R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans (SC-21) Special Collection 21 (SC-21)

Finding Aids to Special Collections in the VMFA Archives | R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers SC-21

Special Collection 21 (SC-21)


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Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Archives

Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library
200 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23220-4007
library@vmfa.museum
URL: https://vmfa.museum/library/special-collections-archives/

Courtney Yevich Tkacz, VMFA Archivist

Repository
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Archives
Identification
SC-21
Title
R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21)1885-1958
Quantity
0.2 Linear Feet 3 boxes; 13 items
Language
English .
Abstract
The collection documents the history of R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans, a large residential complex for poor and infirm Confederate veterans of the Civil War. Altogether a total of nearly three thousand veterans from thirty-three states called the camp home, and after the camp's closing, the Commonwealth eventually granted use of the buildings and land to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The collection is comprised of photographs and postcards that document the changing landscape of the camp over 50 years, a rare guest register that includes thousands of guest signatures and a page signed by ten members of the Blackfeet Nation, and two extremely rare artifacts – reunion ribbons – provide material testimony to the reconciliation efforts of Confederate and Union veterans only twenty years after they faced each other as enemies during the Civil War.

Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is subject to all copyright laws. Digitized content is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International License. Transmission or reproduction of other materials protected by copyright, beyond that allowed by fair use, requires the researcher to obtain permission of copyright holders. 

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

The digital collection can be accessed through the VMFA Collections Search website.

Custodial History

The collection was created by the VMFA Archives in 2017 to bring together primary sources about the camp. The register and reunion ribbons were purchased by VMFA Library in November 2014 and July 2015. The postcards were donated by Elizabeth O'Leary in June 2015. The other materials were relocated from vertical files in the VMFA Library.

Preferred Citation

R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.


Historical Note

In the 1830s through the 1850s, Anthony Robinson Jr. purchased over 170 acres in the center of what would become the city of Richmond, including the property on which VMFA now stands. The estate, comprised of woods and open countryside, was cultivated and improved, no doubt through the labor of the enslaved African Americans listed in Robinson's tax records and will. Little is known about the earliest Robinson residence, but the imposing farmhouse still standing on the museum property was built by Anthony Robinson Jr. in the mid-1850s. In April 1865, during the final weeks of the Civil War, Union troops occupied the house and grounds at the invitation of Robinson's widow, Rebecca, in exchange for protection from looting. In 1883, the couple's son Channing sold the residence and thirty-six surrounding acres to establish a Confederate soldiers' home.

Between 1885 and 1941 the property was the site of a large residential complex for poor and infirm Confederate veterans of the Civil War. Established by R. E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans, the camp was built with private funds, including donations from former Confederate and Union soldiers alike. At peak occupancy, residents numbered just over three hundred; altogether a total of nearly three thousand veterans from thirty-three states called the camp home. For the next half century, Robinson House, renamed Fleming Hall during the soldiers' home era, served as the compound's administration building and war museum. After the camp's closing, the Commonwealth granted use of the building to the Virginia Institute for Scientific Research in the 1950s and to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts from 1964 to the present.

The green space in the central grounds of today's VMFA property was once the commons of the Confederate soldiers' home. Around the oak-filled park stood the administration building, barracks, dining hall, hospital, recreation hall, steam plant, and assorted outbuildings. The superintendent's house, nine residential cottages, and a chapel formed an arc to the west. With the exception of Robinson House and the Confederate Memorial Chapel, the structures were demolished or moved in the early 1940s. From the camp's earliest years, the Commonwealth of Virginia helped fund the institution. In 1892, Lee Camp No. 1 agreed that the property would revert to the Commonwealth in twenty-two years. A later agreement extended that transition to the time when the original purpose of the home was no longer needed. When the last resident died in 1941, the Commonwealth gained ownership of the site. By that time, it had been designated as the Confederate Memorial Park.

Dedicated in 1887 to the Confederate war dead, the nondenominational Confederate Memorial Chapel (also referred to as the Pelham Chapel) served as a place of worship for the residents of R. E. Lee Camp, No. 1. Funded by donations from veterans and private citizens of the Commonwealth, it was designed by architect Marion J. Dimmock in the Carpenter-Gothic style. In the postwar era of reconciliation, Union veterans from Lynn, Massachusetts, donated the organ. By the time the camp closed fifty-four years later, the chapel had hosted approximately 1,700 funeral services for the former soldiers.

