These materials, primarily from VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives, range in subject matter from African-American history in Virginia to Richmond's past and present, from the comic and cartooning arts to the history of VCU, from medical artifacts to oral histories. Collections are presented in a variety of formats, including photographs, art, text, video, and audio. Digital Collections come from a broad range of sources, including materials that are offensive or contain negative stereotypes. VCU Libraries provides access to these items to support research and inquiry.

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Richmond Commission of Architectural Review Slide Collection [View Image]
Richmond Commission of Architectural Review Slide Collection
About this collection The Richmond Commission of Architectural Review Slide Collection contains more than 7,000 color photographs of the city of Richmond. Taken over a period from 1965 to 2000, these images document many of the changes within the city. In some cases the images serve as a record forproperties which have since been either renovated or demolished. Ranging from close-ups of architectural details and shots of single buildings to photos of entire city blocks and aerial shots, the subjects depicted include office buildings, houses, warehouses, construction sites, alleys, storefronts, historical buildings, cemeteries, gardens, and garages. The Richmond Commission of Architectural Review, established in 1957, is a nine-member board appointed by City Council. Five of the members are citizens-at-large while the remaining four are representatives of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities, the James River Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Historic Richmond Foundation, and the Richmond Association of Realtors. The Commission is charged with reviewing all exterior changes to structures within the City's Old and Historic Districts. The 7,401 images included as part of the Commission's slide collection were scanned by the VCU Libraries from color slides in 2008. The slides were taken under the auspices of the Secretary to the Commission, a position housed in the Richmond Department of Community Development. The images were used for monthly Commission meetings, and were taken prior to meetings to document existing conditions of buildings and other structures before review. They show how the structures looked before rehabilitation or reconstruction. The slides were kept in a series of slide pockets in 33 three-ring binders. The binders, used to organize the slides when they were part of the working collection, were labeled with hand-written categories. These original categories are given in the record for each slide as "Original binder label." Each binder also had slide-sized labels denoting the street, area, or building depicted in groups of slides. These are the "Original content designation." Addresses for each slide were usually annotated on the slide or given on the slide-sized labels. Addresses have been normalized in the following ways: Street names are spelled out in full ("Franklin" instead of "Frank."). Street appellations are abbreviated ("St." instead of "Street"). Numbered streets are given in numeral form ("1st" instead of "First"). Cardinal directions are abbreviated ("E." instead of "East"). The word "block" is spelled out ("block" instead of "blk."). Streets numbers grouped together are expanded ("2208 - 2212" instead of "2208-12"; "2814/2816/2818" instead of "2814/16/18"). Each number is searchable on its own. Copyright This material is in the public domain in the United States and thus is free of any copyright restriction. Acknowledgement of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is requested. The physical collection is housed at James Branch Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives. Additional research information There is additional information on the Richmond Commission of Architectural Review at the Richmond's Department of Community Development Website. For additional contemporaneous images of Richmond taken by City of Richmond staff, see the Richmond Comprehensive Planning Slide Collection.
