Virginia Heritage News

Welcome to 2018! Here are few updates about Virginia Heritage.

  • Virginia Heritage currently hosts 13,013 finding aids, 14 of which were added just this month.
  • In 2017 the site had more than 167,000 unique hits.
  • Institutions that contribute to Virginia Heritage were asked to provide a profile which includes contact information and a brief description of the institution and their primary collecting areas. Check out this map to learn more.
    Screenshot of institutional profile map.

    Screenshot of institutional profile map.

  • The ArchivesSpace Working Group completed its final report in the fall of 2017. You can read the full report here.

VMFA Launches Digital Fabergé Archive

The Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is happy to announce the launch of its first digital archive, which documents the formation of the museum’s world-renowned Fabergé and Russian decorative arts collection at In addition, the VMFA Archives has submitted the finding aid for the collection to the Virginia Heritage database, its first submission.



Bequeathed to the museum upon her death in 1947, Lillian Thomas Pratt’s Fabergé collection consistently remains one of the highlights of the museum’s permanent collection. In 1917, Pratt married her second husband, John Lee Pratt, a self-made millionaire engineer and businessman with General Motors. She began purchasing her collection of over 500 items, while accompanying her husband on business trips to New York City in the 1930s and 1940s. She eventually bought five of the 52 Russian Imperial Easter Eggs created by the Fabergé firm. Comprised of correspondence, invoices, price tags, and detailed item descriptions, the archive illuminates Pratt’s mind as a collector, as well as the close relationship she formed with New York based art dealers Alexander and Ray Schaffer, owners of the prominent art and antiques gallery A La Vieille Russie.

In all, over 700 items have been digitized, resulting in 1,500 downloadable image files, all of which are available to the public via a new online portal dedicated to digital resources about Fabergé and Russian decorative arts. The website provides access to the digitized Pratt archive, newly filmed videos of the Imperial Easter Eggs opening, new 360° views of the Imperial Easter Eggs,and downloadable resources for educators. The website also links to the new free Fabergé at VMFA mobile application that allows users to explore the collection through five different historical perspectives and design and share a Fabergé mini egg.


Powered by Piction, the museum’s digital asset management system, the launch of the portal coincides with the highly anticipated return of the Fabergé collection, which will be displayed in a new suite of renovated galleries opening to the public on October 22.

This project was made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence.

ArchivesSpace and EAD3 Working Group Members Needed

A Call from the Technology Team Chair:

You may have seen some messages from the Technology Team earlier this summer about the working groups we are in the process of forming. After a slight delay, we are excited to share the official charges for the ArchivesSpace and EAD3 Working Groups!

The ArchivesSpace Working Group (WG) will be collecting data about ArchivesSpace use by the Virginia Heritage membership, suggesting some practical next steps for potential adopters, as well as for the Virginia Heritage Technology, Outreach, and Training teams, and coordinating with the EAD3 WG to identify potential barriers to implementation until ArchivesSpace is in compliance. You can read the detailed charge for the ArchivesSpace Working Group online. Please note: Your institution does NOT need to be using ArchivesSpace to serve on this working group. It may help to have some familiarity with it (there’s a sandbox here:, but this is also a good learning opportunity if you’d like to know more!

The EAD3 WG will be drafting an implementation plan to move Virginia Heritage from EAD 2002 to EAD3 that includes dealing with legacy/existing files, suggesting some training ideas once EAD3 is implemented, and coordinating with the ArchivesSpace WG to identify potential barriers to implementation until ArchivesSpace and other archival management currently in use by VH member institutions is in compliance. You can read the detailed charge for the EAD3 Working Group online. Please note: You do NOT need to be an EAD expert to serve on this working group—if you’re looking for an opportunity to learn about EAD 2002 and EAD3, this is a great chance to do so!

Since we know this blog does not reach everyone, we encourage you share the post with your colleagues in the LAM community in Virginia that you know may have overlapping interests. We would like to have working groups that represent diverse institutions, uses of software and standards, and wide range of back-end and end users.