The monumental limestone building to the west of the present museum grounds was built in 1932 as a residence for destitute female relatives of Confederate veterans. After relocating the final inhabitants of the Home for Needy Confederate Women to a nursing facility in 1989, the Commonwealth set aside the property for use by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Source: History of the VMFA Grounds

Scope and Contents

The collection's inclusive dates are 1885-1958, with the bulk of the material dating from 1885-1937. The collection is comprised of photographs, postcards, reunion ribbons, press clippings, and a guest register.

Arrangement

The collection is organized into three series, and items are arranged chronologically within each series.

Series 1 Images, 1907-1958, undated Series 2 Publications, 1885-1914 Series 3 Realia, 1885

Subjects and Indexing Terms

  • Confederate Memorial Chapel
  • Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper
  • Grand Army of the Republic -- Seward Post No. 37 (Auburn, N.Y.)
  • Home for Needy Confederate Women (Richmond, Va.)
  • Lee Camp Soldiers' Home (Richmond, Va.)
  • Soldiers' homes -- Virginia -- Richmond
  • Sons of Confederate Veterans (Organization). R.E. Lee Camp No. 1 (Richmond, Va.)
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865

Related Materials - VMFA Library: Subject Files

VMFA: Building History: Confederate Memorial Chapel
VMFA: Building History: Confederate Home for Ladies
VMFA: Building History: Robinson House: General
VMFA: Building History: Robinson House: Robinson Family, 1840s-1880s
VMFA: Building History: Robinson House: R.E. Lee Camp: Confederate Soldiers' Home (Fleming Hall)
VMFA: Building History: Robinson House: R.E. Lee Camp: Confederate Soldiers' Museum (Fleming Hall)
VMFA: Building History: Robinson House: "Confederate Memorial Park," Post 1934 and Controversy, 1954

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

  • Auburn (N.Y.)
  • Baltimore (Md.)
  • New York (N.Y.)
  • Richmond (Va.)

Container List

SC-21-01
Series 1: Images
3 items
1907-1958, undated
  • SC-21-01.1
    Series 1.1: Photographs
    1937-1958, undated
    • Graphic Materials SC-21 Box 1 Item: SC21.01.1.001SC21.01.1.001
      Aerial view of campus with Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Confederate Women's Home, Robinson House, Benedictine Catholic Church, Battle Abbey and Johnston Willis Hospital, taken by Dementi Studio
      Dementi Studio
      1 item
      1937
      8 x 10
      Black-and-white photographs

      Aerial view of campus with Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Confederate Women's Home, Robinson House, Benedictine Catholic Church, Battle Abbey and Johnston Willis Hospital, taken by Dementi Studio


      https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/94061105-108734980/   108734986.jpg   
      Immediate Source of Acquisition

      Gift of Elizabeth O'Leary

      Biographical / Historical

      American--1

      General

      Copyright Dementi Studio

      Preferred Citation

      R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.

      Conditions Governing Use

      In Copyright: http://rightsstatements.org/page/InC/1.0/?language=en

    • Graphic Materials SC-21 Box 1 Item: SC21.01.1.002SC21.01.1.002
      Certificate of Authenticity from the Baltimore Sun archives for the 1937 photograph, photo ID AEP-992-BS
      Baltimore sun
      1 item
      undated
      Paper
      Certificates

      Certificate of Authenticity from the Baltimore Sun archives for the 1937 photograph, photo ID AEP-992-BS


      https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/94061105-108735120/   108735126.jpg   
      Immediate Source of Acquisition

      Gift of Elizabeth O'Leary

      Biographical / Historical

      American--1

      Preferred Citation

      R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.

      Conditions Governing Use

      In Copyright: http://rightsstatements.org/page/InC/1.0/?language=en

    • Graphic Materials SC-21 Box 1 Item: SC21.01.1.003SC21.01.1.003
      Confederate Chapel, Negative 3184
      Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
      1 item
      Jan. 1958
      8 x 10
      Black-and-white photographs

      Confederate Chapel, Negative 3184


      https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/94061105-108735191/   108735197.jpg   
      Immediate Source of Acquisition

      VMFA Photo Archives

      Biographical / Historical

      American--1

      Preferred Citation

      R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.

