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Processing Grief Through Books, Films, and Art

The University of Virginia Library joins the UVA community in grieving three students — second-year Devin Chandler, third-year Lavel Davis Jr., and fourth-year D’Sean Perry — victims of a mass shooting on Grounds Sunday night. Two other students were wounded.

“I weep for the parents, the grandparents, the siblings and friends of all the victims,” said Dean of Libraries John Unsworth in a message to Library employees. “Please take care of yourself and those around you.”

We asked several UVA librarians to recommend books, films, television shows, and art projects to help those who are struggling in the wake of this tragic, violent event. “In tough times we often turn to stories to help us process grief and loss,” said Ashley Hosbach, Education and Social Science Research Librarian, who will host a virtual community read aloud event featuring comforting books for children tonight at 7 p.m..

Take a look at our librarians’ recommendations below:

Recommended by Haley Gillilan, Undergraduate Student Success LibrarianBook cover for "Modern Loss" the title and subhead in the form of a text messages conversation.

“Modern Loss: Candid Conversation About Grief” by Rebecca Soffer & Gabrielle Birkner (Harper Wave, 2018)

This is an interactive workshop book about grief and loss. Modern Loss is also an online community and on Instagram by the same name.

“Peace is a Practice” by Morgan Harper Nichols (Zondervan, 2022)

Nichols is an artist and poet (she also has an incredible Instagram account). Her book is about building towards peace as a discipline, both internally and communally, during troubled times and uncertainty.

“I Thought I’d Get to See My Mother Again. Then the Pandemic Hit” (Time Magazine, 2020)

Nicole Chung, whose memoir “All You Can Ever Know” explores the complexities of transracial adoption, writes beautifully about the loss of her parents in this article. “Since she died, many people have asked me if I feel a lack of ‘closure’ because of all the moments missed,” Chung writes. “My father died 2½ years ago, and I was at his funeral, and I still don’t feel anything like closure. It’s an open wound. It always will be.”Book cover shows an abstract watercolor of turquoise and white, resembling the sky or the ocean, behind the title text.

“No Cure for Being Human” by Kate Bowler (Random House, 2021)

Bowler’s memoir is about accepting how her life has changed since having cancer. She also has a magnificent podcast called “Everything Happens,” where she interviews people about loss and grief. She’s based at Duke University and has interviewed folks from our UVA community, including Taylor Harris and Katie Couric.

“After Yang” (A24, 2022)

A24 summary: When his young daughter’s beloved companion — an android named Yang — malfunctions, Jake (Colin Farrell) searches for a way to repair him. In the process, Jake discovers the life that has been passing in front of him, reconnecting with his wife (Jodie Turner-Smith) and daughter across a distance he didn’t know was there."Station Eleven" publicity photo shows actress Mackenzie Davis looking anxiously into the distance. Behind her is a house in the wilderness.

“Station Eleven” (HBO Max 2021)

HBO Max summary: A post-apocalyptic saga spanning multiple timelines, this limited drama series tells the stories of survivors of a devastating flu as they attempt to rebuild and reimagine the world anew while holding on to the best of what’s been lost. “Station Eleven” is based on the international bestseller of the same name by Emily St. John Mandel.

“Wind Telephone” (Itaru Sasaki, 2010)

Japanese artist Itaru Sasaki was mourning his deceased cousin and so he decided to A rotary phone sits in a glass telephone booth, along with a notepad and pen on a table. Surrounding the booth are flowers and wild grasses.create a telephone booth with a rotary phone to “call” him when he wanted to speak with him. This has sparked many communities to create their own wind phones; there are a couple on the Appalachian Trail and one in Priest Point Park in Olympia, Washington.


Recommended by Amy Hunsaker, Librarian for Music & the Performing Arts

“Helping the Bereaved College Student” by David E. Balk (Springer, 2011)Cover image shows a silhouette of a man hunched over at a table next to a window. The room he is in is dark.

Publisher’s summary: Approximately one-fourth of all college students suffer the loss of a family member or friend during their college career, yet the prevalence of bereavement on the college campus is largely unrecognized — sometimes by even the bereaved students themselves. This is the only volume to comprehensively address the ways in which bereavement may affect the college student, and to guide mental health professionals in effectively treating this underserved population. Authored by an internationally known expert on bereavement, the book includes student narratives, treatment exercises and activities, and issues regarding self-disclosure.

“We Don’t ‘Move on’ From Grief. We Move Forward with It” by Nora McInerny (TED Talk, 2020)

TED summary: In a talk that’s by turns heartbreaking and hilarious, writer and podcaster Nora McInerny shares her hard-earned wisdom about life and death. Her candid approach to something that will, let’s face it, affect us all, is as liberating as it is gut-wrenching. Most powerfully, she encourages us to shift how we approach grief. “A grieving person is going to laugh again and smile again,” she says. “They’re going to move forward. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve moved on.”

Recommended by Ashley Hosbach, Education & Social Science Research Librarian

The following children’s books on processing grief, loss, and sadness are from our COVID collection.

“Why Do We Cry?” by Fran Pintadera (Kids Can Press, 2018)Cover image shows a drawing of child standing ankle-deep in a pond, surrounded by plants and flowers. Only her legs, shorts, and hands are shown.

Publisher’s summary: This sensitive, poetic picture book uses metaphors and beautiful imagery to explain the reasons for our tears, making it clear that everyone is allowed to cry, and that everyone does.


“When Sadness Is at Your Door” by Eva Eland (Random House Children’s Books, 2019)

Publisher’s summary: Sadness can be scary and confusing at any age. When we feel sad, especially for long periods of time, it can seem as if the sadness is a part of who we are — an overwhelming, invisible, and scary sensation. Eva Eland’s debut picture book is a great primer in mindfulness and emotional literacy, perfect for kids navigating these new feelings — and for adult readers tackling the feelings themselves!

“The Breaking News” by Sarah Lynne Reul (Roaring Brook Press, 2018)Cover text shows a boy and a girl looking anxiously at a TV screen (which has the title "The Breaking News" on the screen). A dog observes them. The boy holds a small houseplant and the girl holds a watering can.

Publisher’s summary: When devastating news rattles a young girl’s community, her normally attentive parents and neighbors are suddenly exhausted and distracted. At school, her teacher tells the class to look for the helpers — the good people working to make things better in big and small ways.

“Adrift” by Heidi Stemple (Crocodile Books, 2021)Book cover shows a mouse at sea in a small boat with a yellow sail. The boat is riding over large waves. Stars shine in the sky.

Publisher’s summary: In this metaphor for the global pandemic and the power of community, a mouse in a small boat finds comfort and strength during a storm when he sees another boat and is joined by others, close enough to see each other, but not close enough to crash.

The full list of children’s books addressing grief and loss is on our guide, open to the public.


Register here for Ashley Hosbach’s Community Read Aloud event.

The University of Virginia will hold a public memorial service for Chandler, Davis, and Perry on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at John Paul Jones Arena.