 At this time, we are especially interested in volunteers for the EAD3 Working Group, which currently only has two members. However, if you missed our previous calls for the ArchivesSpace WG and are especially interested in serving, please let us know, as we may be able to add 1-2 more members. There are sign-up sheets for the ArchivesSpace and EAD3 working groups available online. We are looking to fill out both working groups by the end of August, if not sooner, so they can begin their efforts! You may also contact Kira Dietz (, the Technology Team chair, to volunteer, ask questions, or get more information.

Many thanks to the volunteers so far and for the future ones!

Call for Archives Month Images

The 2016 Virginia Archives Month Committee is currently accepting images for this year’s poster and for other uses. See the call for images below:

Art in the Archives

This year, Archives Month in Virginia will celebrate the paintings, sculptures, sketches, photographs, models, prints, and doodles contained in the commonwealth’s vast and unique archival collections. This year we hope to engage those outside of our typical user groups not only by highlighting a lesser-known aspect of archives, but also by encouraging the public to participate by creating something new.

2015 Virginia Archives Month poster

2015 Virginia Archives Month poster

The images posted to the Virginia Archives Month Flicker page will be freely available to the public to use in some new, artistic way such as a GIF, collage, coloring page, or whatever they dream up. We’ll just ask that they upload their new creation to social media with the #artinthearchives, #artoberVA and #archivesmonth hashtags and tag the source institution.

The image submission process will work only a bit differently this year. We want users to have lots of options to be creative, so submit as many institutional images as you’d like, but specify which one you’d like to use on the poster (if you have a preference). As usual, there will be just one image per institution used on the poster.

If institutional policy or preference prevents you from making your image available for use on Flickr, you can email a single image for the poster and specify that it is not to be used on Flickr. Those files will sent directly to the poster designer.

Submit all images to Vince Brooks ( by Friday, 8 July 2016. Again, be sure to specify if you do not want images added to the Flickr page.

Image specifications: 300 pixels per inch (ppi) at 100%.


Your 2016 Virginia Archives Month Committee:

Kate Morris, VA Caucus Rep
Sherri Bagley
Vince Brooks
Carl Childs
Sonya Coleman
Ann-Marie Gannon
Cara Griggs
Zachary Hottel
Jessica Johnson
Margaret Kidd
Marianne Martin
Jennifer McDaid
Laura Stoner

Shakespeare and the Spirit of Community

Today’s post comes from Hollins University.

The Queen and Shakespeare

The Queen and Shakespeare

A century has passed since Hollins College (Roanoke, Va.) celebrated the tercentennial of Shakespeare’s death. On May 13, 1916, “An Unrecorded Progress of Queen Elizabeth” wound its way through the grounds of Hollins, complete with Elizabethan villagers, dancers, and characters from Shakespeare’s plays. Included in the pageant was Queen Elizabeth and the old bard himself.

The pageant was a grand affair, with 800 in the cast and 2000 or more spectators, according to The Roanoke Times. The newspaper’s reporter noted the complicated logistics of hosting such a large event: “Persons from Roanoke were transported to Hollins in a special train. From the station to the college, jitneys, omnibuses and automobiles were put into use. Two hundred automobiles were counted on the campus, after the pageant was in progress.”

Miss Matty as Queen crop

President Martha L. Cocke “Miss Mattie” as Queen Elizabeth.

With Hollins College being a small institution of 260 students, faculty, and administrators, community organizations were invited to be part of the production. Children from the Salem Orphanage, students from both Roanoke High School and Elizabeth College, two Roanoke Shakespeare clubs, and the Y.W.C.A. were among the community participants. So many individuals were involved that it took no less than eight committees to organize the event. These committees handled everything from costumes and publicity to dancing and music. There was even a committee to coordinate all the community organizations involved with the pageant.

“One of the most interesting features of community participation was the fact that the Rotary Club of Roanoke came over en masse and in costume at its own expense, and contributing, besides an abundance of courtiers, explorers, and other desirable masculine celebrities, a large share of delightful Elizabethan music.”