Richmond Comprehensive Planning Slide Collection [View Image]
Richmond Comprehensive Planning Slide Collection
About this collection The Richmond Comprehensive Planning Slide Collection contains over 8,000 photographs primarily depicting the city of Richmond, Virginia. The collection of 35mm slides was compiled by the staff of the Planning and Preservation Division of the City of Richmond's Department of Planning and Development Review. It functioned as an archive of planning imagery used for presentations to the public, to community groups, and to the Planning Commission and City Council for the adoption of plans. The collection was also used to illustrate the Richmond Master and Downtown Plans as well as neighborhood planning documents. It is an important resource for understanding the larger context of planning as practiced in Richmond during the second half of the twentieth century. The images document the changes in numerous Richmond neighborhoods, in the city's architecture and streetscapes, and in other various aspects of the built environment. Dating from the 1940s to 2000, with the majority ranging from the '70s to the '90s, the photographs depict buildings, streets, aerial views, parks, parking lots, floods, people, and events, mostly in Richmond, but also in other cities in Virginia and in other states. The non-Richmond views were used by the Division as examples of best planning practices. In 1948 the City of Richmond created the Department of Planning following the adoption of its first master plan in 1946. The department staffed the Planning Commission, prepared community plans, and updated the city's Master Plan. Over the years, the city changed the department's name and some of its functions and responsibilities. For at least three decades the department was known as the Department of Community Development and focused on outreach to the community as a major component of the planning process. In 2010 the name of the department changed to the Department of Planning and Development Review. The department currently oversees building permits and inspections, compliance with the property codes, long-range city planning, enforcement of zoning ordinances, and historic preservation. The staff of the Department of Community Development began compiling an image library in the 1980s, storing the slides in three-ring binders. David Sacks, a longtime city planner who headed the Comprehensive Planning Division for a number of years, shot a large number of the slides. He developed the organizational scheme for the images and assigned many of the binder headings. Additional images came to the collection from various municipal departments, Richmond libraries, and other sister cities. With the advent of digital photography and online images libraries, the department no longer required a slide library. It was phased out in the 2000s. Most of the binders were assigned at least one subject, given here in the record for each slide as "Category." Additional broad subject matter is indicated as "Binder Designation." Information written on the slides has been transcribed exactly as it appears and is given as the title. Addresses have additionally been normalized for searching purposes, in the following ways:
  • Street names are spelled out in full ("Franklin" instead of "Frank.").
  • Street appellations are abbreviated ("St." instead of "Street").
  • Street appellations are added when known.
  • Numbered streets are given in numeral form ("1st" instead of "First").
  • Cardinal directions are abbreviated ("E." instead of "East").
  • The word "block" is spelled out ("block" instead of "blk.").
  • The characters "&" and "+" are converted to the word "and."
  • Streets numbers grouped together are expanded ("2208 - 2212" instead of "2208-12"; "2814/2816/2818" instead of "2814/16/18"). Each number is searchable on its own.
Most addresses, when given, are street names only, without the number of the building. Almost half of the slides are not annotated at all, and while we have been able to supply minimal information for many of the unannotated slides based on context or prior knowledge, over 3,000 of them have no state or city designation--although most of them probably depict Richmond. In general, the accompanying information about the subject matter of many of these photographs is scanty or non-existent. If you have information about any of the sites depicted, please contact us. Over 99% of the original collection is presented here. Slides containing presentation text as well as various non-Richmond images used for historical context and not taken by municipal staff have been excluded. For additional contemporaneous images of Richmond taken by City of Richmond staff, see the Richmond Commission of Architectural Review Slide Collection. Items in this collection were digitized in 2008. Copyright This material is in the public domain in the United States and thus is free of any copyright restriction. Acknowledgement of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is requested. The physical collection is housed at James Branch Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives.
Richmond Illustrated Imprints [View Image]
Richmond Illustrated Imprints
About this collection The Richmond Illustrated Imprints Collection contains digital versions of late 19th and early 20th century books that illustrate Richmond. Some of these books were published in Richmond. This digital collection will grow as other books and publications of the city are added. All digitized books are fully searchable. The books themselves are housed in James Branch Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives. The first three publications to be featured in the Richmond Illustrated Imprints Collection were published in the 1890s. This decade was a time of transition for Richmond as it emerged from the Reconstruction Era to a time dominated by the New South vision of industry and veneration of the Lost Cause. City manufacturing of tobacco, specifically the production of cigarettes, spiked in the 1890s. This spurred economic growth. At the same time, monuments and statues to the leaders of the Confederacy were erected. Monument Avenue, a grand avenue of domestic architecture and Confederate monuments, which came into being in the 1890s, is a reflection of both of these forces. New Album of Richmond Views (1890s), Richmond, Virginia, Illustrated (1891), and Art Work of Richmond (1897) were part of a wave of books published nationally at this time that are often called city-booster books. They were meant to sell an idealized view of a city. These Richmond publications virtually ignore the life of the city’s lower classes and that of its African American population. The publishers of these books wanted to illustrate the city’s economic and cultural growth. Altogether, these books contain nearly 200 images of the city. They show a variety of Richmond structures including domestic, civic, religious, and commercial architecture. Views range from city parks and cemeteries to street scenes of horse and buggies and early streetcars. Some of the views are rare. Others were often reprinted. Copyright This material is in the public domain in the United States and thus is free of any copyright restriction. Acknowledgement of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is requested.
