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- Bessie Miller’s Sad Summer Composition

Compostion book cover, dated December 1902. Brooks-Ellis Family Photo Collection, Visual Studies Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va.

The Library of Virginia recently acquired a family photograph collection identified as belonging to the Brooks/Ellis families. A composition book labeled “Bessie Miller December 1902” accompanied the photos in the acquisition. The notebook mostly contains essays on topics such as Julius Caesar and “The Seven Wonders of the World,” along with occasional transcriptions of letters to friends or relatives. One particular entry caught the attention of staff, a melancholy view of summer vacation.





The undated entry reads:


Vacation which always comes after a long tiresome spell at school as most children think it is most here[.] To most children it is a joyful time, but to me there is nothing sadder than the last day of school. This year most especially not knowing whither [sic] I’ll ever be at school again or not. Vacation always comes in the warm summer months when children need the most rest from study. During this time we visit our friends sometimes we spend evenings reading beautiful stories. It is during vacation that our flowers are in their most beautiful state and that our fruit trees are laden with the most luxurious fruit and our shade trees giving the most pleasant of shade. We will visit the beach and seashore[,] go on many pleasant picnics[,] have our childrens [sic] day and revivals[,] have our friends

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- Women with Dirty Hands: Archival Apprentices in the State Archives

The following post was adapted from an article in the January/February 2006 Library of Virginia newsletter and additional research on the topic by Jennifer Davis McDaid.


Office of the State Archivist, Miscellaneous Records Regarding County Court Houses, Records, and Clerks of Court, Accession 35002, The Library of Virginia.

Today is Administrative Professionals Day, and anyone who works in an office setting knows the critical role that administrative personnel play on a day-to-day basis. Were it not for them, a great deal of progress would come to a screeching halt. In that spirit, we look back at another group of assistants who were responsible for considerable advancement at the Virginia State Library (now the Library of Virginia).

Morgan P. Robinson, an organized and fastidious man, became Virginia’s first state archivist in 1918. Shortly after becoming the chief of the Archives Department in 1915, Robinson launched an innovative collaboration with Westhampton College (a women’s liberal arts undergraduate institution that merged with Richmond College in 1920 to become the University of Richmond). Juniors and seniors studying American history could work as archival apprentices at the Virginia State Library. The archives desperately needed the help and the students benefited from the practical experience.

The assistants served without pay, but earned history credit for their two hours a week. Beginning with just two students in 1916, the program had 12 enrolled in 1917-1918, and 21 by 1920. Mr. Robinson insisted on two rules: the women had to wear “a full … read more »

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