The HistoryMakers Oral Archive Opens Full Range of African-American Experience

“Just dealing with prominent blacks is not about history … We only hear about those who attracted the attention of white folks …”* So said novelist, poet, film producer, and activist Sam Greenlee in November 2001, part of an interview with Julieanna Richardson, Harvard graduate, lawyer, digital historian, and founder of The HistoryMakers—the newest digital history resource offered by the Library, and the largest database of oral African-American history in existence.

UVA researchers may now hear the late Sam Greenlee’s words on how white society has controlled the African-American historical narrative, words that also explain why Julieanna Richardson—who began by recording stories of famous men and women—expanded the archive to include what she calls “America’s Missing Stories.” She was inspired by the example of the little-known “Golden 13″—black men who were commissioned as Naval officers in World War II; and she set 5,000 interviews as her goal, more than double the number of interviews that the Works Progress Administration conducted with slavery survivors in the 1930’s.

The HistoryMakers’ interviews, however, are not confined to a single focus—slavery. They include African Americans’ “contributions in all areas of American life and culture,” in the arts, the military, in business, in the legal and healthcare professions, in architecture and engineering, in education—largely “untold and unrecorded,” but here told without being filtered through a white perspective.

Subjects who agreed to be interviewed range from celebrated figures to ordinary people. If you want to find the oldest voter in the archive, for example, type “vote” in the homepage search box, then click “Table of Contents” to open search options. A button allows you to select “Birth Year,” which brings up a list of decades. Choosing 1890s yields two names. One, Amazon Brooks, was born November 26, 1897 and was interviewed for the archive in 2004. She voted in 1920, the first year women were allowed to cast a ballot. But She died on February 23, 2007, and therefore did not live to see a relatively obscure Illinois State Senator—interviewed for the archive in February 2001—win a presidential election as the first African American nominee of a major party, Barack Obama.

* Thanks to UVA Librarian Regina Rush for the reference to Sam Greenlee’s interview in The HistoryMakers Digital Archive.

The Library’s NewsBank Subscription Opens the World to UVA Researchers

An enormous amount of news and opinion pours out of newspapers, blogs, newswires, journals, broadcast transcripts, and videos from around the world every day, from the most information-packed and insightful articles to the most irrational and irate letters to the editor. To help students and faculty sort out the cacophony, the Library subscribes to NewsBank—a database providing access to stories from 160 countries and more than 9,000 online and print news sources, covering politics, health, sports, culture, and other topics frequently requested by researchers.

Open NewsBank and you’re presented with a map of the world in nine regions—the continents plus the Caribbean, Central America, and the Middle East. An accompanying list shows the number of sources that NewsBank offers from each region. Click a region to divide it into countries; click countries to divide them into states and provinces; and click a state or province to bring up a list of publications in the area. You can refine your search to include Source Type, Publication, City, Year, Month, Day, or even Era—NewsBank offers news items of historical interest that extend back through Presidential Eras to Theodore Roosevelt. No matter how narrowly you confine your search, you can retrace your steps by cancelling categories in your search history.

If you would like to browse European newspapers for election day views of the United States presidential race, you can click Europe, the Year 2016, the month November 2016, the day November 8, Source Type “Newspaper”, and sort by “Best matches first.” Search the term “US election” and you get 403 results, at the top an analysis in Edinburgh’s The Scotsman, “Why US elections are nastier than British ones.”

Need help deciding on a topic? Click the “Find a topic” panel—divided conveniently into broad categories, Business & Economic, Criminal Justice, Education, Environmental Studies, Health, International Studies, Performing & Fine Arts, Political Science, Religion, Science, Social Issues, and Technology. Clicking a category in the panel gives you a list of more specific categories. From the list covered by Social Issues, for instance, clicking the subcategory “Racial Profiling” gives 5,797 results; you may limit results further by selecting a preferred Source Type.

You can also set up email alerts to watch for new results that match your topic. Simply click on “Create Email Alert” just below the Search button, select how often you want to be alerted, and enter email addresses in the box. Manage alerts by clicking “My Collection” on the menu bar at the top, and then the “Saved Alerts” link.

Brown Science & Engineering Library hosts virtual “Accessible Media, Web and technology Conference”

Anyone from the University community who has digital accessibility responsibilities should attend the virtual “Accessible Media, Web and technology Conference,” presented by Accessing Higher Ground (AHG). The conference will be held in room 133 of the Brown Science and Engineering Library, and is free to all who are interested.

There will be four pre-conference sessions. Two will be streamed each day, Monday, November 14 and Tuesday, November 15:


  • 12:30 p.m.–3:00 p.m., Evaluating Electronic and Information Technology (EIT) for University Procurement
  • 4:30 p.m.–7:00 p.m., Writing video transcripts, captions, and audio descriptions


  • 11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., Mobile Accessibility Strategies & Standards
  • 3:30 p.m.­­–6:30 p.m., Simplify your development life with tools, tests and procedure

Accessibility of our digital environment is a high priority for the University and this conference will provide very good information as we all work towards a more inclusive online experience. Please see the full schedule (time zone is Mountain Time).

