Virginia Memory (part 1)

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Part 2
 Are you interested in history? If you make use of Virginia Memory, one of our excellent history databases, we can look all the way back to 15,000 BC, when humans first inhabited the land we now know as Virginia! Click “More” to step back in time.


Virginia Memory was created in 2007 and 2008 by the Library of Virginia and is known as the “gateway” to the state library’s digital collections. The primary purpose of the website is to offer flexible access to the library’s holdings (i.e. digital access for those outside of Richmond) and to increase the population’s understanding and appreciation of the history and culture of Virginia. There are four primary components to the website, and these can all be found along the menu bar at the top of the page:

1. Digital Collections

This is where you’ll get access to any available image and document collections as well as material from partnership programs with the Library of Congress and the Internet Archive.

2. Reading Room

In this area you will find the newest digital content organized into categories as well as a complete chronology of Virginia history.

3. Exhibitions

This is where the virtual versions of actual physical installations at the Library of Virginia live.

4. Online Classroom

Teachers can benefit from this section by getting advice on how to incorporate primary source material into the classroom setting.

There’s a bit too much content for a single post, so I’m going to break it down a bit. I’ll talk about the digital collections and the blogs offered on Virginia Memory’s homepage right now, and move on to the rest in the next entry.

Digital Collections

If you click on “Digital Collections” on the main menu bar, you’ll see several categories to look at. The first two are quick and easy ways to learn about new and interesting digital collections. The first, “What’s New,” includes the collections that have been added most recently. As of now you can check out the War of 1812 Bicentennial Collection, which includes maps, family letters, militia records, and more. Another recently added resource is the Hopewell Virginia United Mine Workers photo collection. The next category, “Featured Collection,” is a great way to get a brief overview of the contents and history of a particular set of documents. Right now you can browse photos that were displayed in the Virginia Room at the 1939 World’s Fair. Check back often to see what else is new.

In order to browse or search the collections, you’ll need to click on either “Collections A to Z” or “Collections by Topic.” All digital collections are searchable, but you’ll need to look in two places. Older digital collections can be searched in the Library of Virginia’s catalog, and newer collections are available in the DigiTool search engine. There are links to both search engines in the first paragraph on each page. Of course, you might prefer to scroll through either page to get a visual idea of what is available.

If you are searching for old newspaper articles, make sure you check the “Newspapers” category to see if they are available through Virginia Memory. The Virginia Newspaper Project is conducting an inventory of all available issues, and you can search for originals and microfilm using the Bibliography of American Newspapers site. Easy drop down menus allow you to select Virginia county or city. If you want digital copies of old newspapers, you may be in luck as well. Digitization is being conducted by the National Digital Newspaper Program, and you can search for copies published between 1836 and 1922 on the Chronicling America website.

Finally, to simplify a search, check out the last two categories in this section, which will allow you to browse all photo or archival web collections.

To close this post, I’m going to head back to the home page and give a brief overview of three Virginia Memory blogs that you can check out. All three seem to be updated fairly regularly!

1. Fit to Print

Come here to find recently unearthed gems in newsprint! Recent posts include headlines from the days following Lincoln’s assassination. Get better acquainted with the newspaper archives by checking out examples from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries!

2. Multiple Exposure

Travel back in time through photography and art, and get a quick glimpse of Virginia life at moments throughout history.

3. Out of the Box

This is probably my favorite of the three blogs. Library of Virginia archivists provide interesting details and background information on some of their favorite documents that they have uncovered. I think it’s especially unique to be able to hear stories directly from the people who have dedicated great amounts of time and research to these collections.

Part 2

Category: Library

One comment on “Virginia Memory (part 1)

  1. This is fantastic Emily! Thanks for yet another wonderful blog!

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