Recordings of public lectures and events held at the Virginia Historical Society.
Best-selling author and journalist Kristen Green joins Dr. Carolivia Herron to discuss the subject of Green's book and Herron's ancestor, Mary Lumpkin, an enslaved woman who liberated an infamous slave jail and transformed it into one of the nation's first HBCUs. The Devil's Half Acre: The Untold Story of How One Woman Liberated the South's Most Notorious Slave Jail, draws on years of research to tell the extraordinary story of Mary Lumpkin, an enslaved woman who blazed a path of liberation for thousands. She was forced to have the children of a brutal slave trader and live on the premises of his slave jail, known as the “Devil's Half Acre.” When she inherited the jail after the death of her slaveholder, she transformed it into “God's Half Acre,” a school where Black men could fulfill their dreams. It still exists today as Virginia Union University, one of America's first Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Presenter Biographies: Kristen Green is a reporter and the author of The Devil's Half Acre and the New York Times bestseller Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County. She has worked as a journalist for two decades for newspapers including the Boston Globe, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She holds a master's in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School and lives in Richmond with her husband and two daughters. Carolivia Herron is an African American Jewish author, educator and publisher living in Washington, DC. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Pennsylvania, and has held multiple professorial appointments, including at Harvard University and the College of William and Mary. Currently she teaches Classics in the English Department of Howard University and has recently been commissioned to write a play about her ancestry. Two of her children's books, Nappy Hair and Always An Olivia, highlight her Virginia heritage. Carolivia Herron is a descendant of Mary Lumpkin.
Join historian Terry Alford for a fascinating lecture about his newest book, In the Houses of Their Dead: The Lincolns, the Booths, and the Spirits. Two families, one at the nation's political summit and one at its theatrical, were bound together in the Civil War period by their fascination with spiritualism. Abraham and Mary Lincoln turned to the seance table when their son Willie Lincoln died in 1862. Edwin Booth and his brother John Wilkes were similarly attracted to the otherworld by the death of Edwin's wife Mary Devlin in 1863. Although there were many mediums in the country, the number of distinguished intermediaries to the other side was limited, and the two families shared several of the most gifted ones. No medium was more controversial than Charles J. Colchester, who astounded the Lincolns with his powers while being an intimate friend of John Wilkes Booth at the same time. Colchester repeatedly warned Lincoln to be careful. Would the president, who received many such warnings over the years, finally listen to the one that mattered? Terry L. Alford is Professor of History Emeritus at Northern Virginia Community College. He is the author of several books, including Prince among Slaves: The True Story of an African Prince Sold into Slavery in the American South, which was made into a PBS documentary in 2007; Fortune's Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth, a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist; and In the Houses of Their Dead: The Lincolns, the Booths, and the Spirits. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
Join writer Derek Baxter for a lecture about his book, In Pursuit of Jefferson: Traveling through Europe with the Most Perplexing Founding Father. In 1788, when two young countrymen asked Thomas Jefferson for advice on where to go on their own journey, he wrote them a 5,000-word letter he entitled Hints to Americans Travelling in Europe, instructing them where to go, what to do, and how to bring knowledge from their travels back to newborn America. More than two hundred years later, Baxter used the miniguide to embark on a grand tour of his own, following Jefferson's advice through six countries and absorbing countless lessons while recovering from his own personal crisis. Yet along the way, what Baxter learns isn't always what Jefferson had in mind—including how Jefferson could never escape the fact that the work of enslaved people lay behind all his travels and projects. In Pursuit of Jefferson is at once a personal story of a life-changing trip across Europe and a profound personal journey as well as an unflinching look at one of America's most controversial founding fathers. Written with immersive historical detail, a sense of humor, and a boundless heart, Baxter explores how we can be better at moving forward only by first looking back. Derek Baxter graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in history and is an attorney. After years of research, he made nine separate trips abroad on Jefferson's trail. In Pursuit of Jefferson is his first book. You can follow his adventures with Thomas Jefferson at www.jeffersontravels.com. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
Join Catherine Ingrassia for a fascinating discussion of her latest book, “Domestic Captivity and the British Subject, 1660–1750.” Indentured servitude was common in colonial America. When voluntary, it allegedly offered dispossessed British subjects the opportunity to improve their situation after their term. However, the practice of kidnapping or “spiriting away” people into involuntary indentured servitude occurred with great regularly. This talk discusses two fictional representations of the case of James Annesley (1715–1760). The heir to an Irish barony, Annesley's uncle had him secretly kidnapped as a child and sold as an indentured servant in Virginia where he labored for fourteen years. When Annesley finally returned to England, he was the subject of more than sixty publications in London all of which emphasized his role as an “indentured slave.” These British narratives about colonial America give voice to persistent anxieties about the potential captivity of British subjects on colonial soil. More forcefully, they also reveal a concern about the potential erosion of male British identity within a corrosive climate where ignorant Americans masters hold them captive. The narratives strategically represent the American masters as particularly brutal to compensative for the vast British financial interests in the West Indies, the site of notoriously horrific conditions for enslaved people. In addition to discussing Annesley's captivity, the talk will also consider other states of domestic captivity common within England and elaborate upon the especially threatening conditions for women held captive within a colonial, domestic space. Catherine E. Ingrassia is Professor and Chair in the Department of English at Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition to her most recent book Domestic Captivity and the British Subject, 1660–1750, she is the author or editor of six other books including Authorship, Commerce and Gender in Eighteenth-Century England: A Culture of Paper Credit and the Cambridge Companion to Eighteenth-Century Women Writers. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
Was the American Revolution really a revolution? Was George Washington a great general? Was the American victory a miracle or inevitable? Dr. Joseph Ellis will explore these questions and more in his lecture on "The Cause," complicating conventional narratives to present a richly nuanced vision of this foundational moment in American history. A landmark work of narrative history, "The Cause" challenges the story we have long told ourselves about our origins as a people, and as a nation. Joseph Ellis is one of the nation's leading scholars of American history. A professor of history, he has taught in the Leadership Studies program at Williams College, the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts, Mount Holyoke College, and the United States Military Academy at West Point. Ellis's commentaries have been featured on CSPAN, CNN, and PBS's Lehrer News Hour, and he has appeared in several documentaries on early America. The author of twelve books, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for "Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation" and won the National Book Award for "American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson." Joseph Ellis's latest work is "The Cause: The American Revolution and its Discontents, 1773–1783." The content and opinions expressed in this presentation are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
Join historian Daniel Thorp for a lecture about his latest book, In The True Blue's Wake: Slavery and Freedom among the Families of Smithfield Plantation. In 1759, William Preston purchased sixteen enslaved Africans brought to Maryland aboard the True Blue, an English slave ship. Over the next century, the Prestons enslaved more than 200 individuals and used their labor to establish and operate Smithfield, the family's Virginia seat, and the plantations into which it was later divided. In the True Blue's Wake tells the story of the men and women who were enslaved at Smithfield between its establishment in 1774 and the abolition of slavery there in 1865: who they were and how they and their families endured the experience of slavery. It then follows those families after their emancipation as they moved throughout the United States and explores how they and their descendants used their families' new freedom to advance in the world. Dr. Daniel B. Thorp is an associate professor of history at Virginia Tech. He is the author of several books, including Facing Freedom: An African American Community in Virginia from Reconstruction to Jim Crow; and In the True Blue's Wake: Slavery and Freedom among the Families of Smithfield Plantation. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
Transportation was not merely a way to move about the state or country. The ability to travel across the United States became highly restricted as early as the Scott v. Stanford (1857) case, which denied Dred Scott's claim to freedom and citizenship after relocating from a free to a slave state. Nearly a century later, the Montgomery Bus Boycott helped spark what we now know as the classic phase of the civil rights movement, and bussing became paramount in the battle against massive resistance to school desegregation. In many ways, Virginia sits at the crossroads of these three distinct struggles, and Black Virginians helped to change the course of the country toward a more equal and accessible way of life. This talk recalls the lives and experiences of John Mitchell, Jr., Irene Morgan, Pauli Murray, and Bruce Boynton as they challenged transportation segregation in Virginia while simultaneously dismantling anti-Blackness in America's social landscape.