Richmond Nineteenth-Century Print Collection [View Image]
Richmond Nineteenth-Century Print Collection
About this collection The Richmond Nineteenth-Century Print Collection includes 146 images of buildings, streetscapes, events, and scenes of daily life of Richmond, Virginia. This set of images is part of James Branch Cabell Library's "Richmond and Virginia Print and Map Collection," housed in Special Collections and Archives. Because of its status as the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond was often the focus of interest by American and British journals during and after the Civil War. The digital images presented here date from 1853 to 1901 and were scanned from six different periodicals that are part of the larger print and map collection. The collection is composed of images from the following periodicals: American Architect and Building News (3 images, 1884-1893), Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper (24 images, 1858-1891), Gleason's Pictorial Drawing Room Companion (2 images, 1853), Harper's Weekly (86 images, 1858-1890), Illustrated London News (6 images, 1856-1865), and the Richmond Dispatch (25 images, originally published in a Confederate Reunion special issue in 1896). More than half of the images presented are from Harper's Weekly, one of the most popular journals in the nation, whose work is often referred to as illustrated journalism. During the Civil War, artist A. W. Warren, a national correspondent based in New York, drew many of the images of Richmond published in Harper's Weekly. After the war, William Ludwell Sheppard (1839-1912), a native and resident of Richmond, provided sketches of the city for the magazine from the late 1860s through the early 1880s. Sheppard was a noted painter who also designed three Civil War monuments that were erected in Richmond - the General A. P. Hill Monument in the city's north side, the soldier on top the Confederate Soldier's and Sailor's Monument in Libby Hill Park, and the Howitzer Monument, which stands now on the Monroe Park campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. Researchers and library patrons can access the larger "Richmond and Virginia Print and Map Collection" in James Branch Cabell Library's Special Collections and Archives. The department also houses the multi-volume bound reprint edition, 1860-1865, of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. VCU Libraries also subscribes to the online version of Harper's Weekly covering the years 1857 through 1877, HarpWeek: The Civil War Era and Reconstruction I and II. Copyright This material is in the public domain in the United States and thus is free of any copyright restriction. Acknowledgement of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is requested.
