Encyclopedia Virginia said goodbye to our longtime media editor extraordinaire Donna Lucey at the end of July. Donna’s contributions to our mission of telling a more complete and inclusive story of Virginia have been many. Whether it was working with the American Civil War Museum to photograph never-before-digitized artifacts, organizing a listening session with Black female genealogists that led to new EV entries, or uncovering fascinating visual ephemera hidden in the deep recesses of dusty archives, Donna consistently found fascinating and often overlooked material and then wrote concisely and insightfully about those discoveries. We have been so lucky to have her skills, perspectives, and creativity. She’s also got a pretty good sense of humor.
Donna is going to focus her talents on her passion for writing amazing books about women in history. Donna is the author of lots of super cool books that center women in history. These include Photographing Montana 1894–1928: The Life and Work of Evelyn Cameron, I Dwell in Possibility: Women Build a Nation, 1600 to 1920, and Archie and Amélie: Love and Madness in the Gilded Age. Most recently, Donna published a book exploring the lives of four women painted by John Singer Sargent: Sargent’s Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas. There are other state encyclopedias across the country, but I’m sure we’re the only one to have had a New York Times best-selling author as its media editor.
Our loss is the rest of the world’s gain. Donna will now turn her full attention to her next book project: Victoria’s Island, a deep dive into the fascinating cultural history of the Isle of Wight through the lens of Queen Victoria and her almost 50-year presence on the island at the Osborne estate. It turns out it’s a lot of work to uncover the hidden stories of monarchs, eclectic literati, and devious smugglers. I suspect that an “Author & Scholar of Badass Women of The Gilded Age” is up to the task.
As a final salute to the amazing contributions she has made to EV, we asked Donna to share some of her favorite images and objects from the thousands she has collected from across the Commonwealth and the country. Check out our front page to see three of Donna’s gems.