The Library of Virginia Newsletter
February 2010

Theroux to Discuss The Journal Keeper: A Memoir

On March 2 at 6 PM join news journalist and author Roger Mudd as he introduces fellow author Phyllis Theroux for a discussion of Theroux’s new book, The Journal Keeper. A born storyteller, Theroux slips her arm companionably into yours, as if taking you for a short stroll. But her stride is long, her eye sharp, and she swings easily between themes that occupy people midway through life: love, loneliness, children, friendship, growing old, and late-life romance.

Drawn from six years of journals, Theroux’s memoir is a rich feast from the writing life that speaks to us all. But the author surprised herself when she sat down to edit her own words for publication. “As one year followed another, it became apparent to me that a hand much larger than my own was guiding my life and pen across the page. I am not referring here to automatic writing . . .”

Theroux makes a compelling case for this guidance operating in everyone’s life. But journal keepers hold the proof in their hands. Be prepared, by the end of her talk, to become one.

Theroux is the critically acclaimed author of California and Other States of Grace, a memoir; two collections of essays, Peripheral Visions and Nightlights: Bedtime Stories for Parents in the Dark; an anthology, The Book of Eulogies; and a children's book, Serefina Under the Circumstances. In 2002, a novella, Giovanni's Light, was published at Christmastime.

A contributing essayist on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer from 1992 to 1996, Theroux has had columns, op-ed pieces, reviews, and feature stories published in various newspapers including the New York Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and International Herald Tribune. In the l980s, she was a monthly columnist for Parents Magazine. In the l990s she wrote a monthly column for House Beautiful. Her essays continue to be anthologized in numerous collections.

Theroux is a founder of Nightwriters, which conducts writing and creativity seminars in the United States and abroad. She occasionally conducts one-on-one editorial seminars with individual writers who come to spend time working in her writer's cottage in Ashland, Virginia.

This free talk and book signing is cosponsored by the Library of Virginia and Skirt Magazine – Richmond, and is offered in conjunction with the Minds Wide Open: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts program. A reception will follow this event.

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2010 African American Trailblazers in Virginia History Are Online

The eight individuals honored as 2010 African American Trailblazers in Virginia are now featured on the Library of Virginia’s Web site with a biography and primary sources on the lives and accomplishments of each Trailblazer. Also included this year is an African American Trailblazers in Virginia History Bulletin Board Kit. Just download, print, and post to share the 2010 honorees with others.

If you would like to attend the Trailblazers program, sponsored by Capitol One and reception on Thursday, February 25, 2010, at 6:00 PM at the Library of Virginia, please contact Elyse Gefell at 804-692-3900 or

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The Craft of Writing: A Workshop with Steve Berry offered March 11 to raise funds for collections conservation

Stories with history, secrets, conspiracies, action, adventure, and international settings are the kinds of books Steve Berry likes to read, so when it came to writing novels, he gravitated toward writing what he loves as reader.

After almost 20 years in the business, Berry has become one of the masters of the thriller genre and a regular at the top of the best-seller list. He is the author of The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. He has ten million books in print, which have been translated into 37 languages and sold in 50 countries.

As he and his wife traveled the world researching and promoting his books, they were struck by a prevailing theme: many of the readers they met and talked with were concerned with the dwindling supply of funds available to preserve their cultural heritage.

Steve and Elizabeth Berry’s response was to launch History Matters—a foundation dedicated to assisting communities around the world with fund-raising for restoration and preservation.

As an initiative of History Matters, Berry will be at the Library of Virginia on March 11 to host a workshop entitled "The Craft of Writing," a five-hour interactive learning session for writers. The event is sponsored by the Library of Virginia Foundation, with all proceeds going directly to the Foundation for conservation and preservation of the Library’s collections.

In the workshop, Berry will teach the craft of writing, focusing on story organization, point of view, and effective dialogue, followed by a question-and-answer session.

Whether you’re an aspiring novelist or a published author, you’re certain to gain new knowledge from Berry’s years of experience as a novelist. And you will be helping to restore the treasures of Virginia at the same time.