Robertson Hospital Register [View Image]
Robertson Hospital Register
About this collection Robertson Hospital was a small, private Civil War hospital financially subsidized by the Confederate government. Located in the house of Judge John Roberts at the northwest corner of 3rd and Main Streets in Richmond, Virginia, the hospital was run by Captain Sally Louisa Tompkins, and was in operation from late July 1861 until June 1865. Tompkins was the only woman to be commissioned by the Confederacy. She was commissioned as Captain on September 9, 1861, in order to keep the hospital open after Surgeon General Samuel P. Moore closed all private hospitals in favor of large military hospitals to be run by commissioned officers. This speaks to the success of the hospital. About the Register and the Database The Robertson Hospital Register is an 84-page handwritten logbook of Civil War patients admitted between August 3, 1861 and April 2, 1865. There are 1,329 entries in the register, each assigned a case number. Each entry contained the following information on the patient (note that not every entry contains data for every category): case number, rank, name, company, regiment, captain's name, residence, date admitted, disease, and date discharged. All of these fields are indexed and are searchable. The current database is an updated version of a database originally developed in 1998 as part of a joint project between the VCU Libraries and the American Civil War Museum. Except as noted below, the information in the database is a literal transcription of the information compiled in the Robertson Hospital Register, which is housed at the American Civil War Museum. For proper names, rather than transcribing exactly the commonly-used abbreviations of first names (Jno. for John; Jos. for Joseph; Jas. for James), the transcriber entered the full names. Also, when the information about the military unit did not list the state or branch of service, but that information was known from the information given, he added the unambiguous, easily-known information. The most common example of this is the unit designation of an artillery unit as a battery. Even when the designation does not say "artillery," the transcriber added that information (except when battery and battalion could not be distinguished). Similarly, many unit designations listed the Richmond Howitzers, a famous Virginia Artillery unit. The transcriber took the liberty of adding Virginia and Artillery to the designation. Most of the entries for unit designations did not specify the branch of service. In almost every case, the unit in question was infantry. This is beyond doubt for many of the higher numbered units. For example, the Virginia cavalry units did not number over 47; thus Virginia units numbering over 47 must have been infantry. The register pages change format in several places, supplying different kinds of information in different order across the page. The first 576 records list units primarily by the names of captain and the regimental number and the disposition or outcome in a single column marked "Discharged." Entries 578-929 substituted Company for Captain. Entries 930-1059 omitted the separate column for rank and moved the admission date to the first column. Entries 1060-1315 delineated dates, ranks, and military unit more clearly, replaced "Discharged" with three (later four) columns for alternative outcomes: furloughed; returned to duty; transferred; (and died), and added a "Remarks" column. The last twenty entries returned to more cursory information (and a different, far sloppier, handwriting), but retained the Remarks column. The same hand filled in all of the entries until number 1316. In the current database, all reasons for discharge appear in the field "Outcome." Any additional information appears in the "Notes" field. For this database, regimental names are broken into three separate fields: "Regiment State," "Regiment Branch," and "Regiment Number." The number is given in straight numeral form rather than ordinal form. Example: to search for the 61st Virginia Regiment, enter "61 virginia regiment". Company names were indicated by either a letter ("B") or a phrase ("Carrington Artillery"). In the database, these are given in the fields "Company Designation Letter" or "Company Designation Nickname." There were no entries for case number 143, 419, 809, 943, and 944. Case number 866 was used twice. Dates appear in the database in this format: YYYY-MM-DD (example: 1862-04-11). To search for dates, do not include the hyphens. The entries for Henry Gollihorn, Clinton Southworth, and William Carmichael were initially transcribed as June 31, 1862, a literal translation of the date entry in the register. The actual admission may have occurred in May or June. Because the database can only accept valid dates, these have been changed to 1862-06-30. Finally, there are no images associated with the register entries. The thumbnail appearing in the display results is the same for every entry. It is a sample of pp. 37 and 38 from the register, showing case numbers 577 to 608. For more information about the Robertson Hospital, see the Robertson Hospital page at Civil War Richmond. A data dictionary showing the Dublin Core mapping for each metadata field is also available. Copyright This material is in the public domain in the United States and thus is free of any copyright restriction. Acknowledgement of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is requested.
