The Library of Virginia Newsletter

May 2018 Newsletter

Library Acquires Wise Portraits

The Manuscripts and Special Collections Department recently acquired two important portraits for the State Art Collection. The purchase at auction of a portrait of Ann Jennings Wise (painted ca. 1830s), the first wife of Governor Henry Alexander Wise (1806–1876), and a portrait of their children Mary and Obadiah Jennings Wise (painted ca. 1833) presented the Library with a rare opportunity to create a family reunion of sorts.

Both portraits passed through the family of Mary Wise Garnett, who is one of the subjects, so the provenance is excellent. Ann Jennings Wise's portrait is attributed to Thomas Sully (1783–1872), while the portrait of the Wise children is attributed to John Gadsby Chapman (1808–1889), two of the best-known Virginian portrait painters of the era. The Library already owns a portrait of Governor Henry Alexander Wise (1806–1876), painted about 1828 and attributed to Sully. It, too, passed through the Garnett family until they donated it to the Executive Mansion in 1979.

While it is unlikely that the painting of Governor Wise as a young man was a pair portrait with his wife, it is of a similar time and scale and has a similar provenance. Acquiring these portraits allows for the display a cohesive family group—which will be particularly appropriate at the Executive Mansion, which continues to serve as a residence for the first family of Virginia. While Ann Jennings Wise died nearly 20 years before Governor Wise took office, it is possible he brought the portraits with him to the Mansion.

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True Sons of Freedom Exhibition – Visit in Person or Online

True Sons of Freedom, the Library’s powerful photographic exhibition highlighting the stories of African American soldiers from Virginia who served during World War I, is on display in the Library’s exhibition gallery through November 9. If you are not able to travel to Richmond to view the images of these brave servicemen and read their own words describing their wartime experiences, be sure to visit the exhibition website,, to learn more about 139 African American soldiers from Virginia. The website provides news and information about events related to the exhibition, as well as a schedule for a traveling version of the exhibition that will begin in November.

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New Literary Virginia Book Group

The Library is launching a new Literary Virginia Book Group to read and discuss the best of today’s literature by Virginia authors or about Virginia history and culture. On the second Wednesday evening of each month, join us for a discussion with light refreshments, additional historical context, and even occasional author visits. Come for the June kickoff and pick up the first title, A Thousand Miles from Nowhere by John Gregory Brown, winner of the 2017 Literary Award for fiction. No registration is required for the first meeting on June 13 at 6:00 PM in the Orientation Room off the Library’s main lobby. For dates of future group meetings and titles to be discussed, see our calendar of events at

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Virginia School Libraries Earn National Recognition

Congratulations to three Virginia school libraries that have recently been recognized for their outstanding work by the American Association of School Librarians.

Robert E. Lee High School, in Springfield, is the recipient of the 2018 National School Library Program of the Year Award recognizing the library’s exemplary efforts to strengthen student success in using ideas and information effectively. Nottoway Middle School is the recipient of the 2018 Innovative Reading Grant to support the school library’s work encouraging and motivating struggling readers. The C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth has received the 2018 Inspire Collection Development Grant, which will enable their library to update and diversify its print and online resources to support sustainable improvement in student achievement. These awards will be formally presented at the American Library Association’s annual conference in New Orleans in June.

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May 30 for 30 in the Virginia Shop

Have a favorite print, map, poster, or document in the Library’s collection that you would love to have framed for your wall at home? The Library houses a wonderful selection of prints that are perfect for any home décor. Check out some of our most popular items on the Virginia Shop website at There are just a few days left to place your order online during the month of May and receive a 30 percent discount.

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