Join Curator Karen Sherry for a conversation with William and Ann Oppenhimer, long-time collectors and advocates of folk art, as they share stories about their work in the field and about the objects currently on view at the VMHC in "Visionary Virginians: The Folk Art Collection of William and Ann Oppenhimer."
Join historian Samantha Rosenthal for a lecture about an LGBTQ community in Roanoke, Virginia, and how queer people today think about the past and how history lives on in the present. Queer history is a living practice. Talk to any group of LGBTQ people today, and they will not agree on what story should be told. In her book Living Queer History, Samantha Rosenthal tells the story of a small city on the edge of Appalachia. Interweaving historical analysis, theory, and memoir, Rosenthal tells the story of their own journey—coming out and transitioning as a transgender woman—in the midst of working on a community-based history project that documented a multigenerational southern LGBTQ community. Based on over forty interviews with LGBTQ elders, Living Queer History explores how queer people today think about the past and how history lives on in the present. Gregory Samantha Rosenthal (she/her or they/them) is associate professor of history and coordinator of the Public History Concentration at Roanoke College. She is co-founder of the Southwest Virginia LGBTQ+ History Project, a nationally recognized queer public history initiative. Her work has received recognition from the National Council on Public History, the Oral History Association, the Committee on LGBT History, the American Society for Environmental History, and the Working Class Studies Association. Samantha is the author of two books, Beyond Hawaiʻi: Native Labor in the Pacific World (2018) and Living Queer History: Remembrance and Belonging in a Southern City (2021). The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
Join author Jan Meck for a thoughtful talk and discussion of their new book, The Life and Legacy of Enslaved Virginian Emily Winfree. The Life and Legacy of Enslaved Virginian Emily Winfree tells the true story of an African American woman who was the embodiment of courage, love, and determination. Given a small cottage after the Civil War by her former master and father of her children, she raised her family through the hardest of times, always keeping them together. The author will be joined during the program by moderator Joseph Rogers, Manager of Partnerships & Community Engagement at the VMHC, Dr. Emily Jones, great-great-granddaughter of Emily Winfree, and Ana Edwards, Public Historian, Chair of the Sacred Ground Historical Reclamation Project, information about which can be found at sacredgroundproject.net. Dr. Jan Meck is a retired NASA scientist, and Virginia Refo is a retired foster care and adoption social worker and an experienced genealogist. Since retiring both have been docents and researchers at the Virginia Museum of History & Culture. Dr. Emily J. Jones is the great-great-granddaughter of Emily Winfree. She believes her ancestors have directly influenced her work. Currently, she serves as the Deputy Director of the Center on Culture, Race & Equity and Director of the New York State Education Department's Technical Assistance Partnership for Equity (TAP Equity) at Bank Street College of Education in New York City. Dr. Jones holds a PhD in Education Policy from Rutgers University, an MS in Elementary Education from Mercy College, and a BA in Economics from Spelman College. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On April 20, 2022, historian James Horn delivered the 2022 Stuart G. Christian, Jr. Lecture about his book, A Brave and Cunning Prince: The Great Chief Opechancanough and the War for America. In 1561, an Indian youth was abducted from Virginia by Spanish explorers and taken to Spain. Called by the Spanish Paquiquineo and subsequently Don Luís, he was introduced to King Philip II in Madrid, as well as to influential Catholic prelates and courtiers, before being sent back to America to help with the conversion of Indian peoples. In Mexico City, he converted to Catholicism and after many years was eventually able to secure his return to his homeland on the York River as a guide to a small group of Jesuits. There, he quickly organized a war party to destroy the mission and everyone associated with it. During the remainder of the sixteenth century, he and his brother, Powhatan, built a massive chiefdom that stretched from the James River to the Potomac, and from the coast to the piedmont. When the English arrived in Virginia in 1607, he and his brother chief launched a series of attacks on the settlers in an attempt to drive them out. These wars, the first Anglo-Indian wars in North America, spanned the greater part of the next four decades. Known by the English as Opechancanough, he was ultimately unsuccessful but would come closer than any of his peers in early America to succeeding. He survived to be nearly 100 years old and died, as he lived, fighting European colonists. James Horn is the president of the Jamestown Rediscovery Foundation at Historic Jamestowne, the original site of the first permanent English settlement in America. He is author and editor of eight books on early America, including 1619: Jamestown and the Forging of American Democracy and A Land as God Made It: Jamestown and the Birth of America. His most recent book, A Brave and Cunning Prince: The Great Chief Opechancanough and the War for America, was published last November. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
Join historian Bruce A. Ragsdale on December 9, 2021 for a discussion of his On December 9, 2021, historian Bruce A. Ragsdale presented a lecture about his book, Washington at the Plow: The Founding Farmer and the Question of Slavery. For more than forty years, George Washington was dedicated to an innovative and experimental course of farming at Mount Vernon, where he sought to demonstrate the public benefits of recent advances in British agriculture. The methods of British agricultural improvement also shaped Washington's management of enslaved labor, and he was at the forefront to efforts to adapt slavery to new kinds of farming. His ultimate inability to reconcile the ideals of enlightened farming with coerced labor and race-based slavery was critical to his decision to free the enslaved people under his control. Washington at the Plow significantly enriches the more familiar biography of the revolutionary general and first president and offers a new perspective on the founders' response to abolitionist appeals. Bruce A. Ragsdale served for twenty years as director of the Federal Judicial History Office at the Federal Judicial Center. He has been a fellow at the Washington Library at Mount Vernon and the International Center for Jefferson Studies. He is the author of A Planters' Republic: The Search for Economic Independence in Revolutionary Virginia and Washington at the Plow: The Founding Farmer and the Question of Slavery. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
For generations, many have flocked to the shores of southeastern Virginia for its beaches, resorts, and seasonal fun at its many destinations. In this lecture from June 2, 2022, award-nominated nonfiction author and historian Nancy E. Sheppard takes a trip down “Memory Lane” to visit some of the beloved but lost attractions of Hampton Roads, including Buckroe Beach and Ocean View amusement parks. Learn more about the places that brought so much joy to many but are no more. Nancy E. Sheppard, a writer and historian of her native Hampton Roads, Virginia, is the author of several books, including The Airship ROMA Disaster in Hampton Roads; Hampton Roads Murder & Mayhem; and Lost Attractions of Hampton Roads. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