Sanger Historical Files (1859-1865), Excerpts [View Image]
Sanger Historical Files (1859-1865), Excerpts
About this collection During his tenure as president of the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) from 1925-1956, Dr. William T. Sanger (1883-1975) directed the college staff to locate and gather in one place the historical records of the institution. The resulting compilation, known as the Sanger Historical Files, was transferred to the Tompkins-McCaw Library (now known as the Health Sciences Library) Special Collections and Archives in 1970. The files consist of official records, publications, correspondence, reports, receipts, photographs, and other materials which document the history of MCV from the 1840s until 1968. One of the most complete segments of the collection is the letters, reports, and hospital records meticulously saved by Dean of the Faculty, Dr. Levin S. Joynes (1819-1881) who guided MCV through the tumultuous years of the American Civil War. On the eve of the war, MCV opened its new hospital adjacent to the college building on Marshall Street. The 80-bed facility with gas lights and a surgical amphitheater was soon filled with sick and wounded soldiers. The Sanger Historical Files include a listing of discharged and deceased soldiers and inventories of the personal effects of those who died while patients in the college hospital. There are also letters which chronicle the difficulties of managing the hospital, obtaining provisions and medicine, and working with the Confederate government. MCV was strategically located in the Confederate capital and able to offer Handwritten section of hospital records, reading 'Medical College Hospital' educational opportunities to hospital stewards stationed in the Richmond area. Their stories, as revealed in their letters, are found in this digital collection. The challenges faced by Dr. Levin Joynes while guiding his colleagues and sustaining the educational program during times of war can be gleaned from the faculty correspondence saved in the Sanger Historical Files. The dean's reports to the second auditor concerning college affairs and the "secession of southern medical students" are also a significant part of this digital collection. VCU Libraries selected excerpts from the Sanger Historical Files for its contribution to the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries' (ASERL) collaborative digital project, Civil War in the American South. The materials presented in this digital collection tell the story of the Medical College of Virginia's struggle and ultimate survival during the internecine conflict that defined the United States in the nineteenth century. Each selected item from the Sanger Historical Files is presented as both a high-resolution JPEG 2000 file suitable for zooming and a PDF. Transcripts, with minimal annotations enclosed in square brackets, are included to enhance access to these rich resources. Items in this collection were digitized in 2011. Copyright This material is in the public domain in the United States and thus is free of any copyright restriction. Acknowledgement of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is requested.
Stubbins Collection of U.S. County Courthouse and Municipal Building Postcards [View Image]
Stubbins Collection of U.S. County Courthouse and Municipal Building Postcards
About this collection The Stubbins Collection of U.S. County Courthouse and Municipal Building Postcards is a collection of 2,080 postcards, including front and back views, dating from the early 1900s to the 1950s, with the bulk predating 1930. The collection documents the architecture of county courthouses and a wide variety of municipal buildings (town halls, city halls, etc.) for 49 of the 50 states, all but North Carolina. Most of the buildings depicted were constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and many have since been demolished. The collection also contains a wide range of postcards from American and European publishers, as well as a significant number of rare “real photo” postcards, which are photographic images printed on postcard paper stock. In the United States, a majority of states have at least two tiers of local government, counties and municipalities (villages, towns, cities, and boroughs), while others have unique governing structures. For instance, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, there are 95 counties and 38 independent cities. In most states, cities are part of the county government. Many of these different types of local governments are represented in the Stubbins collection. Postcards began to be widely used in the U.S. soon after the passage of the Private Mailing Card Act in 1898, which freed private publishers from what was considered unfair competition from government issued cards. In the next few years the demand for postcards grew as a craze for collecting them spread throughout the country. The golden age of postcard publishing and collecting lasted from 1898 through 1912, when thousands of cards were produced, mailed, and kept by the public. According to figures issued by the U.S. Post Office for fiscal year 1907-1908, 677,777,798 postcards were mailed in the United States. Although the fad for postcard collecting diminished by the time World War I began, they continued to be published and collected. One of those collectors was James F. Stubbins (1931-2009), a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry for 34 years at the School of Pharmacy of the Medical College of Virginia campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. Stubbins began collecting postcards as a young man and over time amassed a large trove representing a wide variety of views. He later dealt and traded postcards and was a founding member of Old Dominion Postcard Club formed in Richmond in 1978. Copyright This collection is of mixed copyright status and includes items that are in the public domain as well as items that are of unknown copyright status. See individual items for item-specific copyright information. Additional research information The collection is housed in James Branch Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives. For more information, see the finding aid for the Dr. James F. Stubbins Postcard collection. Please direct reference and research inquires to libjbcsca@vcu.edu or call (804) 828-1108.
