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Category Archives: State Records Blog Posts

- Library Makes New Batch of Emails from Governor Timothy M. Kaine Administration Available Online

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the release of 100,343 emails from the administration of Governor Timothy M. Kaine (2006-2010). This latest batch comprises emails from individuals in the offices of Kaine’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Secretary of Finance, Secretary of Transportation, and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. Included are the email boxes of Connie Biggs, Robert Bloxom, Richard “Ric” Brown, Craig Burns, Heidi Dix, Nicholas Donohue, Manju Ganeriwala, Alleyn Harned, Gail Jaspen, Aryana Khalid, Barbara Reese, Marilyn Tavenner, Michael Tutor, and Jody Wagner. Since January 2014, the Library has made 283,901 emails from the Kaine administration freely available online to the public.

Secretary of Health and Human Resources Marilyn Tavenner (2006-2010)

The Secretary of Health and Human Resources release covers a wide variety of subjects including: state agency budget reductions, implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), For Keeps (First Lady Anne Holton’s foster care initiative), State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS), Governor’s Working Group on Early Childhood Initiatives, Virginia Tech shooting, Virginia Information Technology Agency/Northrup Grumman (VITA/NG) performance issues and costs, No Wrong Door and Senior Navigator initiatives, and the restaurant smoking ban. The archived website and Cabinet Weekly Reports of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources provide additional information on its activities.

- The Elephant in the Room: Artificial Intelligence Used to Process Governor Tim Kaine’s E-mails

This article first appeared in Fall 2018 issue of Broadside, the quarterly magazine of the Library of Virginia.


An elephant

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

For the past seven years, that’s how we’ve been tackling the task of processing the 1.5 million e-mails transferred to the Library of Virginia in 2010 as part of the electronic records of outgoing Governor Tim Kaine. When Kaine announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2011, the Library challenged itself to make the Kaine administration’s e-mail records available for research in time for the 2012 election. What did that entail? Basically, we had to figure out how to separate whatever portion of those 1.5 million e-mails shouldn’t be included in our online collection—either because they aren’t records of enduring value (think e-mails announcing doughnuts in the break room) or because they contain sensitive materials such as attorney-client privileged communications, privacy-protected information, or operational security details.

When we set our sights on 2012, we knew of no good way to get to our goal other than to roll up our sleeves and start reading the e-mails. It did not take long to realize that we had bitten off more than we could chew. Kaine was entering his second year in the Senate before we could announce even a partial victory. In January 2014, … read more »

- “Legislative Debutantes”: 95 Years of Women in Virginia’s House of Delegates

In 2018 a record number of women took their seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates, bringing the total number of women who have served in that body to 91. The women who inaugurated this small (but growing) group were elected 95 years ago, on 6 November 1923. On that day, Helen Moore Timmons Henderson of Buchanan County and Sarah Lee Oden’hal Fain of Norfolk became the first women to win election to the General Assembly. Women in Virginia had gained the right to vote and run for office three years earlier, when the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified in August 1920. Tens of thousands of women registered and voted that fall thanks to special legislation the assembly had passed in January 1920.


Virginia women were quick to jump into politics as candidates for office. In 1921 at least six women entered races for the House of Delegates. Two lost in Democratic Party primaries. Election statements in the Secretary of the Commonwealth records (available for research at the Library with a finding aid in the Manuscripts Room) show that four other women were defeated in the general election. Three women also ran for statewide office that year and lost: Maggie Lena Walker was the candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction on the “lily black” Republican ticket, Elizabeth Lewis Otey was the candidate for the … read more »

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- Library Makes New Batch of Emails from Governor Timothy M. Kaine Administration Available Online

Virginia Secetary of Education Dr. Thomas Morris (2006-2010)

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the release of 26,988 emails from the administration of Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (2006-2010). This latest batch comprises emails from individuals in the office of Kaine’s Secretary of Education. Included are the email boxes of Thomas Morris, Judith Heiman, Dietra Trent, Douglas Garcia, Jean Bankos, Kathy Glazer, Kendall Tyree, June Hines, Lorraine Lintecum, and Nicholas Galvin. Since January 2014, the Library has made 183,558 emails from the Kaine administration freely available online to the public.

