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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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Tackling the Roots of Racism in Virginia

Working on an encyclopedia day in and day out for more than a decade is rewarding and sometimes depressing. It’s rewarding to think that—if you are doing your job responsibly—the resource you are helping to create may contribute to an open and honest dialogue about the past and how that past informs the present. It’s […]

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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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Saying Goodbye

This morning a smart young Virginia Humanities intern interviewed me about my job as editor of Encyclopedia Virginia. We talked about the almost twelve years I’ve been working on the project, about the publishing process we’ve built over that time, and the ways we continue to demonstrate the relevance of this history. I have to […]

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This Day (All But the Kitchen Sink Edition)

On this day in 1607, Christopher Newport and a small company of men began exploring the upper reaches of the James River, where they were feasted by the Indian weroance Ashuaquid. Two years later, a feast would have tasted even better, but relations with the Indians were generally poor and the colony not doing so well. As such, the muckety-mucks at the Virginia Company of London (that’s their seal above) […]

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Looking for the "whole story" of slavery

We get a fair amount of reader feedback here at Encyclopedia Virginia. For instance, we are still hearing about our entry on the United Daughters of the Confederacy and we recently received a note from a reader who found on our site “Easily the best article on Mary Bowser I’ve come across.” There are a […]

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Plug in Your Speakers: Season 3 Is Here

We just dropped season 3 of our podcast Not Even Past. Each episode crafts a short narrative drawn from the encyclopedia, pairing it with an interview with someone connected to the story in some interesting way. This season, we examined the lives of Christopher McPherson, Angela, John Mitchell Jr., Henry Martin, Anne Spencer, and Bethany […]

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A Poet on Pierce Street

In Season 3, Episode 6, of Not Even Past, host Brendan Wolfe travels to 1313 Pierce Street, the Lynchburg home of Anne Spencer, a poet, gardener, and luminary of the Harlem Renaissance. What can her home tell us about this accomplished and sometimes eccentric woman? Wolfe and producer Miranda Bennett also sit down with Spencer’s […]

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