      Conditions Governing Use

      In Copyright: http://rightsstatements.org/page/InC/1.0/?language=en

  • SC-21-01.2
    Series 1.2: Postcards
    6 items
    1907-1934, undated
    • Graphic Materials SC-21 Box 1 Item: SC21.01.2.001SC21.01.2.001
      Aerial View, Confederate Women's Home, Richmond, Va.
      Capitol News Agency
      1 item
      [ca. 1934]
      Paper
      Picture postcards

      Aerial View, Confederate Women's Home, Richmond, Va.


      https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/94061105-108735333/   108735339.jpg   
      Immediate Source of Acquisition

      Gift of Elizabeth O'Leary

      Biographical / Historical

      American--1

      Preferred Citation

      R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.

      Conditions Governing Use

      In Copyright: http://rightsstatements.org/page/InC/1.0/?language=en

    • Graphic Materials SC-21 Box 1 Item: SC21.01.2.002SC21.01.2.002
      Headquarters, The Soldiers Home, Richmond, Va.
      Hugh C. Leighton Company
      1 item
      [1907]
      Paper
      Picture postcards

      Headquarters, The Soldiers Home, Richmond, Va.


      https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/94061105-108735474/   108735480.jpg   
      Immediate Source of Acquisition

      Gift of Elizabeth O'Leary

      Biographical / Historical

      American--1

      Preferred Citation

      R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.

      Conditions Governing Use

      No Copyright - United States: http://rightsstatements.org/page/NoC-US/1.0/?language=en

    • Graphic Materials SC-21 Box 1 Item: SC21.01.2.003SC21.01.2.003
      Soldiers' Home, Boulevard Ave, Richmond, Va.
      Louis Kaufmann and Sons
      1 item
      [ca. 1913]
      Paper
      Picture postcards

      Soldiers' Home, Boulevard Ave, Richmond, Va.


      https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/94061105-108735616/   108735622.jpg   
      Immediate Source of Acquisition

      Gift of Elizabeth O'Leary

      Biographical / Historical

      American--1

      Preferred Citation

      R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.

      Conditions Governing Use

      No Copyright - United States: http://rightsstatements.org/page/NoC-US/1.0/?language=en

    • Graphic Materials SC-21 Box 1 Item: SC21.01.2.004SC21.01.2.004
      Soldiers' Home, Boulevard and Grove Ave., Richmond, Va.
      Southern Bargain House
      1 item
      [1914]
      Paper
      Picture postcards

      Soldiers' Home, Boulevard and Grove Ave., Richmond, Va.


      https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/94061105-108735757/   108735763.jpg   
      Immediate Source of Acquisition

      Gift of Elizabeth O'Leary

      Biographical / Historical

      American--1

      Preferred Citation

      R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.

      Conditions Governing Use

      No Copyright - United States: http://rightsstatements.org/page/NoC-US/1.0/?language=en

    • Graphic Materials SC-21 Box 1 Item: SC21.01.2.005SC21.01.2.005
      Soldiers' Home (Boulevard and Grove Avenue), Richmond, VA
      Southern Bargain House
      1 item
      undated
      Paper
      Picture postcards

      Soldiers' Home (Boulevard and Grove Avenue), Richmond, VA


      https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/94061105-108735898/   108735904.jpg   
      Immediate Source of Acquisition

      Gift of Elizabeth O'Leary

      Biographical / Historical

      American--1

      Preferred Citation

      R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.

      Conditions Governing Use

      Copyright Undetermined: https://rightsstatements.org/page/UND/1.0/?language=en

    • Graphic Materials SC-21 Box 1 Item: SC21.01.2.006SC21.01.2.006
      Soldiers' Home, Boulevard and Grove Ave., Richmond, Va.
      Southern Bargain House
      1 item
      undated
      Paper
      Picture postcards

      Soldiers' Home, Boulevard and Grove Ave., Richmond, Va.


      https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/94061105-108736039/   108736045.jpg   
      Immediate Source of Acquisition

      Gift of Elizabeth O'Leary

      Biographical / Historical

      American--1

      Preferred Citation

      R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.