If you would like to hear Berry speak on the craft of writing but choose not to attend the workshop, we invite you to attend the lunch only. For more on the workshop and lunch or to reserve a spot, please call 804-692-3900 by March 2. More information and a printable registration form are available here.

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Library of Virginia to Offer "Black Belt Librarians" Workshop

The Library of Virginia’s Library Development and Networking Division will offer a library security workshop entitled "Black Belt Librarians" in March at three locations around the state. Presenter Warren Graham, nationally renowned as an expert on day-to-day library security procedures, has been a security professional for 25 years and spent the last 17 years as the security and safety manager for the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, developing and overseeing their program. Some of the areas he will address are:

  • Essential elements of a truly effective security program;
  • How to inform patrons of rules in a way that will most ensure compliance;
  • How to recognize levels of emotion in patrons and strategies on how best to respond;
  • Ten maxims of security, no matter the size of your library; and
  • Easy ways to document your security and safety matters.

Workshops will be offered at Radford Public Library on March 2, Hampton Public Library on March 3, and Henrico County Public Library on March 4. The workshop will run from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Interested library and library security personnel should contact Cindy S. Church at 804-692-3773 or e-mail: for additional information. The cost of the workshop is $30 including lunch. Advance registration is required.

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Emblidge Joins Library Board

Dr. Mark E. Emblidge of Richmond, an affiliate professor and director of the Literacy Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University, was appointed to the Library Board in December 2009 by outgoing Governor Timothy M. Kaine. Emblidge fills the seat previously held by Henry Wiencek.

Emblidge has an impressive résumé in the education and literacy arena. He was appointed to the State Board of Education in January 2002 by Governor Mark R. Warner and reappointed in January 2006 by Governor Kaine. He served as board president from 2006 to 2010. Prior to his appointment to the State Board of Education, he served four terms on the Richmond School Board, including three terms as chairman.

He received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Gordon College and his master’s and doctorate in education from the University of Virginia.

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Tangier Sound "Lay... as Thick as Stones": The Baylor Survey and Virginia's Oyster Industry

Oysters have been a significant part of Virginia’s culture and industry for more than four centuries. Maintaining and cultivating the oyster population has been a struggle for more than a quarter of that time. From early accounts in Virginia, the oyster population has declined significantly in both number and size. In 1607, Captain John Percy, one of John Smith’s shipmates, remarked that “mussels and oysters . . . lay on the ground as thick as stones.” In 1612, William Strachey, secretary of the Jamestown Colony, had “seen some [oysters] thirteen inches long.” Almost a century later, in 1701, Francis Louis Michel, a Swiss traveler, observed, “The abundance of oysters is incredible. There are whole banks of them so that the ships must avoid them. . . . They surpass those in England by far in size, indeed they are four times as large.” Not until the late 19th century would the commonwealth intervene to conserve and cultivate its industry and a significant aspect of its history and culture.

The oyster, a bivalve in a shell, on which colonists sustained themselves during the “Starving Time” of Jamestown, transformed the Chesapeake Bay into a virtual “Wild West” on water, known as the “Oyster War,” during the 19th century as the oyster industry gained momentum. Because of the lawlessness and the raking of the floors of the Bay with dredges, which were banned intermittently throughout the 19th century, James Bowen Baylor, a Virginia native, campaigned for and initiated a survey of the oyster grounds in order to conserve and propagate the oyster population. Reporting on the survey on November 28, 1892, the New York Times stated that the Virginia oyster industry had declined by approximately 100 percent from 1880 to 1888 due to overharvesting. Most of the survey was accomplished in 1892 and 1893, and some resurveying to resolve disputes continued until 1895. Baylor wrote letters to the Richmond Dispatch and Times defining the purpose of the survey. Because of these efforts, the survey became known as the “Baylor Survey.” The Library of Virginia houses several relevant collections, some pertaining to the Baylor Survey. There are approximately 40 oyster charts in the Library’s Map Collection, most of which are from the Baylor Survey and about half of which are manuscripts. It was the first effort toward documenting the oyster grounds, not only for state revenue but also for conservation and to make the oyster industry safer. Baylor provided advice to the state for instituting an “oyster navy,” in addition to defining the Virginia-Maryland boundary through the oyster grounds of the Chesapeake Bay in 1897–1898, which was necessary to maintain law enforcement in the Bay. The Baylor Survey covered the Tidewater and northern regions of Virginia, including the Chesapeake Bay, Pocomoke Sound, various rivers such as the James, and much more.

