The Battle of Hampton Roads was one of the most important naval battles in the American Civil War. It was fought over two days, 8-9 March 1862, in Hampton Roads, Virginia. During the CW150 Legacy Project we uncovered a letter from a Union soldier who was at the battle and wrote home about what he had witnessed. The letter was written on 15 March 1862 by John “Johnnie” Torrance while he served with the 2nd New York Infantry Regiment, Company H and was stationed at Camp Butler, Newport News, Virginia.
In the letter written to “Libbie,” Torrance describes the naval battle he witnessed stating “I suppose you have heard of [it] before this time. I though[t] you would have saw something about it in the paper.” Torrance mostly describes the first day of the battle – detailing the attack by the CSS Virginia and CSS Patrick Henry and CSS Jamestown on the USS Cumberland and USS Congress. The Virginia rammed the Cumberland causing it to sink and taking nearly 150 lives. The captain of the Congress ran his ship aground in shallow waters and after some combat the ship surrendered. While the crew was being ferried off the ship a Union battery on the north shore opened fire on the Virginia. In response the Virginia fired with hot shot (cannonballs heated red-hot) … read more »
In the summer of 2012, the Library Development and Networking Division started a project that included loaning scanners and computers to Virginia libraries in the hope of bringing to light hidden local history collections housed in public libraries. These collections hold items of local interest and historical value, and many of these items are unique to their region or locality. This project was started and continues to be funded with grants provided by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), whose mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people with ideas, administers LSTA funds.
A team of Library of Virginia staff traveled to public libraries to deliver the scanners and peripheral equipment, providing training on using the equipment, guidance on organizing materials to be digitized as well as file-naming conventions, and conducting an assessment of items to determine their value for scanning.
In August 2012, the LVA team visited the Halifax County South Boston Public Library. As part of the discovery process, the team was told about a safe located in the local history room of the library. While library staff believed that this safe might contain some important documents that should be scanned, no one had been able to open the safe even with instructions provided. Luckily, LVA’s former Local Records Director (and … read more »
Tags: Culpeper County, Digital Projects, George Washington Carver Regional High School, IMLS, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Library Services and Technology Act, LSTA, Madison County, New Kent County, Orange County, public schools, Rappahannock County, yearbooks
Editor’s note: This piece was originally published as an artifact spotlight for Discover Richmond, a magazine published by the Richmond-Times Dispatch. It is posted here with additional images of the Fredericksburg Dog Mart, which are part of the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce Photograph Collection.
These photographs from the Fredericksburg Dog Mart capture the heyday of an event that traces its roots to 1698.
At that time, one day a year was set aside by law to accommodate trade between the Manahoac Tribe (and later, the Pamunkey and Mattaponi) and English settlers in the area that later became Fredericksburg. The Native Americans would provide furs and produce in exchange for English hunting dogs. This practice occurred annually until the start of the Revolutionary War.
An annual dog mart resumed in 1927, known then as the Dog Curb Market, and coincided with the start of hunting season — the event gave hunters an opportunity to purchase hunting dogs. The dog mart also drew wider attention: it was featured in a Pathé Newsreel in 1928, and Time magazine wrote an article about it in 1937. By the following year, the dog mart drew a crowd of 7,000 people and 641 dogs.
The event was suspended during World War II but was restored in 1948 by the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce. In 1949, the dog mart … read more »
UPDATE: The Charles City County Order Book is now available online.
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 … read more »
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 »
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 »
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 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 »
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 »
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 »
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!
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
… read more »