Special Collections Faulkner Tour helps Fourth Year Scholar see the Person behind the Author

Fourth year student Marcella Sohm—a double major in English, and in Women, Gender & Sexuality—took second place in a Faulkner studies contest with her paper “‘She Was My Heart’s Darling’: Faulkner as Father, Through Letters to his Daughter Jill at College.”father_headerAccording to a UVA Today article, Sohm’s depiction of Faulkner as a self-absorbed father writing primarily about father/son relationships, was the result of studying letters that both Faulkner and his only daughter Jill donated to the Library. Today the letters are preserved in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library as part of its William Faulkner Collection.

The tour of the Faulkner Collection that Sohm and her classmates took with English Professor Stephen Railton and Special Collections curator Molly Schwartzburg—handling and viewing “all kinds of things from the archives: manuscripts, letters, photographs, even Faulkner’s coat and pipe”—helped Sohm to see Faulkner as a real person, instead of “an artist in the abstract.” And her insight into Faulkner’s and Jill’s relationship demonstrates to Railton that “there is still an awful lot to be learned from the materials in the Faulkner Collection here.”

Read the full article “Faulkner as Father: Student’s Prize-Winning Research Reveals Conflicted Portrait” (UVA Today, 11/9/2016)

Safe Space for Dialogue About the Election

If you need a space to talk about the election with fellow members of the University community, we’ll be providing refreshments and a safe space for dialogue in the auditorium of Harrison/Small.

To get to the auditorium, enter Harrison/Small (Harrison/Small is the building between Peabody and Clemons/Alderman), go down one flight of stairs, and enter the auditorium immediately to the left.

The auditorium will be open:

  • Wednesday, November 9: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 10: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  • Friday, November 11: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The auditorium is available as a drop-in space for students, faculty, and staff who wish to discuss the election and its aftermath, and work together to ensure that in the time ahead, the University adheres to the core values identified in our mission statement, to wit:

  • Our enduring commitment to a vibrant and unique residential learning environment marked by the free and collegial exchange of ideas;
  • Our unwavering support of a collaborative, diverse community bound together by distinctive foundational values of honor, integrity, trust, and respect;
  • Our universal dedication to excellence and affordable access.

Special Collections opens Exhibit on Albemarle’s only Civil War Engagement—the Battle of Rio Hill

The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library commemorates a bit of Albemarle history with its new exhibition “Custer vs. Charlottesville: The Battle of Rio Hill, February 1864.” The exhibition will be on display in the downstairs gallery during regular library hours from November 7 through January 11.

According to the exhibition’s curator—Civil War Historian, Research Archivist, and founding member of the Rio Hill Civil War Exhibit Committee Ervin Jordan—the battle fought on February 29 was actually a skirmish meant to divert Confederate forces from a Federal raid on Richmond, intended to free 10,000 Union prisoners.

In the battle, General George Armstrong Custer of Little Bighorn fame led cavalry against a Confederate artillery camp on the present location of Rio Hill Shopping Center and destroyed it, but was forced to withdraw and was prevented from advancing on Charlottesville. The only casualties were horses, but the battle succeeded in liberating 100 enslaved black people from local farms.

Included in the exhibition is a letter that describes the sounds of battle and laments the Confederates’ confiscation of civilian meat supplies, and a Custer letter about a hunting trip in the West three years before he met his death at Little Bighorn. There are also photographs, books, and relics, including a Confederate cavalry saber.

Update on Noise Reduction at Clemons Library

There has been a change in the construction schedule at Clemons Library in response to student concerns about noise interfering with study.

Facilities Management has agreed to reduce the loud noise of both Clemons roof construction and 2nd floor renovation at 10:00 a.m. each day from now through final exams. The restrictions on noise will not be lifted until winter break—the work of Installing the solar array on Clemons’ roof in January is not expected to be very noisy.

The Library Bids Adieu to First Folio

The First Folio—the first collection of Shakespeare’s plays to appear in print—has left the main exhibition gallery of the Harrison/Small Special Collections building today, and is now traveling to its next venue, one of the four priceless volumes the Folger Shakespeare Library has touring the United States to mark the 400th year since Shakespeare’s death in 1616.

According to UVA Today‘s article “Bidding ‘Fare Thee Well’ to Shakespeare’s First Folio at UVA” the public’s response to the tour has been very positive. Interim senior director of the Harrison-Small Research Center Carla Lee says that, since the First Folio arrived on October 1st, more than 1,800 people have come to see the book that preserved 18 plays for which there is no earlier source.

The Main Gallery will be closed from Thursday, October 27–Saturday, October 29 while the current exhibition “Shakespeare by the Book: Four Centuries of Printing, Editing, and Publishing” is reinstalled. The main gallery will reopen on Monday, October 31, and the Library exhibition will remain up through December 29, 2016.

Read the article “Bidding ‘Fare Thee Well’ to Shakespeare’s First Folio at UVA” (UVA Today, 10/26/2016).

Facilities Management Modifies Clemons Construction to Meet Students’ Concerns

In response to student concerns about the noise from construction on the roof and second floor of Clemons Library at a time when quiet study space is needed to prepare for upcoming exams, Facilities Management has agreed to modify work schedules.

Clemons roof replacement: The noisiest work on the Clemons roof will be confined to the hours between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. The work crew will perform quieter installation work for the rest of the day. The roofing project is due to be completed in December. The installation of the solar array in January is not expected to be very noisy.

Second floor renovation for Total Advising: Noisy work will be confined to the hours before 12:00 noon from now until exams have been completed. The restrictions on noise will be lifted during winter break, and the noise issue will be revisited at the beginning of the 2017 spring semester. This project will extend into the summer of 2017.