Tag Archives: vice

- Not If You Were The Last Man On Earth!: Virginia’s Board of Censors


Movie poser, The Last Man On Earth. Source: imdb.com/

The Virginia Board of Censors (1922–1966), later the Division of Motion Picture Censorship, was tasked with identifying obscene, indecent, and immoral scenes in motion pictures. The purpose of the body was to regulate motion pictures and provide a system of examination, approval, and regulation of banners, posters, and other advertising material related to films. The board also leveled penalties for violation of its requirements. The law establishing the board made it essentially illegal to sell or exhibit any commercial film that had not been officially approved and licensed by the board.

In 1924, a silent film, The Last Man on Earth presented challenges for the Board of Censors in several areas. The movie takes place in the future; a young man believes he has met the love of his life only to be rejected by the young lady.  He is so devastated by her rejection that he moves to the mountains, determined to live his life as a hermit. While he is away from civilization a devastating worldwide plague kills every fertile man on Earth over the age of 14.  The plague called “masculitis” results in an overpopulation of women. The disease manages to become a de facto women’s rights movement. In the United States, positions in Congress, the courts, and the presidency are all held by females.

A female aviator on a flight across the … read more »

Posted in State Records Blog Posts
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- The Old Ball and Chain

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 »

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