Digital Humanities at 30: A Roundtable

Glowing books on shelves.With the click of a mouse, fans of William Faulkner can listen to the author carefully explain the pronunciation of “Yoknapatawpha,” the fictional Mississippi county where many of his novels are set, his reedy voice seeming to time travel into the 21st century. University of Virginia students in disciplines ranging from architectural history to civil engineering are digitizing the past by taking 3D scans of local historic buildings to preserve cultural heritage data for future generations. And earlier this fall, the work of an eighth-grade civics class in North Andover, Massachusetts, led to the exoneration of the last remaining convicted “witch” in the Salem Witch Trials using documents from a UVA archive.

These are just a few examples of digital humanities (DH) projects supported by the University of Virginia Library. Through the Scholars’ Lab and the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH), Library specialists help scholars and students use digital tools to conduct humanities-based research, offering fellowships to graduate students and faculty members. The Library also offers an extensive guide for those interested in digital humanities research.

On Saturday, Nov. 12, the University of Virginia will celebrate 30 years of digital humanities with a day-long conference in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. The conference will feature scholars from across the country as well as representatives from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The conference is open to the public; in-person and virtual seats are still available (registration is required).

We reached out to UVA Library staff members who are deeply involved with digital humanities work to learn more about the discipline. An edited version of our conversation is below:

Q. How do you define “digital humanities,” exactly?

A. Sarah Wells, Scholarly and Technical Communications Officer, IATH: In general, digital humanities involves using digital tools to carry out humanities-based research, which seems like a fairly simple task. But for much of what is done at IATH and other DH groups at UVA, there is a transformative aspect: it allows you to approach and think about materials in new ways, possibly in ways that were previously impossible. You can bring together fragments of information and disparate sets of data and collaborate much more effectively and deeply with people outside your discipline, institution, and country.

Brandon Walsh, Head of Student Programs, Scholars’ Lab: I’m a big fan of a definition that I’ve heard articulated by [scholars] Roopika Risam, Liz Grumbach, and others. It’s a prepositional one. Digital humanities consists of asking humanities questions with technology as well as asking humanities questions of technology. There’s also a strong activist element that serves to surface the humans behind the work that we do, critiquing labor structures especially.

Sherri Brown, Research Librarian for English and Digital Humanities: Defining digital humanities has long been bemoaned in the DH community. The understanding I gravitate toward comes from the goals of DH discussed in the introduction to the 2004 book “A Companion to Digital Humanities” by Susan Schriebman, Ray Siemens, and our own Dean of Libraries John Unsworth: “Using information technology to illuminate the human record, and bringing an understanding of the human record to bear on the development and use of information technology.”

Q. Why do digital humanities matter?

A. Amanda Visconti, Managing Director of the UVA Scholars’ Lab: DH is a field that not only connects folks with the necessary ethical, technical, and disciplinary skills to address urgent questions around data and social justice — it’s also a home for many folks who uniquely have both technical and research skills.

DH is also an active international scholarly community that values collaboration, credit, openness about failure, open access, and sharing research progress publicly (success and failure) in real time rather than just when a study is concluded. This includes lots of blogging and tweeting and attention toward improving social justice.

Alison Booth, Professor of English and Academic Director of the Scholars’ Lab: Scholarly communication and more democratic access to resources for learning will foreseeably depend on digitized resources and new media in the coming century. Most areas of humanities research are transformed by digital means of accessing archives and collections. And digital humanities students gain skills useful for many kinds of careers; they are not only learning STEM subjects but the full range of liberal arts.

Walsh: Digital humanities can help us make sense of the vast cultural record we possess, critique the digital landscape as it unfolds around us, and project a better, more equitable future for higher education.

Worthy Martin, Director of IATH: Computationally mediated scholarship matters across almost all disciplines because it can allow for research questions that have long been of interest but not previously practical to undertake. For example, The Chaco Research Archive makes possible comparative analysis of archaeological sites in Chaco Canyon that were excavated decades apart and for which the documentary records of those excavations are held in multiple archives and repositories.

Q. What are some of the most important projects that have come out of the Scholars’ Lab?

A. Visconti: I’m going to make a numbered list to respond.

  1. The Scholars’ Lab itself has been a significant model to other institutions; we usually have one to three requests per month to advise external leaders and organizations on digital scholarship initiatives and research. We have an active social media presence — more than 6,000 followers on Twitter, and an active research blog. Our staff are leaders in their fields, with frequent elected and appointed service in international scholarly organizations and research publications.
  2. Our Neatline software for telling stories in time and place.
  3. Our Praxis Program, now over a decade old, proved you could bring a cohort of graduate students from knowing nothing about DH/tech to releasing a collaborative DH project over the course of a year — many current DH graduate training programs are informed by this work.
  4. We started one of the early humanities-focused makerspaces.
  5. We regularly provide cutting-edge spatial technologies fieldwork, training, and research, partnering with UVA faculty and students and regional community members to tell stories about, discover, and preserve our past history.

Walsh: Bar none our most important projects are the people we’ve worked with, especially the students and early career scholars. Our fellowship programs are in their second decade and represent our best efforts to help prepare future generations of scholar-practitioners. The Praxis Fellowship, our soup-to-nuts introduction to digital humanities by way of project-based pedagogy, is especially well known as a teaching intervention. More than any individual research project, our efforts to support others and pay forward our own training will be how we are remembered.

Q. What are some of the most important projects that have come out of the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities?

A. Martin: The “importance” of IATH projects comes in several varieties:

Q. What does the future of digital humanities look like?

A. Brown: Although we’re celebrating 30 years of DH at UVA, I still think digital humanities is in its infancy in terms of how much can be done with it. I am always amazed by the creativity I see in DH projects, methods, and tools. We have centuries of human cultural production to view through a DH lens and hopefully to share more widely. Take any one novel, and you could use DH methods and tools to look at it critically hundreds of different ways, depending on your interest. And that’s just one novel.

Booth: I foresee ways to get beyond data visualizations indebted to medicine or sociology. I hope for even more innovative use of virtual reality, sound, and even smell to enhance historical representations, performances, and creative expressions of all kinds.

Visconti: The future of DH relies on it not being just about its mixture of tech and cultural research, but in its attention as a community to building better systems that support more people having the material means to participate in its learning and research.

Walsh: Given the multiple, ongoing crises in and out of academia in the present, the future of digital humanities is one that further engages in the pursuit of equity and justice in higher education. The future belongs to the students we equip to help shape it, and we have a responsibility to help ensure it is a livable one.

Click here to see a full schedule for this Saturday’s “Thirty Years of Digital Humanities” conference and register to join in person or online.


Seven books (and a TV show) to celebrate Native American Heritage Month

Guest post from Haley Gillilan (Undergraduate Student Success Librarian) and Keith Weimer (Librarian for History and Religious Studies).

November is Native American Heritage Month! It’s a wonderful opportunity to honor Indigenous traditions, cultures, and histories. At the University of Virginia Library, we’re highlighting work created by and about Native Americans; take a look at staff book and television recommendations below.

Recommended by Leigh Rockey, Video Collections Librarian

“The Removed” by Brandon Hobson (Ecco, 2021)Cover of "The Removed": shows a black-and-white, upside-down image of a man standing in the woods inside of a triangular, multicolor design that resembles a woven blanket.