In addition to the Baylor Survey and materials related to it, the Library also houses E. A. Semple’s papers and surveys, including surveys of the Hampton Roads Region, indicating oyster grounds in that area late in the 19th and early in the 20th centuries. The Library’s Special Collections has images of the oyster industry from the 1939 World’s Fair, in addition to stereographs and broadsides, many of which can be viewed on the Virginia Memory Web site.

—submitted by Leah Thomas, Collection Management Services

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Where History Begins - A Workshop for Virginia's Local Historical Societies

Where History Begins, a workshop for local historical societies, will be held on Monday, May 3, 2010, at the Library of Virginia. This workshop is made possible by a generous State and National Archival Partnership (SNAP) grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Where History Begins will provide an opportunity for networking and cooperation among societies across the commonwealth. Society members, staff, and volunteers are encouraged to register for this exciting day of presentations, discussion, and behind-the-scenes tours of the Library of Virginia.

Speakers will explore a variety of topics, from finding grant opportunities to building support for your society. Come learn about tools for basic preservation and techniques for working with your collections.

A detailed program and registration information will be available in March 2010.

A limited number of travel stipends will be available for attendees more than 150 miles from Richmond.

Partners in the project include the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM), the Henrico County Historical Society, and the Goochland County Historical Society, along with the Library of Virginia Foundation and the Virginia State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB).

For more information, please call 804-692-3648.

—submitted by Jennifer McDaid, Archival and Records Management Services

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Traveling Exhibitions Available

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce two traveling exhibitions for 2010 available for six-week loan periods to local libraries, small museums, and historical societies.

The 2010 Virginia Women in History panel exhibition, sponsored by SunTrust honors Jean Miller Skipwith (1748–1826), book collector, Mecklenburg County; Kate Mason Rowland (1840–1916), historian, Richmond; Mollie Wade Holmes Adams (1881–1973), Upper Mattaponi craftsman, King William County; Queena Stovall (1887–1980), folk painter, Lynchburg; Ethel Madison Bailey Furman (1893–1976), architect, Richmond; Edythe C. Harrison (born 1934), patron of the arts, Norfolk; Marian Van Landingham (born 1937), founder of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, and former member of the House of Delegates; and Janis Martin (1940–2007), rockabilly singer, Sutherlin (east of Danville).

The 2010 African American Trailblazers panel exhibition, sponsored by Capitol One honors Gowan Pamphlet  (ca. 1750–1807 or 1808) religious leader, Williamsburg; Mary S. Peake (1823–1862), educator, Hampton; Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson (ca. 1833–14 July 1906), cause célèbre of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, Wheeling; J. Thomas Newsome (1869–1942) , lawyer, Newport News; Dorothy Hamm (1919– 2004), civil rights advocate, Arlington; Henry L. Marsh, III (1933– ), civil rights attorney and public servant, Richmond; Florence Farley (1928– ), public servant and educator, Petersburg; Christopher Howard (1969– ), president, Hampden-Sydney College, Hampden-Sydney.

For more information about either exhibition, please e-mail Barbara C. Batson, exhibitions coordinator, at

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One-Stop Shopping this Valentine's Day

Join us for the Virginia Shop's customer appreciation event, February 10

Find the perfect gift for Valentine's Day at the Virginia Shop, now offering a wide variety of fine goods inspired by the commonwealth. On Wednesday, February 10, 11:00 AM–2:00 PM, the Virginia Shop will feature free samples of fine chocolate products from Chocolate Cravings and samples of Richmond-made Jackson Sage soaps and lotions. Flower arrangements and demonstrations will be provided by Petals, Flowers by Sarah (custom orders can be made at the event). Library of Virginia members and state employees receive a 10 percent discount on all non-sale merchandise. The Virginia Shop is open Monday through Friday, 10:00 AM–4:00 PM. Please call 804-692-3524 with any questions about the shop or the event.

