January 2012


In anticipation of African American History Month in February, we are featuring a lesson plan from our Online Classroom about one of the 2007 African American Trailblazers. Arthur Ashe was a well-known Virginian who broke the color barrier playing tennis and dedicated his life to humanitarian efforts. This lesson plan uses a photograph of Ashe and a political cartoon to encourage students to think about Ashe's life and why he is worthy of honor and emulation.

Virginia Standards of Learning: CE.1, USII.9, VS.1, VS.9

Preactivity Bell Ringer:
Look at the photograph with students before studying the life of Arthur Ashe. This photograph, published on February 16, 1970, shows Ashe accepting a trophy from Virginia governor A. Linwood Holton Jr. after winning the Fidelity Bankers Invitational tennis tournament.

Ask the class what they can infer from the image.


  1. Have students read a brief biography of Arthur Ashe from the African American Trailblazers program on the Library of Virginia Web site.
  2. Give students copies of the Joe Cannaday cartoon about Arthur Ashe (You can also project a copy of it). Ask students to write down what they know about Arthur Ashe and then share their answers with the class.
  3. After reviewing student responses, show students the five-minute video "African American Trailblazers: Arthur Ashe Jr.," available from the Library of Virginia. In small groups, have students discuss the accomplishments of Arthur Ashe and answer the following questions:
  4. Have students take turns reading aloud the article "Tennis Legend Arthur Ashe's Statue Unveiled In His Hometown," from the July 29, 1996, issue of Jet magazine (available at Google books). Discussion questions:
  5. Go back to the introductory question: What are the characteristics of a person worthy of being a member of the Human Being Hall of Fame? Have students write down characteristics and then share them with their group and the class.
  6. Ask students whether they feel that Arthur Ashe is worthy of being in the Human Being Hall of Fame. Have students give examples of why he is or is not worthy.

See the full Arthur Ashe lesson plan and download the resources at the Online Classroom.

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Student Essay Contest: Race & Stereotypes

Sponsored by the Library of Virginia, the Science Museum of Virginia, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch


The Science Museum of Virginia will explore the idea of race from scientific, historical, and cultural perspectives in the upcoming exhibition RACE: Are We So Different? Even small children notice that people look different.  These differences have offered us strength, community and identity.  However, these same differences have also been the historical basis for discrimination and oppression. 

The annual African American Trailblazers program at the Library of Virginia honors powerful examples of individuals who refused to be defined by their circumstances. A 2012 honoree is Michael Blakey, a biological anthropologist and professor at the College of William & Mary. Dr. Blakey is also the lead scientist and director of the African Burial Ground in downtown New York City. His work provided valuable information about African Americans in New York during the colonial period.

Discrimination based on racial differences and stereotypes has happened in American society at many times during our history. What historical stereotypes do you think affect society today? What actions can you take to overcome stereotypes and discrimination?

Elementary (Grades 4-5)
Middle School (Grades 6-8)
High School (Grades 9-12)

Awards in Each Division

  1. $500 cash
  2. Essay published in the Times-Dispatch, on TimesDispatch.com, and on the Library of Virginia Trailblazers portal
  3. Science Museum field trip for class of winning student


  1. $100 cash
  2. Essay published on TimesDispatch.com and Library of Virginia Trailblazers portal
  3. Science Museum field trip for class of winning student


  1. $50 cash
  2. Essay published on TimesDispatch.com and Library of Virginia Trailblazers portal
  3. Science Museum field trip for class of winning student

How to Submit

  1. All entries must be received NO LATER THAN FEB. 15, 2012, at 5:00 PM.
  2. E-mail entries must be received NO LATER THAN FEB. 15, 2012, at 5:00 PM.
  3. Mailed entries must be received NO LATER THAN FEB. 15, 2012, at 5:00 PM.
  4. Entries will not be accepted via fax.

Mail or e-mail entries to:

Essay Contest
Richmond Times-Dispatch Marketing Dept.
PO Box 85333
Richmond, VA 23292

Essay Format and Contest Rules

  1. No purchase necessary to enter or win. Open to students in grades 4-12 who are residents of the state of Virginia.
  2. All entries must be original works that have not been published or submitted for publication anywhere else.
  3. Entries must be received NO LATER THAN FEB. 15, 2012, at 5:00 PM.
  4. No entry may be longer than 500 words.
  5. Entries by contestants in the elementary category (grades 4-5) may be handwritten.
  6. Entries by contestants in the middle- and high-school categories must be typed.
  7. The title of the work, and the name of the writer, should be centered at the top of the first page of the entry.
  8. At the end of each essay, please include the student's name, school, and grade; name of teacher or parent; phone number of teacher or parent; and e-mail address of teacher or parent.
  9. All pages must be numbered.
  10. Entries will not be returned.
  11. The Library of Virginia, the Science Museum of Virginia, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch reserve the right to use the winners' (1st, 2nd, and 3rd places) names and entries for promotional purposes in all forms of media without notice, review, approval, or compensation, except where prohibited by law. This includes the posting of submissions for public viewing and voting on the Internet and the publication of winning essays in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
  12. Submissions will be evaluated for originality and adherence to the contest theme. Grammatical conventions must be observed.
  13. Judging decisions are final.
  14. Winners will be notified the week of Feb. 27, 2012.
  15. Winners will be invited to an event on Saturday, April 28, 2012, at the Science Museum of Virginia to be recognized. 
  16. First-place essays from each division will be published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch as well as posted on TimesDispatch.com and the Library of Virginia's Trailblazers portal on or about February 29, 2012.