Right from the start in “The Removed,” we know that Ray-Ray, the eldest son of the Echota family, will be killed unjustly by the police. Just a few pages later, we feel like we know him and already mourn the loss of such an endearing character. We work through the grief and anger along with the rest of the family as they each tell their story 15 years after Ray-Ray’s brutal death. Sometimes an ancestor, Tsala, who perished on the Trail of Tears, breaks into the narrative and expands our range of view to encompass Cherokee legends. While the narrative of “The Removed” isn’t bright and sunny, there is a penetrating warmth that leaves the reader full of hope.

Recommended by Meg Kennedy, Curator of Material Culture

“Lewis and Clark Through Indian Eyes: Nine Indian Writers on the Legacy of the Expedition” edited by Alvin M. Josephy Jr. (Knopf, 2006)

Inspired by the bicentennial events of the Corps of Discovery, this edited volume of nine Book cover shows black-and-white photograph of two Native Americans sitting on a hill and looking out over a wide river. essays gives voice to the largely overlooked experiences of the many and distinct Native American sovereign nations affected by the 1803-1806 cross-continent journeys of Lewis and Clark. Readers will be familiar with the colonial stories of exploration: first points of contact, experiences of discovery, the naming of waterways and vast lands, and the emergence of democratic society in a lawless land. The varied essays, though, reframe the narrative, bringing to life long-standing and long-distance trade networks that crossed the continent, long-inhabited lands, long-ago named rivers and places, long-established democratic systems. The authors —leaders and scholars representing diverse tribal communities — use different techniques to address the impacts of the Corps of Discovery, challenging accepted historiographies through their inclusion of oral and shared community records, reconsidered political and economic histories and literary examinations of Manifest Destiny. As author Mark H. Trahant notes, “Eventually other stories surface, too. These alternative histories serve as reminders that the journey continues.”

Recommended by Erin Pappas, Librarian for the Humanities

“There There” by Tommy Orange (Knopf, 2018)

Publisher’s summary: A wondrous and shattering novel that follows 12 characters from Native communities, all Cover image shows black-and-white prints of two feathers against an orange background.traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize.

Among them are Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind; Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and working at the powwow to honor his memory; and 14-year-old Orvil, traveling to perform traditional dance for the very first time. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American — grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, and with communion and sacrifice and heroism.

Hailed as an instant classic, “There There” is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.

Recommended by Keith Weimer, Librarian for History and Religious Studies

“Path Lit By Lightning” by David Maraniss (Simon & Schuster, 2022) and “Mixed Bloods and Tribal Dissolution” by William Unrau (University Press of Kansas, 1989)

For this year’s Native American Heritage month readings, I chose books about two of the Cover image shows black-and-white photograph of Jim Thorpe as a young man in an early 20th-century football jersey.most “successful” Native Americans of the 20th century — “Path Lit By Lightning,” David Maraniss’ 2022 biography of Jim Thorpe (a member of the Sac and Fox tribe), often hailed as the greatest athlete of all time; and “Mixed Bloods and Tribal Dissolution: Charles Curtis and the Quest for Indian Identity,” William Unrau’s 1989 biography of Herbert Hoover’s vice president, who was a member of the Kaw Nation. (Despite its cringeworthy title, Unrau’s book remains the only biography of Curtis available.)

Although both men were biracial, Curtis was much more grounded in the world of his white relatives and had a base of capital in the tribal land inherited from his mother’s family, which he used to launch and sustain his political career. He was a strong proponent of assimilation, sponsoring the Curtis Act of 1898, which abolished the authority of tribal courts and tribal law, and strengthened the privatization of tribal land, much of which became prey for white land developers.

Thorpe, a descendant of the iconic warrior Black Hawk, who had led some of the last Cover image is of the 1859 painting "The Trapper's Bride" by Alfred Jacob Miller. The artists describes the painting as: The scene represents a Trapper taking a wife, or purchasing one. The prices varying in accordance with circumstance. He (the trapper) is seated with his friend, to the left of the sketch, his hand extended to his promised wife, supported by her father and accompanied by a chief, who holds the calumet, an article indispensable in all grand ceremoniesresistance to white settlement east of the Mississippi, grew up among the Sac and Fox tribe in Oklahoma and attended boarding schools based on a concept of forced assimilation into white culture — most famously Carlisle Academy, where he excelled at football, baseball, and track and field. He won gold at the 1912 Olympics, then had his medals taken away after revelations that he had played two summers of minor league baseball (a humiliation during which he received no support from either Carlisle or his mentor, Coach “Pop” Warner). His remaining life seemed like a decline from early promise, although it still included some remarkable triumphs, as well as activism on behalf of Native Americans. While some of Thorpe’s difficulties stemmed from his personality, they also resulted from a lack of the kind of starting capital and firm connections possessed by Curtis.

Recommended by Cecelia Parks, Undergraduate Student Success Librarian

“Peace Came in the Form of a Woman: Indians and Spaniards in the Texas Borderlands” by Juliana Barr (University of North Carolina Press, 2007)

Publisher’s summary: Revising the standard narrative of European-Native American relations in America, Juliana Cover image is a drawing of two Native Americans, one male and one female, smiling at one another. The man is wearing furs and carrying a staff; the woman is wrapped in a shawl.Barr reconstructs a world in which Native Americans were the dominant power and Europeans were the ones forced to accommodate, resist, and persevere. She demonstrates that between the 1690s and 1780s, Indigenous peoples, including Caddos, Apaches, Payayas, Karankawas, Wichitas, and Comanches, formed relationships with Spaniards in Texas that refuted European claims of imperial control.

Barr argues that Native Americans not only retained control over their territories but also imposed control over Spaniards. Instead of being defined in racial terms, as was often the case with European constructions of power, diplomatic relations between Native Americans and Spaniards in the region were dictated by Native American expressions of power, grounded in gendered terms of kinship. By examining six realms of encounter — first contact, settlement and intermarriage, mission life, warfare, diplomacy, and captivity — Barr shows that Native American categories of gender provided the political structure of Native American-Spanish relations by defining people’s identity, status, and obligations vis-à-vis others. Because Native systems of kin-based social and political order predominated, argues Barr, Native American concepts of gender cut across European perceptions of racial difference.

Recommended by Haley Gillilan, Undergraduate Student Success Librarian

“Reservation Dogs” on FX Hulu

“Reservation Dogs” is a slice-of-life comedy about four Native American teenagers living on a reservation in Oklahoma. In its short, two-season run, it’s broken barriers for Publicity photo shws four Native American teenagers (two girls and two boys) sitting on top of a wall.Indigenous filmmaking and representation, with an almost entirely Indigenous cast and crew. While at first it seems that the show is simply about four teens hanging out and having normal high school problems, the plot slowly reveals deep interpersonal and internal conflicts. Bear, Elora, Willie Jack, and Cheese are trying to make their way to California, but will their different values and ways of dealing with grief tear them apart before they get there? “Reservation Dogs” is filled with slow, spiritual, and meaningful moments while also doling out huge laughs and brilliant comedic performances. It’s been renewed for a Season Three, so I highly recommend catching up on the first two seasons and diving into this beautiful TV show!

“Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley (Henry Holt, 2021)

Angeline Boulley has described the main character of her book as an Indigenous Nancy Cover image shows illustration of two Native American faces in profile (facng one another). Bwteen them is a beetle. Below them is fire, the flames of which turn into plants and birds. Drew, and the comparison feels apt! Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine is trying to find her way in her Ojibwe community, but for several reasons is struggling to fit in. When tragedy strikes, she is thrust into a police investigation dealing with some corruption in her town. But as she gets deeper into the mystery, it gets harder and harder to know whom to trust. The stakes for Daunis and her family are high, and she’s going to have to rely on her instincts more than ever. This YA novel is perfect for those seeking a thriller with a true crime vibe, featuring a smart protagonist and a community that’s often underrepresented. Some of subject matter can be heavy and hard to read, but Boulley handles these moments with care and nuance.

Is your favorite piece of Native American literature or media missing from this list? Find us on Twitter @UVALibrary and let us know!

Does the UVA Library not have something you think we should have? Submit a purchase recommendation!


Books and films for National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Guest post from Chris Ruotolo, Director of Research in the Arts and Humanities.

Poster from the Office of Disability Employment Policy (of the U.S. Department of Labor). The poster states: National Disability Employment Awareness Month. "Disability: Part of the Equity Equation." Includes a picture of a woman in a wheelchair working in an office as well as a spearate photo of a woman with walking braces getting information from a colleague in an office.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which celebrates the contributions of workers with disabilities while promoting employment policies and practices that are supportive and inclusive. In honor of this effort, we’ve highlighted a few books and videos from the Library’s collections that touch on different aspects of disability in the workplace:

About Us: Essays From the Disability Series of the New York Times(2019), edited by Peter Catapano and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson

“About Us” is a compilation of essays first published in the New York Times’s “Disability” series, which began in 2016. These brief and highly personal essays present the Cover of the essay collection "About Us." Cover is orange with purple writing.experiences of a diverse range of people with disabilities in their own words. The book’s title refers to a popular slogan within the disability rights movement, “Nothing About Us Without Us,” which highlights the need for people with disabilities to tell their own stories. “About Us” is organized thematically, with sections on topics like justice, belonging, family, and love, each focused on a different aspect of the human experience. The section on working features nine essays by authors in various occupations, including law, medicine, academia, and creative fields. The authors are strikingly candid in how they describe the physical and mental challenges they have experienced in their professional lives, as well as the bias and lack of accommodation they have had to overcome. Yet many of these authors have a deep sense of professional purpose that is inextricably tied to their disability, which inspires them to create, educate, and advocate for a more just and accommodating world.

Bodies in Revolt: Gender, Disability, and a Workplace Ethic of Care(2005), by Ruth O’Brien

This book explores the potential of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act to radically transform the American workplace. Author Ruth O’Brien, a political scientist at the City Cover image of "Bodies in Revolt." Includes abstract painting of what could be a dancer, using black, yellow, and red paint.University of New York Graduate Center, argues that the ADA frames disability not as a medical condition that affects a narrow group of people, but as a fluid and shifting state of need that all people inhabit to different degrees over the course of their lives. This focus on the needs of the individual makes the ADA unique in its approach to civil rights, because it demands differential treatment based on these needs, rather than equal treatment for all, to ensure the rights of all workers. While typical workplace management practices tend to dehumanize workers by treating them as interchangeable, the provisions of the ADA “have the capacity to humanize the face of capitalism” by forcing employers to treat their workers as individuals. For O’Brien, the ADA is the first civil rights law to embody an “ethic of care” (a concept derived from feminist philosophy), which demands that employers negotiate with workers and agree upon reasonable accommodations that evolve and change as the needs of the individual change.

Intelligent Lives” (2018), directed by Dan Habib

This hour-long documentary demonstrates how intelligence testing — a fundamentally flawed and biased type of assessment — has been used to label and pigeonhole young Poster for the documentary "Intelligent Lives," featuring still images of a man painting, a man walking outdoors, and a woman learning hairdressing.people with intellectual disabilities, limiting their opportunities for education and employment. The stigma of a low IQ score can be profound; as narrator Chris Cooper notes at the beginning of the film, only 15% of the estimated 6.5 million Americans with intellectual disabilities are employed. “Intelligent Lives” advocates powerfully for a broader understanding of intelligence — one that recognizes the full capability and potential of people with disabilities, both in the classroom and in the workforce. The bulk of the film profiles three young adults with intellectual disabilities, including Naomie, a Haitian American woman with Down syndrome who is pursuing a job at a beauty salon. Filmmaker Dan Habib follows Naomie as she navigates the world of employment — working with a job coach to craft a resumé, complete occupational training, and establish her social support network. Naomie’s story demonstrates how effective simple supports and accommodations can be in helping people with intellectual disabilities develop and thrive in the workplace.

CinemAbility: The Art of Inclusion” (2018), directed by Jenni Gold

This entertaining, feature-length documentary provides a rich history of disability in film, both on the screen and behind the scenes. Encompassing the history of cinema from the Movie poster for "CinemAbility," featuring the faces of Jane Seymour, Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx, Marlee Matlin, Geena Davis, and William H. Macy, against a larger image of a silhouette of a man in a wheelchair. silent era to the present day, “CinemAbility” traces the evolving representation of disability, from stereotypes and clichés to more complex and nuanced portrayals. The documentary intersperses film clips with dozens of interview segments, some of which feature well-known actors and directors. But the most interesting interviews by far are those with performers with disabilities, including Marlee Matlin, Danny Woodburn, Daryl Mitchell, Geri Jewell, and many others. Through these interviews, director Jenni Gold reveals a diverse community of people with disabilities working in the film industry (including Gold herself, who has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair). The interviews present a range of different perspectives on issues of identity, opportunity, and intersectionality — for example, one interviewee defends the practice of casting able-bodied actors in disabled roles, while another interviewee describes it as analogous to blackface. While the film does feature some filmmakers with disabilities in technical and executive roles, the lack of equal opportunity in the industry, especially behind the camera, is frankly acknowledged. Overall, though, “CinemAbility” makes a persuasive case for cinema as a force for inclusion and social change.

For additional resources about disability studies, check out our lists of ebooks, journals, and websites in our Inclusive Collections guide. For resources in support of workers and other individuals with disabilities here at the University of Virginia, consult this website from the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights.

Remembering legendary photographer Ed Roseberry

Ed Roseberry took his first photograph under San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge as he headed out to the South Pacific with the U.S. Navy to serve in the Second World War. It was the start of a long photography career for the Virginia native, who died yesterday at age 97. Roseberry spent decades photographing 20th-century life in Charlottesville and at the University of Virginia. According to UVA Magazine, some of his first assignments were for UVA’s Corks & Curls yearbook when he was a commerce student at the University (he graduated in 1949). His photographs appeared in the Daily Progress, the Associated Press, multiple exhibitions, and books.

“The most memorable shoots were done spontaneously, without my being aware that the event was going to happen,” he said in a 2012 podcast. Roseberry captured some of the first undergraduate women on Grounds in 1970; notable visitors to the University, including the Dalai Lama, Elizabeth Taylor, and Queen Elizabeth II; and early aerial photographs of the Academical Village, taking his camera up in a small plane flown by his younger brother. “I was willing to try anything,” Roseberry said in 2012. “I didn’t always succeed the first time around, but experience garners results, so I kept plugging at it.”

