Author: Patricia Miller

editor of Encyclopedia Virginia
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Ms. Johns Goes to Washington

Barbara Johns is one step closer to Washington, D.C. A sculptor has been selected for the statue destined for the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall portraying Barbara Rose Johns Powell as the teenage Barbara Johns, when she rallied the students at the all-Black Robert Russa Moton High School to walk out in protest of their substandard learning conditions. […]

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Start Your Engines for Wendell Oliver Scott

You don’t have to be a fan of NASCAR to appreciate our new entry on the legendary Danville-born driver Wendell Oliver Scott. Scott was already locally famous as a taxi driver-turned-moonshine runner when he drove a souped-up Ford in his first race at Danville Fairgrounds Speedway in 1952. Despite financial obstacles and continued instances of […]

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Telling Their Story: The Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia

Encyclopedia Virginia is pleased to present our new entry about the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, the first in a series of new entries about the history and culture of the eleven officially recognized Virginia Indian tribes—past and present. “EV knew we needed to do a better job of representing the history and culture of Virginia’s tribal […]

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How Should We Remember the Revolution?

How should Virginia commemorate the American Revolution? Whose stories will be told and how as we approach the semiquincentennial in 2026? Why is expanding and complicating the narrative of the Revolution important? These are questions we are asking ourselves at Encyclopedia Virginia as we embark on our new American Revolution project “By the People: The Inclusive Story of […]

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Thanks from EV!

It’s a wrap on Encyclopedia Virginia‘s first giving campaign, and we would like to thank everyone who made it a success. Whether you gave a gift, attended our EntryPoint event, told us why EV was meaningful to you, or simply visited the site, we are so grateful for your support and your role in our […]

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Support Encyclopedia Virginia

We’re trying something new at Encyclopedia Virginia and invite you to participate. EV’s mission is to provide a free, reliable multimedia resource that tells the inclusive story of Virginia for those who seek to understand how the past informs the present and future. While we’ve been fortunate and grateful to receive financial support from a […]

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Who Controls the Past: The Virginia History and Textbook Commission

Our new entry on the Virginia History and Textbook Commission explores another facet of the Commonwealth’s mid-twentieth century effort to hold back the hands of time in a country that was moving toward desegregation. Like the Massive Resistance campaign that shut down public schools in some Virginia communities rather than comply with the Brown v. […]

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Supreme Opinion

With a number of high-profile Supreme Court cases in the news, we take a look at the groundbreaking Virginia-based cases that have made their way to the nation’s highest court. Many of these cases dealt with issues of race and segregation in the Commonwealth, as well as with issues of reproductive coercion and freedom to […]

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The Election of 1840 and the Long Arc of Women’s Political Participation

Our newest entry is a biography of Virginia-born William Henry Harrison, the ninth president of the United States. One might think there isn’t much to say about Harrison, given that he still holds the distinction of being the shortest-serving U.S. president, dying in office thirty-one days after his inauguration.  But Harrison’s military career covered the […]

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The Great Dismal Swamp: A Mythical Place of Enslaved Resistance and Rebellion

The Great Dismal Swamp straddles many lines—the border between Virginia and North Carolina, the boundary between land and water, and the space between past and present. It exists today as one of the most ecologically sensitive and important areas on the East Coast, a natural carbon sink that plays a critical role in carbon sequestration, […]

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“Third report of a committee of the representatives of New York Yearly Meeting of Friends: upon the condition and wants of the colored refugees.” (May 1864)

In this report, dated May 1864, the Committee on Colored Refugees, who were representatives of the New York Yearly Meeting of Friends, gives its assessment of the needs of the formerly enslaved people escaping behind Union lines and how Quaker charity efforts were meeting them in contraband camps across Virginia, including Alexandria. One of their agents, Harriet Jacobs, wrote her own letter documenting what she saw in Alexandria and Washington, D.C. For Quakers, the abolition of slavery was a moral and religious imperative.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

Letter from Sarah Stewart to Dolley Payne Todd Madison (July 5, 1844)

In this letter, dated July 5, 1884, Sarah Stewart, an enslaved domestic at Montpelier, writes to her enslaver, Dolley Madison, reporting that the Orange County sheriff had seized many of the people enslaved by the Madisons to pay their debts. Stewart implores Madison to ask her neighbors to purchase those enslaved people who had been seized to prevent their being permanently separated from their families by slave traders taking part in the domestic slave trade. Ultimately, the enslaved community at Montpelier was largely broken up because of Madison’s financial difficulty.

PRIMARY DOCUMENT

“Downing and the Fine Collector.” (December 21, 1855)

This article, published in the abolitionist newspaper the Liberator on December 21, 1855, gives an account of the New York state militia mistaking Thomas Downing for a white man of the same name who was trying to escape militia duty, which was required of male citizens between the ages of 18 and 45. At this time, Downing was famous across New York City for his restaurant, community organizing, and activism. The story originally appeared in the New York Evening Post.