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  Digital maps and aerial photographs, supplemented by explanatory text and historical documents, show how freed slave Hugh Carr gradually acquired the acreage that became River View Farm and passed it on to his children.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.

CVHR Meeting (Sep. 7, 2017): Afro-Virginia Digital Landscapes

June 15th, 2017

We heard about new General Assembly- and NEH-supported projects at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and how the latest technology is being used.  Director of African American programs, Justin Reid, told us about ELA (Explored Landscapes of Afro-Virginia), an ambitious project to expand and enhance content in the present African American Historic Sites Database (  Director of Encyclopedia Virginia (EV), Peter Hedlund, focused on ways EV is augmenting textual entries with primary documents, audio, 3D objects, and Virtual Reality (VR) tours.  He brought a number of VR headsets for us to sample tours.  It was heartening to see so many hands go up when Peter asked who in the audience has used EV (

CVHR Meeting (June 1, 2017): Round Table

June 15th, 2017

Garland and Mary Beth Dalton spoke about their search for Garland’s ancestors in the mixed-race Gibson’s Mill community of Louisa County.   Bob Vernon showed us the scope of his project to scan or photograph public records (including deeds, wills, tax lists, marriage records, order books, overseers of the poor records), mostly from Albemarle County from the 18th to the 20th century.   Jane Smith told of her research on Rebecca Farrar Cogbill, which placed her in a community of free blacks (including Kitty Foster and the extended Battles family) in the heart of the Ragged Mountains in 1850.

CVHR Meeting (May 4, 2017): Researching Montpelier’s Enslaved Community

June 15th, 2017

Elizabeth Ladner, Director of Research at Montpelier, reviewed the evolution of research relating to the large enslaved population that supported the Madison family, including the stories of a number of enslaved individuals.  She also provided a sneak peek at Montpelier’s upcoming exhibit, “The Mere Distinction of Colour.”

CVHR Meeting (April 6, 2017): Waterworks: A History of the Local Water Supply, 1819–2017

March 17th, 2017

Steve Thompson, Cinder Stanton, and Dede Smith told the story of Charlottesville’s public water supply, 1819-2017, from three different perspectives.  Steve focused on the various schemes for bringing water to the University of Virginia, from its founding to its collaborative venture with Charlottesville in the 1880s.  Cinder provided some background on owners of the land that is now the Ragged Mountain Natural Area—particularly the Mayo and Houchens families, whose land was taken by eminent domain from 1885 to 1910 by the town (later city) of Charlottesville.  Dede chronicled the problematic evolution of the municipal water system since the first Ragged Mountain Reservoir in 1885 to the present, illuminating issues of water quality, watershed protection, and local government authority that have affected decisions about reservoir locations and management for over a century.



CVHR Meeting (March 2, 2017): Discovering the Albemarle County Origins of the U.S.C.T.

February 18th, 2017

William Kurtz, digital historian at the Nau Center for Civil War History at UVA, brought us up-to-date on projects at the Center, with a special focus on its Black Virginians in Blue project.  He explained how—building on the work of Ervin Jordan—the project has found more than two hundred Union soldiers born in Albemarle County who served in the United States Colored Troops (USCT) during the war.

For Will’s account of research methods used in the search and for Elizabeth Varon’s posts about the men, formerly enslaved in Albemarle County, who served in Missouri regiments, see

If you know of a USCT soldier who lived in Albemarle before the war, let Will know (  For a description of the Nau Center’s digital projects, see

CVHR Meeting (Feb. 2, 2017): From Mary Booth to Virginia Christian: Child Incarceration and the Making of the New South 

February 18th, 2017

Catherine Jones, professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a 2016-2017 fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, is exploring the development of Virginia’s juvenile justice system in the four decades after the Civil War, when two thousand children under 18 were incarcerated in the Penitentiary.  While focusing on the 1882 case of Mary Booth, a fourteen-year-old African American sentenced to death for poisoning her employer, she illuminated conditions in the Penitentiary, the perils of convict leasing, attitudes to childhood and race, the fitful rise of penal reform, and the shifting relationship between punishment and protection.

Catherine is the author of Intimate Reconstructions: Children in Postemancipation Virginia (2015).


CVHR Meeting (Jan. 5, 2017): Two presentations on 18th century freedom suits and 20th century photography

December 14th, 2016

The Fragility of Freedom: Kinney Family Freedom Suits in Virginia and Missouri

Bob Vernon told the story of the Kinney family and their struggles for freedom over two centuries and two continents.  In an experiment on behalf of finding the best methods to put CVHR-type talks online, he devised a way to let us listen to rather than read relevant legal documents (the voice was a Siri female).  One especially colorful example of the persistent re-enslavement of free people of color was Thornton Kinney, whose travels took him to Missouri, Liberia, and a rowdy San Francisco.

Hopes and Dreams in the Albert Durant Photography Collection of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Amy Speckart previewed a presentation she will give at the Virginia Forum in March on a collection of thousands of images by an African American photographer, acquired by Colonial Williamsburg in the 1990s.  Albert Durant (1920-1991) photographed everyday events in a segregated Williamsburg from the 1930s to the 1950s.  Amy explored his life, his photographs, and the implications of their acquisition by an institution with a history of exclusion.