Take a look below at some of Roseberry’s vibrant photographs collected and curated by UVA Library.

Nine young women sit on a hill, smiling and drinking coffee.

UVA students sitting in the grass, 1970.

Two women and a young man sort mail in a cluttered room in UVA LIbrary.

UVA Library staff, 1967. From the catalog notation: “Graduate student Umesh C. Gulati (right), a native of India, helps with cataloging some of the 68,000 publications from India, Pakistan, Israel, and the United Arab Republic that come to the University of Virginia Library each year. The material, much of it scholarly, is sent here under a plan which permits some U.S. foreign aid to be exchanged for overseas publications. Other members of the Library’s cataloging department are Miss Fannie May Elliot (left) and Mrs. Montie Godwin (center).”

Photo of a UVA men's basketball player making a shot and being defended by University of Kentucky players. Taken with a fisheye lens.

A UVA Men’s Basketball game in 1972, University Hall.

Actress Elizbath Taylor standing on rainroad tracks. A man in a cowboy hat stands next to her.

Elizabeth Taylor on the set of “Giant,” which was partially shot in Albemarle County, 1955.

A view of the the campus of the University of Virginia from above.

An aerial view from the north of Central Grounds, Lawn, and Academical Village, including the Rotunda, 1977.

Three large bags full of mail. Above those are a shelf covered with dozens of packages.

UVA Library mail, 1967. From the catalog notation: “A typical day’s mail from India, Pakistan, Israel, and the United Arab Republic waits sorting at the University of Virginia’s Alderman Library. The University receives 120 daily newspapers, as well as books, magazines, and other material, under a plan which lets some U.S. foreign aid be repaid in overseas publications.”

The Dalai Lama stands, smiling, in front of UVA's Rotunda.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in front of the Rotunda, 1979.

Several dozen couples in formalwear dance in the Rotunda dome room. Photo is taken from a balcony above.

Restoration Ball in the Rotunda, 1965.

For additional Roseberry photographs, check out this photo essay by UVA Magazine.

What’s new at the Library? Here’s an easy way to find out.

The UVA Library’s collections include more than 5 million print books, nearly 1,000 databases, and 150,000 videos, and new materials are added each day. An easy way to keep track of new arrivals is through the Library’s New Resources guide, which is maintained by Media Collections Librarian Leigh Rockey. We spoke with Rockey about what it’s like to oversee so many items, the Library’s new Inclusive Collections guide, the “Wild West” of video streaming, and her favorite databases to explore.

New books and new videos are added to the New Resources guide via an RSS feed that pulls data from Virgo, the Library’s online catalog. “The RSS feed updates every day, but only posts 20 things at a time,” Rockey said. For a more detailed overview, readers can toggle to the New Books by Call Number tab in the guide to peruse thousands of new books, with the ability to drill down to individual Library of Congress call numbers to see the 20 items populated in each by the RSS feed that day.

Movable shelves store thousands of books in Old Ivy Stacks.

During the main library’s renovation, many materials, old and new, are being stored in Clemons Library and Ivy Stacks (seen here), a high-density storage facility near UVA on Old Ivy Road. (Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)

Rockey updates the guide’s new databases listings manually when she is informed of new additions by the Library’s Resource Acquisition & Description team. The Collections Management team works with subject liaisons, who in turn consult UVA faculty members, to help determine which databases are necessary and worth buying. “If you want to know the scope of our collections, you just look at the curriculum, basically,” Rockey said. “What we collect follows what UVA studies and teaches.” The New Resources guide lists every new database the Library has acquired since January of 2022 (and it will start a fresh list in January 2023).

Of the 2022 database offerings, Rockey is particularly excited about the Oxford Academic database, the home for Oxford University Press’s research books and journals and a host of other Oxford online scholarship. “Oxford had a bunch of different sites, but now they’ve kind of mushed them together, and you can access them through this one portal, Oxford Academic,” Rockey said. “I think of it as ‘one ring to rule them all.’” [See below for five more of Rockey’s favorite databases.]

In addition to the New Resources guide, Rockey also maintains the Inclusive Collections guide, which lists databases, journals, books, external websites, and audiovisual media pertaining to African American Studies, American Indian Studies, Asian/Pacific American Studies, Disability Studies, Gender and Sexuality, and Latinx Studies. “We’ve been extremely mindful of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in the collections. We want to make systemic changes,” Rockey said. Creating the Inclusive Collections was a big job, and the Library hired Chaeyeon Kim, a graduate student in the School of Commerce, to assist with itemizing and data visualization. The Inclusive Collections guide, which includes vibrant images of most of the resources, research guides curated by UVA librarians, and staff book picks, launched in January. Rockey updates it at least once a month.

As the Library’s Media Collections Librarian, Rockey specializes in video collections and has witnessed a sea change since starting her position in 2014. “That was right when streaming became the Wild West,” she said. “We used to collect any and all DVDs requested, as cost was not an issue. Today, we’re not buying very many DVDs; instead we have tens of thousands of streaming videos and all these different streaming portals and databases. There’s been a complete shift in collecting.” Librarians face a challenge when it comes to original content produced by streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and HBO Max. “They have no institutional licensing available at all. None,” Rockey said. “And unless they put it out on DVD, we cannot acquire it for our collections or for professors to use in courses. There is a movement among librarians to push CEOs of streaming services to make their content available.” Even with these challenges, the Video and Media Resources site was the Library’s most-viewed guide for the past fiscal year, with more than 34,000 visits. Rockey speculates its popularity may be linked to the site’s helpful list of free streaming video sites on the internet.

With her years of experience on the Collections Management team, Rockey has explored most databases the Library has to offer, as she enters them manually into the New Resources guide. Here are five of her favorites, perfect for researchers, film-lovers, and those looking for a little inspiration:

London Low Life

A drawing of two men boxing outdoors with a crowd watching

An 1821 color plate illustrating a boxing match. (From the London Low Life database)

Rockey’s review: When you want to know the seedy (true) stories of Victorian London.

Plus maps, penny fiction, “fast literature,” lots of illustrations with titles like, “A Guide to All the Flash Cribs of the Metropolis, 1844,” and buckets more.

CQ Researcher

Firefighters try to put out a blaze after an apartment was hit by a Russian missile.

A photo of the Russian invasion of Ukraine by Sergey Bobok/AFP via Getty Images, available in a CQ Researcher report.

Rockey’s review: When you want to educate yourself about an issue.

It contains in-depth coverage of health, social trends, criminal justice, international affairs, education, the environment, technology and the economy. Each report is researched and written by a seasoned journalist, footnoted and professionally fact checked. The consistent, reader-friendly organization provides researchers with an introductory overview, which poses and addresses relevant questions; a background and chronology on the topic; an assessment of the current situation; tables and maps; a pro/con debate by representatives of opposing positions; and bibliographies of key sources.


Rockey’s review: When you want to watch a feature film.

It’s not the only database with feature films, but it’s mostly fun movies.

National Theatre Collection (UK)

Rockey’s review: When you want to watch a video of an awesome play from the National Theatre in London.

Fannie Lou Hamer: Papers of a Civil Rights Activist, Political Activist, and Woman

Black and white photo of Fannie Lou Hamer.