Sykes Editorial Cartoon Collection [View Image]
Sykes Editorial Cartoon Collection
About this collection Charles Henry 'Bill' Sykes (1882-1942) was a well respected editorial cartoonist whose work appeared in a number of periodicals including newspapers in Philadelphia. James Branch Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives acquired this collection of original circa 1940 drawings in 1980. Born in Athens, Alabama, in 1882, Sykes graduated from Philadelphia's Drexel Institute in 1904. For a short time he did freelance art work and then was employed by the North American, Williamsport News, and Nashville Banner. In 1911, he returned to Philadelphia to work for the Public Ledger. In 1914, he became the first and only editorial cartoonist employed by the Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia), until it ceased publication in 1942. Before he died later that year, Sykes, who smoked four packages of cigarettes a day, received a commission to draw a series of anti-smoking advertisements. From 1922 to 1928, he was the regular editorial cartoonist for Life magazine, producing full-page weekly editorial cartoons. Also during that time, Sykes inherited the weekly and annual cartoon roundup of news subjects upon the death of F.T. Richards. He was a consistent contributor to Collier's magazine and his cartoons have appeared in the New York Evening Post. His most famous cartoon, "Madonna and Child A.D. 1940," depicts the ugliness of war; the image shows a mother and child wearing gas masks. The Sykes Editorial Cartoon Collection consists of 297 original editorial cartoons, four unfinished sketches, a U.S. War Bond poster, and a U.S. Victory poster by Sykes. The cartoons appeared in the Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia) and illustrate the events of the late 1930s and early 1940s with a focus on American reaction to the aggressions of the Axis powers before the U.S. entry into World War II. Other topics represented include: John L. Lewis and coal miners, Philadelphia and Pennsylvania politics, the Turner-Kilroy Bill, and baseball. Sykes created his early cartoons using the unusual patterns of coquille board for the shading effect. His later works were created with a crayon and wash technique. His cartoons were usually funny, filled with delightfully distorted figures while offering his unique perspective on the current news events. In the "before and after" views of selected cartoons below, the image to the left of the bar comes from the original cartoon art. The image to the right of the bar shows how the cartoon looked when published, taken from microfilm of the cartoon's appearance in the Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia). For more information, see the finding aid for the Charles Henry Sykes cartoon collection. Copyright The copyright and related rights status of this material is unknown. Acknowledgement of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is requested.
The Association of Southeastern Research Libraries 1956-66 Report [View Image]
The Association of Southeastern Research Libraries 1956-66 Report
About this collection The Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) 1956-1966 report was meant to "gather into one place information regarding the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries which would seem to be of permanent interest" for members. The report was compiled from correspondence, meeting minutes, and reports by graduate student Mrs. Wesley McCahcren, and overseen by Stanley L. West, Director of Libraries at the University of Florida. The 1956-1966 report outlines topics ranging from the aims and objectives, membership, and policy statements of ASERL institutions, to domestic and foreign newspaper projects, guides to distinguished collections, and a survey of Southeastern State documents. Copyright This material is in the public domain in the United States and thus is free of any copyright restriction. Acknowledgement of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is requested.
Thomas E. Stagg, Sash, Doors, and Blinds (1898) [View Image]
Thomas E. Stagg, Sash, Doors, and Blinds (1898)
About this collection Thomas E. Stagg was a nineteenth century Richmond, Virginia firm and manufacturer that produced sashes, blinds, and doors for the construction of homes and businesses. Operations were run out of an office and wareroom at 1444 East Main Street in Richmond. This 1898 “vest-pocket” edition of the Stagg catalog includes order instructions, price lists, and measurements. The catalog is fully searchable and has hundreds of detailed images of window sashes, doors, columns, mantles, corner and plinth blocks available from the Stagg company. Download PDF print version Copyright This material is in the public domain in the United States and thus is free of any copyright restriction. Acknowledgement of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is requested. Additional research information The catalog is housed in Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library. For more information, see the catalog record. Please direct reference and research inquires to libjbcsca@vcu.edu or call (804) 828-1108.
