An Exhibits link is now part of the Virginia Heritage web site. Exhibits featuring materials described in the finding aids are highlighted in this new section. If you have an exhibit you would like to add, contact the Outreach Committee at VaHeritageOutreach@gmail.com. Current and upcoming exhibits are now viewable here.
The Virginia State Law Library is pleased to announce the availability of a new resource on the Virginia Judiciary web site, Supreme Court of Virginia Justices, 1779-present. This online biographical directory can be accessed from the judicial branch web site at http://www.courts.state.va.us or directly, at scvahistory.org. The directory features the portraits (when available) and biographical information of each of the justices who have served on the Supreme Court of Virginia since 1779. Our goal is to make this information available to the public, with the directory serving as an accurate scholarly resource for students, educators, historians and others interested in the history of the court.
Several archivists, librarians, and others provided research assistance in the compilation of the online directory. Sincere thanks to Meghan A. Townes, Visual Studies Collections Registrar, and Audrey McElhinney, Senior Rare Book Librarian, Library of Virginia; the knowledgeable staff of reference archivists at the Library of Virginia; Cecilia Brown, Special Collections Archivist, University of Virginia Law Library; Lisa S. McCown, Senior Special Collections Assistant, Washington and Lee Leyburn Library; John Jacob, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian, Washington and Lee Law Library; Susan Riggs, Manuscripts and Rare Books Librarian, Swem Library, College of William and Mary; Suzanne Corriell, Associate Director for Reference, Research and Instructional Services in the Muse Law Library, University of Richmond; and student interns from the VCU Department of History and George Washington University internship programs. A special thanks to Kelly Parrish, Department of Judicial Planning, and the Washington and Lee School of Law, for sharing resources gathered for The Supreme Court of Virginia: Historical Portraits of the Justices,1799-2011, published in 2010 (now out of print). The publication of this guide made it possible to create an online directory illustrated with the portraits.
Big news from George Mason University. The University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives is the new home of the Gilbert and Sullivan Collection donated by David and Annabelle Stone. The collection is all things Gilbert and Sullivan from original manuscripts to production materials to letters and personal effects. Read the press release to learn more about the donation.
Want to know what other collections George Mason University has? Search Virginia Heritage to see their finding aids.
Today’s post is from VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives.
Holding out the hope of a ride on the back of P.T. Barnum’s recently purchased Jumbo, this 19th century trade card, printed by J. H. Bufford’s Sons, advertises “Prospective fun for the children” along with the Richmond Stove Company.
Jumbo was an African bush elephant captured as an infant in French Sudan. Sold first to a German menagerie, he was imported to France, then transferred to England. He became famous for giving rides to children at the London Zoo until he was sold to the Barnum & Bailey Circus in 1881. When the prospective sale became public knowledge 100,000 school children wrote to Queen Victoria begging her not to sell the elephant. Jumbo did come to America where he was a great sensation and where, unfortunately, he died in a railway accident in 1885. His skeleton was given to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and his stuffed hide was donated to Tufts University where it resided in P.T. Barnum Hall for many years. Today, Jumbo is the official mascot of Tufts.
This card is one of many fascinating items in the Charles E. Brownell Collection of Architectural and Decorative Arts Ephemera (M 439 Special Collections and Archives) which you can see in person on the 4th floor of VCU’s James Branch Cabell Library.
Today’s post is by Alice W. Campbell, Digital Initiatives Archivist at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Explore. Discover. Share.
A new gallery has opened at Virginia Commonwealth University, but this time the exhibit space is virtual and not physical. VCU Libraries Gallery gives the public an opportunity to discover some of the rare and intriguing materials held in Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library and Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences. The Gallery will feature exhibits of book art, comic arts, manuscripts, rare books, medical artifacts and VCU university archives, and each item shown can easily be shared on social media. VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives hope to reach new and potentially broader audiences by sharing collections online.
Three inaugural exhibits opened the Gallery. “Remembering Theresa Pollak: An Exhibition on the Founder of VCUarts” includes photographs and manuscripts from the collection of an exceptional artist and educator of great importance to VCU. Another exhibit, “From the Library of Dr. Herman J. Flax: Physician, Poet, Collector,” gives viewers a look into a collection of rare books related to physical medicine. “Through the Looking Glass” displays microscopic images created by VCU students, faculty and staff and selected on the basis of their aesthetic appeal, technical skill and scientific significance.
