Virginia Memory (part 2)

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Part 1
vamemory_2 I’m sure you’ve been on pins and needles waiting to hear about all of the other cool resources Virginia Memory offers! There are lots of interesting tidbits in this post including the Virginia Hair Hall of Fame, the story of a couple who was arrested because they got married, and letters that capture the mounting tension as Virginians were considering secession from the Union. Read on!


Let’s continue down the main menu bar on the Virginia Memory homepage to learn what is offered in each category.

Reading Room

In the Reading Room you’ll find an eclectic mix of material- both calendar and social networking-related. On the calendar end of the spectrum, we have two resources to enjoy.

This Day in History

On any day you can click on this link and find a document of potential interest. Items range from the mundane to the exceptional, presenting a truly diverse snapshot of any day in Virginia history. Letters and pictures are commonly used to describe an event that occurred. This resource is also featured on the homepage beneath the links to the blogs.

Virginia Chronology

Use this timeline to see how particular events fit into the big picture of Virginia history. Entries are collected into periods to make information a bit simpler to digest. As I mentioned in the previous post, this timeline begins in 15,000 BC! Evidence found at an archaeological site in Cactus Hill proves that humans were living on the banks of the Nottoway River during that period. Of course, after that the entries skip ahead to the 1500s. Be aware that the chronology may not load properly on old versions of Internet Explorer. Users are supposed to click on the pictures to access more details, but they are only just barely visible at the bottom of the screen. It seems to work well in Chrome.

There is still a link to Virginiana in the Reading Room, but this is gradually being phased into the blog Out of the Box.

Connect With Us

Finally, with their efforts to connect users via social networking and other media, the creators of Virginia Memory really excel. They have a Facebook page, Twitter and Flickr accounts, an RSS feed that you can subscribe to, and a YouTube page which includes a variety of videos. You can watch interviews, book talks, and a selection of videos dedicated to African American Trailblazers, part of the exhibit currently on display at the Christiansburg branch.


In this part of the website users get access to current and past exhibits created by the Library of Virginia. One exhibit “You Have No Right: Law & Justice” was displayed from December 2012 through May 2013. Learn about Virginia’s legal history through actual court cases, documents, and transcriptions. Most of the civil rights stories are quite engrossing; for instance, the story of the Lovings, who were arrested shortly after their interracial marriage in 1958 and given the option to serve one year in prison or leave the state and never return. You can even listen to sound files of actual oral arguments in the case of Loving v. Virginia. We are provided with remote access to this exhibit through Omeka, an open source platform, and a link to the current exhibition is also available as the last option on Virginia Memory’s homepage.

Information on past exhibits is also provided, but the depth of content still available online varies. To get details on all exhibitions, you can also browse by topic.

Online Classroom

The Online Classroom section also happens to be chock full of information:

Guide to Educators

It may not be intuitive to visit the Guide to Educators section, and most of it contains links to other areas of the site I’ve already discussed, BUT there is a link to a really great resource called Encyclopedia Virginia! Not only do you get an A-Z index of important people, places, and events in Virginia history, but there is cool media like the Virginia Hair Hall of Fame and a great picture of George Washington’s teeth on the scrolling feature on the homepage.

Shaping the Constitution

This is a collection of primary source documents that is conveniently divided into units and biographical entries. The “Explore” link provides a neat way to navigate through available documents by theme.

Union or Secession

If you ever wondered about the general atmosphere in Virginia during the debate over whether to secede from the Union, this is a good collection to investigate. Take a look at documents, biographies, timelines, letters, and personal accounts from that era.

Lesson Plans

This section is an excellent resource for teachers- home school or traditional. Lessons are specifically geared toward certain grades in school and correspond to Virginia standards of learning.

Before closing, I wanted to touch briefly on a special collection of local interest that has been highlighted on the MFRL database page. The “Register of Colored Persons Cohabiting Together as Husband and Wife in 1866” is available for both Montgomery and Floyd counties. The document has been transcribed, so it is very easy to read, and a real wealth of information is provided, including each couple’s ages and birth places, their last owners, information about their children, and the husband’s occupation. Cohabitation registers were really the first time the marriages and children of former slaves were legitimized in the public record. Anyone interested in the preservation techniques used in restoring these documents should check out this video from the Library of Virginia’s YouTube page.

That wraps up the basics of the Virginia Memory page, but stay tuned as interesting collections of note may be featured here in the future!
Part 1

Category: Library

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