Through the Lens of Time [View Image]
Through the Lens of Time
About this collection Through the Lens of Time: Images of African Americans, from the Cook Collection, is a digital collection of over 250 images of African Americans dating from the nineteenth and early twentieth century, selected from the George and Huestis Cook Photograph Collection at the Valentine Richmond History Center. The digitally scanned images on this site are of prints from glass plate negatives or film negatives taken by George S. Cook (1819-1902) and Huestes P. Cook (1868-1951), primarily in the Richmond and Central Virginia area. The Cook Collection consists of over 10,000 negatives taken from the 1860s to the 1930s in Virginia and the Carolinas. The lens of a camera can both reflect and refract reality, and it is important to understand that a photograph, like any work of art, can tell us as much about the photographer as the photographed. These photographs of African Americans provide an interesting combination of examples of African American life and the white photographers' perceptions of that life, often at least tinged by stereotypes. While some photographs more obviously represent one or the other, it is an interesting exercise to attempt to determine which photographs were taken in a completely spontaneous manner and which ones were posed or staged by the Cooks. These photographs of African American life in turn-of-the-century Central Virginia are valuable both as conveyers of unique historical information and as examples of the nascent art of photography. Their preservation by the Valentine Richmond History Center and their digitization by VCU allows everyone from historical researchers to school children to access and learn from this fine and rare resource. Items in this collection were digitized in 2000. Through the Lens of Time is a joint project between VCU Libraries and the Valentine Richmond History Center. During a search for 19th century illustrations for a book, Williamsburg authors Alfred Kocher and Lawrence Dearstyne were referred to Huestis Cook. They were led to an attic which held piles and boxes of negatives and prints. From this treasure trove they put together a 1952 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts exhibition entitled Southern Exposures and, in 1954, printed 156 of the photographs in a book entitled Shadows in Silver. The Valentine Richmond History Center bought the collection from Mary Latimer Cook, Huestis' widow, in the 1950s. As historians of the 1930s began to compare the history books of their predecessors with the world they saw around them, it became obvious that the stories of key segments of the population such as women, minorities, and the lower classes were not being told. Archives had catered to the historians, their primary clientele, by focusing on the materials that could be used to chronicle the lives of the middle and upper classes. The tragic result was that whole communities had become what has been termed "under-documented"; the historical evidence most vital to the documentation of their stories has been lost. It is that fact that makes collections like the photographs of George and Huestis Cook and efforts such as this joint project between VCU Libraries and the Valentine Richmond History Center so absolutely vital. The Photographers George S. Cook (1819-1902) George S. Cook, born in Stratford, Connecticut in 1819, was studying painting in New Orleans when photography was introduced in America in 1839. He immediately espoused the new medium and, until he settled down in 1849, helped to spread photography throughout the South. First, he ran a gallery in New Orleans, then he set out to teach the tricks of the trade to others in small, inland towns. He would teach a few students in each town while establishing a studio, then sell the business to the most promising student. Cook settled in Charleston, South Carolina, to raise a family. During the Civil War, he was one of the foremost Confederate photographers and became famous by recording the gradual deterioration of Charleston and Fort Sumter. When he moved his family to Richmond in 1880, his older son, George LaGrange Cook, took over his studio in Charleston. In addition to his active studio, Cook bought the negatives and businesses of other Richmond photographers who were retiring or moving. In doing so, he amassed the most complete collection of photographs of the city in one studio. George Cook remained an active photographer all his life. During the 1880s his younger son, Huestis, became interested in photography and eventually went into business with his father. After George's death on November 27, 1902, Huestis took over the Richmond studio. Bibliography City of Richmond, 1905; Of Historic Fame, of Great Commercial Prestige. Hermitage