State of the State: Virginia Caucus

Welcome to the 2016 edition of the State of the State: Virginia Caucus. This post highlights the happenings at various institutions across the Commonwealth. The news includes everything from new projects, acquisitions, and staff to exhibits and celebrations of anniversaries and new spaces.

The College of William & Mary, Earl Gregg Swem Library
Earl Gregg Swem Library has received a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from CLIR to digitize its entire run of Cash Box, the most complete set of issues in existence. Published from July 1942 to November 1996, Cash Box was a weekly magazine dedicated to the music and jukebox industries. An alternative to Billboard Magazine, Cash Box included regional chart data, hit songs by city, radio station, and record sales, popularity by jukebox, and charts by genre including country and R&B music. Since Cash Box based its charts and content more on the music played on jukeboxes, it covers the music interests of a less affluent clientele and a different demographic. Consequently, it includes information about underdocumented communities that are not available in other, similar sources. Swem Library is partnering with the Internet Archive to have the 163 bound volumes containing 190,000 pages digitized.

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
The Corporate Archives and Records Department of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation celebrated its 70th anniversary on November 1st 2016 by hosting two open house exhibits highlighting the department’s rich collections.  Among the items displayed were: a collection of Williamsburg Colonial paper dolls, a script from a humorous New Year’s Eve program produced and acted out by Restoration executives in 1930, blueprints of graveyards located in the Historic Area, a display of nationally syndicated comics featuring Colonial Williamsburg and its buildings, and a 1937 book by Ditzler Color Company featuring authentic Colonial Williamsburg paint colors intended for use on automobiles.

George Mason University Libraries
The George Mason University Libraries has a renamed “Special Collections Research Center” opening to the public on January 19, 2016, in a beautiful new addition to Fenwick Library.  Researchers will find an improved special collections reading room and our first dedicated special collections instruction room.  Collections have been moved to new state-of-the-art shelving and climate controlled spaces.  For an image of the addition, please see

Hollins University, Wyndham Robertson Library Special Collections & Archives
SC&A staff are starting to digitize our yearbooks and have added them, along with other materials to our digital commons.  Collections have been created for finding aids, publications (such as the yearbook), and Medieval manuscript collection.  Galleries have also been created for Hollins presidential profiles, articles about Hollins history and Special Collections, and ephemeral materials, such as Victorian Christmas and New Year’s cards.  For more information, search for Hollins Digital Commons or go directly to:

The Library of Virginia
The Library of Virginia will launch Virginia Untold: The African American Narrative on 1 February 2016. This new digital collection will bring to light the pre–Civil War experiences of African Americans documented in the Library’s myriad of primary source materials. Since it began in 2013, more than 100,000 African American names have been indexed and nearly 40,000 digital images created. This initial release contains almost 5,000 records documenting thousands of African American names. The images include freedom suits, freedom certificates, coroners’ inquisitions, certificates of importation, deeds of emancipation, petitions to remain in the commonwealth, petitions for re-enslavement, apprenticeship indentures, cohabitation registers, tax lists, and requisitions for public use during the Civil War. Many more documents from our collections will be added in future releases.

Norfolk Southern Historical Collection
The Norfolk Southern Historical Collection celebrated Archives Month in October 2015 with an open house and a new pop-up exhibit.  The display in the Norfolk Southern Museum celebrates the role of women in railroading and includes material from a recent donation by Harriet Singleton,  Her mother, Willa Mae “Jiggs” Singleton, was the office manager for Southern Railway’s retreat at Brosnan Forest from 1972 to 1985.  Her job involved a variety of duties.  In addition to making sure everyone got a paycheck, she managed deliveries, paid out bounties for snakes killed on the property, and forged friendships with her coworkers, railway executives, and a steady stream of visitors.  The artifacts her family generously donated to the Norfolk Southern Historical Collection help to tell the story of a railroad career spent helping others with efficiency and grace.
To learn more about the Norfolk Southern collections, check the Norfolk Southern Corporation Facebook page for Throwback Thursdays.
The company’s magazine, BizNS, is available online and features a column, “From the Archives,” at

Randolph Macon College, McGraw-Page Library
The Flavia Reed Owen Special Collections and Archives at Randolph-Macon College received an NEH Preservation Assistance Grant for Smaller Institutions for a preservation assessment. The grant will also fund environment monitoring equipment. The Flavia Reed Owen Special Collections and Archives in the McGraw‐Page Library at Randolph‐Macon College houses significant historical and literary collections that include the history of the oldest chartered Methodist college as well as the history of the Methodist church in Virginia; one of the largest collections of Casanova in the world; the local newspaper photo archive and other local history materials; a collection of rare volumes pertaining to the Intellectual Life of the Colonial South; and World War I code breaking and ciphering materials.