In this lecture on May 24, 2022, historian Alex Kershaw spoke about his book, Against All Odds: A True Story of Ultimate Courage and Survival in World War II. As the Allies raced to defeat Hitler, four men, all in the same unit, earned medal after medal for battlefield heroism: Maurice “Footsie” Britt, Michael Daly, Keith Ware, and a baby-faced Texan named Audie Murphy. In the campaign to liberate Europe, each would gain the ultimate accolade, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Tapping into personal interviews and a wealth of primary source material, Alex Kershaw has delivered his most gripping account yet of American courage, spanning more than six hundred days of increasingly merciless combat, from the deserts of North Africa to the dark heart of Nazi Germany. Once the guns fell silent, these four exceptional warriors would discover just how heavy the Medal of Honor could be—and how great the expectations associated with it. Having survived against all odds, who among them would finally find peace? Alex Kershaw is a journalist and a New York Times bestselling author of books on World War II. Born in York, England, he is a graduate of Oxford University and has lived in the United States since 1994. His many books include The Bedford Boys: One American Town's Ultimate D-day Sacrifice; The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau; The First Wave: The D-Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War II; and, most recently, Against All Odds: A True Story of Ultimate Courage and Survival in World War II. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
George Washington Parke Custis was raised at Mount Vernon by George and Martha Washington. Young “Wash” appears in Edward Savage's 1789 painting of the first presidential family, his small hand placed symbolically on a globe. He would later mark the national landscape by building Arlington House on the Potomac. A poor student, he emerged as an agricultural reformer and sought-after Federalist orator. He championed the plights of Irish Americans and war veterans. An important memoirist who knew the first fifteen presidents, he wrote well-received theatrical works and produced paintings rich in historical detail. In inheriting much of the vast Custis fortune, he also became the enslaver of more than 200 persons. The slow march toward their emancipation became a pivotal struggle of his life, particularly after his daughter's 1831 marriage to Robert E. Lee. Charles S. Clark's first full-length biography of Custis offers a twenty-first-century reappraisal of a unique life that bridged the American Revolution and the Civil War. As part of this lecture on May 19, 2022, Clark presented portraits, documents, and photographs, including relevant images not in the book. Charles S. Clark, a retired journalist. A native of Arlington, Virginia, he continues to write the weekly “Our Man in Arlington” column for the Falls Church News-Press. In July 2019, he retired as senior correspondent for Government Executive Media Group, part of Atlantic Media. He previously has worked as an editor or writer for The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, and Time-Life Books. He is the author of several books, including Arlington County Chronicles; Hidden History of Arlington County; Lost Arlington County; and, most recently, George Washington Parke Custis: A Rarefied Life in America's First Family. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On April 28, 2022, historian Jane Turner Censer presented a lecture about the literary career of Amélie Rives. By 1890, Amélie Rives was well-known all over America, both as the author of a scandalous novel and as a beauty who had married a very wealthy heir of New York's Astor family. Only five years earlier, Rives, then a twenty-two-year-old living in the family plantation outside Charlottesville, had burst upon the literary scene with a short story in the "Atlantic Monthly," arguably the nation's most prestigious literary magazine, and a poem in the highly regarded Century Illustrated Monthly. Jane Turner Censer draws from her new biography, "The Princess of Albemarle: Amélie Rives, Author and Celebrity at the Fin de Siècle," to explain how Rives went from anonymity to a household name. In her quest to become a published author, Rives deployed charm, unconventional behavior, and family connections to bring her stories and poems to the notice of prominent publishers. Censer also indicates how Rives, while achieving celebrity and a literary career, struggled with the expectations of her society, her family, and her own notions about propriety. Jane Turner Censer, Professor Emerita of History at George Mason University, is a specialist on the nineteenth-century United States and southern women. Her essays and prize-winning articles have appeared in numerous journals including the Journal of Southern History, Comparative Studies in Society and History, American Journal of Legal History, Southern Cultures, and American Quarterly. In 2017–18 she served as president of the Southern Historical Association. She is the author of several books, including "North Carolina Planters and Their Children, 1800 1860"; "The Reconstruction of White Southern Womanhood, 1865–1895"; and, most recently, "The Princess of Albemarle: Amélie Rives, Author and Celebrity at the Fin de Siècle." The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On March 24, 2022, Carl R. Lounsbury discussed the four centuries of Chesapeake history as revealed through material world of Eyre Hall. Erected in 1759 on the Eastern Shore, Eyre Hall is still occupied by descendants of its builder, Littleton Eyre. Since construction, succeeding generations acquired and preserved a rich variety of documents and objects including furniture, books, silver, and paintings. Only a small handful of houses in Virginia can claim such continuity. The Material World of Eyre Hall examines the everchanging meanings of this place in Virginia history. Its origins reveal the cultural aspirations of a deferential society built on slavery that emerged in the colonial period. The plantation suffered the tribulations wrought by the Revolution, Civil War, Reconstruction, and several depressions, undermining its social and economic foundations. By the early twentieth century, the house was seen as a nostalgic exemplar of an earlier age, a storehouse of family legends and traditions. Preservation and survival rather than expansion and change became the dominate attitude toward the house and grounds. What does this inheritance mean today in the wake of transformative events that continue to reshape the interpretation of Virginia's past? Carl R. Lounsbury retired as the Senior Architectural Historian at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation in 2016. Over a thirty-five-year career, he was involved in the research and restoration of many buildings in Williamsburg's Historic Area. Since 2002, Lounsbury has taught architectural history at William and Mary. His many publications include An Illustrated Glossary of Early Southern Architecture and Landscape; The Courthouses of Early Virginia; An Architectural History of Bruton Parish Church; and, most recently, The Material World of Eyre Hall: Four Centuries of Chesapeake History. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On April 7, 2022, Kimberly C. Borchard presented a lecture about the 500-year-old myth of Appalachian gold and its catastrophic consequences for the Native Floridians that gave Appalachia its name. Growing up in rural Appalachia, Kim Borchard was well-acquainted with stereotypes of Appalachian poverty and backwardness. For that reason, she was struck by accounts of an opulent, gold-rich province by the name of Apalache in sixteenth-century Spanish, Portuguese, and Incan accounts of early European forays into Florida. What at first seemed an onomastic coincidence proved to be a pervasive and ultimately deadly myth: generation after generation of explorers and would-be conquistadors from Spain, Portugal, France, and finally England, marauded Apalachee territory and ravaged Native societies of the southeast in the attempt to seize the fabled gold and silver mines associated first with the Apalachee people, and later with the Appalachian Mountains. This lecture described the devastating power of sixteenth-century “fake news” over the course of two centuries while following the Apalachee diaspora out of the Florida panhandle and into central Louisiana, where the Talimali Band of Apalachee Indians continue to fight for their sovereignty to this day. Kim Borchard earned her B.A. and M.A. from Ohio University and her PhD from the University of Chicago. She teaches courses in Spanish, Latin American colonial literature, and Spanish for Social Justice at Randolph-Macon College. She is the author of Appalachia as Contested Borderland of the Early Modern Atlantic, 1528–1715. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On March 15, 2022, Dr. Charles Bryan and VMHC president and CEO Jamie Bosket had a conversation about some of the topics covered in Dr. Bryan's latest book, "Imperfect Past Volume II: More History in a New Light." The late southern writer John Egerton observed that there are three kinds of history: what actually happened, what we are told happened, and what finally came to believe happened. It is that third type that author and former VMHC president and CEO Charles Bryan addresses in many of the essays in Volume 2 of "Imperfect Past." Bryan challenges many of the assumptions about the past his generation was taught in schools some sixty years ago. A once simplistic story has become more complex, but at the same time, more compelling and provocative. The lecture will consist of a conversation between Dr. Bryan and current VMHC president and CEO Jamie Bosket. Dr. Charles F. Bryan, Jr., is an American historian who spent most of his career in the museum field, including twenty years as president of the Virginia Historical Society. He is the author of several books, including "Imperfect Past: History in a New Light" and "Imperfect Past Volume II: More History in a New Light." The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
Interested in addressing a problem, making something better, or helping others in your community? Whether you are a veteran activist or a novice eager to get started, the global pandemic has impacted the ways in which we can advocate for change. Join a panel of today's changemakers as they discuss how to tap into your passion, get involved in a cause, apply your unique skills, and take action in an age of working-from-home. Several expert panelists featured in the museum's recent Today's Agents of Change exhibition will offer insights from their experience and answer your questions about conducting advocacy work from home. In April 2021 we will continue this conversation with, Activism from Home: Spring into Action, a virtual workshop that will connect new and experienced advocates with others who share your interests. Visit VirginiaHistory.org/Events The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
In this virtual event on February 19, 2021, VMHC Curator Karen Sherry led audiences in a conversation with Dr. Gladys West. This Dinwiddie County native helped develop GPS and other satellite mapping technology during her long career at the Naval Surface Weapons Center at Dahlgren, Virginia. Dr. West shared stories from her remarkable life, including rising from rural poverty to gain an education and facing racism and sexism as one of the first two black women to join Dahlgren in 1956. Since retiring, she has continued to value education: she earned a Ph.D. and established a scholarship fund for students seeking careers in STEM fields. Dr. West has also recently published an autobiography, It Began with a Dream (2020). The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On November 12 , 2018, Richard Brookhiser delivered the banner lecture, “John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court.” In 1801, a genial and brilliant Revolutionary War veteran and politician became the fourth Chief Justice of the United States. He would hold the post for thirty-four years (still a record), expounding the Constitution he loved. Before he joined the Court, it was the weakling of the federal government, lacking in dignity and clout. After he died, it could never be ignored again. Through three decades of dramatic cases involving businessmen, scoundrels, Native Americans, and slaves, Marshall defended the federal government against unruly states, established the Supreme Court's right to rebuke Congress or the president, and unleashed the power of American commerce. For better and for worse, he made the Supreme Court a pillar of American life. In John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court, award-winning biographer Richard Brookhiser vividly chronicles America's greatest judge and the world he made. In this lecture, he will discuss Marshall's landmark court decisions and his legacy today. Richard Brookhiser is a senior editor of National Review and the author of twelve previous books, including Founder's Son: A Life of Abraham Lincoln; James Madison; and John Marshall: The Man Who Made the Supreme Court. This program is made possible by the generous support of the Roller-Bottimore Foundation and is cosponsored with Preservation Virginia's John Marshall House and the John Marshall Foundation and is free to their members. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On January 13, 2022 Dr. Mary A. DeCredico had a discussion of Richmond and its people during the Civil War. Confederate Citadel: Richmond and its People at War offers a detailed portrait of life's daily hardships in the rebel capital during the Civil War. Drawing on personal correspondence, private diaries, and newspapers, historian Mary A. DeCredico spotlights the human elements of Richmond's economic rise and fall, uncovering its significance as the South's industrial powerhouse throughout the Civil War. Dr. Mary A. DeCredico is professor of history at the United States Naval Academy and is author of numerous publications, including Mary Boykin Chesnut: A Confederate Woman's Life and Confederate Citadel: Richmond and Its People at War. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On October 28, 2020, Harold Holzer delivered a lecture titled "The Presidents vs. the Press" Since America's first president began the very first presidential feud with the press, American chief executives have been engaged in an endless struggle with journalists for control of the reporting that constitutes the first draft of history. This presentation will focus on three exemplars of this tension: Virginians George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, whose relationships with the press were deeply intertwined, and Virginia-born Woodrow Wilson, who modernized the White House relationship with the media in several remarkable ways, both positive and negative. For better and worse, all three Virginia presidents defined and defended the still-manifest hostility between presidents and the leaders they cover. Harold Holzer, one of the country's leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era, serves as The Jonathan F. Fanton Director of Hunter College's Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, co-chairman of The Lincoln Forum, and chairman of the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation. A prolific writer and lecturer, and frequent guest on television, Holzer has authored, co-authored, and edited forty-two books, including Lincoln President-Elect: Abraham Lincoln and the Great Secession Winter 1860–1861; Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Lincoln President; Lincoln and the Power of the Press: The War for Public Opinion; and, most recently, The Presidents vs. the Press: The Endless Battle between the White House and the Media—From the Founding Fathers to Fake News. His many awards include the Lincoln Prize and the National Humanities Medal. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On March 10, 2022 Gayle Jessup White, author of Reclamation: Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson, and a Descendant's a Search for Her Family's Lasting Legacy, discussed her 50-year journey to confirm her family's oral history that they are descended from the country's third president. Growing up in Black middle-class Washington, DC, Jessup White was 13 when she first heard the family lore. Fueled by personal loss and professional angst, she devoted herself to uncovering the truth, a commitment that ultimately led her to Monticello, where she became the Thomas Jefferson Foundation's first community engagement officer. Reclamation is an intimate exploration race, class, and redemption in a country that continues to struggle with its complicated and painful origins. Gayle Jessup White is Public Relations & Community Engagement Officer at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the non-profit organization that owns and operates Monticello. She is the first descendant of Jefferson and the families he enslaved to be employed by the Foundation. She is the author of Reclamation: Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson, and a Descendant's Search for Her Family's Lasting Legacy. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On February 24, 2022 historians Brian Daugherity and Alyce Miller delivered a lecture about Black educational activism in Goochland County in the early twentieth century. In this lecture, based on their award-winning article published in the Virginia Magazine of History & Biography in 2020, Brian Daugherity and Alyce Miller will analyze community efforts to increase educational access and opportunity for African Americans in Goochland County, Virginia, in the early twentieth century, as well as the connections between this advocacy and other communities across the state and throughout the South. The story, told using various archival records and oral history interviews, demonstrates the power and agency of rural Black southern communities during the Jim Crow era. Recognizing and analyzing this advocacy helps expand our understanding of Black activism during the Jim Crow era, educational philanthropy, and southern educational history, as well as how this era of Black activism was linked to subsequent civil rights achievements. Brian J. Daugherity is an associate professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University and the author of several books on the civil rights era in Virginia. Alyce Miller is a professor of history at Valencia College. Their article in the Virginia Magazine of History & Biography (vol. 128, no. 1) was awarded the William M. E. Rachal Award for Best Overall Article in the journal in 2020. Learn more at https://secondunionrosenwaldschool.org and https://digital.library.vcu.edu/islandora/object/vcu%3Agoo. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On February 10, 2022 historian William Blair had a discussion of the early Reconstruction era effort by Freedmen's Bureau officers to document that Black Americans faced little justice for atrocities committed against them. We tend to think our current situation unique in featuring partisan bubbles in which people mistrust information from the other side. But immediately after the Civil War, a toxic partisan climate caused information on racial violence to become politicized, with eyewitness and newspaper accounts dismissed by opponents as fictions created to mask a political agenda. Military officers led by Ulysses S. Grant and Oliver Otis Howard led an effort by Freedmen's Bureau officers to document that Black Americans faced little justice for atrocities committed against them. In doing so, they leaked information to Congress that embarrassed the president, their commander, as a concern for civil rights overrode constitutional norms. The resulting Record of Murders and Outrages helped justify military occupation of the South, exposed the rise of the Klan, and shined a light on voter suppression through terrorism that otherwise may have gone unreported. Dr. William A. Blair is the Walter L. and Helen P. Ferree Professor Emeritus of Middle American History at Penn State University. He is the author of several books on the Civil War era, including Cities of the Dead: Contesting the Memory of the Civil War in the South, 1865–1914; With Malice toward Some: Treason and Loyalty in the Civil War Era; Virginia's Private War: Feeding Body and Soul in the Confederacy, 1861–1865; and The Record of Murders and Outrages: Racial Violence and the Fight over Truth at the Dawn of Reconstruction. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On November 11, 2021 historian Caroline E. Janney had a discussion about her book on Lee's army after Appomattox. In her dramatic new history of the weeks and months after Appomattox, Ends of War: The Unfinished Fight of Lee's Army after Appomattox, Caroline E. Janney reveals that Lee's surrender was less an ending than the start of an interregnum marked by military and political uncertainty, legal and logistical confusion, and continued outbursts of violence. Janney takes readers from the deliberations of government and military authorities to the ground-level experiences of common soldiers. Ultimately, what unfolds is the messy birth narrative of the Lost Cause, laying the groundwork for the defiant resilience of rebellion in the years that followed. Dr. Caroline E. Janney is the John L. Nau III Professor in the History of the American Civil War and Director of the John L. Nau III Center for Civil War History at the University of Virginia. She is the author and editor of several books, including Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation; Cold Harbor to the Crater: The End of the Overland Campaign (with Gary W. Gallagher); Petersburg to Appomattox: The End of the War in Virginia; and, most recently, Ends of War: The Unfinished Fight of Lee's Army after Appomattox. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On October 20,2021 writer Catherine Baab-Muguira held a lively and informative lecture to look at Edgar Allan Poe and how his life can teach us counterintuitive lessons on achieving creative success. Edgar Allan Poe led one of the saddest lives ever. He lost virtually everyone he loved, and his grinding poverty meant that he and his family were sometimes starving in the literal sense. What's more, Poe's own impossible personality got him fired from job after job, drawing him into feuds that continued even after his death. Even so, the magnitude of Poe's success strains credulity. His poetry and fiction have been translated into every major language, and rarer still, people the world over recognize his face. In fact, Poe's feuds, mistakes, and missteps—the way he did everything “wrong”—worked for him. In that sense, his life is a refutation of traditional self-help and the supposed power of positive thinking. In this fun and accessible lecture, author Catherine Baab-Muguira will discuss how Poe's life can teach us counterintuitive lessons on achieving creative success—despite the odds and no matter your “flaws.” Catherine Baab-Muguira is a writer and journalist who has contributed to, among others, Slate, Quartz, CNBC, and NBC News. A frequent podcast and radio guest, with appearances on NPR and Lifehacker's Upgrade, she lives in Richmond. She is the author of Poe for Your Problems: Uncommon Advice from History's Least Likely Self-Help Guru. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
Join bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick on October 20, 2021, who delivered the J. Harvie Wilkinson, Jr. Lecture based on his newest book, “Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy." When George Washington became president in 1789, he undertook a tour of the ex-colonies to talk to ordinary citizens about his new government, and to imbue in them the idea of being one thing—Americans. In the fall of 2018, Nathaniel Philbrick embarked on his own journey into what Washington called “the infant woody country” to see for himself what America had become in the 229 years since. Writing in a thoughtful first person about his own adventures with his wife Melissa and their dog Dora, Philbrick follows Washington's presidential excursions. The narrative moves smoothly between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries as we see the country through both Washington's and Philbrick's eyes. Written at a moment when America's founding figures are under increasing scrutiny, Travels with George grapples bluntly and honestly with Washington's legacy as a man of the people, a reluctant president, and a plantation owner who held people in slavery. Nathaniel Philbrick is the author of several bestselling books, including In the Heart of the Sea, winner of the National Book Award; Mayflower, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Valiant Ambition, winner of the George Washington Prize; Bunker Hill, winner of the New England Book Award; In the Hurricane's Eye; and Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On October 7, 2021 