Hannah Lee Corbin: Forgotten Feminist Foremother

A forgotten feminist foremother hides amid the members of the Virginia gentry who helped to shape the ideals of the American Revolution. When pioneering women’s suffrage leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton spoke at the “First Foremothers’ Celebration” in New York City in 1892, she reached back to the Virginia Tidewater of the Revolutionary era to place Hannah Lee Corbin alongside of Abigail Smith Adams and Mercy Otis Warren as among the earliest advocates for women’s rights in the new nation. Read more about: Hannah Lee Corbin: Forgotten Feminist Foremother


Charting the Transformation of Monticello and Public History

The passing of Daniel P. Jordan, the long-time head of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and runs Monticello, is a good opportunity to reflect on the changes that have come to Thomas Jefferson’s mountaintop home and plantation, as well as the field of public history at large.

Jane Kamensky, the current  president of the foundation, called Jordan  “the most consequential president on the Mountaintop since Jefferson himself.”

Jordan received his PhD in history from the University of Virginia in 1970 and joined the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1985. Read more about: Charting the Transformation of Monticello and Public History


What’s in a Name?

The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors voted on March 1 to rename UVA’s newly renovated main library in honor of Edgar F. Shannon Jr., the university’s fourth president. The move removes prominent eugenicist Edwin A. Alderman’s name from the building. 

Alderman, who was the first president of the university, was a noted educator and champion of the Progressive Movement who was credited with modernizing the structure of the university and increasing professional and technical instruction. Read more about: What’s in a Name?


The Challenges of Getting the Past Right

We at Encyclopedia Virginia value accuracy and getting it right when it comes to telling the story of Virginia’s history and culture. Since we went online in 2008, we have continually refined our processes to ensure that we’re getting it right—or at least as right as is possible for a staff of fallible humans.  Read more about: The Challenges of Getting the Past Right


Remembering the Father of Black History

As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s a good time to remember Carter G. Woodson, who is known as the Father of Black history and who in 1926 created the forerunner of Black History Month—Negro History Week.

At the time, the idea that African Americans might have a history worth preserving and studying was radical. Read more about: Remembering the Father of Black History


A “Special Meeting Place” Focuses on Indigenous History

As amazing as it seems for an area that was once home to numerous Native tribes that were part of Tsenacomoco, the Powhatan paramount chiefdom that stretched from the James to the Potomac rivers and west to the fall line, a new Virginia state park in the region is the first to honor Indigenous history in the Commonwealth. Read more about: A “Special Meeting Place” Focuses on Indigenous History


Witches of Virginia

Chances are if you’re thinking about witches this Halloween when a shadow scuttles across the moon or a black cat crosses your path, you’re picturing a woman accused of casting spells or associating with the Devil in the frosty woods of New England. The accused witches of Salem, in what was then the Province of Massachusettes Bay, are the country’s most famous purported practitioners of the dark arts, but Virginia had its own experiences with witchcraft trials. Read more about: Witches of Virginia


Support Encyclopedia Virginia

Encyclopedia Virginia’s September fundraising campaign is underway to raise $10,000 to support free, public access to Virginia history.

While we’ve been fortunate and grateful to receive financial support from a variety of sources throughout our history, projects like ours thrive with reader support. When readers contribute, we can create nuanced, relevant content that helps students, journalists, educators, and everyday citizens understand Virginia’s history and culture. Read more about: Support Encyclopedia Virginia


The “Racial Brain” Collector and the Dark History of Eugenics

A recent Washington Post investigation revealed the extent of the “racial brain collection” amassed by Ales Hrdlicka, the curator of the division of physical anthropology at the Smithsonian’s United States National Museum, which was a forerunner of the National Museum of Natural History.

Hrdlicka was primarily responsible for gathering some 250 human brains in the early decades of the twentieth century from a network of scientists, physicians, and professors, all in service of proving the biological superiority of white people. Read more about: The “Racial Brain” Collector and the Dark History of Eugenics