Author: Patricia Miller

editor of Encyclopedia Virginia
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A Song by Any Other Name

What’s in a name? In the case of the now-retired state song of Virginia, a lot. The tale of the twisting, somewhat torturous history of “Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” tells us a lot about Lost Cause mythology, half-hearted attempts to erase the stain of racism, and what true reconciliation requires. “Carry Me Back […]

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The Remarkable Journey of Elizabeth Keckly

Few stories in Encyclopedia Virginia are more dramatic than that of Elizabeth Hobbs Keckly. Born into slavery in Dinwiddie Courthouse, in the Piedmont region of Virginia, during the presidency of James Monroe, by the time that Abraham Lincoln entered the White House in 1861, not only was Keckly a free woman, but she was also Washington, D.C.’s most […]

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Bernard Cohen and the Legacy of Loving

Bernard Cohen, one of the two lawyers who successfully took on one of the last laws underpinning legal segregation in the landmark Loving v. Virginia case, died on October 12 at the age of eighty-six. Brooklyn-born Cohen was practicing law in Alexandria in 1963 when he was asked to take the case of Richard and […]

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EV Election Edition

The air is crisp, and the first hints of color are showing in the Blue Ridge, which means that pumpkin spice lattes and the fifty-ninth U.S. presidential election must be around the corner. It’s easy to think that we live in uniquely unsettling political times. But a look at the past shows that the country […]

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“Lonely Days and Fearful Nights:” The Norfolk Yellow Fever Epidemic

At its best, history opens a window in time that helps illuminate the past and the present. Such is Encyclopedia Virginia’s new entry on the long-forgotten Norfolk and Portsmouth Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1855, contributed by Addeane Caelleigh, who also wrote the EV entry on the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in Virginia. You aren’t alone if you’ve never heard of […]

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Telling the Whole Story of Woman Suffrage

As Encyclopedia Virginia director Peter Hedlund recently noted here on the EV blog, we are committed to revising existing entries to eliminate racial bias and better reflect new historical understandings of key moments in Virginia history. One such entry that needed revision was our entry on Woman Suffrage in Virginia, which failed to adequately note the contributions of Black women to the […]

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What Comes After?

The old Style Council song “Walls Come Tumbling Down” has been running through my head all week as we watch the commemorative landscape of Richmond being re-made in real time: Are you gonna try to make this workOr spend your days down in the dirtYou see things can change Yes and walls can come tumbling down […]

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Symbols Matter

It was impossible not to feel the weight of history when Gov. Ralph Northam announced that the state-owned statue of Robert E. Lee that towers over Richmond, physically and emotionally, would be removed forthwith. (Although the removal is currently on hold pending a lawsuit filed by a descendent of family who deeded the land for […]

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Echoes of Pandemics Past

When Encyclopedia Virginia was approached two years ago about adding an entry on the 1918–1919 influenza pandemic in Virginia, director Peter Hedlund wasn’t sure it would be germane enough for our readership. But he figured it sounded interesting, so the entry was commissioned. That, as it turns out, was an incredibility farsighted decision, because now in the […]

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What a Difference a Year Makes

It was just over a year ago that I was first introduced to Encyclopedia Virginia when Peter Hedlund, who directs the project, moderated the panel I appeared on at the Virginia Festival of the Book. We had a great time talking about my book Bringing Down the Colonel in front of a packed house at the City Council Chambers. […]

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