The Library of Virginia Newsletter
May 2011

Library Offers Programs on Greatest Generation WWII Cameraman and Author to Appear at Library

Newport News, Va. : U.S. Army Signal Corps, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation, October 6, 1943.

A special event will take place on Tuesday, May 24 featuring a World War II-related book talk, as well an open house at which Library of Virginia archivists will accept papers and other World War II documents.

From 11:00 AM to 1:30 PM archivists will be available to accept donations of World War II–related material. We are looking for letters, diaries, photographs, scrapbooks, maps, and posters from the war years. These items will be preserved and made accessible to future generations and will join thousands of other records of Virginians who have served their nation at home and abroad. More than 3,500 photographs in the U.S. Army Signal Corps collection, Hampton Roads Embarkation Series, capture moments in the lives of military personnel, civilian employees, Red Cross workers, and prisoners of war. Records collected by the Virginia World War II History Commission, recordings from radio station WRVA, letters to the governor, and newspapers from across the commonwealth work together to tell the stories of men and women in wartime.

At noon on May 24 Charles “Chip” Jones will discuss and sign War Shots, his book that features some of the most iconic footage of World War II—taken while the photographers risked their lives. War Shots: Norm Hatch and the U.S. Marine Corps Combat Cameramen of World War II brings these photographers into sharp focus through the career of the legendary Norman T. Hatch, whose skill with a camera and knack for being in the right place at the right time thrust him to the forefront of the effort to record the marines at war in the Pacific. Major Hatch, a longtime Alexandria resident, will be a special guest at this event. With the Marines at Tawara, filmed largely by Hatch, won an Academy Award in 1945 for Best Documentary Short Subject. To learn more about Major Hatch visit

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People's Choice Voting Starts May 16

The Library of Virginia is pleased to sponsor the Eighth Annual People’s Choice Awards. Finalists in fiction and nonfiction were selected by an independent panel of judges from the books nominated, and winners will be announced at the 14th Annual Library of Virginia Literary Awards at the Library of Virginia. Awards are given for the best fiction and nonfiction books by Virginia authors; in the case of nonfiction, books on a Virginia subject that have been published in the past year are eligible.

The winners will be chosen by votes from the public from among five finalists in each category. Readers may vote in public libraries or online at the Library of Virginia’s Web site, Voting for the People’s Choice Awards runs from May 16 through June 30, 2011.

This year’s fiction finalists for the People’s Choice Awards are:
 Dreams That Won’t Let Go by Stacy Hawkins Adams
Stork Raving Mad by Donna Andrews
Mattaponi Queen: Stories by Belle Boggs
The Confession by John Grisham
In the Company of Others by Jan Karon

The nonfiction finalists are:
When Janey Comes Marching Home by Laura Browder
The Horse in Virginia by Julie A. Campbell
Birthright: The True Story that Inspired Kidnapped by A. Roger Ekirch
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Bible Babel by Kristen Swenson

Winners will be announced at the Library of Virginia Literary Awards Celebration on October 15, 2011.
Dominion is the sponsor of the Library of Virginia Literary Awards and the Richmond Times-Dispatch is the media sponsor.

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Library of Virginia Receives $155,071 NEH Grant to Scan Petersburg Chancery Records

The Library of Virginia has received a grant of $155,071 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the scanning of the City of Petersburg chancery records, a significant collection for researchers interested in the African American experience, women's history, and southern labor and business history in the antebellum and post–Civil War periods. The Library of Virginia is one of only 33 institutions to receive a grant in the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources category and one of only two state archives in the country awarded an NEH grant.

