The staff at Montgomery County’s Circuit Court Clerk’s Office recently rediscovered the county’s cohabitation register, one of the most valuable records used for African American genealogical research. Its official title is The Register of Colored Persons of Montgomery County, Virginia, Cohabiting Together as Husband and Wife on February 27, 1866. Watch as this video tells the story of this register and its preservation at The Library of Virginia. Montgomery County is one of only 19 Virginia localities known to have a surviving cohabitation register. The video script was co-written and narrated by our own Sarah Nerney, Local Records Senior Archivist. Thanks also to Audrey Johnson of Special Collections, Leslie Courtois of Etherington Conservation, and videographer Pierre Courtois for their invaluable contributions to this video production. See a previous blog post about the Smyth County cohabitation register.
-Dale Dulaney, Local Records Archival Assistant… read more »
In 1996, Samuel Cooper, circuit court clerk of Accomack County, contacted the Library of Virginia about a large amount of county records he found in the attic of the clerk’s office. He requested assistance from LVA to determine their value, with the possibility of transferring them to LVA. A team of archivists travelled to Accomack County expecting to examine only a few boxes of old court papers. After climbing through the narrow opening of the office ceiling, they discovered a treasure trove of court records dating from the late 1600s to the early 1700s. Unfortunately, due to the poor environmental and storage conditions the records were in extremely fragile condition. Approximately 50 cubic feet of county records were transferred to the Library of Virginia where they were stabilized.
During the course of several years we examined these records to determine what they were and whether they could be recovered through conservation. The examination revealed that the records were primarily wills, deeds, fiduciary records, judgments, and chancery suits dated from the colonial era of Accomack County. Regrettably, the vast majority of these records are unsalvageable. Victims of heat, humidity, and insects, they can never be recovered. (images above) Fortunately we were able to identify a few gems that could be restored. They include tobacco plant censuses, 1728-1729, tithable lists, 1738-1769, and oaths of allegiance, … read more »
The Library of Virginia recently received a highly competitive Save America’s Treasures grant in the amount of $110,000 for the conservation of the gubernatorial papers of Thomas Jefferson.
The correspondence, letters, and documents pertaining to Thomas Jefferson’s service as the second governor of Virginia bring to life the daily challenges faced by him and other leaders during the Revolutionary War, while drafting the Articles of Confederation, and when addressing frontier relations. The list of Jefferson’s correspondents in the collection reads like a who’s who of American history and includes John Jay, James Madison, Baron Frederick von Steuben, John Paul Jones, George Rogers Clark, among other notables. The collection consists of 1,992 manuscript pages, and three letterbooks. This Save America’s Treasures grant will facilitate the preservation and digitization of the entire collection, ensuring public access to these valuable materials.
This will be the second time these particular documents will go through a preservation process. In the 1930s, The Library of Virginia (then the Virginia State Library) partnered with William J. Barrow, a pioneer in conservation practices. Barrow and his Richmond-based company began work on colonial- and revolutionary-era records held by the archives utilizing his new laminating technique. This new method, which used cellulose acetate film, was widely accepted as a stable and effective means of preserving documents. Within a few decades, however, archivists and librarians discovered … read more »
Have you ever wondered how fragile or damaged documents are repaired or preserved? Check out this behind-the-scenes look at preservation efforts undertaken to conserve one of the documents used in the new “Union or Secession: Virginians Decide” exhibition at The Library of Virginia (LVA). Visit the innovative online classroom to see more about the people, events, and documents that were a part of this crucial time in Virginia history. The exhibition is open now until October 29, 2011. For more video created by LVA staff, see our YouTube channel.… read more »
During the Civil War, the scarcity and high cost of writing paper often led people to reuse it. They wrote new letters across existing ones, made account books from old ciphering books, and turned ledgers into scrapbooks. In cases such as these, it is not unusual for archivists to find records that are more than what they appear at first glance.
One such example exists in the Henkel Family Business Records (Acc. 28040), a collection of 137 volumes related to the family’s general store, farm, and mill businesses in New Market, Virginia. While processing the collection, I came across an L.P. Henkel and Brothers account book, 1869–1872, containing business receipts pasted over handwritten text.
The Library of Virginia’s conservation lab removed each receipt, conserving both the receipts and the ledger pages beneath. This process uncovered a Civil War-era register, 1863–1865, listing conscripts from the 10th Virginia Congressional District (Clarke, Fairfax, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Prince William, and Warren Counties), with entries for name, age, occupation, physical description, date and place of enrollment, and company assigned. Also included were special orders regarding enlistment and assignments written from headquarters in New Market and Winchester, Virginia. Thanks to careful conservation, these formerly inaccessible records may help researchers uncover more about their own ancestors’ stories.
The original account book and receipts remain with the Henkel Family Business Records. The … read more »