Future exhibits will present interactive artists’ books, and traces of previous ownership found in library volumes. You can visit the VCU Libraries Gallery at https://gallery.library.vcu.edu/ and keep up to date with Gallery news by following @VCUExhibits on Twitter.
October is Archives Month. All across the country events will be held to celebrate archives and Virginia is no exception. Since 2002, archivists from around the Commonwealth have participated in this celebration by creating posters and holding special events to promote the amazing materials found in cultural institutions across the state. This is a chance for us to share what we do with others and get the word out about wonderful collections that enrich all of our lives. We invite you to join the celebration. The Library of Virginia hosts a calendar of Archives Month events for the state. You can also find all of the images from this year’s poster on Flickr, as well as all of the posters from previous years. Of course we invite you to visit archival institutions this month and any month of the year because Archives are for Virginians!
This entry is a repost from the Virginia Historical Society Blog. We are pleased to share this post by guest author Kurt Jensen. Kurt is working with VHS’s business history collections this summer. We would like to thank the University of Virginia for partnering with us to offer this internship to one of their recent graduates.
I find it hard to recommend the book by Maurice Duke and Daniel Jordan about Richmond’s Universal Leaf Tobacco Company, Tobacco Merchant, for a light beach read this summer. But it was a tremendously pleasant surprise to find a group of interviews in the Virginia Historical Society archives, conducted during the research for that book, that lend themselves excitingly to dramatization.
If the corporate world of creative advertising in the 1960s can command the attention of so many viewers through the TV show Mad Men, surely so can the story of Universal Leaf through the World Wars. Let’s call it Tobacco Boys.
It’s a story of young, largely uneducated men who make a great deal of money they don’t know how to spend; American businessmen at the forefront of international business, entertaining clients and buying from suppliers whose languages they hardly know how to speak; and of course their wives, many of whom worked for the company! (At least, before they were married.)
During this period, Universal Leaf ran a highly successful buying and selling operation in Shanghai, China, which helped the company avoid the worst effects of the Great Depression—an early example of successful international diversification.
It wasn’t a simple task, however. Executives like A. I. McOwan, a Scotsman known as “Mac,” had to traverse mainland China, fording dangerous rivers, with armed guards to avoid bandit attacks. Not to mention the fact that this period saw near constant political turmoil in China, from the Nanking Incident in 1927 to the Japanese invasion of the mainland in 1937.
Here’s just one exciting narrative of love and danger in 1941—best-selling novel material—as told by Mac’s wife, Lou:
I met him in May, I think it was, we were engaged in June, and he left in July. . . . In those days it took seventeen days to get to China. He got to the west coast and kept calling me from out there, and so I flew out to San Francisco and we were married out there. . . . I said about three weeks before I met him, “Now listen, I am going on record now, standing here in the Richmond Trust Building, if I ever had to get in an airplane, I will never get in one for anything or anybody.” So you don’t ever know what you are going to do.
Mac planned to take Lou to Hawaii as part of their whirlwind, fairytale wedding and honeymoon, but they were stopped at the British consulate.
It was going from the sublime to nothing. . . . I had a British passport and the man in the British Consulate said, “Don’t take your wife anywhere.” Mac then said, “I thought I would take her to Honolulu,” and they replied, “Don’t you do that.” [T]hey might have known more than we knew.
Like in any good war drama, the British consulate charged Mac with delivering a cache of secret documents, weighted to sink if his boat was attacked. He managed to do so, but shortly after he returned to work, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the Japanese Marine Guard took over international business interests in Shanghai and placed the employees in internment camps. The British consulate neglected to put Mac on their books as an official messenger of the British government, so he wasn’t exchanged with Japanese officers during the war. Lou recalled:
I didn’t hear from him for a long time, but once in a while I would get a message from the Red Cross that would be dated last August, and I wouldn’t get it until this August. I didn’t know for five years whether I would ever see him again. However, when I finally saw him down at Main Street Station, I felt like I had never been away from him.
When he finally was released in 1946, he went straight to Universal Leaf of China, which had been taken over by Japanese business men, burst into an executive meeting in his tattered clothes, and gave them a dramatic ultimatum to turn over the company in three days.
