richmond area or are connected to the Library of Virginia through social media, you may have seen the recent announcement of the return of the Charles City County Record Book, 1694-1700. This volume, taken from the Charles City courthouse in 1862 during the Peninsula Campaign of the Civil War, was returned by a Pennsylvania family who had cared for it for over three decades. In anticipation of the record book’s return, I had occasion to review other replevined records from Charles City County—a saga with its own century-long history.

First, a bit about replevin. No, it doesn’t mean to plevin again. Officially, it’s a common law action that allows a person or entity to recover wrongly or unlawfully taken personal property. In the archives and records profession, it refers more specifically to the recovery of public records (with or without legal action) by an agency or organization. The Virginia Public Records Act (§ 42.1-89) vests the power to petition a local circuit court for the return of public records held by an unauthorized custodian in the Librarian of Virginia or designee. Public records never cease being public records; so, unless lawfully and properly destroyed, they should remain with the appropriate custodian.

Thankfully, in the case of the Charles City County records and most other examples, legal action was … read more »



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- Never Built Winchester

Albert Olszewski, C.E. Map of Winchester Virginia Addition Made by the Equity Improvement Company. Washington D.C.:  A.B. Graham Photo. Lith., 1890.  Map Accession 5912, Library of Virginia.

The Library of Virginia’s collections include maps of developments that were never constructed, many of which were conceived prior to the Panic of 1893. In 1890, Pennsylvania Judge John Handley founded The Equity Improvement Company to purchase lands in suburban Winchester for the purpose of bringing in eleven enterprises. Map of Winchester Virginia Addition Made by the Equity Improvement Company was created in 1890 to complement the company’s pamphlet, Prospectus, which was published to attract business and capital to the city. Only one building had been completed and opened for business when the company folded in 1895; and that was the Hotel Winchester.

The map and Prospectus survive as testimony to the plans of Judge Handley and company share holders. As noted on the map, prospective manufacturing sites were set aside and identified by the color orange. An index to public and private buildings in Winchester is printed below the title. The Hotel Winchester was located on Penn Avenue and the Equity Improvement Company offices were located off of Market Street near Piccadilly.

Although he never resided in the city, Judge Handley took great interest in Winchester’s future. Upon his death in 1895, the city was gifted with funds to build Handley Library and a schoolhouse to educate the poor.

-Cassandra B. Farrell, Senior Map Archivist, Collections Access and Management Services

 … read more »

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- “A Nest of Bad Men”: Locating the Lunenburg County Courthouse

Detail, Lunenburg County (Va.) Courthouse architectural drawing and bond, 1782. Barcode number 1175884. Local government records collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Processing county deeds is usually not the springboard to finding something that is, well, blog-worthy. Deeds are already recorded in county deed books that have been scoured by generations of genealogists, researchers, and historians; it’s unlikely that anything new or odd will come to light. But something new did come to light from those dusty bundles of tri-folded Lunenburg County deeds, and it illuminates a small part of Virginia’s architectural history.

The county court was held in a variety of locations during Lunenburg County’s first twenty years. This practice was common and practical since the county’s boundaries shifted frequently as the General Assembly carved eleven new counties from Lunenburg’s western borders. In 1765, Robert Estes agreed to build a courthouse for the county on his property near what is today Chase City in Mecklenburg County. Its design was based on the courthouse in Dinwiddie County. Joseph Smith, a tavern keeper, took over the property when Estes died in 1775.

The people of Lunenburg County faced an ironic problem in the 1780s; the area surrounding the county courthouse had become a hotbed of lawlessness and disorder. The courthouse grounds apparently became infested “with persons violently suspected of Horse-stealing and sundry other crimes,” not least among them Smith himself, according to a legislative petition signed by more than a hundred residents in 1782.

The petition asked that … read more »


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- All I’m Thinkin’ About….Tim Kaine Records at the Library of Virginia

Tim Kaine takes the oath of office from Virginia Supreme Court Justice Leroy R. Hassell, Jr., Williamsburg, 14 January 2006, Office of the Governor.

