Academic journal article The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

Annual Report for 2003

Academic journal article The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

Annual Report for 2003

Article excerpt


What a difference a year makes! Last year's annual report necessarily opened with a frank review of the difficult financial times we T V were then experiencing. Since then, the nation's economic prospects have brightened, and with them the fortunes of many nonprofit organizations like the Virginia Historical Society. This past year has been one of growth and accomplishment for us, as we have continued to build on our earlier efforts. The VHS now enjoys national recognition as one of the leading institutions in the history field. But in consequence of that hard-earned recognition, we've discovered during the past few years, and especially in 2003, a number of significant "good problems" that none of us adequately anticipated. These include the need to provide an increasing level of services for a greatly expanded membership, to give satisfaction to the vastly increased number of school groups that visit us, and to meet our obligations as stewards of the growing collections of historical documents and objects entrusted to us.

As a result, at the end of 2003 we stood at another crossroads in the history of this grand old organization and prepared to move forward with yet another building expansion and our most ambitious capital campaign ever. The reasons why we have chosen that course should become apparent in the narrative that follows, as it documents our continued growth in collections and programs.

For several years now, our manuscript and museum collections have grown at an accelerating pace, testament to our continuing success in amassing the evidence of Virginia's past. This is a welcome trend but one that also strains our limited storage space and makes the need for a larger building more urgent by the month. Providing leadership for our collecting, conserving, and cataloging efforts are the heads of our three curatorial departments: James C. Kelly, director of museums; Frances S. Pollard, director of library services; and E. Lee Shepard, director of manuscripts and archives and Sallie and William B. Thalhimer III Senior Archivist.

A brief glance at the list of selected accessions beginning on page 15 will provide a flavor of some of what was received last year. Special acknowledgment must be given to Summit Enterprises, Inc., for the generous gift of nearly seventy maps, a dozen atlases, and a significant number of cartographic reference books, all collected by its chairman, our trustee Alan Voorhees. A gift directly from Mr. Voorhees enabled us to catalog and create digital images of more than 400 original manuscript maps in our collection relating to the Civil War, including charts by Robert K. Sneden and by C.S.A. engineers under the direction of Jeremy Gilmer. These images will soon be included on the American Memory web site, hosted by the Library of Congress, and will bring our collection to an important new audience of users.

To tackle the mountain of documents that we need to catalog each year, we have relied on several major grant projects. A number of these, generously funded by a variety of supporting agencies, continued important efforts from previous years. Most notable among these agencies supporting our work has been The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Thanks to the foundation, we are now well into a massive project to convert eight million existing descriptive records of items in our collection into a form that can be accessed online. Our ever-growing web-based catalog has been an enormous benefit to researchers around the world. The work continues, with completion slated for mid-2005. Moreover, additional funding from the Mellon Foundation has enabled us to undertake an intensive, multi-year survey to determine how to make our substantial backlog of uncataloged manuscripts similarly available to researchers.

The past year likewise witnessed great strides in the continuing development of the Reynolds Center for Virginia Business History. Especially noteworthy among the year's achievements was news that the center won a highly competitive grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to allow for consultation with other business archives. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.