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John B. Cary Elementary School Students

John B. Cary Elementary School Students Nominated a 2012 African American Trailblazer

At the end of the 2010-2011 school year, Alyssa Murray and Kerri Black, fourth grade teachers at John B. Cary Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia, created a special committee of their students to nominate an honoree for the Library of Virginia African American Trailblazers program. Knowing that the men and women honored as Trailblazers are individuals who refuse to be defined by their circumstances, the class chose to nominate Irene Morgan. They researched her contributions using primary resources and learned that in 1944 Morgan was arrested for refusing to follow segregated seating laws on a bus. Two years later her challenge to the Virginia law requiring segregated seating on interstate buses, Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia, resulted in a landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Alyssa Murray expressed the excitement her students felt when they discovered "that a woman right here in Virginia had made such an important contribution to our country through her act of courage." She described how her students made connections between Morgan and Rosa Parks. Murray and Black's students "hoped their nomination would be accepted for the African American Trailblazers Program so that other children could learn about this extraordinary woman." The students composed a play, created posters, and interpreted Morgan's actions by writing letters.

The Library of Virginia spent an afternoon with the fourth and fifth graders of John B. Cary Elementary doing primary-source activities and talking about the Library's "archival enemies." As an award for the nomination of Irene Morgan as a 2012 African American Trailblazer, the teachers and students at the school were given a check for $250 toward school supplies and a three-volume set of the Dictionary of Virginia Biography for their school library.

For more information about booking programs for your students, please contact us at education@lva.virginia.gov.

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From the Conservation Lab

Did you know that the Library of Virginia has a YouTube channel? We have more than fifty videos available, including book talks, historical clips from the archives, and African American Trailblazers documentaries, as well as a playlist of videos from the Conservation Lab showing how the Library conserves important documents. The scientific processes documented in these videos may be just the thing for you to begin a cross-curriculum lesson.

We just added a new video, "Executive Papers of Governor Thomas Jefferson: Conservation at the Library of Virginia," which shows the conservation process for the papers that Thomas Jefferson created as second governor of Virginia, 1779-1781. Watch Leslie Courtois, senior conservator with Etherington Conservation Services, HF Group, as she works to restore these valuable records in the Library of Virginia's Conservation Lab. Courtois delaminates, deacidifies, and repairs these historically significant documents and explains her work in detail as you follow her through the conservation process. Financial support for this project was provided by the Save America's Treasures program (administered by the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the National Endowment for the Humanities) and the Roller-Bottimore Foundation. 

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American Letterpress: The Art of Hatch Show Print

Upcoming Events

American Letterpress: The Art of Hatch Show Print
is on display at the Library of Virginia untilFebruary 4.
For more information, check the exhibition Web page.

2012 African American Trailblazers: Program and Reception
Thursday, February 23
Time: 6:00 PM-8:00 PM
Free but reservations required. Seating is limited. Call 804.692.3535 by
February 17 to RSVP. Eight honorees-from the past and present-who have had a
significant impact on the history of Virginia will be honored at this
celebration. A reception follows the program. Sponsored by Dominion.

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Coming Soon!

Lost and Found Exhibition
February 27
Lost and Found examines the constantly changing fabric of our world. Explore the spectacular destruction of archives by chance and nature, the intentional destruction of personal papers, the careful preservation of family treasures, and the assemblage of materials in a bank safe deposit box.

2012 Virginia Women in History: Program and Reception
Thursday, March 29
Time: 6:00 PM-8:00 PM

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February 10, 1913

Permission to Speak Was Granted to Pauline Adams

Advocates of votes for women, such as Pauline Forstall Colclough Adams (1874-1957), of Norfolk, spoke, lobbied, marched in parades, and argued that women should be allowed to vote. This certificate issued in Norfolk permitted Adams to speak "on streets, on Monument Square" in that city. You can use this primary source in your classroom to introduce the suffrage movement in Virginia or to begin a discussion about public protest. For a full lesson plan about Pauline Adams and other Virginia Suffragists, see "Socratic Circle: Virginia's Woman Suffrage Movement" from Shaping the Constitution.

Virginia Standards of Learning: USI.8 (d), USII.4 (e), VUS.6 (e), VUS.8 (d)

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