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2010 Virginia Women in History Program Honors Eight Outstanding Women

A ground-breaking architect, a renowned folk artist, a patron of the arts, and a rockabilly singer known as the "female Elvis” are among eight Virginia women recognized by the Library of Virginia as part of its Virginia Women in History program. On March 25, 2010, the Library will honor the eight outstanding women who are featured in the 2010 Virginia Women in History program at an awards ceremony at 6 pm at the Library of Virginia. A reception will follow the program. Seating is limited, so please call 804-692-3813 for reservations. The eight being honored this year are:

  • Jean Miller Skipwith (1748–1826), book collector, Mecklenburg County
  • Kate Mason Rowland (1840–1916), historian, Richmond
  • Mollie Wade Holmes Adams (1881–1973), Upper Mattaponi craftsman, King William County
  • Queena Stovall (1888–1980), folk painter, Lynchburg
  • Ethel Madison Bailey Furman (1893–1976), architect, Richmond
  • Edythe C. Harrison (born 1934), patron of the arts, Norfolk
  • Marian Van Landingham (born 1937), founder of the Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, and former member of the House of Delegates
  • Janis Martin (1940–2007), rockabilly singer, Sutherlin (east of Danville)

The eight also are featured on this year's handsome Virginia Women in History poster, issued in celebration of Women's History Month, and in the Library’s 2010 Virginia Women in History panel exhibition, on display in the lobby of the Library of Virginia March 1–31, 2010. Traveling versions of the exhibition will be available for use by public schools and libraries and other cultural institutions.

The 2010 Virginia Women in History program highlights outstanding Virginia women who saw things differently from their contemporaries, developed new approaches to old problems, strove for excellence based on the courage of their convictions, and initiated changes in Virginia and America that continue to have an impact on our lives today.

As part of its outreach program the Library has distributed this year’s poster and learning activities to public and private schools, public libraries, and cultural institutions and museums across Virginia. Additional educational materials, including handouts, worksheets, pictures, paintings, and primary sources from the Library of Virginia’s collections, as well as a Spanish language translation of the poster text, will be available on the Library’s Web site. The teaching activities are linked to the Virginia Standards of Learning.

The signature sponsor for the 2010 Virginia Women in History program is Dominion. Media sponsor is the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Minds Wide Open: Women in the Arts also sponsors this program.

The 2010 honorees also will be celebrated at an awards ceremony hosted by the Library on Thursday, March 25. Seating is limited, so please call 804-692-3900 by March 22 for reservations.

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"We Love Libraries!" Lottery Grants Available

The Kingstowne Library in Alexandria, Virginia, is the January winner of the Sisters in Crime’s first "We Love Libraries" lottery. Monthly grants of $1,000 will be awarded from January through December 2010. The Sisters in Crime organization has nearly 4,000 members in 48 chapters worldwide, offering advice, networking, and support to mystery authors. Members are authors, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers, and librarians bound by their affection for the mystery genre and their support of women who write mysteries.

Grants must be used to purchase books and may not be used for general operating expenses. Book purchases are not restricted to the mystery genre or to those by Sisters in Crime members. To enter, simply complete the entry form at and upload a photo of one or more library staff members with three books in your library’s collection written by Sisters in Crime members.

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Contest Relays How Libraries Save You Money

What makes your library special to your community? How does it enrich your life and those of your neighbors? How does it help you save money? The editors at Woman’s Day are asking you to tell them about it in an essay of 700 words or less. As part of the annual Woman’s Day/American Library Association essay contest, up to four women’s stories will be featured online or in an upcoming issue of Woman’s Day.

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