Press: Richmond, Virginia, 1905. [Photographs by Cook] Huestis Pratt Cook Papers, 1912-1925, 1929. The Valentine Richmond History Center, Richmond, Virginia. Illustrated Greetings from Richmond, Virginia Cincinnati: T. Jones, 1901. [Photographs by George S. Cook] Kocher, A. Lawrence and Howard Dearstyne. Shadows in Silver: A Record of Virginia, 1850-1900, In Contemporary Photographs Taken by George and Huestis Cook, With Additions from the Cook Collection. New York: Scribner, 1954. Peach, Thomas J. "George Smith Cook: South Carolina's Premier Civil War Photojournalist." Master's thesis, University of South Carolina, 1982. Philadelphia Photographer, February 1880, Philadelphia: Benerman Wilson. Ramsay, Jr., Jack C. Photographer--Under Fire: The Story of George S. Cook (1819-1902). Green Bay: Historical Resources Press, 1994. Huestis P. Cook (1868-1951) Huestis Cook was one of the earliest Southern photographers to picture African Americans in realistic settings. Significantly, as noted in Shadows in Silver, a book published in 1954 about the Cooks, the first professional photographs that Huestis took were at an African American church picnic. These photographs foreshadowed the shape his career would take. Later he also posed African Americans in commercially popular stereotyped manners, but the evidence that he left elements of the truth behind the poses is of enduring importance. Huestis Cook's techniques may not have made him as famous as his father, but the younger Cook's work stands out now as a historian's photographer. He recorded physical and sociological events on a much wider scale than the busiest painter ever could have. Huestis Cook has been described an exacting, straight forward commercial photographer, known now for his prolific and versatile agricultural and industrial series. He recorded the tobacco industry from the seed beds to the packaging rooms. His photographs of Virginia plantation houses and the treasures they contained were the first, and sometimes the only, taken before the houses were altered or destroyed. His father's work, which made him famous in his lifetime, was important not only for the photographs, but for the precedent he had set as a photographer and a businessman. After Huestis' death in 1951, his widow sold all of the negatives and prints that he had saved to the Valentine Richmond History Center, where the collection is now preserved. Bibliography Kocher, A. Lawrence and Howard Dearstyne. Shadows in Silver: A Record of Virginia, 1850-1900, In Contemporary Photographs Taken by George and Huestis Cook, with Additions from the Cook Collection. New York: Scribner, 1954. Ramsay, Jr., Jack C. Photographer--Under Fire: The Story of George S. Cook (1819-1902). Green Bay: Historical Resources Press, 1994. Ordering Information For information about ordering copies of these images, go to the Valentine Richmond History Center. Be sure to include the negative number of each photograph if it is available. Copyright This material is protected by copyright, and copyright is held by the Valentine Richmond History Center. You are permitted to use this material in any way that is permitted by copyright. In addition, non-commercial use of this material is permitted. For any commercial uses, permission is required. Acknowledgement of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is requested.
VCU Alumni Publications [View Image]
VCU Alumni Publications
About this collection This collection presents digitized alumni publications published by Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) from both the Monroe Park Campus and the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) Campus. Items in this collection were digitized in 2010. Alumni magazines in the collection are: VCU Magazine (1971-1993): alumni magazine for the Monroe Park Campus Shafer Court Connections (1994-2010): alumni magazine for the Monroe Park Campus The Scarab (1952-2010): alumni magazine for the MCV Campus Funded by the VCU Libraries, this project was made possible in part through the LYRASIS Mass Digitization Collaborative, a Sloan Foundation grant-subsidized program that has made digitization easy and affordable for libraries and cultural institutions across the country. These publications are also available at the Internet Archive, with the exception of the Spring 1972 and 1986-1993 issues of VCU Magazine, which are only available here. Copyright This material is protected by copyright, and copyright is held by VCU. You are permitted to use this material in any way that is permitted by copyright. In addition, this material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0). Acknowledgment of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries as a source is required.

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