Virginia Room in the Confederate Museum, now the American Civil War Museum
Wood-and-glass cases displaying a wide variety of objects, documents, and photos fill the Virginia Room in the Confederate Museum (currently known as the American Civil War Museum) at the turn of the 20th century. The museum assigned rooms to each of the thirteen Confederate states, along with Maryland. To represent each room, the museum recruited prominent women (often the wives and widows of Confederate generals) as room regents to lend prestige and draw donations of objects and money. The first regent of the Virginia Room, for example, was Mildred Lee, youngest daughter of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Through such associations, the museum received Lee's effects and those of other famous Confederate civilian and military leaders, notably Jefferson Davis, Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, J. E. B. Stuart, and John Hunt Morgan.
The museum's state rooms appeared to some observers as "an over-crowded hodge-podge," their display cases filled with objects that had only minimal identification. The exhibits were to speak for themselves and testified primarily to the heroism and sacrifice of the Southern people and soldiers. But in addition to reinforcing the identity of Southerners, the museum apparently also wanted to educate outsiders, a mission suggested by their keeping separate figures for "northern and foreign" visitors.
This glass-plate photograph was taken in 1906 by Edyth Carter Beveridge, an early woman photographer ifrom Virginia who created an essay of images for Ladies Home Journal which featured each of the fourteen state rooms in the Confederate Museum.