Morris dancers

Morris dancers

Comfit sellers

Comfit sellers

The press coverage was wide spread. One article, written by O. L Hatcher, a Richmond authority on Elizabethan customs and pageantry, gave high praise for the event, calling it a “superb success” and an “artistic achievement.” The opening scene was set in Stratford Road, where Queen Elizabeth travels to Shakespeare’s birthplace. Along the way were many villagers, awaiting her coming: Morris dancers, foresters, milkmaids, tradesmen, village children, Clerk of Trinity, cake and comfit sellers as well as the historical figures of Jonson, Marlowe, Raleigh, Spencer, Beaumont, and Fletcher. “She came with her Court, winding down a hill at a distance, and finally turning into the Stratford Road, where a seat for her had been prepared, and the revels began. At the end, Shakespeare was called to the throne and honored before all….” Dancing, singing, and the presentation of scenes from As you Like it, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, and Twelfth Night were part of the revelry.



O.R. Hatcher called the pageant a “wonderful success.” “It not only brought together from all the neighboring country, and further away, a crowd estimated as the largest ever assembled there, but it embodied in itself the perfection of the community spirit.”

UMW Special Collections and University Archives Receives Community Grant

University of Mary Washington Libraries, in partnership with the Center for Historic Preservation and UMW Facilities Services, has been awarded a $6,250 grant by the community Duff McDuff Green Jr. Fund.

Monroe Hall Blueprint, June, 1910

Monroe Hall Blueprint, June, 1910






This grant will assist with the preservation and digitization of the University’s architectural blueprints and drawings — particularly those related to noted Virginia architect Charles M. Robinson, whose architectural designs grace campuses and other buildings throughout the commonwealth of Virginia.

UMW has one of the largest collections of historical blueprints and drawings of Robinson’s works. The 150th anniversary of the architect’s birth is approaching in 2017, and scholars are interested in accessing and studying his drawings. Among Robinson’s notable architectural works at UMW are Monroe Hall (1910-11), Frances Willard Hall (1909-11), Virginia Hall (1914-15, 1926), Seacobeck Hall (1930-31) and the bridge to Seacobeck Hall (1930).

This project provides the opportunity to preserve these historical architectural resources and make them available online to researchers while raising awareness of Charles M. Robinson and his impact on Fredericksburg’s architectural landscape. The grant also will give students an opportunity to work directly with historical documents, learning how to correctly digitize large-scale historical records. The project is made possible by a grant from the Duff McDuff Green, Jr. Fund of The Community Foundation.

High on Marye’s Hilltop

Today’s post is from Suzanne Chase, Digital Resources Librarian at the University of Mary Washington.

Earlier this year, librarians at the University of Mary Washington were delighted when the Alumni Affairs office contacted Special Collections and University Archives to see if we would be able to digitize an old record that had been mailed to them. They weren’t quite sure what was on the record, but it had the name of Irene Taylor and a date in 1947 written on one side of it.

Image of audio transcription disk.

Image of audio transcription disc.

After doing a little digging in the University Archives, we determined that Irene Taylor was a well-known alumna from the class of 1947.  A music major, Taylor, along with her friend Jean Crotty, entered an annual song competition between Mary Washington’s dormitories during their senior year.  Taylor and Crotty’s song, “High on Marye’s Hilltop,” was so well-liked that it sparked a movement by students who wanted to make the song the official alma mater of the college.  Ronald Faulkner, the school’s band director, drafted a sheet music copy of the song that was sent to all alumnae chapters.  The chapters overwhelmingly approved of the song, and “High on Marye’s Hilltop” became the school’s official alma mater in 1952.

Irene Taylor

Irene Taylor

Once we knew the background of this mysterious record, we had to figure out how to digitize it.  After further research, we determined that the record was not an LP, but a transcription disc.  This type of media was commonly used during the mid-20th century for recording music, before being replaced by magnetic tape, cassette tape, and eventually optical disc technology. Transcription discs must be digitized with elliptical cartridges, which are made by only a few remaining companies.  After the correct cartridge was procured, the real work could begin.

