Annual Report for 2007

By Bryan, Charles F., Jr. | The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, January 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

Annual Report for 2007


Bryan, Charles F., Jr., The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography


Introduction

Last year's annual report highlighted the 175th anniversary of the Virginia Historical Society and our successful $55-million campaign, hose were memorable points in a very special year. And yet, we followed it up with another spectacular year in 2007, featuring the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. Accordingly, the VHS offered a stunning array of activities to complement those planned by the Commonwealth of Virginia. When Virginia's 400th year began, we were ready with brand new facilities that allowed us to show and interpret our state's past as never before.

The keystone of our efforts was the innovative exhibition, Jamestown, Québec, Santa Fe: Three North American Beginnings. At the same time, we collaborated with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, also celebrating its 400th anniversary, on an exhibition and a special issue of the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. As a major part of its efforts to mark 2007, the state completed a dramatic new underground visitors' center and entrance to Thomas Jefferson's state capitol in Richmond. The commonwealth chose the VHS to manage an exclusive retail operation there. At this new facility, the society's Capitol Shop, visitors from around the world now receive their introduction to Virginia's story.

The milestone represented by our 175th-anniversary campaign, which we officially concluded at the beginning of 2007, gave us tremendous confidence as we faced the future. At a retreat in March, trustees and senior staff drafted the next quadrennial operating plan to guide us through the years 2008-11. One crucial element of that plan would be to conduct a search for the next president and CEO, following my announcement to retire at the end of 2008, after two decades at the helm. The trustees quickly established a procedure for a nationwide search, appointed a committee chaired by trustee Austin Brockenbrough III, and began the process of recruiting top candidates for the post. With the operating plan receiving final board approval in September, our course forward became clear. This proved an apt decision because at the same time, we launched extensive preparations for reaccreditation by the American Association of Museums in early 2008. In the meantime, the vital ongoing work of the VHS to carry out our mission went forward, as I hope you'll see from the following report.

I am happy to write that the collections upon which we base our interpretation of Virginia's past enjoyed another period of strong growth. Under the supervision of James 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, the VHS experienced a productive year of augmenting the evidentiary record of Virginia history. It is also pleasing to report that, upon Susan S. Goode's retirement from the board of trustees and as chair of the collections and conservation committee, she and her husband established the Goode Conservation Fund, which will be a significant asset in our care for collections. Also a generous grant came in from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation at the end of our capital campaign and will be used to provide access to recently acquired manuscript collections.

In 2007 we registered more than 150 manuscript acquisitions, both donations and purchases of materials ranging from single items to sizable collections of family and personal papers or business and institutional records. Among these were records of the Craddock-Terry Company, the shoe and boot manufacturer that was once the largest employer in Lynchburg; additional papers of John Young Mason of Southampton County while he was serving as secretary of the navy during the 1840s and early 1850s; and papers of Lillian Gladys Sievers concerning her father, Richmond artist Frederick William Sievers (1872-1966).

Along with the receipt of collections, processing continued energetically during 2007. …

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