The Petersburg chancery causes are comprised of case files from the City of Petersburg Court of Chancery, 1803 to 1912, and consist of 150 cubic feet and include bills of complaint, affidavits, wills, business records, correspondence, and photographs. Prior to 1860 Petersburg had the largest population of freedmen in the Mid-Atlantic states. The records offer social, demographic, and economic details that affected state, regional, and national politics; legal decisions; and institutions. The evolution of Petersburg's economy from one based on tobacco to one centered on milling and manufacturing can be explored through the chancery records. The importance of Petersburg as a prosperous and diverse city—the state's largest market town and center of economic activity—is seen in the chancery causes. As a commercial and industrial center as well as a transportation hub Petersburg attracted an unusually large number of free African Americans. By 1860 Petersburg had a population of 18,000 including more than 3,000 free African Americans, half of whom were women. The suits document this aspect of Petersburg's robust and diverse population as free African Americans, women, laborers, and artisans used the courts to recover debts, settle estates, divorce spouses, assert land ownership, or dissolve partnerships.

A chancery cause is one that could not be decided readily by existing written laws. Decisions were made by a justice or judge, not a jury, and on the basis of fairness, or equity. These justices administered most facets of local government and were the face of government for most people during this period. As justices made decisions based on equity, they expressed social mores and values that governed everyday life in communities. They were appointed, not elected, until 1852, and most were not trained lawyers. Since chancery cases dealt with issues of equity rather than law, they often contain lengthy depositions, similar to oral histories, and can also hold other valuable materials in the form of exhibits submitted to the court. It is not uncommon to find land plats, correspondence, wills, publications, photographs, architectural drawings, and the like as exhibits. As such, these records are vital to genealogists and historians.

This project will provide free online access to all pre-1913 Petersburg chancery causes. The Chancery Records Index is available through the Library's Virginia Memory Web portal ( Currently, records from 49 localities can be searched through the index. The scanning project will begin in May 2011 and be complete on April 30, 2012.

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Watch A Commonwealth in Crisis: The Virginia Secession Debates on June 5

In recognition of the 150th anniversary of Virginia's secession from the United States, the Library of Virginia presented a discussion on April 17 by historian and author William W. Freehling on the debates and the significance of the Virginia Convention of 1861. Sponsored by the Future of Richmond’s Past Initiative, Clifton & Emily Woodrum, and the Richard S. Reynolds Foundation, the program was held in the Old House Chamber in the Virginia State Capitol, where the original debates were held 150 years ago on the same date. A Commonwealth in Crisis: The Virginia Secession Debates was broadcast live and will be shown again on Sunday, June 5, at 3:00 PM on WCVE Richmond and WHTJ Charlottesville.

Freehling, a senior fellow at the Virginia Center for Humanities, is the author of The Road to Disunion and Showdown in Virginia: The 1861 Convention and the Fate of the Union. He described the deadlock that had gripped the convention for two months until Lincoln’s call for 2,340 Virginians to help put down the rebellion begun by the firing on Fort Sumter. Freehling explained that Virginia was a microcosm of the South with the number of enslaved people in various sections of Virginia mirroring the border states with very few slaves, the middle South with less than 20 percent of its population enslaved, and the lower South with large numbers of slaves.

Freehling told how the Virginia Convention delayed action on secession hoping for a compromise, hoping for a conference of the border states, hoping for something that would prevent war. He argued that the catalyst toward a reversal of the vote on secession was not just Lincoln’s call for troops but also the actions of former Governor Henry Wise, who crystallized the debate by announcing (while waving a pistol) that while he had no authority to do so he had ordered the Virginia militia to seize the federal installations at the Harpers Ferry Arsenal and the Gosport Naval Yards.

The delegates were forced to decide whether they wanted to fire on their fellow Southerners or on northerners. The deadlock was broken on April 17, 1861, and the Virginia Convention reversed its vote from two weeks previous and voted two to one to secede. Virginia’s action prompted North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee to follow suit.

A Commonwealth in Crisis included a reenactment of debates made as Virginia’s leaders wrestled with the question of whether secession was wise, legal, necessary, or in Virginia’s interest. Three representative delegates were featured: George Blow represented Norfolk, at that time a Unionist stronghold; George Wythe Randolph, a grandson of Thomas Jefferson and an ardent secessionist, represented Richmond; and John Jay Jackson, a commander of a brigade in the Virginia militia for nearly 20 years, represented Parkersburg, located in Wood County, then part of Virginia.