Voting rights activist and civil rights leader Fannie Lou Hamer. (Library of Congress photo)

Rockey’s review: When you want to be inspired.

The Fannie Lou Hamer papers contain more than 3,000 pieces of correspondence plus financial records, programs, photographs, newspaper articles, invitations, and other printed items. The papers are arranged in the following series: Personal, Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, Freedom Farms Corporation, Delta Ministry, Mississippians United to Elect Negro Candidates, Delta Opportunities Corporation, and Collected Materials.

Recommended reading for Hispanic Heritage Month

Thanks to Amy Hunsaker, Librarian for Music & the Performing Arts, for contributing this post.

From magical realism master Gabriel García Márquez to exciting debut novelist Xochitl Gonzalez, there are thousands of Latinx authors to celebrate during Hispanic Heritage Month, which overlaps September and the first few weeks of October.

We’ve gathered some book recommendations from UVA librarians and Ph.D. candidates from the Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese Department.

Take a look at their selections below. (For a more extensive list, see this guide.)

Recommended by Katie Rojas, Head of Archival Processing

“The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina” by Zoraida Córdova (Atria Books, 2021)

One of my favorite literary styles is magical realism, and this book did not disappoint. Córdova’s novCover of "The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina" featuring a bird, flowers, and a watch.el tells the story of the Montoya family and the strange blessings of their matriarch, Orquídea Divina. Even her name, which means “Divine Orchid” alludes to the delicate and mysterious beauty of orchids, which must have just the right conditions to bloom and thrive. Orquídea Divina lives up to her name, never leaving her home, yet creating a flourishing landscape and bounty of food in a place that was once barren. Upon receiving invitations to Orquídea Divina’s funeral, three of her adult grandchildren travel back to their family’s small hometown of Four Rivers and embark upon a journey of discovery, self-preservation, and family history which leads them to Ecuador. As an archivist, I especially love how the themes of family origin, identity, and place all relate well to current understandings of how the history of our families impacts us today. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, light horror, and stories of self-discovery.

(UVA Library hardcover copy is on order.)

Recommended by Amy Hunsaker, Librarian for Music & Performing Arts

“Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Del Rey Books, 2020)

This spooky book set in remote Mexico in the 1950s brings the reader into a gothic horror setting The cover of "Mexican Gothic," featuring a woman in a red dress holding flowers.that includes an eerie house, ghoulish relatives, a haunted, forbidding cemetery, and Noemí,‏ the stylish and clever socialite who must solve the mysteries surrounding High Place manor. Is there a perfectly scientific explanation for the supernatural aberrations that seem to be spiraling our hero toward certain doom? Will she be able to save herself and her cousin from a fate worse than death? Is there anyone she can trust? Will you, gentle reader, be able to look at mushrooms in the same way ever again?

(UVA Library hardcopy is on order.)

“Love in the Time of Cholera” by Gabriel García Márquez, translated from the Spanish by Edith Grossman (Knopf, 1988)

Florentino Ariza lives only for love. He only wants to die for love. But his most sincere love isn’t requited.Cover image of "Love in the Time of Cholera," featuring a tropic bird.

“… his examination revealed that he had no fever, no pain anywhere, and that his only concrete feeling was an urgent desire to die. All that was needed was shrewd questioning … to conclude once again that the symptoms of love were the same as those of cholera.”

The obsessed Ariza can never be cured of his lovesickness for Fermina Daza in a story that spans several decades, explores the complexities of relationships, and illustrates how noble it is to suffer for love. Márquez’s luscious storytelling poetically explores themes of love, philosophy, and life in general.

(Available in Spanish; Electronic Copy: Internet Archive)

Recommended by Miguel Valladares-Llata, Librarian for Romance Languages and Latin American Studies

“Olga Dies Dreaming” by Xochitl Gonzalez (Flatiron Books, 2022)

Publisher’s summary: “A blazing talent debuts with the talCover of "Olga Dies Dreaming," feturing a collage of a woman's face, a city, and flowers.e of a status-driven wedding planner grappling with her social ambitions, absent mother, and Puerto Rican roots, all in the wake of Hurricane María.”

Cover image of "Neruda on the Park," featuring a middle-aged woman and a younger woman.“Neruda on the Park: A Novel” by Cleyvis Natera (Ballantine Books, 2022)

Publisher’s summary: “An exhilarating debut novel about members of a Dominican family in New York City who take radically different paths when faced with encroaching gentrification, for readers of ‘Such a Fun Age’ and ‘Dominicana.’”

Cover image of "Brown Neon: Essays", featuring a photo of a desert at dusk.“Brown Neon: Essays” by Raquel Gutiérrez (Coffee House Press, 2022)

Publisher’s summary: “Part butch memoir, part ekphrastic travel diary, part queer family tree, Raquel Gutiérrez’s debut essay collection ‘Brown Neon’ gleans insight from the sediment of land and relationships. For Gutierrez, terrain is essential to understanding that no story, no matter how personal, is separate from the space where it unfolds.”

(On order for Clemons Library.)

Recommended by Carlos Velazco Fernandez, Ph.D. Candidate

“La mucama de Omicunlé” de Rita Indiana (Editorial Periférica, 2015)

Publisher’s summary: “This overwhelming novel, which enshrines Rita Indiana as narrator, contains many layers and fascinating twists. … Including deities that inhabit the Caribbean Sea, political interests, Goya’s prints, gender reassignment and numerous plot twists, few other works of fiction speak of contemporary art as precisely as ‘La mucama de Omicunlé.’”

“Tentacle” by Rita Indiana, translated by Achy Obejas (And Other Stories, 2018)

Publisher’s summary: “Plucked from her life on the stCover image for "Tentacle, featuring an illustration of a sea creature with pink tentacles.reets of post-apocalyptic Santo Domingo, young maid Acilde Figueroa finds herself at the heart of a voodoo prophecy: only she can travel back in time and save the ocean and humanity from disaster. … Bursting with punk energy and lyricism, it’s a restless, addictive trip: ‘The Tempest’ meets the telenovela.”

The other two books are poetic since poetry is the water of the soul. Besides, these books are close to our university, since the first one was written by a guest professor at our university last year and the second one is written by another professor who currently teaches at our university:

“Adiós a Lenin: Antología Poética” de Federico Díaz-Granados (Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, 2017)

Publisher’s summary: “Ultimately, only the poetic word is capable of evoking the lost paradise of childhood, family, love, the desired body, the longed-for plenitude. Yes, to evoke them, but only in fragments and scraps, in their traces and absences, in their ‘brief passage through the word.’ Hence precisely the tragic beauty of the poetry of Federico Díaz Granados.”

(Electronic copy available.)

“America” by Fernando Valverde, translated and with an introduction by Carolyn Forché  (Copper Canyon Press, 2021)Cover image for "America" featuring black and white picture of an open road.

Publisher’s summary: “In Fernando Valverde’s América, ‘sorrow is ancient.’ Mournfully lyrical, politically sharp, with a sweeping view of American roots, dysfunctions, and ideals – as if from above, and yet also from within – this is a book that deconstructs the legacy of empire. Valverde is widely regarded as one of the most important younger Spanish-language poets. Here his vibrant voice and convictions are translated and introduced by Carolyn Forché, herself a world-renowned poet of witness. Bilingual, with Spanish originals and English translations.