Long time readers of Out of the Box are already familiar with the Kaine Email Project @ LVA. Hillary Clinton’s selection of Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate has brought national attention to our little project. Recent stories in Politico, Washington Post and the New York Times have all made use of the Kaine email collection. With this new interest in Kaine, we thought it would be a good time to spotlight the Library’s collection about Kaine and how to access them.

Kaine Email Project @ LVA – Digital

The Kaine Email Project provides online access to the email records from the administration of Governor Timothy M. Kaine, Virginia’s 70th governor (2006-2010). We are processing and releasing these records in batches.  To date, we have released over 145,000 emails from 66 Kaine staff members. The “By the Numbers” document shows what we are currently working on. New releases will be announced on this blog and via the Library’s Twitter and Facebook pages. Before jumping in to the collection, we strongly suggest you read the collection finding aid and the tip sheets we created to help users search the collection.

Governor Tim Kaine standing in front of the Shenandoah River, Shenandoah Valley Cabinet Community Day, 17 October 2006, Office of the Governor.

Governor Timothy M. Kaine Web Archive Collection, 2006-2010 – Digital

The web archive of the Administration of Governor Tim Kaine (2006-2010) contains archived versions of Web sites for the Governor’s Office, … read more »

- Miami Beach Florida is Calling You

In November 1924, Governor E. Lee Trinkle traveled to Florida to attend the annual Governors’ Conference. The Governors’ Conference was held in Jacksonville, Florida, on 17-18 November 1924, after which Conference members traveled to other cities including Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, West Palm Beach, Cocoa, and Miami. Governor Trinkle must have obtained this travel brochure while in Miami, and it was kept with his notes and travel expense records for the Governors’ Conference. The travel brochure has some beautiful brightly colored images of the wonders of Miami—from its beaches and polo matches, to swimming and golf. There is also a page with suggestions on how to get to Miami, advertising its accessibility by rail, boat, and auto. The travel brochure contains such beautiful imagery that we thought it would be fun to share this iconic 1920s artwork with you. To read more about travel brochures in the LVA’s collections, check out the latest edition of the Broadside or the recently posted digital collection.

-Renee Savits, State Records Archivist… read more »

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- The Old Ball and Chain

In the colonial period, married Virginians had very few legal grounds for divorce. Over the years, though, standards loosened up a bit, and eventually the old justifications of adultery and impotency were joined by reasons such as abandonment, cruelty, or being a fugitive from justice. In 1873, a new justification was added to the list: if either party was sentenced to confinement in the penitentiary. One of least common reasons for divorce, this kind of suit does pop up in chancery from time to time when the spouses of criminal Virginians took advantage of the law to get rid of the old ball-and-chain.

W. H. Bonaparte and Emma G. Lee were married in Hampton in 1888. In January 1889, W. H. was convicted of a felony for transporting a woman named Ruth Tennelle into Hampton for the purpose of concubinage and was sentenced to five years in the penitentiary. Emma filed for divorce in February 1891 and her petition was granted one month later. (Elizabeth City County chancery cause 1891-007 Emma Bonaparte by etc vs. W. H. Bonaparte)

In 1898, Rosalie Mayo and Daniel N. Huffer were united in matrimony. In 1901 Rosalie filed for divorce while pregnant with her second child, stating that her husband had recently been sentenced to one year in the penitentiary for a terrible assault on their little … read more »


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- New Digital Collections @ The LVA

Can’t make it to Richmond to check out the Library of Virginia in person? Take a look at our digital collections! You’ll find six of the most recent additions to our online portfolio below, and keep an eye on the “What’s New” page on Virginia Memory for future releases.

Accessible through our digital asset management system, DigiTool, these collections are searchable by keywords, creator, and title. We also now have thumbnails, making these collections more browseable. We include born digital content, such as publications from state agencies, as well as photographic, art, manuscript, and print collections. We’d love to have your feedback on our new offerings and encourage you to come back often to see What’s New!


