Year: 2012

WPA Historic Houses Drawings Collection

D1:003
 c. 1932–1937
140 drawings in pen-and-ink, pencil, and watercolors, ranging in size from 25 x 35 cm to 40 x 45 cm 

D1:003 WPA Historic Houses Drawings Collection

The WPA Historic Houses Drawings Collection includes 140 images of houses, courthouses, churches, mill houses, and taverns, representing 39 Virginia counties. In the early- to mid-1930s, the Virginia State Commission on Conservation and Development’s Division of History and Archaeology received funds from the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) Federal Art Project to commission five artists to create drawings for a publication on historic Virginia shrines. Like other WPA-funded projects, the artists applied for work through local emergency relief offices before being assigned to the Federal Art Project. Several of the artists also contributed to other New Deal projects at the time, including stamp designs for the National Recovery Act and illustrations for the Index of American Design, a nationwide Federal Art Project. 

Under the direction of Hamilton J. Eckenrode, the commission’s Division of History and Archaeology began making a record of historic buildings in Virginia in 1932. Field assistant (and artist) Rex M. Allyn took photographs of buildings while on assignment to the Division’s Historic Highway Marker project. From 1932 to 1937, Allyn and four other artists—Edward A. Darby, Dorothea A. Farrington, E. Neville Harnsberger, and Elsie J. Mistie—each created numerous pen-and-ink and pencil drawings from the photographs. In some cases, the artists were asked to make … Read the rest

Kodak 1 – Virginia Photograph Collection

C1: 157
1889
51 4 x 5-inch photographic cards 

C1:157 Kodak 1 – Virginia Photograph Collection

C1:157 Kodak 1 – Virginia Photograph Collection

These photographs conform to the Kodak 1 camera’s distinctive 2.5-inch circular iris, and often capture those in the unidentified photographer’s entourage from a considerable distance, reducing them to delicate miniatures on hillsides or in sylvan glades. Tighter shots reveal happy-looking men and women in comfortably rumbled Victorian traveling clothes—apparently early enthusiasts of historic tourism. Other photos show an oxcart on the road to Petersburg, Grant’s headquarters at City Point (present-day Hopewell), Gen. William “Baldy” Smith’s headquarters during the Siege of Petersburg (referred to in the photo’s handwritten caption as “The Old Friend House”), a group luncheon on the grass of Petersburg’s famous “Crater,” St. John’s churchyard in Richmond, the State Capitol building, the bell tower and statues of Washington and Henry Clay (since removed) on the Capitol grounds. Also shown is a mothballed monitor-class gunship on the James, which, given the time and place the photo were taken, would have to be the Manhattan, Mahopac, or Tippecanoe

Most of the photos have handwritten captions and are dated, with most taken on October 9, 1889. 

Provenance:
Purchased, 2010

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Richmond VA Goodwill Lantern Slide Collection

C1: 173
1923
90 glass slides, 3 x 4 inches, housed in original wooden box 

C1:173 Richmond VA Goodwill Lantern Slide Collection

These rare slides, many of which are hand-colored, offer a glimpse into the founding of the Richmond branch of Goodwill Industries by Dr. J. T. Mastin and the Rev. Samuel Coles in 1923, before its eventual merger with Citizens’ Service Exchange. Featured are detailed interior and exterior shots of early Goodwill-related activity, including refurbishment of furniture and clothing, horse-drawn Goodwill wagons, volunteers and patrons, several scenes of prison interiors (presumably in connection with Mastin’s correctional work), and many images unrelated to Richmond, including views of England and South Africa. The Goodwill headquarters featured so prominently in these images stood at 1814 E. Grace Street, only a few yards from the Craig House in Shockoe Bottom, and has since vanished without a trace. 

The slides most likely served as a visual aid to educational or religious lectures. Lantern slides, as a technology, were popular in America as early as 1850, yielding “magic” projections of images large enough to be easily visible to large audiences. 

The accompanying collection file contains much biographical information about Mastin (1855–1943), a Methodist minister, secretary of the State Board of Charities and Corrections, a native Virginian and, according to one article, “the South’s greatest social worker.” 

Provenance:
Purchased, 2007

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Edward A. Darby Drawings Collection (Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion)

D1: 005
c. 1940
18 pen-and-ink drawings, ranging in size from 5-1/8 x 6-5/8 inches to 14-5/8 x 7-3/8 inches

Edward A. Darby Drawings Collection (Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion)

This collection of original illustrations and chapter head- and end-pieces was created by Edward A. Darby for Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion.   Compiled by workers of the Work Projects Administration’s state-sponsored Virginia Writers’ Project (1940), the book was initiated as one in a series of state guides begun in 1935 under the Federal Writers Project and was designed to give work to writers, editors, historians, and researchers.

All thirteen of the drawings used in Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion can be found in this collection of lighthearted, optimistic, and idealized images. The detailed artwork depicts iconic landmarks, historic sites, and symbols of the early-20th-century countryside that would be recognizable to many Virginians today. Also included in the collection are five additional drawings that do not appear in the guide. They represent an imagined Virginia, where tidewater monuments stand at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and where oxcarts and buggies share the landscape with speeding trains, automobiles, and airplanes.

Arrangement and access:
The collection is arranged in a single series, corresponding to the order in which the illustrations appear in Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion, followed by the five remaining drawings.

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Wolf Pitt Copper Mine Photograph Album

C1: 133
1899–1901
1 album, 10 x 7 inches; 43 images 

C1:133 Wolf Pitt Copper Mine Photograph Album

C1:133 Wolf Pitt Copper Mine Photograph Album

This album bears a handwritten inscription by Charles T. Cobb, dated March 1935: “The photographs in this album are of my deceased father and his Wolf Pitt Copper Mines, which he once owned and operated at Virgilina, Virginia, in the early 1900s, during the time we lived in the South. He sold the mine holdings in 1907 to the owners of the Blue Wing Copper Mines Co. for a very large amount.” 

In addition to its photo-documentation of Virginia copper-mining practices of the turn of the century, this album contains rare visual information about Virgilina itself in its “boom days”—a busy little town of mining and moonshining, muddy roads and newly built hotels, houses and storefronts in a rugged landscape stripped of trees. Included are photos of the Jones Distillery, where corn whisky was manufactured (“by U.S. permit,” the handwritten caption assures us), local mining bosses William Battershill and George B. Cobb, and even the Hungarian “Count Carachristy” [sic], an expert in coal distillation. 

Provenance:
Donation, 1997

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