While watching the February 2012 episode of NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? featuring actor and Petersburg native Blair Underwood investigating his family history, Library of Virginia staff could not help but notice that one of the original volumes displayed on the show was not in great shape. The Amherst County Register of Free Negroes, 1822-1864, was used on the show to prove that one of Underwood’s ancestors had been a free person prior to the Civil War. The front and back covers of the volume had become detached from the spine, pages were loose, and overall it did not look like the book could withstand much handling without sustaining further damage to its fragile pages. This led to a reevaluation of the existing conservation priority for the 30 free Negro registers in the Library’s holdings. Previously it was thought that since all of the free Negro registers were microfilmed, the original volumes would not be handled by the public any longer, thus conservation money would be better spent on other items. However, the resurgence of interest in African American genealogy, the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and related issues, and interest in the registers for display in exhibits clearly indicated that a change was necessary. A conservation inventory was done for all of the volumes and the ones that require treatment will … read more »
Occasionally the strangest things will surface in the county records. While processing Amelia County records (Barcode 1147160), archivist Callie Freed found a map depicting the U.S. Army’s 20-day siege of the Mexican city of Veracruz during the Mexican-American War.
Titled “Siege of Vera Cruz by the U.S. Troops under Major General Scott in March 1847, from surveys made by Major Turnbull, Captains Hughes, McClellan, & Johnston, Lieutanants Derby & Hardcastle, Top. Engineers,” the map depicts General Winfield Scott’s troops and siege engines spread out across the land surrounding the city of Veracruz and its fortifications, as well as other key features of the landscape and the reefs just off of the city in the Gulf of Mexico. Statistics are given about the regiments of the divisions belonging to William J. Worth, David E. Twiggs, and Robert Patterson as well as the numbers of troops killed and wounded in the operation. The map was drawn by Captain George McClellan and published in 1847 by the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers.
The siege of Veracruz took place in March 1847 and was the scene of the first successful large-scale amphibious assault by a United States military force. General Scott landed his U.S. Expeditionary Force near the city and lay siege to it for twenty days until it was surrendered, opening up the east coast of Mexico … read more »