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.


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