The Library of Virginia

Legacies of the New Deal in Virginia
April 14, 2003 -
December 6, 2003


Recording Our History: Writers and Artists

  • Federal Writers' Project

  • Virginia Writers' Project-Virginia Guide

  • Life Histories

  • Ex-Slave Narratives

  • Virginia Historical Inventory

Art for the People

  • Capturing Virginians on Film

For Teachers


Virginia Writers' Project-Virginia Guide

A team of researchers, writers, and fact checkers spent three years digging in the collections of the Virginia State Library (now the Library of Virginia) and traveling to courthouses across the commonwealth gathering material for Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion. VWP director Eudora Ramsay Richardson shepherded the book through production, sending chapters to a review board that included State Librarian Wilmer Lee Hall, William and Mary College Librarian Earl Gregg Swem, and former State Archivist Hamilton J. Eckenrode.

spinach field near Smithfield from

Spinach field near Smithfield from
Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion,
photograph by W. Lincoln Highton

Waiting for Trade, Urbanna

"Waiting for Trade, Urbanna" from
Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion,
photograph by W. Lincoln Highton

"Compressing the story of Virginia within the covers of one volume was a painful task," Richardson confessed in the book's preface, "particularly for the state supervisor, whose duty it became to delete more words than she allowed to remain." What remained were nearly 700 pages of text, including fifteen interpretive essays, fifteen chapters on the commonwealth's largest cities, twenty-four detailed tours of the state's major regions and points of interest, and more than one hundred photographs and maps. "It is sufficient to say," one WPA worker observed, that the hefty volume included "everything from George Washington's birthplace to the nearest first aid station for snake bite."