A. E. Dick Howard held a discussion about the evolution of Virginia's Constitution from 1776 to the present day. Virginia's Declaration of Rights (1776) declares all men to be “equally free and independent.” But, as to the suffrage, the Declaration speaks in more qualified terms; there must be “sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to, the community.” In the years since 1776, successive revisions of Virginia's Constitution reflect sharp debate over how we should define the political community. Who belongs? Who doesn't? In the nineteenth century, the idea of community became more inclusive—universal white male suffrage by 1851 and, during Reconstruction, inclusion of African Americans. In 1902, however, Virginians adopted a constitution that, steeped in notions of white supremacy, disenfranchised most black voters. In l971, Virginia renounced that racially tainted era with the adoption of a new constitution. What brought about that change? What work remains to be done? A. E. Dick Howard is the Warner-Booker Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Virginia. He was Executive Director of the Commission on Constitutional Revision, served as counsel to the General Assembly when it received and acted on the commission's recommendations, and directed the successful referendum campaign for the Constitution's ratification. His books include the two-volume Commentaries on the Constitution of Virginia and The Road to Runnymede: Magna Carta and Constitutionalism in America. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On September 15, 2021 historian David O. Stewart discussed on his book about George Washington and his rise as a leader Washington's rise constitutes one of the great self-reinventions in history. In his mid-twenties, this third son of a modest Virginia planter had ruined his own military career in the French and Indian War through poor judgments and brash overreaching. By his mid-forties, that headstrong, unwise young man had evolved into an unassailable leader chosen as the commander in chief of the fledgling Continental Army. By his mid-fifties, he was unanimously elected the nation's first president. How did Washington—with a scanty education and little inherited wealth—grow from his failures on the Virginia frontier to become the central founder of the United States of America? David O. Stewart turned to writing after a career practicing law in Washington, D.C. He is a national bestselling and award-winning author of several previous books on American history, including Madison's Gift: Five Partnerships That Built America; American Emperor: Aaron Burr's Challenge to Jefferson's America; The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution; and, most recently, George Washington: The Political Rise of America's Founding Father. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On September 2, 2021 historian Robert P. Watson held a discussed his book about the Confederacy's infamous Libby Prison and the Civil War's largest jail break. Robert Watson provides the definitive account of the Confederacy's infamous Libby Prison, site of the Civil War's largest prison break. Libby Prison housed Union officers, high-profile foes of the Confederacy, and political prisoners. Watson captures the wretched conditions, cruel guards, and the story of the daring prison break, called “the most remarkable in American history.” Robert P. Watson, Distinguished Professor of American History at Lynn University in Boca Raton, is the author of many books on American history and politics, including The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn: The Untold Story of the American Revolution; George Washington's Final Battle: The Epic Struggle to Build a Capital City and a Nation; and Escape!: The Story of the Confederacy's Infamous Libby Prison and the Civil War's Largest Jail Break. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On August 19, 2021 historian John Reeves discussed the battle of the Wilderness, the first clash between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. John Reeves has been a teacher, editor, and writer for more than twenty-five years. The Civil War, in particular, has been his passion since he first read Bruce Catton's The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War as an elementary school student in the 1960s. He is the author of The Lost Indictment of Robert E. Lee: The Forgotten Case against an American Icon and, most recently, A Fire in the Wilderness: The First Battle Between Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On July 15, 2021 historian Carolyn Eastman exanimated the career of James Ogilvie, a now-forgotten celebrity of the very early nineteenth century, and what it tells us about the intersection of political culture and celebrity—at a moment when the United States was in the midst of invention. Carolyn Eastman is an associate professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University and a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. She specializes in early America with special interest in eighteenth and nineteenth-century political culture, the media, and gender. She is the author of the prizewinning A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution and, most recently, The Strange Genius of Mr. O: The World of the United States' First Forgotten Celebrity. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On June 24, 2021 historian Vanessa Holden had discussion of her book about how women contributed to America's most famous slave rebellion, often called Nat Turner's Rebellion. In this talk Dr. Holden will speak about material from her forthcoming book, "Surviving Southampton: African American Women and Resistance in Nat Turner's Community." She will discuss her research process and the types of materials that reveal the Black women's history of Southampton County, Virginia. She will cover how women contributed to America's most famous slave rebellion, often called Nat Turner's Rebellion. And she will talk about her present day public history work in Southampton County. Dr. Vanessa M. Holden is an assistant professor of History and African American and Africana Studies at the University of Kentucky. Her writing has been published in several academic publications as well as in "Process: A Blog for American History," and "The Rumpus." She also blogs for "Black Perspectives" and "The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History." She co-organizes the Queering Slavery Working Group (#QSWG) with Jessica Marie Johnson (Johns Hopkins University). She is deeply committed to diversity, inclusion, and equity work and is the 2019–20 recipient of the UKY College of Arts and Sciences Promotion of Diversity and Inclusion Award. She is the author of the forthcoming book, "Surviving Southampton: Women and Resistance in Nat Turner's Community." The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On May 20, 2021, Christopher Leahy delivered the banner lecture, “President without a Party” The first president to ascend to the office because of the incumbent's death, John Tyler also remains the nation's only chief executive to have been kicked out of his own political party. In September 1841, angry that Tyler's use of the veto destroyed their legislative agenda, members of the Whig Party held a ceremony at the Capitol and formally banished him from their ranks. Tyler's excommunication affected him personally, impacted his agenda, and destroyed his chances to win election in his own right in 1844. Portrayed by his contemporaries and by many historians as an ideologue whose rigid devotion to states' rights and strict construction of the Constitution forestalled compromise and made him a failed president, Leahy instead argues that Tyler largely favored a middle-of-the road, bipartisan approach to the nation's problems, and that it was his status as a president without a party and rejection by both the Whigs and opposition Democrats that doomed his presidency. Christopher Leahy is a professor of history at Keuka College in New York and the author of President without a Party: The Life of John Tyler as well as an article in the Virginia Magazine of History & Biography entitled “Playing Her Greatest Role: Priscilla Cooper Tyler