      Conditions Governing Use

      Copyright Undetermined: https://rightsstatements.org/page/UND/1.0/?language=en

SC-21-02
Series 2: Publications
2 items
1885-1914
  • Text SC-21 Box 1 Item: SC21.02.0.001SC21.02.0.001
    "The Home for Ex-Confederate Soldiers and Sailors at Richmond, VA," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, pages 5-6
    Leslie, Frank, 1821-1880Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper
    1 item
    Aug. 22, 1885
    Paper
    Clippings
    English

    "The Home for Ex-Confederate Soldiers and Sailors at Richmond, VA," Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, pages 5-6


    https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/94061105-108736180/   108736186.jpg   
    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Elizabeth O'Leary

    Biographical / Historical

    American--1

    Preferred Citation

    R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.

    Conditions Governing Use

    No Copyright - United States: http://rightsstatements.org/page/NoC-US/1.0/?language=en

  • Books SC-21 Box 2 Item: SC21.02.0.002SC21.02.0.002
    Register: Lee Camp Soldiers' Home
    Sons of Confederate Veterans (Organization). R.E. Lee Camp No. 1 (Richmond, Va.)
    158 pages
    May 17, 1912-Oct. 14, 1914
    Paper
    Books
    English

    Register: Lee Camp Soldiers' Home


    https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/94061105-109047663/   109047669.jpg   
    Biographical / Historical

    American--1

    Conditions Governing Use

    No Copyright - United States: http://rightsstatements.org/page/NoC-US/1.0/?language=en

    Preferred Citation

    R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    VMFA Library

    General

    Registration ledger signature book for visitors to the Soldiers' Home. Commercially printed borders with advertising from Richmond area businesses. Includes a page signed by ten members of the Blackfeet Nation, including four Chiefs, with their pictograph inscriptions.

    Exhibition History

    This item was removed on January 22, 2019 to be placed on exhibition in the Robinson House. The register was returned to the Archives on March 4, 2021 and a reproduction of the register is now on display in the exhibition.

SC-21-03
Series 3: Realia
2 items
1885
  • Realia SC-21 Box 3 Item: SC21.03.0.001SC21.03.0.001
    Reunion Ribbon, R.E. Lee Camp No. 1, C. V., Richmond, VA and Seward Post No. 37, G.A.R., Auburn, N.Y.
    Sons of Confederate Veterans (Organization). R.E. Lee Camp No. 1 (Richmond, Va.)Grand Army of the Republic. Seward Post No. 37 (Auburn, N.Y.)
    1 item
    Oct. 20, 1885
    Ribbon
    Trimming
    English

    Reunion Ribbon, R.E. Lee Camp No. 1, C. V., Richmond, VA and Seward Post No. 37, G.A.R., Auburn, N.Y.


    https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/94061105-108736242/   108736248.jpg   
    Biographical / Historical

    American--1

    Conditions Governing Use

    No Copyright - United States: http://rightsstatements.org/page/NoC-US/1.0/?language=en

    Preferred Citation

    R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    VMFA Library

    Exhibition History

    This item was removed by Objects Conservator Ainslie Harrison on January 9, 2019 to be placed on exhibition in the Robinson House. The ribbon was returned to the Archives on November 22, 2019.

  • Realia SC-21 Box 3 Item: SC21.03.0.002SC21.03.0.002
    "Blue and the Gray Re-Union" Ribbon, Seward Post 37, G.A.R., Auburn, N.Y. and R.E. Lee Camp, C. V., Richmond, VA
    Grand Army of the Republic. Seward Post No. 37 (Auburn, N.Y.)Sons of Confederate Veterans (Organization). R.E. Lee Camp No. 1 (Richmond, Va.)
    1 item
    July 4, 1885
    Ribbon
    Trimming
    English

    "Blue and the Gray Re-Union" Ribbon, Seward Post 37, G.A.R., Auburn, N.Y. and R.E. Lee Camp, C. V., Richmond, VA


    https://www.vmfa.museum/piction/94061105-108736312/   108736318.jpg   
    Biographical / Historical

    American--1

    Conditions Governing Use

    No Copyright - United States: http://rightsstatements.org/page/NoC-US/1.0/?language=en

    Preferred Citation

    R.E. Lee Camp, No. 1, Confederate Veterans Papers (SC-21). VMFA Archives, Richmond, Virginia.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    VMFA Library

    Exhibition History

    This item was removed by Objects Conservator Ainslie Harrison on January 9, 2019 to be placed on exhibition in the Robinson House. The ribbon was returned to the Archives on November 22, 2019.