Brent Tarter, retired founding editor of the Dictionary of Virginia Biography, developed the script for the re-enactment from the actual words in the debates. The reenactors were members of Virginia Patriots, Inc. Kevin Grantz played George Blow, Matthew Krogh played George Wythe Randolph, and Bill Thomas was John Jay Jackson.

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Save 30% for 30 Days at the Virginia Shop Online

For the month of May the Virginia Shop will feature 30 percent off all Civil War merchandise at its online store, Visit the Civil War page under "Virginia in History" on the Virginia Shop Web site and enjoy 30 percent savings for the entire month of May. The list of sale items includes everything from Civil War map collection reproduction prints to Abraham Lincoln bobbleheads to Library of Virginia publications such as the four-volume set Proceedings of the Virginia State Convention of 1861 and bound copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Constitution of the Confederacy.

The Virginia Shop will feature 30 percent savings for 30 days on a different collection of merchandise each month. Check the Library's e-newsletter each month to find the latest deals or visit the Virginia Shop site at

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Library Offers 2nd Annual Anne and Ryland Brown Teacher Institute in June

The Library of Virginia will present the second annual Anne and Ryland Brown Teacher Institute from June 28 through 30, 2011. The Institute is an annual event held to enhance the knowledge of and training in history and social science instruction in the commonwealth of Virginia by providing educators with teaching resources and opportunities for in-depth study.

The theme of this year's conference focuses on the content of the Library's exhibition, Union or Secession: Virginians Decide. Like the exhibition, the "Union or Secession: Virginians Decide" Institute seeks to explain what Virginians from different parts of the state and different backgrounds thought about secession or Union during the winter of 1860–1861, with a particular emphasis on the secession convention and debates. Institute sessions, conducted by leading scholars, will focus on events and themes between John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry in October 1859 and the First Battle of Manassas in July 1861. This year's leaders are William W. Freehling, a senior fellow at the Virginia Center for Humanities and leading Civil War historian; Gregg Kimball, historian and director of Education and Outreach Services at the Library of Virginia; Teresa Roane, library manager at the Museum of the Confederacy; Nelson D. Lankford, vice president for programs and the Virginius Dabney Editor at the Virginia Historical Society; and Tameka Bradley Hobbs, program and education manager for the Library of Virginia. Institute participants will visit the Museum of the Confederacy, the Virginia Historical Society, Capitol Square, and the Special Collections Department of the Library of Virginia for tours and lectures.

Eligible candidates for the Brown Teacher Institute must be residents of Virginia currently working as educators in Virginia instructing students in grade levels 4 through 12. Space is limited to 20 educators. There is no fee for selected participants. Registrants will receive a certificate of completion for 18 hours at the end of the institute, which can be used toward recertification points.

To apply, please submit a statement of interest (500 words or less) outlining your teaching philosophy and what you hope to gain from participating in the institute

Applications were accepted until Friday, May 27, 2011:

Program and Education Manager
ATT: Brown Teacher Institute
Library of Virginia
800 E. Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000

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Puga and Griggs Pursue Masters Degrees

Dana Puga, who joined the staff of the Library of Virginia in 2002 as a picture collection specialist, was accepted into the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences Advanced Academic Programs–Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University in January 2011. The aim of the program is to prepare current and future museum professionals to be visionary leaders of museums. All students earn a master of arts in museum studies. The master's program requires ten courses, five core courses and five electives, to be completed within five years of beginning the program.

The museum studies program at Johns Hopkins University is an online program with the exception of a mandatory two-week on-site seminar required for all students. Puga will participate this summer in a two-week course in London taught by Alan Morrison from the University of Westminster. Students will explore the topic of the museum as public space. Students will be in "class" every day from 9 AM to 5 PM with some night and weekend projects.