Recommended by Elizabeth Mirabal, Ph.D. Candidate

El infinito en un junco: la invención de loss libros en el mundo antiguo” de Irene Vallejo. (Siruela, 2019)

Publisher’s summary: “In an essay sprinkled with personal anecdotes, Irene Vallejo breaks down and covers 30 centuries of the history of the book.”

(An English translation will be available in late September.)

“Papyrus: The Invention of Books in the Ancient World” by Irene Vallejo, translated from the Spanish by Charlotte Whittle (Knopf, 2022)Cover image of "Papyrus" featuring an illustration of a marsh.

Publisher’s summary: “A rich exploration of the importance of books and libraries in the ancient world that highlights how humanity’s obsession with the printed word has echoed throughout the ages.”

“Jardín” de Dulce María Loynaz (Aguilar, 1951)

You can electronically read this novel in the critical edition by Zaida Capote Cruz published in 2015 in La Habana, Cuba (Editorial Letras Cubanas), via the Internet Archive. No English translation available.

“My Tender Matador” by Pedro Lemebel, translated by Katherine Silver (Grove Press, 2003)

Publisher’s summary: “Centered around the 1986 attempt on the life of Cover art for "My Tender Matador" featuring an illustration of a soldier dancing with a woman in a black dress.Augusto Pinochet, an event that changed Chile forever, My Tender Matador is one of the most explosive, controversial, and popular novels to have been published in that country in decades.”



New UVA Library exhibition showcases powerful, century-old portraits of Black Virginians

“Visions of Progress: Portraits of Dignity, Style, and Racial Uplift,” a new exhibition at the University of Virginia’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, showcases portraits that African Americans in central Virginia commissioned from the Holsinger Studio during the first decades of the 20th century. The photographs expressed the individuality of the women and men who commissioned them, while silently yet powerfully asserting their claims to rights and equality. Opening Sept. 22, the exhibition is the result of years of research by UVA professors, students, and community members.

Black and white photo of a Black woman posing in a chair wearing a luxurious velvet coat with fur lining, lace-up boots, and a flat-brimmed hat

Susie Smith (1891-1961) was born in Albemarle County to Ferrell Smith and Annie Lee Smith. She worked as a chambermaid, housekeeper, and cook for families in the Charlottesville area. In 1912, Smith married Maryland Brown. Smith’s portrait illustrates a sense of style and self that did not rely on white middle-class values.

John Edwin Mason, a UVA associate professor of history and a documentary photographer, first learned about the Holsinger Studio Collection, held in the Small Special Collections Library, when he saw a small exhibition at the UVA’s Woodson Institute, curated by the late professor Reginald Butler and professor Scot French (now of the University of Central Florida) in 1998. The collection, which UVA acquired in 1978, includes about 10,000 glass plate negatives taken by the Holsinger Studio of life in Charlottesville and Albemarle and Nelson counties from the 1890s to the 1920s. Many of the photographs were commissioned portraits and more than 600 of those portraits are of African American citizens in central Virginia. Mason was immediately intrigued.

“I thought that we could use these portraits not simply to enjoy for their beauty as aesthetic objects, but we could see history through them, we could tell history through them. By researching the lives of the people in the photographs, we can learn a lot about the history of this place,” he said.

The portraits were taken during the height of the Jim Crow era, when state laws enforced racial segregation in the South, the Ku Klux Klan had local chapters in the Albemarle region, and a wealthy, white UVA alumnus successfully commissioned two statues of Confederate leaders (Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson) to be erected in Charlottesville parks. “It was an incredibly oppressive time,” Mason said. “But the magic of these portraits is that you don’t see the oppression in them. And that was intentional on the part of the people who had their images made. They are saying, ‘We are not who you think we are. We are not those stereotypes, we are not defined by our status in Jim Crow society.”

A community effort

A man in a suit and vest stands with his hand on a young girl's shoulder. The girl wears a plaid dress and a hair bow.

Anthony T. Buckner (1845-1923) was born into slavery in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. By the time he commissioned this portrait of himself and his granddaughter, Eileen Buckner (1909-1985), he had become one of the most respected merchants in the Charlottesville. His son, George W. Buckner, who was Eileen’s father, wrote the New Negro manifesto that was published in the Charlottesville Messenger in 1921.

In 2015, Mason turned his interest in the photos into action. He launched the Holsinger Studio Portrait Project, to delve into the lives of the portrait subjects; a partnership with the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities director Worthy Martin in 2018 provided the project with a web presence to share their research. With a 3Cavaliers grant from the office of UVA’s Vice President for Research, the team was able to hire seven undergraduate students to examine census records, military records, birth and death certificates, and African American newspapers from surrounding regions. They also dug through personal papers in UVA Special Collections to find original Holsinger prints, giving the students information about the people in the portraits and about central Virginia during that era.

A grant from Virginia Humanities allowed the team to begin reaching out to the local community to help identify portrait subjects. In 2019, the project partnered with the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center to host a “Family Photo Day,” where participants could examine the Holsinger Studio portraits in flipbooks and add comments if they had any information about the subjects. “We had over 300 people come to our Family Photo Day,” Mason said. “That was a moment where we could see the potential for the project; we could see how engaged and how excited people were by these portraits.”

That same year, the team also installed 30 of the portraits around the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers construction site, drawing attention from hundreds of passers-by each day. Two Charlottesville community members, Descendants of Enslaved Communities at UVA co-chair DeTeasa Brown Gathers (who found a photo of her great-great grandmother in the Holsinger Studio Collection) and local realtor Edwina St. Rose, joined the project as community advisors. Working with the group The Preservers of the Daughters of Zion Cemetery, they launched an exhibit of the portraits at CitySpace in downtown Charlottesville in the summer of 2019.

A significant grant from the Jefferson Trust earlier this year, awarded to the University’s Corcoran Department of History, IATH, and the UVA Library, is supporting the team to think more broadly about a community engagement program. In March, the team launched a pop-up exhibit of the Holsinger photos at the Northside branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. “Our trustees were fascinated to learn that such an interesting collection of African American history is held by the University,” said Amy Bonner, director of grants at the Jefferson Trust. “The opportunity to help launch such a powerful exhibition and support the associated research was impossible to pass up.”

A young woman stands, holding a large white scroll with a bow around it. She is wearing a delicate white dress and fresh flowers, looking directly at the camera.

Viola Green Porter (1898-1985) commissioned this portrait to commemorate her graduation from the eighth grade at Charlottesville’s segregated Jefferson Graded School. The white dress and diploma make this photo similar to other Holsinger Studio graduation portraits of young women, both Black and white.

The grant is also supporting the “Visions of Progress” exhibition launching Sept. 22 in the Main Gallery of the Small Special Collections Library, where visitors can view almost 100 Holsinger Studio portraits and take in the biographical information about the subjects unearthed over the past few years by the Holsinger Studio Portrait Project team. They can also learn about the “New Negro” movement that countered the Jim Crow oppression of the early 20th century, stemming from Black intellectual leaders Booker T. Washington, Alain LeRoy Locke, and Charlottesville native George W. Buckner, whose manifesto, “The New Negro,” caused an uproar when the Charlottesville Messenger, the city’s Black newspaper, published it in 1921. “The New Negro the country over is coming to see that his salvation is in his own hands,” Buckner wrote.

