A Guide to the Robert Young Clay Papers, 1789-2010 (bulk 1920-2007) Clay, Robert Young, Papers, 1789-2010 (bulk 1920-2007) 45033

A Guide to the Robert Young Clay Papers, 1789-2010 (bulk 1920-2007)

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession Number 45033


Library of Virginia

The Library of Virginia
800 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-8000
Phone: (804) 692-3888 (Archives Reference)
Fax: (804) 692-3556 (Archives Reference)
Email: archdesk@lva.virginia.gov(Archives)
URL: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/

© 2011 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Jim Greve

The Library of Virginia
Accession Number
Robert Young Clay Papers, 1789-2010 (bulk 1920-2007)
Physical Description
74.5 cubic feet (171 boxes)

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Robert Young Clay Papers, 1789-2010. Accession 45033. Personal papers collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Estate of Robert Young Clay, Dinwiddie.

Biographical Information

Robert Young Clay was born in Dixon Springs, Smith County, Tennessee on 4 September 1936. He was the son of Robert Bell Clay (1888-1957) and Ruth Young (1906-1951). He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Tennessee in 1960, and a Master of Library Science degree from George Peabody College in 1969. Clay moved to Richmond the following year, where he was employed as a reference archivist at the Library of Virginia until his retirement in 2001. He also had a career as a landscape painter and heraldic artist. Clay died in Richmond on 6 May 2010, and is buried in the Clay family plot in Dixon Springs Cemetery.

Scope and Content

Papers, 1789-2010, of Robert Young Clay (1936-2010) of Richmond, Virginia, including his research on the Clay family and allied lines, subject files, speeches, pension records of soldiers from Smith County, Tennessee, and artwork. The bulk of the collection covers the period 1920 to 2007.


This collection is arranged in the following five series:

I. Clay Family Research Files (Subseries a-j). II. Subject Files. III. Speech Files. IV. Smith County, TN Soldiers' Pension Files. V. Artwork.

Contents List

Series I. Clay Family Research Files.
Boxes: 1-97
Extent: 97 boxes.

The Clay Family Research Files are divided into ten subseries, including: a) Alphabetical Files. b) Locality Files. c) Subject Files. d) Clay Family Society Records. e) Ballow, Escue, Kittrell, and Young Family Research Files. f) Allied Families (A-Z). g) Notebooks. h) Photographs. i) Card Files. j) Microfilm. The series documents Clay's interest in tracing the descendants of John Clay, and more specifically those of Thomas Clay (1745/6-1812) of Dinwiddie County, Virginia.

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Series II. Subject Files, 1789-2010.
Boxes: 98-138
Extent: 41 boxes.

The Subject Files document Clay's interest in genealogical research, his involvement in numerous organizations, and his career as a reference archivist at the Library of Virginia from 1970 to 2001. The files include correspondence with family, friends, colleagues, and fellow genealogists and researchers. Some of the correspondence dates to when Clay was attending the University of Tennessee. The subject files also contain two groups (A-Z) of photocopies of marriages and obituaries of Clay family members and other individuals. There is genealogical research materials on the Gwaltney and Radford families, miscellaneous research notes, abstracts, and transcriptions, as well as clippings, diaries, maps, newsletters, recipes, scrapbooks, and yearbooks. There is a business ledger of William S. Alexander (1809-1876) of Dixon Springs, covering the years 1841-1845 and 1868-1872, detailing business transactions at his general store. There is a large amount of material relating to Clay's memberships in the Order of First Families of North Carolina, Order of First Families of Virginia, and the Virginia Genealogical Society. There is historical information on Dixon Springs and Smith County, Tennessee. Finally, there are memoranda, policies and procedures, brochures, forms, lists, and guides related to the collections at the Library of Virginia, and also genealogical research information for other states and countries. Arranged alphabetically.

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Series III. Speech Files, 1974-2005.
Boxes: 139-148
Extent: 10 boxes.

The Speech Files include texts of Clay's talks and presentations made to various historical and genealogical organizations in Virginia and throughout the country on research methods, the Clay family, sources available at the Library of Virginia, and other topics. The files are arranged alphabetically by the title or subject of his presentation, and then there is a group of "working files" arranged chronologically related to specific speaking engagements, which include correspondence, programs and brochures, information on travel and lodging, calendars, clippings, and contact information.

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Series IV. Smith County, TN Soldiers' Pension Files.
Boxes: 149-154
Extent: 5 boxes.

The Smith County, TN Soldiers' Pension Files series contains copies of War of 1812 pension application files Clay obtained from the National Archives, which he abstracted and prepared for publication in the Smith County Historical and Genealogical Quarterly. The first appeared in the Winter 1997 issue. The files are arranged alphabetically by soldier's name.