Tag Archives: Virginia Tech

D-Day remembrances from Virginia Heritage partners

Lieutenant James W. Monteith Jr. Image courtesy of Virginia Tech Special Collections.

Lieutenant James W. Monteith Jr. Image courtesy of Virginia Tech Special Collections.

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the the D-Day invasion. Like so many around the world, Virginians felt the effect of this momentous day, and records in the collections of our Virginia Heritage partner repositories bear witness to the contributions of the Commonwealth’s own.  We want to point you to three blog posts that give an idea of the types of records held in our institutions, and encourage you to explore the very personal remnants of an event with global impact.   

The Virginia Tech Special Collections blog marked this special anniversary with the moving story of James (“Jimmie”) W. Monteith Jr., a former VT student whose heroic actions and ultimate sacrifice are made more poignant by his letters home just prior to the event. Also included are pictures from a VT publication of other grads and students, with news of their deaths on and not long after D-Day.

The National D-Day Memorial is located in Bedford, Virginia, because that small town famously suffered a higher proportion of men lost at D-Day than any other American community. Today, the Library of Virginia’s Out of the Box has a story about how official state records give fascinating details on 15 of the 19 “Bedford Boys.” The article links to the actual war service records of these men, compiled after their deaths by the Virginia World War History II Commission. 

Douglas J. Raymond. Image courtesy of Mary Raymond and the Library of Virginia.
Douglas J. Raymond. Image courtesy of Mary Raymond and the Library of Virginia.

Another story focuses on Douglas J. Raymond, who was not yet a Virginian, or even an American when he participated in the events of 6 June 1944. He became both by the time he passed away on the 50th D-Day anniversary, 6 June 1994. Serving in the Royal Canadian Navy, he and his comrades helped protect the landing troops with anti-submarine action. Two years ago, Out of the Box featured Raymond’s dramatic story after his widow, Mary, donated the small but powerful diary he kept for approximately two weeks before, during, and after the invasion. 

The Virginia Heritage database contains, among others, finding aids for the Jimmie W. Monteith Jr. Collection (Virginia Tech Special Collections Number MS90-062), the Virginia World War II History Commission’s Personal War Service Record of Virginia’s War Dead (Library of Virginia Accession Number 24805), and the Douglas J. Raymond Diary (Library of Virginia Accession Number 50043). We are proud to be able to say that records in the collections of our Virginia Heritage partners put names, faces, and heartfelt words to this pivotal moment in history.  


America’s First Regional Cookbook (Thanks, Virginia!)

Today’s post is from Kira Dietz, Virginia Tech Special Collections.

In 1824, Mary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife: Or, the Methodical Cook was published. Considered one of the first American regional and first Virginia cookbooks, it includes an eclectic variety of recipes for the home, along with Mrs. Randolph’s observations on a number of topics. Virginia Tech Special Collections is home to a copy of a coveted 1824 first edition, but its condition prevents it from being scanned. So this week, we’re sharing the 1846 edition from our collection (we also have an 1855!), which was clearly used in someone’s kitchen–and there’s plenty of stains to prove it!

Mrs. Randolph’s book opens with some advice to her readers, or, more specifically, to the ladies of the household:

Management is an art that may be acquired by any woman of good sense and tolerable memory…The Virginia ladies, who are proverbially good managers, employ themselves, while their servants are eating, in washing the cups, glasses, &c.; arranging the cruets, the mustard, the salt-cellars, pickle vases, and all the apparatus for the dinner table. This occupies but a short time, and the lady has the satisfaction of knowing that they are in much better order than they would be if left to the servants.

Title page of the 1846 edition.

Title page of the 1846 edition.

 Regardless of who does the actual cooking, Mrs. Randolph continues to reinforce a woman’s responsibility for the household and kitchen. She should know what is going on at all times to make the best impression.

As for the recipes, Mrs. Randolph offers the total range: beef and other meats (including several uses for calf’s head), poultry, fish and other seafood, vegetables, breads, cakes, puddings, jams, creams, and (what cookbook with be complete without!) pickles. There is also a section with beers, wines, cordials, and vinegars. The book contains international recipes, particularly those with Spanish and East/West Indies influence, as well as recipes from other regions of the US. There are pastas, polentas, and New England style cakes alongside southern staples like croquettes and catfish. Among the puddings and preserves are instructions for coffee and fruit ice creams. (Mmm, coffee ice cream!)

So, whether it’s breakfast for the family or a multi-course dinner for guests, Mrs. Randolph can help. Her book is still reprinted today. Although it shares certain characteristics with other cookbooks of the period (particularly the lack of specific directions of cooking times and temps), none of her recipes are beyond the capabilities of the modern kitchen. As for taste, well, that’s another story. Whether you want to make mock turtle soup from a calf’s head is entirely up to you…

What’s Cookin’ @Special Collections?!” has been an active blog at Virginia Tech Special Collections since 2011 and is largely the work of archivist, amateur culinary history, and wannabe cocktail archivist, Kira Dietz. Each week, it features an item or items from the History of Food & Drink Collection and throughout the year, we share promotions for local food events, favorite images, favorite quotes, unsettling recipes, and food news. And we poke fun—because with the kind of gelatin recipes we have, who wouldn’t?



Mary Brown Channel Architectural Collection at Virginia Tech Special Collections

Architecture has often been, and in many ways still is, a male dominated profession.  Early female pioneers in architecture were deemed “that exceptional one” based on a quote from Pietro Belluschi, FAIA stating, “If [a woman] insisted on becoming an architect, I would try to dissuade her.  If then, she was still determined, I would give her my blessing – she could be that exceptional one.” Virginia’s exceptional one was Mary Brown Channel.

Born December 8, 1907 to William Ambrose Brown and Mary Ramsay Brown of Portsmouth, VA, Channel attended Randolph-Macon’s Woman’s College earning a bachelor of Mathematics in 1929. She wanted to follow her brother to the University of Virginia to study architecture, but women were not accepted into the University’s graduate programs at the time. She instead applied and was accepted to Cornell University’s School of Architecture.

Graduating second in her class in 1933, she was the first woman to win the Baird Prize Competition Medal. The Baird Prize was a six day design competition held by Cornell for architecture students in their junior and senior years. Channel was awarded the second prize medal for her design of a “monumental aeration fountain for the city reservoir.”

Channel returned to Portsmouth, VA after graduation and began her career with the Norfolk architecture firm Rudolph, Cooke and Van Leeuwen. She drew no salary for her two years but gained valuable experience working with the team that designed the main post office in Norfolk as well as several other civic and organizational buildings. In 1935, Channel was one of three candidates in a class of five to pass Virginia Examining Board’s licensing exam becoming Virginia’s first licensed female architect.

Following her licensure, she opened her own practice. In October, 1941 she married local businessman Warren Henry Channel. After the birth of her first child she limited her practice to residences and churches. Channel retained her license until 1990 and was actively drawing plans into her eighties.

She designed structures throughout southeastern Virginia. Some of her projects include the Lafayette Square Arch housing the main entrance of the demolished American National Bank, the old Virginia Power Company Building on High Street, Channel Furniture Store in Greenbrier, numerous houses, church additions, and renovations.

She was recognized in October, 1987, at an occasion honoring Portsmouth’s local and statewide notables. Channel died in 2006.

You can view the full collection guide for the Mary Brown Channel Architectural Collection on Virginia Heritage.

From the Mary Brown Channel Architectural Collection.

From the Mary Brown Channel Architectural Collection.