The portraits in the exhibit reflect this ethos, Mason said. “It’s important to emphasize that even though the people in the portraits are dressed to the nines, they are everyday people. Most had working-class jobs.” By dressing so beautifully, Mason said, the portrait sitters were pushing back against racist caricatures that were common in American media during that era. “There was dynamism within the African American community,” he said. “Immediately after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, over 100 African American women registered to vote in Charlottesville. Black people were running barber shops, running blacksmith shops, running laundries, and campaigning for a high school. People were not defined by their oppression.”

Vibrant portraits

In 2020, Holly Robertson, Curator of University Library Exhibitions, reached out to Mason to suggest co-sponsoring an exhibition after seeing the enthusiasm the Holsinger Portrait Project garnered on Grounds in the community.

“The Holsinger Studio portraits have been an important part of the UVA Library’s collections since the 1970s,” Robertson said. “We’ve done so much work to describe and provide access to the collection — it was one of the first photographic collections we fully digitized in the late 1990s, and each portrait is available online through Virgo. We’ve taken painstaking care to provide the best preservation environment for the fragile glass plate negatives as well as the business ledgers. Yet, we’ve never exhibited this collection. As the Holsinger Studio Portrait Project grew, we saw a wonderful opportunity to partner in telling the stories of Black central Virginians through our amazing collections.”

A person wearing white gloves works at a computer screen showing the negative image of a man in a military uniform

Stacey Evans, an imaging specialist and project coordinator for UVA Library, led a team in rephotographing the Holsinger Studio glass-plate negatives for the exhibition.

UVA Library staff played a crucial role in preparing the portraits for the Special Collections exhibition. Stacey Evans, an imaging specialist and project coordinator for the Library, led a team in rephotographing the glass-plate negatives to capture plate identification numbers that had been cropped in scanning efforts in the 1990s. This helped to identify photo subjects. By following standards set by the Federal Agencies Digital Guidelines Initiative, Cultural Heritage Imagining, and the Library of Congress, Evans and her team then took their photographic reproductions of the negatives and created “artist’s renderings” of the portraits using Photoshop.

A computer screen shows a spreadsheet with lines in different colors alongside an array of images in negative and standard format, side by side.

Evans and her team took their photographic reproductions of the glass-plate negatives and created “artist’s renderings” of the portraits using Photoshop, dramatically improving their tonal range.

Evans, a photographer who has nearly 30 years of experience scanning negatives and working in digital imaging, said that when comparing the original scans of the negatives in Virgo to the images her team created, the tonal range of the portraits has dramatically improved. “On a personal note,” she said, “John Mason and I have been friends in the Charlottesville photo community for many years. It’s an honor to work with him on this project.”

Brandon Butler, the Library’s Director of Information Policy, conducted extensive research on copyright issues pertaining to the Holsinger collection to prepare for the exhibition. “Perhaps surprisingly, some portraits in the Holsinger Studio Collection are still subject to copyright regulations more than 100 years after they were created,” Butler said. “We believe the portrait copyrights belonged to whoever paid to have them taken — often the subject or a relative. Because that right would endure for 120 years, the descendants of the portrait sitters may still hold rights to their ancestors’ images.”

Mason and Library staff members urge exhibition visitors who might recognize ancestors or have any information about the portrait subjects to email the team at A brochure of the portraits will be freely available at the opening, and the Holsinger Project website, built by IATH, will live on after the exhibition ends in June 2023. With further support from the Jefferson Trust grant, the Holsinger Studio Project will continue to bring the portraits into the local community, visiting schools, religious organizations, and civic groups. An exhibition at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center curated by Andrea Douglas, the center’s Executive Director, is in development.

“We want to change the way that everyone in central Virginia sees our shared history,” Mason said.

Public exhibition opening details

A young man wearing military dress, a flat-brimmed hat, and glasses looks directly at the camera.

By the time that he registered for the World War I draft, Frank W. Robertson (b. 1893) had relocated from North Garden, in Albemarle County, to White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. There he worked at an attendant in a resort hotel, as did many young Black men from central Virginia. In the late 1910s, Frank moved to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area, working first as a manual laborer and later as a grocery store clerk.

The public opening celebration for “Visions of Progress: Portraits of Dignity, Style, and Racial Uplift” will be held on Sept. 22 in the Main Gallery of UVA’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library from 5-8 p.m.

John Edwin Mason will host two rounds of gallery talks that evening: one at 5:30 p.m., another at 6:30 p.m.

Kendall King and Jalane Schmidt, curators of another UVA Library exhibition, “No Unity Without Justice: Student and Community Organizing During the 2017 Summer of Hate,” will speak in the First Floor Gallery at 6 and 7 p.m.

This event is free, but registration is required: 100 tickets will be released via EventBrite for the 5:30/6:00 talks, and another 100 for the 6:30/7:00 talks. Register here:

A shuttle will run from the Jefferson School African American Center to the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at UVA every 30 minutes from 4-8 p.m. for the public opening celebration on September 22, 2022. Registered attendees may also request a code to park for free in the Central Grounds Garage.

For reporters

A press kit, which includes four Holsinger studio portraits and biographical information about the subjects, is available for download.

For press inquiries, please contact Elyse Girard at

Student jobs available at UVA Library

Guest post from Trillian Hosticka, Reference Librarian and Regional Deposit Librarian.

The UVA Library works because of its dedicated student employees!

Library jobs are available in a variety of categories and offer opportunities to develop new skills and explore resources that may even benefit your own studies.

Jobs include…

  • Circulation Assistants – Help patrons locate books, provide public service information, check materials in and out, and serve as a friendly face when people visit.
  • Stacks Assistants – Help reshelve books and maintain order on Library shelves so that visitors can find what they need.
  • Special Collections – Help archivists organize and describe historic documents and digital files, assist with retrieval of materials from the stacks, help with class prep for instructional sessions, and assist with exhibit organization.
  • Digital Production – Help scan Library materials and edit images for digitization, including items from Special Collections.
  • Graduate Reference Assistants – Provide research help to Library patrons in the evenings and on weekends in person, through chat, or by phone.
  • Digital Media / Makerspace Consultants – Provide assistance to visitors using specialized equipment and software such as for audio/video media, virtual reality, makerspaces, and scanning
  • Preservation Assistants – Get training on how to create the construction of protective enclosures for fragile books and pamphlets in the circulating and special collections.

How to apply

UVA Library jobs are posted in Handshake. To apply, you’ll need to visit Handshake and search for the job that most interests you.

Keywords to use when looking for UVA Library Postings on Handshake

Searching for the word “Library” will return a lot of results, but the search function on Handshake only looks at the job title so you may want to try some other search terms as well, such as:

  • Specific location or department names
    • For example, try: Try Clemons, Fine Arts, Brown Science & Engineering, Music, Special Collections, Scholars’ Lab, or Makerspace
  • Vocabulary used in the examples above
    • For example, try: Reference, Archives, Circulation, Stacks, Digital Media, Production, Makerspace, or Preservation

We hope you’ll join us for the fall semester! Visit Handshake now to start your application.