A Guide to the Department of Conservation and Development, Division of History, Records, 1927-1950 Conservation and Development, Department of, Division of History 24806a-c , 25913 and 41571

A Guide to the Department of Conservation and Development, Division of History, Records, 1927-1950

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession Number 24806a-c, 25913 and 41571


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Library of Virginia

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

© 2004 By the Library of Virginia. All rights reserved.

Processed by: Roger E. Christman

Repository
Library of Virginia
Accession number
24806a-c, 25913 and 41571
Title
Records, 1927-1950
Physical Characteristics
49.52 cubic feet
Collector
Department of Conservation and Development, Division of History
Location
State Records Collection, Department of Conservation and Economic Development (Record Group 18)
Language
English

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

Virginia Department of Conservation and Development, Division of History, Records, 1927-1950. Accession 24806a-c, 25913 and 41571, State Records Collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

Accessions 24806a-c transferred from History Division, Virginia State Library on 30 June 1958; Accession 25913 transferred from Historic Publications Division, Virginia State Library on 21 November 1963; Accession 41571 transferred to Archives on 29 November 2004.


Historical Information

The Virginia State Commission of Conservation and Development was created in 1926 to consolidate and coordinate a number of conservation agencies including the Water Power and Development Commission, the State Geological Commission, the State Geological Survey, Office of the State Geologist, Office of the State Forester, and the Division of Parks. Governor Harry F. Byrd appointed his campaign manager William E. Carson (1870-1942) as the Commission's first chairman. Between 1926 and 1950 the Commission changed names several times: Virginia State Commission of Conservation and Development (1926-1938), Virginia Conservation Commission (1938-1948) and Department of Conservation and Development (1948-1985). Chairman of the Commission included: William E. Carson (1926-1935), Wilbur C. Hall (1935-1939), N. Clarence Smith (1939-1942), and William A. Wright (1942-1948). In 1948, the General Assembly, as part of a reorganization of state government abolished the Virginia Conservation Commission and created the Department of Conservation and Development. The new agency took over the function of the Conservation Commission, State Port Authority and the State Planning Board. Governor William Tuck named Wright as director of the new Department of Conservation and Development.

In 1927, Carson created the Division of History and Archaeology within the Commission to preserve and develop the historical resources of the state. The new Division was lead by Dr. H.J. Eckenrode, Director; Colonel Bryan Conrad, Assistant Director; and M.F. Pleasants, Field Assistant. Carson believed that Virginia needed to publicize Virginia's wealth of history and tradition especially to out-of-state travelers. He decided to have markers placed on the states' highways to provide information of historical events that had happened in their vicinity. By the beginning of World War II, the Commission had erected more than 1400 historical markers across Virginia.

In addition to the historical marker program, the Division of History assisted in the development of Virginia history in many other ways. It cooperated with the federal government in studying the battlefield of Yorktown and in the development of the Richmond Battlefield Park. The Division photographed thousands of colonial era houses and other significant structures. The Division sponsored the Federal Writers' Project for Virginia and conducted the WPA's Virginia Historical Inventory.

The Commission suspended the historical marker program during World War II because of rationing of metals. In its place, the Commission inaugurated a War records program including a newspaper reference file and a correspondence program in which a non-salaried correspondent from each locality sent reports about local war time activities and local war activities and reaction to the war. In addition, the Division began a program to locate and mark the graves of distinguished Virginians. Finally in 1949, the Division published The Hornbook of Virginia History that included a brief history of Virginia and other historical information.

Scope and Content

The Department of Conservation and Development, Division of History, Records are housed in 108 boxes, 3 oversize boxes, and 1 oversize map case drawer. The collection is arranged into five (5) series. Series have been designated for: I. Correspondence; II. Virginia War History Project; III. Graves of Distinguished Virginians Project; IV. Records; and V. Historical Material. These records include addresses articles, correspondence, maps, magazines, minutes, newspapers, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, photographs, postcards, programs, radio addresses, reports scrapbooks and telegrams. These records document Virginia state government's development and promotion of the Commonwealth's history and historical resources.

