Virginia Historical Society Library :: History of Virginia

Virginia Historical Society Library

January 6, 2018
Detail Map of Richmond VA 1863

VHS facadeThe Virginia Historical community (VHS) was founded in 1831, which makes it the fourth-oldest these types of institution within the country. This has run without disruption for over 180 years, that makes it the earliest social institution in the Old Dominion. The VHS is the only organization dedicated to obtaining and interpreting each of Virginia’s history—all areas, all time periods, and all sorts of individuals. For this reason, although it is a totally private non-profit, the overall Assembly designated the VHS the official historical society associated with the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Currently the VHS serves an array of constituents, including elementary school students and instructors, scholars, genealogists, and life-long students, by a diverse variety of events, lectures, journals, vacation options, academic programs, and digital projects. And encouraging many of these efforts are the choices, which now number nearly 9 million manuscripts, publications, pictures, paintings, pieces of furniture, alongside items.

Our History

The culture ended up being started in 1831. Like the majority of of country's older historical communities, it offers been a personal business and derives almost all its help from account and endowment. The VHS elected Chief Justice John Marshall as the first president and former president James Madison its first honorary member.

Through the early many years, between 1831 and 1861, the culture obtained valuable books, manuscripts, museum things, and normal record specimens. Occasionally, it published the texts of historic documents together with addresses delivered at its annual meetings. This was hampered, but by having which has no endowment no permanent house.

War and healing

Through the Civil War, VHS choices were relocated from destination to place, aided by the outcome that numerous valuable things disappeared. The community invested its whole endowment—$5, 000—in Confederate bonds, therefore it, also, ended up being lost.

In 1870, the VHS was reorganized and attempted to reassemble its scattered collections. The society found short-term headquarters within the Westmoreland Club building, and embarked on a very ambitious publications system. Eleven amounts had been posted in as many many years, although endeavor, having little financial support, brought the VHS to digital personal bankruptcy.

Finding a Home

Under new management, in 1893 the culture, the very first time, occupied its building, 707 East Franklin Street. These days this place is called the Lee home since it had supported due to the fact wartime house of Gen. Robert E. Lee's household. Just one single month as a result of its move, the society published 1st dilemma of the quarterly diary. In path of William Glover Stanard, the guide and manuscript selections expanded significantly, and, as a reflection of their own personal interests, started progressively to pay attention to genealogy.

The growth of collections and issues about safety led the VHS executive committee in 1933 to accept construction of a fireproof annex towards back of the Lee House to accommodate the culture's library and museum selections.

Battle Abbey

The VHS obtained Battle Abbey in 1946 when it merged with, or more precisely, absorbed the Confederate Memorial Association. The connection was formed in 1895 for the true purpose of commemorating people who had died for the Lost Cause. The cornerstone of Battle Abbey (as building came into existence known) had been laid in 1912, although orifice associated with building was delayed by the very first World War and Charles Hoffbauer's dedication to repaint the murals in the Mural Gallery which he had practically completed before the war. The building finally opened its doorways in 1921.

In 1948, two years following the VHS obtained Battle Abbey, its president, Alexander Wilbourne Weddell, and his partner, Virginia (Chase) Steedman Weddell, had been killed in a train accident. By terms of their particular wills, the community received the majority of their properties together with Virginia home, their Tudor residence in Windsor Farms. Utilizing the Weddells' ample bequests put into its endowment, the VHS for the first time much more than a century of existence, had adequate funds to carry out its scholarly objective.

John Melville Jennings became manager in 1953 and straight away started launching up to date cataloging techniques to the library, developing its choices, and recruiting expert staff. In 1958-59 a sizable addition towards straight back of Battle Abbey accommodated the community's offices, library, and reading room. The culture left the Lee home and moved into its new quarters within the springtime of 1959.

A Beacon of Overseas Scholarship

During years 1960-80, the society's collections expanded to an amazing degree, the magazines program became more energetic, and increased numbers of scientists consulted the VHS sources. Devoting itself practically entirely toward educational neighborhood, the society eventually became a beacon of intercontinental scholarship in United states and south record.

In Summer 1992, after increasing $12 million and growing the headquarters building, the VHS reopened due to the fact Center for Virginia background. It embraced a wider vision with additional museum galleries, a strengthened endowment, increased general public programs, a paper conservation lab, and an education division.

Informing Virginia's Story

Due to the statewide nature of their extensive collection, the VHS has got the unique ability to show and interpret broad motifs in Virginia record. A long-term convention entitled the storyline of Virginia, An American Enjoy started in October 1995 and was well-received notwithstanding restricted gallery space. The sensation that a bigger convention was required coincided with recognition your Virginia division of Historic sources (VDHR), a state agency, also had a vast collection of archaeological items, as well as other sources, previously unavailable into the general public. An original private-public relationship lead between the VHS and VDHR. As an element of a $30 million fund raising promotion, the VHS added a 38, 000-square-foot wing in 1998. Two flooring were rented from VHS because of the VDHR, providing advanced storage space for their choices and simple accessibility by curators, scholars, and public. The VDHR's staff moved in to the facility while maintaining their particular existing governing and running freedom. This joining for the VDHR's archaeological and historic preservation functions with our study collection, museum, and educational features on one "university" may be the first private-public partnership of their sort in the united states.

On September 17, 1997, the VHS unveiled The war-horse, a memorial to the Civil War horse, created by Tessa Pullan of Rutland, England, and provided to the historical culture by Paul Mellon of Upperville, Virginia. Mounted on a six-foot base, the statue appears in front of the historical culture's building from the Boulevard in Richmond.

Share this Post