They will visit more than 12 museums in that time frame and study the history, policies, and practices of these institutions. At the end of the course they will make presentations of their assigned projects to the directors of these institutions.

Cara Griggs, a research archivist at the Library of Virginia since 2006, has recently been awarded a scholarship for the second year from the Richmond Academic Library Consortium as she continues her work in the Drexel University Online Program toward her master of science degree in library and information science. Griggs earned her undergraduate degree from Westhampton College at the University of Richmond, where she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. She received a master’s degree in social science from the University of Chicago. Prior to joining the Library she was a research associate at the Museum of the Confederacy.

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Suzy Palmer Leaving for University Librarian Position at Longwood

After nearly four years as deputy librarian at the Library of Virginia, Suzy Szasz Palmer has accepted the position of dean of the Greenwood Library and professor of library science at Longwood University in Farmville. She assumes her new duties on June 25.

Palmer joined the Library of Virginia in June 2007 as director of the Research and Information Services Division. In July 2009 she was promoted to deputy director of the Library of Virginia. During her tenure at the Library she is credited with working to increase the efficiency of service delivery in a time of budget and staff reductions. “Suzy brought new perspectives to the administration of library services and programs. Her willingness to carry out administrative duties not only for the deputy’s position but for divisional vacancies has been invaluable,” said Librarian of Virginia Sandra G. Treadway.

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Blue Devils float in parade Multiple Exposure Catablog to Highlight Prints and Photographs

The Library of Virginia’s Prints and Photographs Collection is a wonderful resource capturing images from around the state from the beginning of Virginia to the present. Authors, media outlets, families, researchers, and historians regularly use the collection. The Multiple Exposure: Catablog of the Prints and Photographs Collection @ the Library of Virginia will bring this collection to a wider audience. Each blog entry will describe one collection or file; offer a small visual sampling; and give the collection’s formal title, the dates covered by the collection, and a brief physical description, as well as notes on its provenance, arrangement, related Library resources, and more.

To read Multiple Exposure go to

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Rebecca Ebert Receives the SAR Martha Washington Award

Rebecca A. Ebert, archivist of the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives at Handley Regional Library in Winchester, was awarded the prestigious Martha Washington Medal at a recent meeting of the Col. James Wood II Chapter of the Virginia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. The award was made in recognition of her outstanding service to the Sons of the American Revolution.

The Sons of the American Revolution is a society made up of men who can trace a direct line of descent from those men or women patriots who fought or supported the cause of American independence. The society’s goals are historical, patriotic, and educational. It strives to preserve the memory of the sacrifices made to create this country; promote the history of the Revolutionary War so that people don’t forget how and why this nation was founded; and encourage the principles of good citizenship established by the founders of our country.

Ebert has been the archivist at the library’s archives for the past 32 years. She helped the Col. James Wood II Chapter get started by assisting with their historical research. She has helped individuals with the necessary research to prepare their applications for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution.

–submitted by Kate Parker, Handley Regional Library

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VGS Spring Conference to Explore Confederate Records

Civil War Confederate Records: Bringing the Gray Ghosts to Life, the Virginia Genealogical Society's spring conference will be held May 20–21 at the Library of Virginia. Featured speakers are Sharon Hodges, professional genealogist, teacher, and lecturer and Rick Sayre, genealogical researcher and lecturer. Hodges will discuss how women on both sides of the conflict served their cause and the Southern Claims Commission, which was created by Congress to allow Southerners who had remained loyal to the Union to petition for reimbursement for losses they sustained during the Civil War. Sayre will discuss Confederate records at the National Archives and Confederate maps.

Friday sessions include guided research at the Library of Virginia with experienced researchers available to answer questions for novices and to offer strategies for difficult genealogical problems, a presentation on the Museum of the Confederacy, and a leadership summit.

The cost for VGS members is $40, nonmembers $50. For more information, call 804-285-8954 or e-mail

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