The creation and administration of Virginia's Historical Marker program is well documented in the records (Series I). This series provides a wealth of information on the Division's approach to markers, their construction, inscription, installation and maintenance. Of note to the Civil War Historian, this series also contains records on the creation of the Richmond Battlefield Park. Included are correspondence, maps, pamphlets and aerial photographs taken of the battlefield in the 1930s.

For researchers interested in the life on the home front during World War II, there are some records of note. The Division of History collected reports on home front conditions. Topics include local opinion and reaction to war events and news, rosters of local service men and women, activities of local organizations, economic conditions and religious conditions (Series II).

The Division of History and Archaeology also attempted to locate graves of distinguished Virginians (Series III) and created a reference file on Virginia History and eventually published The Hornbook of Virginia History (Series IV). The Historical Material files is essentially a ready reference collection containing newspaper clippings and historical sketches on historic sites and events. (Series V).

Oversize items are filed in 3 boxes and 2 map case drawers. The oversize records consist primarily of maps and newspapers. Oversize items, which were part of the regular sized filing unit, were removed from their perspective folders. A separation notice listing the item(s) separated and their new location was put in its place. For location and content list of oversize folders, see the listing at the end of the container list.

It is recommended that the researcher read the series level scope and content notes thoroughly before accessing the collection.

Arrangement

Organized into the following series:

I. Correspondence, 1927-1950 (Accession 24806a) II. Virginia War History Project, 1942-1946 (Accession 24806b) III. Graves of Distinguished Virginians Project, 1944-1950 (Accession 24806c) IV. Records, 1929-1950 (Accession 25913) V. Historical Material, 1927-1950 (Accession 41571)

Contents List

Series I. Correspondence, 1927-1950 (Accession 24806a)

The Correspondence series is housed in 70 boxes with oversized material separated and is arranged into two subseries. Subseries have been designated for Correspondence and Correspondence, Dead File. It is unknown why some correspondence were separated from the general correspondence (Subseries A) and grouped with the correspondence, dead file (Subseries B), because there is some overlap between the subseries. The series consists primarily of incoming and outgoing correspondence from Division of History staff members including: Dr. Hamilton J. Eckenrode, Director (1927-1949), J.R.V. Daniel, Director (1949-1950), Bryan Conrad, Assistant Director and M.F. Pleasants, Field Assistant. This series comprises a large and important section of the Division of History records. In this series, researchers have a complete view, from 1927- 1950, of most of the correspondence sent and received by the Division of History. These correspondence provide insight into the workings of the historical marker program including inscriptions, locations, and manufacturing, instillation and maintenance of markers, and the Division's promotion of history and other activities.

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Series II. Virginia War History Project, 1942-1946 (Accession 24806b)

The Virginia War History Project series is housed in 10 boxes with oversized material separated and is arranged into two subseries. Subseries have been designated for Counties and Cities. The series consists of booklets, correspondence, lists, newspaper clippings, newsletters, pamphlets, photographs, programs, reports, and rosters.

In September 1942 the Virginia Conservation Commission's Division of History and Archaeology, under the direction of Dr. Hamilton J. Eckenrode, began a war records collection program. Unable to continue the Division of History's historical marker program because of wartime rationing, Eckenrode sought to "record the history of the Old Dominion's war effort while the history is still fresh in the making, rather than wait until after the war when the events and details would be more obscured." The Conservation Commission began a correspondence program in which a non-salaried correspondent from each locality sent reports about local war activities and local effects and reaction to the war. The local correspondents also assisted the Virginia World War II History Commission with its' questionnaire, "Personal War Service Record of Virginia's Ward Dead" completed by the next of kin of Virginia's deceased servicemen.