and the Politics of the White House Social Scene, 1841–44” (2012). The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On May 5, 2021, Ty Seidule as he delivered a lecture about his book, "Robert E. Lee and Me: A Southerner's Reckoning with the Myth of the Lost Cause" In a forceful but humane narrative, former soldier and head of the West Point history department Ty Seidule's Robert E. Lee and Me challenges the myths and lies of the Confederate legacy―and explores why some of this country's oldest wounds have never healed. Ty Seidule grew up revering Robert E. Lee. From his southern childhood to his service in the U.S. Army, every part of his life reinforced the Lost Cause myth: that Lee was the greatest man who ever lived, and that the Confederates were underdogs who lost the Civil War with honor. Now, as a retired brigadier general and Professor Emeritus of History at West Point, Ty's view has radically changed. From a soldier, a scholar, and a southerner, Ty Seidule believes that American history demands a reckoning. Ty Seidule is Professor Emeritus of History at West Point where he taught for two decades. He served in the U.S. Army for thirty-six years, retiring as a brigadier general. He is the Chamberlain Fellow at Hamilton College as well as a New America Fellow. He has published numerous books, articles, and videos on military history, including the award-winning West Point History of the Civil War. He graduated from Washington and Lee University and holds a PhD from the Ohio State University. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On April 8, 2021, Ryan K. Smith explored the history and recovery of the burial grounds of Richmond, Virginia, through the lens of race. Virginia's capital holds one of the most dramatic landscapes of death in the nation, with graveyards dating from the city's founding through the Civil War, emancipation, and the long road that followed. Yet too often they are treated in isolation. This lecture by historian Ryan Smith will compare these important sites in terms of their initial dynamics as well as in terms of their ongoing states of preservation and commemoration. Ryan K. Smith is a professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University and the author several books, including Gothic Arches, Latin Crosses: Anti-Catholicism and American Church Designs in the Nineteenth Century and Death and Rebirth in a Southern City: Richmond's Historic Cemeteries. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On March 18, 2021, Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie delivered the banner lecture, “Rebellious Passage: The Creole Revolt and America's Coastal Slave Trade” In late October 1841, the Creole left Richmond with 137 slaves bound for New Orleans. It arrived five weeks later minus the captain, one passenger, and most of the captives. Nineteen rebels had seized the U.S. slave ship en route and steered it to the British Bahamas where the slaves gained their liberty. Drawing upon a sweeping array of previously unexamined state, federal, and British colonial sources, Rebellious Passage examines the neglected maritime dimensions of the extensive US slave trade and slave revolt. The focus on south-to-south self-emancipators at sea differs from the familiar narrative of south-to-north fugitive slaves over land. Moreover, a broader hemispheric framework of clashing slavery and antislavery empires replaces an emphasis on U.S. antebellum sectional rivalry. Rebellious Passage chronicles the first comprehensive history of the ship revolt, its consequences, and its relevance to global modern slavery. Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie is Professor of History at Howard University and author of several books, including Freedpeople in the Tobacco South: Virginia, 1860–1900; Rites of August First: Emancipation Day in the Black Atlantic World; Freedom's Seekers: Essays on Comparative Emancipation; and Rebellious Passage: The Creole Revolt and America's Coastal Slave Trade. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On February 11, 2021 historian Ric Murphy told fascinating story of the arrival of the first Africans in Virginia in 1619. Based on his book, "Arrival of the First Africans in Virginia," author Ric Murphy will discuss how in 1619, a group of thirty-two African men, women, and children arrived on the shores of Virginia. He will explore how and why they had been kidnapped in the royal city of Kabasa, Angola, and forced aboard the Spanish slave ship San Juan Bautista. He will discuss how the ship was attacked by privateers and how the captives were taken by the English to their New World colony in Virginia. He will also share how this group of Angolans were shrouded in controversy because of colonialism, treason, piracy, kidnapping, enslavement, and English law, and their present-day legacy. Ric Murphy is a historian, scholar, lecturer, and award-winning author exploring the rich contributions made by African Americans in United States history. His latest book is "Arrival of the First Africans in Virginia." The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On January 14, 2021 author and historian Scott Dawson delivered the lecture "The Lost Colony was Never Lost!" Scott Dawson has participated in ten years of archaeological digs on Hatteras Island, where it was discovered that the infamous Lost Colony assimilated with the local Croatoan Indians. The true history has been buried under a mountain of mythology and lies. Learn the real story and what was discovered in the Croatoan Indian Village. Scott Dawson is an Outer Banks historian and serves on the board of the Outer Banks History Center. He is president of the Croatoan Archaeological Society and author of The Lost Colony and Hatteras Island. He is a ninth-generation Native of Hatteras Island and lives with his wife and two daughters in Kill Devil Hills. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On December 10, 2020, Ralph Hambrick delivered the banner lecture, “Transforming the James River in Richmond” The James River has always been the centerpiece of Richmond, but by the mid-twentieth century it had been abused and neglected. Today, the river draws visitors to its wooded shorelines, restored canal, and feisty rapids. At the local level, this transformation was the result of citizen action, public-private partnerships, difficult decisions by governmental leaders, and the hard work of thousands of advocates and volunteers. In this Banner Lecture on December 10, 2020, local author Ralph Hambrick chronicles the events, projects, and controversies that brought about the dramatic change. Ralph Hambrick, professor emeritus in public policy and administration at Virginia Commonwealth University, is a member and former chair of the Falls of the James Scenic River Advisory Committee and a member and former co-chair of the James River Advisory Council. He is a former whitewater canoe instructor, raft guide and an all-around river enjoyer who does his writing from a home office overlooking the James River. He is the author of Transforming the James River in Richmond. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