This release is the first to use artificial intelligence to aid in classifying public records. The specific technology applied to the Secretary of Education’s email is known as Continuous Active Learning™, a method of machine learning developed by Gordon V. Cormack and Maura R. Grossman, professors in the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. Cormack and Grossman have been collaborating with the Library of Virginia since 2015, when they used the initial release of email from Governor Kaine’s administration as a benchmark for evaluation at TREC, the Text REtrieval Conference Conference, organized by the National Institute of Technology (NIST). Look for more details on the Library’s experimentation with artificial intelligence in the forthcoming Fall 2018 issue of Broadside.

Governor's Working Group on Early Childhood Initiatives, 2006-08-17 12:34, Leighty.pst, Email Records from the Office of the Governor (Kaine: 2006-2010), Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA.

The Office of the Secretary of Education assisted the governor in the development and … read more »

- Mug Shot Monday: My Hometown Edition

Mugshots of Joseph Winsey, Chester Lewzewski, John Lutz, and William Schmitz, Reading Eagle, 11 March 1919, page 1.

Welcome to Mug Shot Monday! This is the latest entry in a series of posts highlighting inmate photographs in the records of the Virginia Penitentiary. John L. Brown, James L. Davis, Charles C. Williams, and Joseph L. Cary, the subjects of this week’s post, pleaded guilty to robbery in Petersburg in November 1911 and were sentenced to 12 years in the penitentiary. The four first caught my attention while processing the penitentiary records in the early 2000s, when I saw the police from my hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania, wanted them for murder. Ten years later, thanks in part to Google News Archive and Ancestry.com, I am able to tell the story of how their Pennsylvania crime spree, culminating in a senseless murder over apple pies, ended in central Virginia.

On Tuesday, 14 November 1911, A. W. Harman, son of the Virginia state treasurer, arrived at the Byrd Street train station in Richmond at 8:15 pm. As Harman started walking up 8th Street, two men stepped out in front of him. “Both of them pointed revolvers at me,” Harmon later told the Richmond News Leader, “and ordered me to throw up my hands.” When Harman resisted, they struck him on the head with a blunt instrument. Two other men arrived; the four dragged Harman behind some freight cars, stole his watch and $10, and fled … read more »

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- Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: Legislative Petitions for Divorce

The Bottle, Plate VI. “Fearful Quarrels, and Brutal Violence, are the Natural Consequenes of the Frequent Use of the Bottle,” 1847. Lithograph by D. W. Moody after etchings by George Cruikshank. Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

In this age of no-fault divorce, it is hard to imagine that from 1776 to 1826 the only means of divorce in Virginia was by petitioning the General Assembly. Petitions on various subjects were the commonwealth’s main source of legislation in the antebellum era. County and city courts began to grant divorces in 1827, but until 1852 the state legislature still accepted petitions for divorce. During the years when the legislature was the only recourse for those seeking divorce, only a fifth of petitioners obtained a divorce or legal separation.

Today’s blog post looks at two divorce petitions to the General Assembly from Winchester residents. The first is from Amelia M. Alexander.  The petition, presented to the House of Delegates on 13 December 1825 and filed under Frederick County, tells her tale of woe in language worthy of a novel of that day. “During the year 18[--] whilst she resided in the District of Columbia,” she had married John Alexander. “She was then young and knew naught of the sorrows of life; she was full of hope and full of joy. To poverty and its attendant miseries she had ever been a stranger … But alas! She has since too fatally discovered that lifes enchanted cup but sparkles at the brim. Disaster after disaster ensued.” Within a few months of marriage, she discovered that John … read more »

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- A Serendipitous Discovery: The Carson Family of Warren County

One afternoon in the Archives Research Room, senior reference librarian Zach Vickery requested several of the questionnaires that the Virginia War History Commission collected to document Virginians’ World War I service. I was on duty and talked with Zach about the questionnaire of Irish-born nurse Anne Lougheed Carson. Later, Zach sent Carson’s passport application to me. The name of another applicant—Isabella McNeil Carson—was visible in one image, which revealed why the surname Carson and birthplace of Enniskillen were familiar. I had used Carson’s naturalization record in a presentation for the Library of Virginia’s Irish Ancestry Day in March 2017. My serendipitous discussion with Zach led me to discover that Anne and Bella were sisters and members of a fascinating family.