How would that be for a season finale?
Mac is just one of the colorful cast of characters at Universal Leaf. Everyone has different stories to tell about Pinkney Harrison, a ranking executive at the time, who was the type to go fishing with a client and accidentally catch the client on the end of his line. Or founder J. P. Taylor, who formed a company named Universal with international ambitions, yet hated to travel.
There’s also Sara Maynard Warwick, who accompanied her husband Pierre on exploratory business trips to South America at the expense of the company and who took the stand in legal proceedings when the issue came up with the IRS. When asked whether she enjoyed the trips, despite being told to say yes or no, she answered, “Well, yes and no,” which I’m sure the judge enjoyed.
The exotic settings, period fashion, high stakes business and war, and the outstanding cast of characters ought to make for excellent TV drama.
Periodically the Virginia Historical Society will post content created by guest writers. The opinions expressed are theirs alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Virginia Historical Society, its members, or its staff.
Today’s post is from Beth Harris from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.
Looking at old photos can bring back a lot of memories of the way things “used to be.” It can also be a great way to show younger generations how it was “back in the olden days.” As an archivist, one of the pleasures of my job is locating photographs for researchers. In addition, I am also in the process of scanning and cataloging them. Our collection, ranging from daguerreotypes and tin types through digital color images of today, enables our researchers to admire beautiful fashions from the past and see the faces of people that made Hollins University what it is today.
Part of the cataloging process involves assigning subject terms to each photograph. This is not as easy as it sounds. Should everything in the picture be given a subject term, even the smallest details, or should only the most prominent people and objects be given one? Then deciding the right term: Is it a “comforter” or a “quilt”? A phone or a telephone? Should the general term “jewelry” be used or should the specific term “pearls” be used, or both?
Identifying an object can sometimes prove puzzling. For example, one photograph showed a student holding a small metal device that was about the size of a Nintendo DS game. The photograph, however, was obviously from the 1980s so the game was definitely out of the question. After some speculation, we finally realized that it was a “Walkman.” (That’s a portable audio player, for those of you wondering what that is.) Wow…that really took me back. As a member of that generation, how could I have forgotten? I never owned one, but a large portion of the teenage and college student population did.
Though this experience, I am reminded of the role of archivist is to preserve and make accessible records of the past. Old photographs and yellowed letters may give us a “warm, fuzzy” experience, but they are also important for documenting the past for future generations. For this, I am thankful for past archivists and other individuals who thought these materials were important enough to save for our students and researchers for years to come.
The Hollins University archives, in Roanoke, Virginia, is open to the public. For more information, please contact Beth Harris, Special Collections Librarian and Archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at http://www.hollins.edu/library/speccol/main.shtml.
Posted on behalf of the 2014 Virginia Archives Month Committee
What is Archives Month?
It began as Archives Week which has been celebrated throughout the archival community since approximately 1988. A formal observance of Archives Week in Virginia, including the production of a poster by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) Virginia Caucus in conjunction with the Library of Virginia and the Library of Virginia Foundation, began in 2002.
In 2006, the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and the Council of State Archivists (CoSA) coordinated a nationwide observance of American Archives Month during October. Virginia archivists continue to celebrate and raise awareness about our archives by creating posters and planning events such as lectures, workshops, and fairs.
2014 Theme: Archives are for Virginians
This year, Archives Month in Virginia will celebrate all of the ways that archival and manuscript collections assist, educate, enrich, and enliven the lives of Virginians (and many others). Share an image or images from your collection that highlight that theme. What image or document best captures your institution? How about a document that was invaluable to a researcher or perhaps your most requested record. Maybe you can show off a wonderful but seldom seen item. However you choose to interpret it, show off how your archival institution is for Virginians!
Image specifications: 300 pixels per inch (ppi) at 100%.
Share your stories!
We would also like to collect stories from the users of archives about their experiences that we may share in October. What discoveries have you made? How did these collections help you or enrich your knowledge? Feel free to add these to the comments below or send them to Margaret Kidd, email@example.com.
Did you know that if you search for the term “4th of July” in the Virginia Heritage database that 59 matches are returned? The term “Independence Day” yields an additional 20 matches. You never know what you might find until you search our finding aids and more are added all the time.
Have a fun and safe 4th of July!