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From the National Archives: In 1854, before the Civil War started, a self-styled general named George Bickley founded the Knights of the Golden Circle in Cincinnati. This large, well-organized, secret society had many branches, or “castles,” around the country. It also had a constitution, by-laws, an official seal, and secret methods of recognizing fellow members. […]

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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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'A farmer who also writes'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xetBVxCYCFc From OpenCulture.com: In November of 1952, the normally reclusive [William] Faulkner allowed a film crew into his secluded world at Oxford to make a short documentary about his life. The film, shown here in five pieces, was funded by the Ford Foundation and broadcast on December 28, 1952 on the CBS television program Omnibus. The […]

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'A monstrous tongue of flame'

Today is the 145th anniversary of the Battle of the Crater, which was fought near Petersburg, Virginia, on July 30, 1864. Kevin Levin marks the occasion by responding to our post from earlier this week, “Explaining a Massacre.” He has some words of praise and a response to Peter Luebke’s suggestion that certain claims about […]

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'Adventure Brings Reward'

Not that you didn’t already know this, but here’s a snippet from Sir Walter Raleigh: In Life & Legend by Mark Nicholls and Penry Williams: The well-worn tale of how Ralegh once spread his cloak over a ‘plashy place,’ traditionally at Greenwich, so allowing the Queen to walk across, rests only on gossip recorded by […]

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'All the transient multitudes'

The novelist Marilynne Robinson, in Amherst Magazine, refers to a different place but speaks, I think, to the spirit behind Encyclopedia Virginia: I’ve always felt that people somehow immortalize themselves in a landscape, that the mere fact of a specific human presence in a place leaves it changed. The earliest American poetry is haunted by […]

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'At Jamestown it is to be the War Path'

Driving to work this morning, I got behind that car—the one wallpapered in bumper stickers: End the War, Give Peace a Chance, et alia. And I’m programmed to assume that such sentiments are simply a product of the sixties. They’re not, of course, and I was reminded of this while editing our entry about, of […]

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'He is a sensible artful fellow'

An advertisement in the Norfolk Herald on October 2, 1800, calling attention to two runaway slaves—a father and daughter: Twenty Dollars Reward. Ran away, about the 20th instant, a Negro Man called BRISTOL, and his daughter SALLY. Bristol is a short, thick, very black fellow, with very short curled hair; his clothes are sailor’s, being […]

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'Here was a city of the dead'

Last week, the blog Shorpy posted a series of photographs of the dead from the Civil War battlefield of Petersburg. Like the one above, they’re tough to look at and even tougher to consider fully for all their moral, political, social, military, and even aesthetic ramifications. There’s a lot going on, in other words. The […]

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