Additional images of documents from counties or incorporated cities classified as “Lost Records Localities” have been added to the Lost Records Localities Digital Collection available on Virginia Memory. The bulk of the new addition consists of copies of wills from the following localities: Botetourt, Buckingham, Dinwiddie, Fairfax, Gloucester, Hanover, James City, King and Queen, King George, King William, Prince George, Prince William, Rockingham, and Spotsylvania counties. These wills were used as exhibits in Augusta County and City of Petersburg chancery causes. The index number of the chancery suit that the “Lost Record Locality” document appeared in is included in the catalog record. Be sure to search the Chancery Records Index for the chancery suit to learn how, for example, a will from King and Queen County recorded in 1749 ended up as an exhibit in an Augusta County chancery case that ended in 1819.
Also, images of Buckingham County (Va.) Tithable List A-G, 1764 have been added to the Lost Records Localities Digital Collection. Most of the early court records from Buckingham County were destroyed during a courthouse fire in 1869. The 1764 tithable list was spared destruction because, at the time of the fire, it was located in the Prince Edward County courthouse. From 1789 to 1809, Prince Edward County was the seat of a district court that heard civil and criminal suits … read more »
The release of the film 12 Years a Slave had us talking here at Out of the Box. Discussions on slavery are a common occurrence at the Library of Virginia, but it is an entirely different experience to see the brutality and violence of slavery on screen. Based on the 1853 autobiography of Solomon Northup, a free African American living in Saratoga Springs, New York, kidnapped in Washington, D.C., and sold into slavery in Louisiana, the film offers an unflinching portrayal of slavery in the United States.
12 Years a Slave never pulls back from the brutality of its subject matter, and most importantly the film gives a human face to slavery—a system characterized by its dehumanization. So many of the records here at the LVA do the same, putting a name to those who suffered, and telling their stories. In addition to an original 1857 edition of Northup’s narrative, the experiences of slaves can be found in the state, local, and private records held at the LVA. Some of those stories have already been recounted here on Out of the Box. Unfortunately many of these stories end as tragically as they began.
After 12 long years, Northup managed to escape slavery, but for a young woman wrongfully enslaved in Alexandria, Virginia, that would not be the case. The details appear in the … read more »
Many of the staff and researchers at the Library of Virginia remember our colleague and friend Robert Young Clay for his vast knowledge of the records in our collections. Bob, who died last year, left his papers to the Library, and I recently completed processing them. I knew Bob for about eight years before his retirement in 2001. I recall how he assisted me with answers to some of my most puzzling questions, and seeing him helping patrons with their genealogical research.
I also remember his biting humor, lack of patience at times, the slamming of the phone receiver, and banging of a book against the reference desk.
But for those who never saw it, there was another side to Bob, and that comes across in some of the items contained in his papers. While much of the collection is made up of his research on the Clay family and its allied lines, there are also materials which demonstrate the personal side of Bob, a “kinder and gentler” side that not all staff or patrons may have seen.
Back in 1984, a certain reference archivist did not endear himself to officials in Fairfax County. Business owners in Mercer County, West Virginia, were growing increasingly frustrated with state officials in Charleston. There was even talk of the county rejoining the Commonwealth of Virginia. “The way I … read more »
Death records provide familial information to genealogists, statistical information for researchers, and an occasional chuckle for archivists. My morbid fascination with death registers paid off one day when I found the 1876 death record of one John Smith of Fairfax County. The person who recorded his death couldn’t resist adding:
”Killed by trap gun set to shoot thieves. It got Mr. S. on the first fire – It is feared there are no chickens where John has gone.”
Naturally, this made my whole week. Hope you enjoy it too!
-Kelly Gilbert Sizemore, Senior Reference Archivist
Not all records in the archives are on yellowed paper or centuries old.
Correspondence found in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Records gives unique insight into the recent history of Virginia’s most populous county, which now has one of the highest household median incomes in the country.
New York City native Audrey Moore came to Fairfax County in 1954 when the county still retained much of its original rural character. The young, apolitical wife and mother became concerned about what she saw as unchecked development in the county with little thought about future consequences for residents’ quality of life.
Moore decided to take on the county and spoke out on what were politically unpopular issues at the time. She ran for and won a seat on the board of supervisors in 1971. For many years Moore was an isolated and often ridiculed figure on the board, the lone voice opposing runaway growth, warning about future transportation nightmares, and advocating for more parks and open spaces. Her election in 1987 as chairperson of the Board of Supervisors marked the beginning of a remarkable planned-growth revolution in Fairfax County.
This enthusiastic letter to Moore by supporter and first-time campaign worker Anne Shotwell contains a poem and, charmingly, an origami crane. Both reside in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Records series, under subseries Correspondence–Audrey … read more »