Travel Brochures Digital Collection icon

Travel Brochures Digital Collection

For more than a century, Virginia tourism brochures have enticed potential travelers with handsome graphics and tantalizing text. Generally consisting of a single large sheet, printed on both sides, and folded into a pocket-sized format, travel brochures were created not only to advertise the attractions but also to provide information on how to get there, nearby accommodations, seasonal events, and more. The Library of Virginia’s collections are rich in travel-related ephemera from the 1930s through the 1950s, a period that saw a substantial increase in both the number of visitors and in the number and type of tourist destinations promoted throughout the

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- A Little Fresh Air Is Good For The Body

Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared in the LVA newsletter.

Courtesy of the Fresh Air Fund.

 Alice Trissel of Rockingham County spent 41 years helping provide New York City children with summer vacations in rural Virginia through the Fresh Air Fund program. During that time she amassed a mountain of documentation concerning the programs activities. Although she didn’t want to part with all of her memorabilia, she eventually ran out of room in her house to store the overflowing boxes of materials.

So in the same spirit that moved her to host Fresh Air children and serve as a fund representative and committee chairperson, in the summer of 1999 Trissel donated her collection to the Library of Virginia. The collection, which contains over 18 cubic feet of host family applications, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, posters, and other promotional materials, was a major addition to the Library’s private papers and organizational records collection at the time.

The Fresh Air Fund, which still provides thousands of children with free vacations each summer in small towns and suburban communities, originated in 1877 in Sherman, Pennsylvania. The Fund estimates that more than 1.8 million New York City children have participated in the program since Reverend Willard Parsons first asked members of his congregation to open their hearts and homes.

Although Trissel first became acquainted with Fresh Air in 1927 when her mother … read more »

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- Ten Paces! Fire!

On 28 November 1818, John McCarty of Loudoun County wrote a short letter to the Speaker of the House of Delegates of Virginia, declining the seat he had recently been elected to in that body. The reason? Since his election, he had accepted a challenge from his cousin, U. S. Senator Armistead T. Mason, and would therefore be unable to take the required oath against dueling.


Arising from the practices of European nobility, for many years dueling was a surprisingly frequent occurrence in American life—and politics. In a society pervaded by ideas of honor and reputation, disputes that started in the political realm quickly turned personal, and it was far from rare for politicians to engage in so-called “affairs of honor;” the Hamilton-Burr duel is only one of the most famous examples.

Politics were also at the root of the disagreement between John Mason McCarty and his cousin, Armistead Thompson Mason. The two men already had an acrimonious political relationship, stemming from a contentious election where McCarty supported Federalist Charles Fenton Mercer over the Democratic-Republican Mason for a seat in the House of Representatives. Although Mason was selected to serve in the U. S. Senate, McCarty and Mason continued to take potshots at each other in the press, publishing numerous letters in the Leesburg newspaper The Genius of Liberty. In May 1818, the … read more »


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- Truckin’ with the Bill of Rights

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared in The Delimiter, the Library’s in-house on-line newsletter. It has been slightly edited for clarity.

To commemorate the bicentennial of the Bill of Rights, Philip Morris wanted to finance a major tour of an original copy of the document– the basis for many of our basic freedoms and rights. As the repository of Virginia’s copy of the Bill of Rights, The Virginia State Library and Archives (now the Library of Virginia) was approached and agreed to its use.

Philip Morris funded restoration work on the document and financed the fabrication of both an elaborate traveling case, as well as a display case. Both cases had advanced climatic control and were designed to protect this precious document from any potential harm. In addition to the immediate housing for the document, the design of the display system guaranteed crowd control, as well as allowing adequate viewing of the document by visitors wishing to see the Bill of Rights.

The tour consisted of a 52 city, 50 state tour, commencing in Barre, VT, on 10 October 1990 and winding up with the document’s return home to Richmond on 11 December 1991 (with a grand total of 26,000 miles traveled), culminating in a fundraising dinner and closing of the exhibition on 15 December. The tour was planned to ensure that weather conditions … read more »

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