The Library of Virginia Newsletter

2017 Strong Men and Women Essay Contest Winners Announced

Please join the Library of Virginia and Dominion Virginia Power in congratulating the winners of the student essay contest for the 2017 Strong Men and Women in Virginia History program. This program highlights seven African American leaders and their achievements.

High school students in Virginia were invited to participate in the annual essay contest. Four winning essays were chosen, one from each of the four regions that Dominion Virginia Power serves. Contest winners receive an Apple MacBook Air and $1,000 for each student's school.

The 2017 Strong Men and Women essay contest winners are:
CENTRAL REGION: Grace Lu (sophomore), Douglas Freeman High School (Henrico County)
EASTERN REGION: Indya Gipson (junior), Nansemond River High School (Suffolk)
NORTHERN REGION: Meenakshi Balan (junior), Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (Fairfax County)
WESTERN REGION: Hunter Davis (senior), Gate City High School (Scott County)

Participants were invited to submit an original, unpublished, 400-word essay addressing these questions: “In a time when our differences seem to be dividing us rather than bringing us together, what are you doing now and what will you do in the future to ensure that every individual is treated fairly? What have you learned from previous Strong Men and Women honorees that has helped you forge forward?”

The students read their winning essays at the Strong Men and Women Awards Ceremony held on February 1, 2017, at the Richmond Marriott.

The Library thanks all students who submitted essays and the many people, especially educators, who encouraged student participation. Please read and share the winning essays, which are available at

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Still Time to Participate in Women’s History Month Student Writing Contest

Virginia students in grades 6–12 are invited to submit a 400-word original essay on the importance of casting an informed vote, using the life story of Nora Houston, one of the honorees in the 2017 Virginia Women in History program as inspiration. Houston was a tireless advocate all her life for women’s right to vote. The deadline for entries is Friday, March 10, 2017. Winners will receive a Kindle Fire and winning students’ schools will receive a cash award of $250. For contest rules, judging criteria, and to submit essays, see Questions about the contest may be sent to

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Library Launches “Snuggle With A Book” Winter Reading Program

This month the Library has launched the "Snuggle with a Book" Winter Reading Program, an annual effort in partnership with Virginia’s public libraries to encourage adults to read to young children. Participating libraries receive bookmarks, stickers, posters, reading logs, certificates, early literacy tips, and access to an online manual of program ideas to help children up to age five develop reading skills. The program emphasizes the important role that parents and primary caregivers play in children’s early literacy development. Materials are available in both English and Spanish. Using the software program BookPoints, participants earn e-badges for various early literacy activities. Activities are based on the Virginia Department of Socials Services’ Milestones of Child Development with a goal of promoting school readiness.

The "Snuggle with a Book" Winter Reading Program features images created by Anna Currey for the book When the World is Ready for Bed by Gillian Shields. This project is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. For more information, contact Enid Costley, children’s and youth services consultant for the Library, at or 804.692.3765.

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Register Now for the 2017 American Civil War Museum Symposium

The Library is proud to host the American Civil War Museum’s 2017 symposium titled “The Past, Present, and Future of Civil War Monuments,” to be held at the Library on Saturday, February 25, beginning at 9:30 AM. Cosponsored with the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia, the symposium will explore the past, present, and future of Civil War monuments on the American commemorative landscape. The program seeks to provide the background and perspective that will help people understand the controversies surrounding monuments.

The cost of the all-day program is $60 ($40 for American Civil War Museum and Library of Virginia members/donors, $20 for students). Registration includes a boxed lunch if received by February 21. To register, visit the website of the American Civil War Museum at

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Smithfield Times and Southern Collegian Now Available Through Virginia Chronicle

The Virginia Newspaper Project has recently added two new titles to Virginia Chronicle, the Library’s online database of digitized Virginia newspapers. All issues (1928–2013) of the Smithfield Times, the paper of record for Isle of Wight County, are now available to researchers and all who wish to delve into local news of a bygone day through the Virginia Chronicle portal. The VNP has also digitized a select number of issues of the Southern Collegian, a semimonthly publication of the Literary Societies of Washington and Lee University. Available issues of the Southern Collegian on Virginia Chronicle range from 1873 to 1899. To access these papers and many more, see

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Historic Circuit Court Records Preserved Through Library’s CCRP Grant Program

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce that the Circuit Court Records Preservation Grants Review Board met on January 18 and evaluated 80 applications submitted from 79 localities. The board awarded 79 grant projects to local circuit courts totaling $250,429.75. Among the items to be conserved are deed books, surveyors' records, will books, order books, marriage registers, birth records, minute books, death registers, and plat books. Many of these materials are brittle, have torn and loose pages and broken spines, and show the results of previous repairs using glue or tape. In some cases, the items have been laminated and the ink has faded. The books and records to be conserved are used heavily by genealogists, historians, lawyers, and title researchers. They contain pieces of family and local history found nowhere else.

The Circuit Court Records Preservation Program is a statewide initiative, funded through a $1.50 fee that is included with the cost of recording land transactions and judgments in the circuit courts. The program provides resources to help preserve and make accessible permanent circuit court records. The program awards grants to the offices of the Commonwealth's circuit court clerks to help address the preservation, security, and access needs of the records housed in their localities.

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