Most of the information in this series contains correspondence reports on local wartime conditions in Virginia from local correspondents mainly during 1943 with a few from 1944 and 1945. Topics include local opinion and reaction to war events and news, rosters of local service men and women, activities of local organizations, economic conditions and religious conditions. Unfortunately, the quantity and quality of these reports varied widely. Many only submitted a few reports. However, other localities submitted a substantial number of records. In addition, there are correspondence between the History Division and local correspondents related to the administration of the "Personal War Service Record of Virginia's War Dead" questionnaire on behalf of the Virginia World War II History Commission. These records were transferred to the Virginia World War II History Commission and are part of Record Group 68, accession 24805. A few localities submitted casualty lists.

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Series III. Graves of Distinguished Virginians Project, 1944-1950 (accession 24806c)

The Graves of Distinguished Virginians Project series is housed in 5 boxes with oversized material separated and is arranged into two subseries. Subseries have been designated for Correspondence and County Files. The series consists of correspondence, lists, maps, newspaper clippings, and reports.

In October 1944 the Virginia Conservation Commission's Division of History began a "Graves of Distinguished Virginians" Project. Funded by a $2000 appropriation of the General Assembly, the project's goals was to identify and, if necessary, mark such graves. The bulk of the work on this project was between 1946 and 1948.

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Series IV. Records, 1929-1950 (accession 25913)

The Records series is housed in 7 boxes with oversized material separated and is arranged into two subseries. Subseries have been designated for Reference Files and The Hornbook of Virginia History. The series consists of correspondence, minutes, newspapers, newspaper clippings, pamphlets, photographs, postcards and scrapbooks.

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Series V. Historical Material, 1927-1950 (Accession 41571)

The Historical Material is housed in 17 boxes with oversized material separated and is arranged alphabetically by county followed by a separate section of newspapers and magazines arranged by sections. City historical material is interfiled with the nearest county. For example City of Richmond material is filed with Henrico County. A 3x5 card files provides a rough topical index to the collection. The series consists of historical sketches, maps, newspaper clippings, pamphlets and photographs.

Contents include historical data on counties and information on historic sites and places of each interest within each locality. Notable records include two photographs from the Great Dismal Swamp. The first photograph shows gnarled cypress roots in Lake Drummond, near Norfolk (no date); the second, dated 1899, shows the locomobile of John Wallace, Norfolk, the "first motor vehicle other than by electric power" (Norfolk County, Box 103, Folder 1). Other items of interest include: The Spirit of Orange: A Pageant Portraying a Few High Points of Orange County History in Relation to Local, National and International Affairs , 3 May 1930, official program for forty-third annual reunion of Confederate Veterans, in Orange, 16-18 September 1930 (Box 103, Folder 4); Glen Mary: Past and Present by A.V.S. Milbourne, 1935, photograph of commissioners and historians at Skyland, including W.E. Carson and Harry F. Byrd, (Page County, Box 103, Folder 5); newspaper clippings concerning the case of Odell Waller, a Pittsylvania County sharecropper executed for murder on 2 July 1942 (Box 103, Folder 6); photographs of Wanda Hawley, a silent motion picture actress, Helen Wainwright, Olympic swimming and diving champion, and Helen Hentschel, an outboard motor boat racer, at Virginia Beach, Princess Anne County, n.d. (Box 104, Folder 3);and Directory of Surry County, Virginia , 1932-1933 compiled by Gordon C. Berryman (Box 105, Folder 9).

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Oversize - Series I. Correspondence, 1927-1950 (accession 24806a)
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Oversize - Series II. Virginia War History Project, 1942-1946 (accession 24806b)
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Oversize - Series III. Graves of Distinguished Virginians Project, 1944-1948 (accession 24806c)
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Oversize - Series IV. Records, 1929-1950 (accession 25913)
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Oversize - Series V. Historical Material, 1927-1950 (Accession 41571)
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