The Library of Virginia Newsletter

March 2021 Newsletter

Celebrate Women’s History Month

Celebrate Women’s History Month by visiting the Library’s current exhibition, We Demand: Women’s Suffrage in Virginia, which ends on May 28. The year 2020 marked the centennial of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution guaranteeing women's right to vote. We Demand reveals how women created two statewide organizations to win that right. Virginia suffragists were a remarkable group of talented and dedicated women who have largely been forgotten. They were artists and writers, business and professional women, and educators and reformers who marched in parades, rallied at the state capitol, spoke to crowds on street corners, staffed booths at state and county fairs, lobbied legislators and congressmen, picketed the White House, and even went to jail. Visit the Exhibition Gallery to see these remarkable women recognized for their important achievements and contributions—or go online to learn more.

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Governor Northam Announces Appointments to the State Historical Records Advisory Board

The State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) serves as the central advisory body for historical records planning and related projects developed and carried out by the state. Board members serve three-year terms. The SHRAB is funded by a grant from the National Historical Records and Publications Commission, the grant-making affiliate of the National Archives and Records Administration. The Library of Virginia administers the grant and State Archivist Mike Strom serves as the board’s coordinator.

Governor Northam has announced the following five new appointments and two reappointments to Virginia's State Historical Records Advisory Board:

  • Bernadette Battle* of Emporia, Associate Dean of Advising Services, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
  • Heather Bollinger of Aldie, Historic Records Manager, Fairfax Circuit Court
  • Kim Curtis of Albemarle, Researcher, Project on Lived Theology, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
  • Katherine Egner Gruber* of Williamsburg, Curator, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation
  • Zachary Hottel of Woodstock, Archivist, Shenandoah County Library
  • Josh Howard of Staunton, Public Historian, Passel Historical Consultants and Collections and Technology Manager, Jefferson-Madison Regional Library
  • Sara Townsend of Fredericksburg, PhD Student, George Mason University
*denotes reappointment

You can learn more about SHRAB on the Library’s web page and on the website.

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Library Joins Other State Archives to Improve Transcription Platform

Thanks to a generous $5,000 donation from the Friends of the Virginia State Archives, the Library of Virginia is one of seven state archives supporting the advancement of transcription technologies on the platform FromThePage.

The Library of Virginia launched its first crowdsourcing platform, Making History: Transcribe, in August 2014, and since then over 110,000 pages have been transcribed. People of all ages and backgrounds have fired up their home computers at all hours of the day or night or attended virtual or in-person “Transcribe-a-thon” group events and devoted their time to making Virginia’s history more accessible.

While Making History: Transcribe supports plain-text transcription of “unstructured” documents such as letters, diaries, and many court records, FromThePage offers institutions like the Library of Virginia the ability to transcribe or index “structured” documents such as government forms. In 2018, after much trial and error, the Library launched its first FromThePage project, the World War I History Commission Questionnaires. It allows users to transcribe information about Virginia soldiers without having to re-enter text from the questionnaire forms over and over again. The Library was pleased to share code enhancements with FromThePage to facilitate this type of transcription.

The current goals for FromThePage include improving upon these steps. Along with the financial contribution, the Library will serve on the steering committee with colleagues from Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, and North Carolina to work with FromThePage on enhancements. Structured documents vary greatly and sometimes include plain text as well as repetitive “fill-in-the-blank” questions, and setting up transcription projects requires considerable analysis and trial and error. A new interface, including spreadsheet-style transcription to support multi-record pages such as those found in ledgers, state censuses, voter registrations, and naturalization records; a “reviewer role” to ensure effective transcription; and increased flexibility to support the vagaries of government forms, will vastly improve the experience of our volunteer transcribers and make their work more effective and efficient.

Check out all three of our crowdsourcing platforms:

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