This disc was in relatively good shape, so after a thorough cleaning, it was ready to be digitized.  Following the initial digitization process, static and other artifacts were removed to make the listening experience more pleasant.  The resulting digital file is a wonderful time machine back to the spring of 1947, when Irene Taylor sat down at the piano and recorded the music to “High on Marye’s Hilltop,” the song that would become the soundtrack to student life at Mary Washington.  Please visit Archives@UMW to take a listen!

All images are from Special Collections and University Archives, Simpson Library, University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

A Birthday Celebration

Today’s post is from Beth Harris, Special Collections Librarian and Archivist at Hollins University.

October 9th marks the birthday for an important Hollins University persona: Martha Louisa Cocke, known by all as “Miss Matty,” (1855-1938).   Miss Matty is also recognized as the first woman college president in the state of Virginia.   As the daughter of Hollins founder Charles Lewis Cocke, she was intimately acquainted with every aspect of Hollins: she was born on campus, received her education at Hollins, and served in many roles throughout her lifetime. She passed out candles to students as a child, and served as faculty (mathematics and English), librarian, and registrar as an adult.  She also became her father’s secretary in his advanced years, corresponding with parents, alumnae, and others.  Although her brother Charles H. Cocke was being groomed to succeed his father, his untimely demise in 1900 caused Charles Lewis Cocke to leave the decision of the next successor to his children.  After her father’s death in 1901, the family selected Matty as the new president, recognizing she was perfect candidate for the job.

Matty with her mother, ca. 1895

Matty as president, undated.

Matty as president, undated.









From Songs Every Hollins Girl Should Know, undated.

From Songs Every Hollins Girl Should Know, undated.

As a proper southern woman, she was reluctant to take on such a leadership role, yet for the sake of her father’s dream of making a Hollins education equal to that afforded to young men, she agreed to the position.  Serving from 1901-1933 as president, Matty oversaw numerous changes and allowed students freedom to shape Hollins Institute as well as their own college experiences. Student initiatives included establishing a student government, a newspaper, and fund raising for buildings (The Little Theatre and Tayloe Gymnasium) and the endowment, necessary for accreditation.  She maintained a serious, scholarly atmosphere, upholding the high academic ideals her father endeavored to create at Hollins.  She was an imposing figure on campus, always wearing full-length black dresses, even when the current styles were shorter, according to Fonnie Strang, Class of 1928.  She also was guardian of lady-like behavior, and would often point out in chapel services breaches of etiquette she had witnessed among the girls.  Strang remembered Miss Matty saying “I have noticed girls holding hands. Hollins girls don’t do that.  I have also noticed girls talking to boys from their [dormitory] windows.  Hollins girls don’t do that.


Student song sheet.

Miss Matty is remembered as being conservative and strict, but also serene and motherly, with a passion to carry on her father’s dream.  Despite her strictness, she was beloved by the students and fondly remembered by hundreds of alumnae.  Beginning in 1930, she was sung to on her birthday each year (a tradition which continues today).  Hymns, songs, and poems were written in tribute to her, and the preparatory students literary society was named after her (The Matty L. Cocke Literary Society).  Numerous letters congratulating her on her 25th anniversary as president, as well as those of condolence upon the death of her mother, exist in the university archives, testifying to the alumnae affection for her.

Letter congratulating Miss Matty on her 25th anniversary as president.

Upon her retirement, she lived in a house on campus, built especially for her.  Upon Miss Matty’s death in 1938, the entire Hollins community mourned her passing.  Local and state newspapers were filled with articles about her, giving testimony to her many contributions to Hollins.  Miss Matty’s obituary even appeared in The New York Times.  Susanna Pleasants Turner, Class of 1935 and great niece of Miss Matty, gave a fitting tribute in the Hollins Alumnae Quarterly (Fall 1938): “So closely was she identified with the school that as the years went by she was to become for Hollins girls all over the country, the living symbol of their Alma Mater and the personal actuality of their ideas for educated womanhood.”

Happy Birthday, Miss Matty!