Shenandoah County Library, Truban Archives
The library recently hired a new archivist, Zach Hottel. The library acquired over 144 volumes of the Shenandoah Herald, Shenandoah Valley, and Shenandoah Valley-Herald newspapers on loan from the Shenandoah Valley-Herald. Previously, access was limited to these papers and they were held two counties away from where they had been published. Also, the library has launched a new digital collections site available at

University of Mary Washington, Simpson Library
Simpson Library will celebrate its 75th anniversary as a Federal Depository Library on March 10 with a full day of events and keynote speaker, Dr. Heather Ryan of the Long Now Foundation.  As part of the event, a new Special Collections and University Archives exhibit, Celebrating Our History: 75 Years as a Federal Depository Library will open, showcasing items from the University Archives and Government Publications collections.  MARAC VA Caucus members are invited to attend the lecture and evening reception, 4:30-6 pm, Hurley Convergence Center, University of Mary Washington.

Virginia Commonwealth University
On March 15th, 2016, VCU Libraries will host a public celebration for the completion
of its new James Branch Cabell Library, a 2-year construction project that created
93,000 square feet of additional space and improved 63,000 square feet of the
existing building.  A major part of the renovations included the expansion of the
Special Collections and Archives department. This scope of work affected all aspects
of the department’s operations.

For behind-the-scenes work, there is expanded climate-controlled storage space
with compact shelving. Connected to it is a new, separate processing room, which
includes multiple workstations and an area for the ingestion of born-digital
collections. A second controlled access point from collection storage connects to a
long corridor of 5 staff offices and another work area for special collections of books
and other published materials. Off of this area are 3 additional offices. From here,
staff members can access the new reception area, where most – though not all – of
the department’s reference and research services take place.

The new reception area includes a large desk for staff interactions with patrons, 36
lockers, and an area for researchers to wash their hands before handling collections.
Connected to the reception space is a 5-seat consultation office for meetings and an
improved 28-seat quiet reading room with stations for audiovisual and microform
collections.  To meet increasing demand for instruction services, the department
also has a separate room to accommodate activities ranging from one-off show-and-
tells to sessions that integrate collections into course objectives and outcomes.
Overall, it is a complete transformation that we look forward to sharing with
colleagues across the commonwealth.

Virginia Military Institute
The VMI archives has an extensive online Military Oral History Collection, located on its digital collections site at

Virginia State Law Library

The Virginia State Law Library presents two new photograph exhibits,  “Bringing Down Jim Crow: The Legal Battle in Virginia” and “To Benefit All, to Exclude None: Judicial Trailblazers in Virginia,” beginning February 29, 2016, on the first floor of the Supreme Court Building, 100 N. 9th Street in Richmond.  The exhibits feature photographs from the archives of the Richmond Times-Dispatch,VCU Special Collections, the Library of Congress, and the archives of the Supreme Court of Virginia.  Also featured is a new exhibit of illustrations and photographs of buildings that have housed the Virginia appellate court since it was established in the seventeenth century. These exhibits are open to the public attending court sessions, for school tours, and by appointment.

News from New York State Caucus: Best of 2015

Similar to last year’s blog post, I decided to send out an email to the caucus members to give
them a chance to talk about their many accomplishments over the last year.  I asked the caucus
members to send some short descriptions what they were most proud of and consider one of the
best things they have done this year.  I am happy to say we received an even better response than last year.

Here are the responses I received that I would like to share with everyone.

New York Historical Society
New-York Historical Society, the second oldest historical society in the United States, completed
the first year of a two year project to process and make publicly available its institutional
archive, thanks to a generous grant from the Leon Levy Foundation. The first set of finding aids
for the archive was published in December. Spanning the 211 year history of NYHS, the material
now available includes 300 linear feet of minute books, correspondence files, accession ledgers,
architectural plans, photographs, membership records, and more. Links to the finding aids can be
found at

The Strong: National Museum of Play
This year at The Strong, I was pleased to complete the processing of the comprehensive Brian
Sutton-Smith papers, 1878-2015. Over a seven year span, we received massive donations from
Brian Sutton-Smith, one of the world’s foremost play scholars and namesake of our museum’s
research library and archives. The Brian Sutton-Smith papers document seven decades of play-
related research, teaching, and writing, with the bulk of the materials dated between 1950 and
2008. These papers contain professional manuscripts, publications, original research data,
reference materials, notes, correspondence, memorabilia, photographs, and other research
materials; some personal papers are also part of this collection. The information within the
collection reflects Sutton-Smith’s interdisciplinary research in psychology, education, and
folklore; his teaching at three American universities; and his contribution to play scholarship
(work on 50 books and more than 350 articles). The end result is a collection of 171 boxes and
an 85-page finding aid! Sutton-Smith passed away earlier this year, and I finished this collection
in time for a June memorial service held by his family here at the museum. Sutton-Smith
inspired generations to study play and its effects on human development and cultural history.