Nov 10, 2020, Dr. Peter R. Henriques delivered the banner lecture, “What Made George Washington Tick” George Washington very much wanted to be famous. Yet, he did not wish to be known, and there is a remoteness about him that will perhaps always remain. The fact that we cannot fully understand him, however, does not mean we cannot understand him better than we do. While recognizing the dangers involved, in this Banner Lecture on November 10, 2020, historian Peter Henriques utilizes the insights of psychoanalyst Carl Jung to better understand what made George Washington tick. Dr. Peter R. Henriques is Professor of History, Emeritus, from George Mason University. He taught American and Virginia history with a special emphasis on the Virginia Founding Fathers, especially George Washington. He is the author of The Death of George Washington: He Died as He Lived; Realistic Visionary: A Portrait of George Washington; and First and Always: A New Portrait of George Washington. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On Nov 4, 2020, Dr. Christian Kelle delivered the banner lecture, “The Great Partnership: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson” This Banner Lecture on November 4, 2020 by historian Christian Keller tells the story of the unique relationship between Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson. Why were Generals Lee and Jackson so successful in their partnership in trying to win the war for the South? In Keller's book, The Great Partnership, he challenges how we think about Confederate strategic decision-making and the value of personal relationships among senior leaders responsible for organizational survival. Dr. Christian Keller is the Dwight D. Eisenhower Chair of National Security and Professor of History in the Department of National Security and Strategy at the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He is the author and coauthor of several books, including Chancellorsville and the Germans: Nativism, Ethnicity, and Civil War Memory; Damn Dutch: Pennsylvania Germans at Gettysburg; and, most recently, The Great Partnership: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and the Fate of the Confederacy. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On September 16, 2020, delivered the banner lecture, “Restoring America's Most Significant Gardens” The story of the Garden Club of Virginia is colorful, courageous, and impressive. It is not a coincidence that 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the women's suffrage movement, heralding a new age of female participation in American civic life. Concern for the environment and efforts to preserve and restore Virginia's significant public gardens were founding principles of the female-led organization and are more relevant today than ever before. In this Banner Lecture on September 16, 2020, Matt Peterschmidt, Director of Landscapes and Security at Stratford Hall, Dr. Eric Proebsting, Director of Archaeology at Poplar Forest, and Betsy Worthington, member of the Restoration Committee of the Garden Club of Virginia, discuss the legacy of the Garden Club of Virginia in the context of two current projects at Stratford Hall and Poplar Forest, and their unexpected connection to each other. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On September 10,2020, Nicole Maurantonio delivered the banner lecture, “Confederate Exceptionalism: Civil War Myth and Memory in the Twenty-First Century” How do so-called neo-Confederates distance themselves from the actions and beliefs of white supremacists while clinging to the very symbols and narratives that tether the Confederacy to the history of racism and oppression in America? In this Banner Lecture on September 10, 2020, Nicole Maurantonio explores how the answer is bound up in the myth of Confederate exceptionalism—a myth whose components, proponents, and meaning she explores in her lecture. Nicole Maurantonio is associate professor of rhetoric and communication studies and American studies at the University of Richmond. She is the author of Confederate Exceptionalism: Civil War Myth and Memory in the Twenty-First Century and coeditor (with David W. Park) of Communicating Memory & History. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On August 13, 2020, Nicole Myers Turner delivered the banner lecture, “Soul Liberty: The Evolution of Black Religious Politics in Postemancipation Virginia” That churches are one of the most important cornerstones of black political organization is a commonplace. In her new history of African American Protestantism and American politics at the end of the Civil War, "Soul Liberty: The Evolution of Black Religious Politics in Postemancipation Virginia," Nicole Myers Turner challenges the idea of black churches as having always been politically engaged. In this Banner Lecture on August 13, 2020, Turner uses a wide-variety of new sources to reveal how freedpeople in Virginia adapted strategies for pursuing the freedom of their souls to worship as they saw fit—and to participate in society completely in the evolving landscape of emancipation. Nicole Myers Turner is assistant professor of religious studies at Yale University. She is the author of Soul Liberty: The Evolution of Black Religious Politics in Postemancipation Virginia. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On July 9, 2020, Lindsay M. Chervinsky delivered the banner lecture, “The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution” On November 26, 1791, after waiting two and a half years into his presidency, George Washington convened his department secretaries―Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Knox, and Edmund Randolph―for the first cabinet meeting. In a virtual Banner Lecture on July 9, 2020, historian Lindsay M. Chervinsky reveals the far-reaching consequences of Washington's decision. The tensions in the cabinet between Hamilton and Jefferson heightened partisanship and contributed to the development of the first party system. And as Washington faced an increasingly recalcitrant congress, he came to treat the cabinet as a private advisory body to summon as needed, greatly expanding the role of the president and the executive branch. Lindsay M. Chervinsky is a Scholar-in-Residence at the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies and a Senior Fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies. She is the author of The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
on June 4, 2020, Dr. Christian Keller delivered the banner lecture, “Freedom and Unfreedom in the Great Dismal Swamp” In his book, City of Refuge: Slavery and Petit Marronage in the Great Dismal Swamp, 1763–1856," Nevius examines petit marronage, an informal slave's economy, and the construction of internal improvements in the Great Dismal Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina. The vast wetland was tough terrain that most white Virginians and North Carolinians considered uninhabitable. Perceived desolation notwithstanding, black slaves fled into the swamp's remote sectors and engaged in petit marronage, a type of escape and fugitivity prevalent throughout the Atlantic world. An alternative to the dangers of flight by way of the Underground Railroad, maroon communities often neighbored slave-labor camps, the latter located on the swamp's periphery and operated by the Dismal Swamp Land Company and other companies that employed slave labor to facilitate the extraction of the Dismal's natural resources. Often with the tacit acceptance of white company agents, company slaves engaged in various exchanges of goods and provisions with maroons―networks that padded company accounts even as they helped to sustain maroon colonies and communities. In his examination of life, commerce, and social activity in the Great Dismal Swamp, Nevius engages the historiographies of slave resistance and abolitionism in the early American republic. City of Refuge uses a wide variety of primary sources―including runaway advertisements; planters' and merchants' records, inventories, letterbooks, and correspondence; abolitionist pamphlets and broadsides; county free black registries; and the records and inventories of private companies―to examine how American maroons, enslaved canal laborers, white company agents, and commission merchants shaped, and were shaped by, race and slavery in an important region in the history of the late Atlantic world. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.
On Apr 22, 2020, Historian John Long examined the trial of Charles Watkins for the murder of his wife, which was marked by threats of lynching, a fugitive manhunt, a disappearing witness, mistaken identities, claims of insanity, and a secret letter. A drama played out in the mountains of southwestern Virginia in 1891 that attracted nationwide attention and held the citizens of the Roanoke Valley spellbound. It was a story of violence, bigamy, race and a quest for justice. In its day, the story was as closely followed as a modern televised murder trial. Despite the rapt attention of the public then, it has entirely faded from the history books--until now. John Long resurrects the truth of who killed Susan Watkins. The content and opinions expressed in these presentations are solely those of the speaker and not necessarily of the Virginia Museum of History & Culture.