To learn more about Miss Matty, Hollins history, and Special Collections at the Wyndham Robertson Library, please visit “Special Collections” in the Hollins Digital Commons.

Additional images: All images are from the Martha L. Cocke Papers, University Archives, Wyndham Robertson Library, Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia

Letter of condolence from Mrs. John C. Burnett.

Letter of condolence from Mrs. John C. Burnett.


Virginia Archives Month – call for images

Each year, the Virginia Archives Month committee asks archival institutions around the state to contribute images for a poster to celebrate Archives Month in October. Below is the call for images.

2014 Virginia Archives Month poster

2014 Virginia Archives Month poster

Archival Treasures — Find Your Hidden Gem

Who can resist the idea of a treasure hunt? The anticipation of finding something rare and valuable can make a person giddy with excitement. As archivists, when we take our first peek at a new collection we become just as excited as a treasure hunter at the prospect of what we might discover. This year for Virginia Archives Month let’s share some of the exciting and unusual items from our collections. Every archives has a document or image that is unique, rare, or captures the imagination. It doesn’t have to be the thing or things for which your institution is best known. You may choose something that you find unique and interesting which is not often highlighted.

With this theme we want to capture a bit of the thrill and wonder that comes from finding something you never expected, or perhaps from finding exactly what you wanted! Hopefully we can inspire our patrons to come find their own gem waiting in the archives.

Submit images to:
Deadline: 5:00 pm, July 31
Image specifications: 300 pixel per inch (ppi) at 100%

All submissions will be added to the Virginia Archives Month Flickr account unless you ask us not to share it. You may submit more than one image. If multiple images from one institution are submitted, the committee will select which one will appear on the poster.

If you have any questions please contact Margaret Kidd (

Your 2015 Virginia Archives Month Committee,

Margaret Kidd, Virginia Caucus Representative
Sherri Bagley
Elizabeth E. Beckman
Vince Brooks
Dan Cavanaugh
Carl Childs
Suzanne Gould
Cara Griggs
Jessica E.Johnson
Marianne Martin
Jennifer McDaid
Paige Newman
Laura Stoner
Robert Vejnar

New Online Resource: Court of Appeals of Virginia Judges, 1985-present

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Court of Appeals of Virginia, and in celebration of that milestone, we are very pleased to announce the availability of a new resource on the Virginia Judiciary web site, Court of Appeal of Virginia Judges, 1985-present.  This online biographical directory can be accessed on the Internet ( or within three different sections of the judicial branch web site at:

The online biographical directory features biographical information about each of the judges who have served on the Court of Appeals of Virginia since it began operation on January 1, 1985. The site also features portraits of judges who began their service before April 2006, audio recordings and transcripts of oral history interviews of eight judges who have served on the court, and a group interview of  five judges who sat on the inaugural Court of Appeals of Virginia in 1985 . (Photographs of more recent judges are forthcoming!)  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 this court. 

Court of Appeals of Virginia, 1985. Front row, left to right: Hon. James W. Benton, Jr., Hon. Barbara Milano Keenan, Hon. Sam W. Coleman, III, and Chief Judge E. Ballard Baker (seated in chair). Back row, left to right: Hon. Charles H. Duff, Hon. Joseph E. Baker, Hon. William H. Hodges, Hon. Bernard G. Barrow, Hon. Norman K. Moon and Hon. Lawrence L. Koontz, Jr. Photograph courtesy John Koehler and Senior (Ret.) Justice Lawrence L. Koontz, Jr.

Court of Appeals of Virginia, 1985. Front row, left to right: Hon. James W. Benton, Jr., Hon. Barbara Milano Keenan, Hon. Sam W. Coleman, III, and Chief Judge E. Ballard Baker (seated in chair). Back row, left to right: Hon. Charles H. Duff, Hon. Joseph E. Baker, Hon. William H. Hodges, Hon. Bernard G. Barrow, Hon. Norman K. Moon and Hon. Lawrence L. Koontz, Jr. Photograph courtesy John Koehler and Senior (Ret.) Justice Lawrence L. Koontz, Jr.