CVHR Meeting (Hidden in Plain Sight: The Holsinger Photo Archive and New Visions of Charlottesville’s African American History)

August 6th, 2018

John Mason, UVA professor of history, spoke to us about a project to create a multi-media exhibition of Rufus Holsinger’s late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century portraits of African Americans, which are a striking refutation of the racial stereotypes of that time.  About 500 of Holsinger’s 5,000 portraits are of African Americans, and many of those are currently unidentified.  The project team, representing UVA and the Charlottesville community, is developing a process for identifying the sitters and is particularly interested in stories that can be told about individuals and families.  They will begin seeking public input in early 2019, including hosting a Family Photo Day.  But if you have information to share now, you can contact John at
For the Holsinger Photo Collection, see  and search  “African American.”

CVHR Meeting (The Lynching of John Henry James at Wood’s Crossing on July 12, 1898 and the Charlottesville Community Remembrance Project)

August 6th, 2018

Jalane Schmidt, Jane Smith, and Andrea Douglas brought us up to date on the Community Civil Rights Pilgrimage, July 8 to 13.  Its main goal is to take soil collected from the site of the 1898 lynching of John Henry James to the Equal Justice Initiative’s Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.  There will be stops along the way at important civil rights sites.
Jane told the story of the events of 11 July 1898 and explained the complicated process of discovering the location of the lynching at what was known as Wood’s Crossing, near Farmington.  Here is a link to the PowerPoint presentations, including newspaper accounts of the lynching and useful web links:


CVHR Meeting (May 3, 2018): A New Chapter for the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society (ACHS)

April 16th, 2018

Coy Barefoot, the new Executive Director of the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society (ACHS), shared with us a host of plans for the future, from basic issues like bylaws, budget and funding sources, and membership structure, to ideas for expanded programming (a new website, a speaker series, regular exhibitions) and his dream of a regional museum of history and culture here in Charlottesville.  He expressed his eagerness to collaborate with CVHR and other local organizations.  We were excited by the prospects for an educational institution central to our community and chipped in with our ideas.  If you too have suggestions or comments, Coy would like to hear your views (

CVHR Meeting (April 5, 2018): What’s Happening on Monticello Mountain?

March 27th, 2018

Interpreter Aurelia Crawford, Community Engagement Officer Gayle Jessup White, and Niya Bates, Public Historian of Slavery and African American Life, joined us to report on current initiatives at Monticello.  We heard about the ongoing work of the Getting Word oral history project, which preserves the oral traditions of the descendants of Monticello’s enslaved families.  Getting Word’s 25th anniversary will be celebrated in June.  We learned about Black History Month events and the ways Monticello is collaborating with local organizations, such as in sponsoring events like the community history fair, Memories Matter, in February.
Niya Bates described the major restoration project in the South Dependencies, scheduled to open in June.  There will be spaces dedicated to Sally Hemings and the Getting Word project, and the two levels of the South Pavilion will tell the stories of Martha Jefferson and cooks Ursula Granger and James Hemings.  The exhibition, Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty, which first opened in 2012 at the Smithsonian, is being updated and readied for travel to a number of museums around the country.


CVHR Meeting (March 1, 2018): The Art and Mysterie of Colonial Apprenticeships

March 27th, 2018

Bob Vernon unraveled the “art and mysterie” of colonial legal processes with a Power Point presentation revealing how the courts of Albemarle and adjacent counties managed juvenile apprenticeships.  Children of color were bound to white masters and lived in their families, a contractual relationship overseen by the white Overseers of the Poor.  Apprenticeship records are thus a key source for understanding the lives of free blacks and the changing relations between black and white Virginians in the eighteenth century.

You can see Bob’s PPT program for yourself at

CVHR Meeting (February 1, 2018): Beating the Odds: Janie Porter Barrett Day Nursery to Barrett Early Learning Center: 1935-2018

March 27th, 2018

Dede Smith told us about the founding, in 1935, and early years of the Janie Porter Barrett Day Nursery, an important resource for working African American women in Charlottesville.  She showed how it prevailed through funding and location challenges and drew the support of a cross-section of the black and white community, highlighting the roles of founder Daisy Green as well as local leaders like Otelia Jackson and Virginia Edwards.

You can watch a 15-minute video produced in 2016 to celebrate Barrett’s 80th anniversary:

CVHR Meeting (January 4, 2018): Creating a Historical Map of Albemarle County

March 27th, 2018

Erik Irtenkauf has offered to generate an interactive historical web map of Albemarle County to include sites reflecting the research of CVHR members.  He anchored a lively discussion that ranged far beyond merely adding locations, events, and people to the map.  We explored what the scope and methodology of such a project might be and acknowledged the need to be compatible with similar projects in the state (Preservation Virginia is developing a Historic African American Schools Survey in ArcGIS and the Louisa County Historical Society has a mapping project to locate slaves in 1860, among other things ).

Further discussion will be ongoing.  Comments and/or questions are welcome.


CVHR Meeting (December 7, 2017): Telling the Ivy Creek Story with Story Maps

March 13th, 2018

Story maps are web pages that blend interactive maps with photos and text.  Erik Irtenkauf demonstrated his story map of the history of the Ivy Creek Natural Area.  Digital maps and aerial photographs, supplemented by explanatory text and historical documents, show how freed slave Hugh Carr gradually acquired the acreage that became River View Farm and passed it on to his children.  Erik is expanding the story to include the post-Civil War African American community of Hydraulic Mills-Union Ridge.  And a time slider will soon make the depiction of change over time even easier to access.  You can see the Ivy Creek story map at  Erik will present “Albemarle’s History Story Mapping” at the Ivy Creek Natural Area on Sunday, April 8th at 2 PM.

CVHR Meeting (November 2, 2017): Things Unseen: A Project to Link African American History to Public Spaces

March 13th, 2018

Seven UVA students from Maggie Guggenheimer’s arts marketing class presented the sites they’ve chosen for a public art project, Things Unseen.  These sites, which include the downtown library, the Paramount, and Pavilion 7 and other sites at UVA, will feature power-washed quotes from The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, ed. Jesmyn Ward (2016) and access to relevant research.  The Things Unseen project is a collaboration between the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the UVA McIntire Department of Art.

CVHR Meeting (October 5, 2017): The 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic in Charlottesville and Albemarle County

March 13th, 2018

Addeane Caelleigh evoked the terrifying months of late 1918 and early 1919, when the “Spanish influenza” came to central Virginia.  After providing a global and national context for the worst epidemic in history (700,000 deaths in the US), she told us what death certificates and other records reveal about the situation in Charlottesville and Albemarle County: 227 documented deaths (probably only half the actual figure), the role of local doctors and nurses, the actions of volunteers in making soup and stitching flu masks, and more.   See Addeane’s article on this topic, complete with lists of physicians, nurses, and flu victims, in the Magazine of Albemarle County History, volume 75 (2017), pp. 31-87.