The Daily Progress’ earliest archives have been made available online, the newspaper reports, in an effort spearheaded by Jefferson Madison Regional Library and facilitated by the University of Virginia library. Eight people collaborated to scan in and catalog most every issue from 1892–1923, with the resulting scans hosted on UVA’s website. They’re just images scanned from microfilm at this point—the text itself isn’t searchable, and it can be tough to read at times—but it’s a great start. The project was funded jointly by JMRL and a private foundation.
So far I’ve just been opening up random issues and browsing around, and it’s just fascinating. Local history buffs are going to disappear into these archives and not be seen for weeks. For example, to pick one out of a hat, the front page of of the December 4, 1894 issue informs us that “metal is now being placed on Park Street”; “pheasants, judging from the number seen at the restaurants, are quite plentiful”; “the first car was placed on the electric street car line”; and “Mr. Thomas A. Marshall, while engaged in cutting feed for stock yesterday at ‘Clairmont’ Farm, had the misfortune to sever the index finger of his left hand between the first and second joints.”
News is enormously valuable the day that it’s published. Its value drops precipitously thereafter but, given enough time, it begins to rise again. Apparently after 121 years, it’s nearly as good as today’s news.
In C-Ville Weekly, J. Tobias Beard provides a thirty-year history of the gay community in Charlottesville, and no matter how much you think you know about it, you’re liable to learn more. He talks about Joan Schatzman’s Muldowney’s (the first gay bay in town), the creation of the AIDS Services Group in response to Hospice of the Piedmont’s inability to handle AIDS patients, The Silver Fox (the first openly gay bar in town, which became Triangles, which became Club 216), and this summer’s Charlottesville Pride Festival. This is a great read for folks interested in the recent history of Charlottesville.
Remember the soggy 50-year-old time capsule that was opened in March? The audio recording within it was somehow recovered and, courtesy of the Albemarle County Historical Society, here’s the recording: a cheesy radio commercial titled “Let Freedom Ring” promoting the event celebrating the city’s 200th anniversary. It’s aged relatively well; it could have aired on WINA in the early nineties without sounding out of place.
Speaking of which, doesn’t WINA have an amazing collection of audio tapes of news events from over the past 30–50 years? How do we get Saga Communications to surrender those things, since surely Saga couldn’t give a damn about them, to be properly digitized, indexed, and stored? UVA’s Special Collections would probably be psyched to have them.
The 50-year-old city time capsule was opened today, Hawes Spencer writes for The Hook, in front of an audience of hundreds. It was…soggy. The ostensibly waterproof capsule turned out to be anything but, with its contents reduced to mush after its tar seal broke down over time. No word on whether its more interesting contents (especially the letters people wrote and placed in there) are salvageable. You might recall that the city had a heck of a time finding the time capsule, but managed thanks to one man’s film of its burial.
A new time capsule will be buried late this year. Any more ideas about what could go in there?
A couple of weeks ago, during the Festival of the Book, City Councilor Kristin Szakos was attending a talk by historian and University of Richmond president Edward Ayers, in which he talked about the importance of talking about the Civil War in intellectually honest terms throughout its 150th anniversary. During the Q&A period, Szakos—an attendee like any other—asked if Ayers thought he believed that statues honoring the Confederacy should be removed. In response to that question—apparently not an assertion or a suggestion, but a question—some folks freaked out.
At tonight’s City Council meeting, Szakos lamented the hateful e-mails and phone calls that she’d received after her remarks, Graham Moomaw writes for the Progress, saying that one caller informed Szakos’
daughter child that her mother was a “fucking whore who needs to get her fucking hands off our heritage.” Of course, it can’t be known which ugly responses came from local folks, and which came from pro-confederacy and white supremacy groups. Szakos asked that people tone down the rhetoric and leave her family alone, which seems like a tough request to object to.