In 1908, sisters Annie Lougheed Carson (1887–1965), Isabella M’Neill Carson (1888–1981), and Mary Barrett Carson (1897–1980) left their birthplace of Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Ireland, for Moville and then Londonderry, where they boarded the Caledonia on 22 February. They arrived in New York on 2 March 1908 and met their uncle William Edward Carson of Riverton, Warren County, Virginia. Their brother George Flanagan Carson (1893–1923) had taken the same journey in August 1907. Their parents, James Lougheed Carson (1860–1934) and Jean McNeill Carson (1858–1934), as well as siblings Joseph Malcolm Carson (1901–1991) and Jean McNeill Carson (1902–1989), joined them after sailing aboard the Philadelphia from Southampton, … read more »

- “Soon, the grievance will cease to exist”: Chief Inspector of Vessels Reports

On 17 March 1856, the General Assembly adopted a law entitled, “An Act providing additional protection for the slave property of citizens of this commonwealth.” This legislation established a new inspection system to prevent the escape of criminals and enslaved people aboard commercial shipping vessels. All vessels bound for any northern port beyond the Virginia capes were subject to the inspection.

The Underground Railroad offered avenues to freedom for African Americans, some of which made use of Virginia’s extensive waterways. Free and enslaved African Americans provided an important labor force for the state’s thriving maritime economy. Employment along the busy wharves in Virginia’s harbors also presented enticing opportunities to escape. By the mid-1850s, many runaway slaves from the Hampton Roads area were suspected of escaping aboard ships destined for northern ports. One Norfolk newspaper described this alarming situation as “an intolerable evil.” Urgent pleas for a more effective system to stop these escapes were sent to Richmond. The General Assembly received strongly worded petitions from the citizens of Norfolk, Elizabeth City County, and Princess Anne County. These Tidewater localities wanted “additional legislation…which should clothe the Pilots of our state with power to search vessels, arrest fugitives, and should require every vessel bound to a Non-Slaveholding Port, to take a Pilot…to give us the necessary protection.” Soon, Delegate Francis Mallory of Norfolk introduced new legislation aimed … read more »

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- Homeland is “creating a heck of a lot of buzz and excitement with our citizens!”

Hugh Dancy, Claire Danes, and Governor McAuliffe, Homeland Reception, 8 September 2017, Executive Mansion, Governor Terry McAuliffe's Flickr page.

Homeland’s season 7 finale aired last Sunday night. Showtime’s critically acclaimed drama stars Claire Danes as CIA Officer Carrie Mathison and Mandy Patinkin as her long-time mentor Saul Berenson. Fox21 Television Studios filmed season 7 on location in Central Virginia from September 2017 to March 2018. Notable locations include the Jefferson Hotel, the State Capitol, the Fan and Northside neighborhoods of Richmond, as well as Hopewell and South Hill. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe even made a brief nonspeaking cameo in one episode. Incentives from the Virginia Motion Picture Opportunity Fund and the Virginia Motion Picture Tax Credit Fund made production of the series in Virginia possible.

Secretary of Commerce and Trade Haymore, Governor McAuliffe and Andy Edmunds, Homeland Reception, 8 September 2017, Executive Mansion, Governor Terry McAuliffe's Flickr page.

The Virginia Film Office, created in 1980, is part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. Its mission is increasing “revenue to the state through the production of filmed product including television shows, feature films, videos, documentaries, and commercials.” The Film Office markets Virginia as a location for film and video production, providing financial incentives through grants and tax credits. On 29 June 2017, Rita D. McClenny, President and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, wrote a memo to Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore regarding a request by Homeland’s producers for $9 million (in grants and tax credits) to film in Virginia. McClenny recommended a maximum $700,000 grant from the Virginia Motion Picture Opportunity Fund … read more »

- 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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