Digital Virginias is now a DPLA Hub

By DPLA, January 8, 2019.

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new service hub, Digital Virginias, which offers more than 58,000 items for research and exploration.

Digital Virginias, created by organizations from both Virginia and West Virginia, is the newest hub to join the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Originally a content hub, the University of Virginia has now joined with regional partners George Mason University, William & Mary, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia University to create a combined set of historical materials for the region. The Virginias were separated into two separate states in 1863, but Digital Virginias is a new representation of the historical and cultural collections that cross state lines. Digital Virginias will also begin to bring in additional regional partners in 2019.

Some highlights from the collections of Digital Virginias include:

Jackson Davis Collection of African American Educational Photographs

Jackson Davis, an educational reformer and amateur photographer, took nearly 6,000 photographs of African American schools, teachers, and students throughout the southeastern United States. His photographs—most intended to demonstrate the wretched conditions of segregated and unequal African American schools in the South and to show how they could be improved—provide a unique view of southern education during the first half of the twentieth century.

Bernice Wright, Member Home Makers Club With Dish of Tomatoes Grown in Her Garden, 1915, photograph by Jackson Davis, from the collection of University of Virginia Library.

George Mason University Yearbook Collection

Yearbooks are the door to the past, and this collection of 40 yearbooks and related publications documents the history of George Mason University students, campuses, faculty, and activities from 1957 to 2011. In 1957, the University College of the University of Virginia opened in an elementary school in Bailey’s Crossroads with 17 students. From this small start, George Mason University has grown into one of Virginia’s largest public universities.

Selected pages from “The Advocate” yearbook, 1967, George Mason College of the University of Virginia edition.

James Monroe Project

James Monroe, an American statesman and Founding Father, served as the fifth President of the United States from 1817 to 1825. The James Monroe Project brings together more than 300 manuscripts from six distinct collections held by the William & Mary Libraries Special Collections Research Center. The materials are chiefly correspondence, written and received by James Monroe and his family.  Ranging from 1776-1924, the collection includes the correspondence of James Monroe during his many years of public service.

A letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Monroe, July 2, 1824, from the collection of William & Mary Libraries Special Collections Research Center.

Reverse side of this letter from Thomas Jefferson, addressed to James Monroe, President of the US., from the collection of William & Mary Libraries Special Collections Research Center.

Farmville 1963 Civil Rights Protests

During the summer of 1963, civil rights activists staged a number of protests in Farmville, Va., the county seat of Prince Edward County, demanding equality and an end to racial segregation and injustice. This collection of 490 photographs from Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries shows dozens of Prince Edward County African American students and others using an array of protest tactics to draw attention to racial discrimination. Many of the original black and white photographs were taken by an amateur photographer hired by the Farmville Police Department and were intended to be used in court proceedings as evidence against protesters who were arrested.

Student protesters on Main Street, Farmville, Va., July 1963, from the collection of Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries.

Barter Theatre Archives

The Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Va. has been a cultural mainstay in southwestern Virginia since its beginning in 1933 when Robert Porterfield, a charismatic young actor and southwest Virginia native, brought a group of professional actors to Abingdon. Opening in the Great Depression, the theatre got its name from its practice of allowing audiences to barter food for admission to the theatre. From humble beginnings, Barter put down roots in the small community of Abingdon, establishing a reputation for providing performances of high artistic quality. The Barter Theatre Archives collection, made accessible with support from Virginia Tech Libraries Digital Imaging & Preservation Services, includes more than 200 programs, posters, and news clippings.

A poster advertising the Barter Theatre’s reopening on June 9, 1947, from the Barter Theatre Archives collection.

Rush Dew Holt Collection

To say Rush Holt was “precocious” would be an understatement. In 1934, at age 29, he became the youngest person ever elected to the United States Senate, a distinction he continues to hold to this day. Though his term was to begin on January 3, 1935, Senator Holt was literally too young to serve. Rush Holt became the real life model for the role of “Senator Jefferson Smith” as portrayed by actor Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. He was the subject of literally hundreds of political cartoons in newspapers across America, and the originals of many ended up at the West Virginia and Regional History Center at the West Virginia University Libraries.

A cartoon commentary from the 1930s on the coal industry and coal commission, from the Rush Dew Holt Collection at the West Virginia and Regional Center.

Please join us in wishing Digital Virginias a warm welcomehappy exploring! To learn more about Digital Virginias, visit