Trinity Wall Street Archives
Here at the Trinity Wall Street Archives, we’ve seen an influx of interest in our work due to the
popularity of the Broadway musical Hamilton, about Alexander Hamilton, who is buried in our
churchyard. In response, we mounted a pop-up exhibit in October highlighting items in our
collection that document Trinity’s relationship to Hamilton, and created a companion online

Archives of the American Field Service
The Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs recently helped
coordinate a youth forum in Strasbourg, France with the Access Alsace tourism agency and the
AFS offices in France, Switzerland, and Germany. The youth forum, entitled From Trenches to
Bridges, brought in 300 students from 43 countries to learn about volunteerism and active
citizenship from World War I to the present day, including the volunteer ambulance drivers of
the American Field Service. The forum included exhibition panels on the history of AFS, a
plaque unveiling for World War I ambulance driver Richard Hall at the military cemetery in
Moosch, France, and a series of educational sessions facilitated by 15 volunteer trainers.

American Jewish Historical Society
The American Jewish Historical Society completed 2 milestones in 2015. First, December 2015
marks the completion of a four-year project to process our own institutional records. The
American Jewish Historical Society is the oldest national ethnic historical organization in the
United States. For the first time since the society was founded in 1892, researchers will be able
to access records relating to the society’s conferences and public programs, exhibits,
publications, and library and archival holdings. Users interested in tracing the Jewish presence in
the United States now have a guide to that history, from the Colonial period to the present.

And second, we completed the processing of the UJA-Federation of New York Collection, 1909-
2000.  A project undertaken thanks to another four-year grant, the collection consists of 2021
bankers boxes and 24 oversize boxes. The collection is a very rich history of, predominantly, the
work of the social service agencies the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies supported throughout
the greater metropolitan New York area for most of the 20th century, and the overseas aid of
United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York from 1939 to the present. Please explore the
collection through our digitized materials, interactive map, the project blog and link to the
finding aid on the collection webpage:

Metropolitan Museum of Art 
In 2015 The Metropolitan Museum of Art Archives opened for research fifteen collections of
institutional records, including those documenting directors, curators, programs, and Museum
departments. Work on the approximately 300 linear feet of records by two full-time archivists,
four interns, and a volunteer began in January 2013. The project was funded by a generous grant
from the Leon Levy Foundation.

The collections document the history of the Museum’s physical plant, staff, acquisitions,
collections management, exhibitions, educational efforts, and other public programming from
many varied points of view within the institution. They illuminate the Museum’s role in New
York City and its place in the wider cultural environment from the 1870s to the early twenty-first

The collections have already been of value to both Museum staff members and external
researchers, including graduate students, authors, and educators. In more than 100 reference
requests to date, materials have been sources for provenance information, to support dissertations
and published works, and to provide students with an introduction to the organization and uses of
primary source documents.

For information about access to the physical materials at The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Archives, contact or visit our website at

Archives of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester.
Rev. William H. Shannon, who died in 2012, was an internationally known scholar and chaplain
to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester for more than 60 years.  His papers, given to the SSJ
Rochester Archives, are a valuable collection of material on topics including theology,
spirituality, liturgy, Scripture, peace and non-violence.  Father Shannon, founding president of
the International Thomas Merton Society, is recognized widely as one of the foremost scholars
of Merton’s life and works; his files on Merton, which include correspondence with friends and
followers of Merton around the world, are a significant part of the collection.  The Shannon
papers, comprising 16 linear feet, were arranged this year with the help of consulting archivist
Diane Riley.  A detailed finding aid will be posted on the website of the Sisters of St. Joseph

State University of New York, University at Albany
On November 19 and 20, the University at Albany, in partnership with the New York State
Archives Partnership Trust, welcomed nearly 200 scholars, historians and archivists for the 16th
Annual Researching New York conference. All attendee events included talks by Ginger Strand,
author of the newly published  The Brothers Vonnegut: Bernard Vonnegut and Kurt Vonnegut in
GE’s House of Magic, a cultural history and joint biography that offers “a wild collision of
science and literature set against the backdrop of the cold war and the dawn of the digital
world.”  At the Friday luncheon, keynote speaker Philip Terrie, author of Adirondack Towns:
Cultural Constructions, Political Agendas, and Social Realities, discussed how our understanding
of the history and realities of Adirondack villages has been shaped by competing narratives, one
produced by outsiders and the other by Adirondack residents themselves.

As always many conference sessions offered a broad view of New York State history. While
some presenters offered new understandings of “community” as defined by geographic or
physical location, others looked at communities drawn together by shared cultural, political,
religious, ethnic, racial, or gender identities and shared experiences. From the earliest Native
Americans of New York to the virtual communities of today; how communities have evolved,
worked together, or challenged each other has shaped New York history was key theme for the
2015 conference. For updates about the 2016 conference, go to

Thank you to everyone who responded and here is to many more accomplishments and successes in the coming year.

Michael P. Martin
MARAC New York State Caucus Representative