FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 11, 2004
Contact: Maribeth Cowan, Public Relations Director
(804) 342-9665 email:
PIECES LOANED FOR EXHIBITION ARE PART OF WHAT PRIVATE COLLECTOR HAS LEFT FOLLOWING FLOOD
Richmond, VA–Barbara Grey retired from William Fox Elementary School in 1990 after 33 years in the
Richmond Public School system. For nearly twice that long she collected and saved the treasures of her childhood
and adulthood. In one rain-soaked afternoon she lost most everything to flooding, except for a few items on upper
floors and the pieces she loaned the Virginia Historical Society for its upcoming exhibition, Children of Hope: African
American Childhood in Virginia, opening January 15. Along with the nearly forty photographs, books, and
letters are Ms. Grey's dolls: a black Snow White; a topsy-turvy doll that is white when flipped one way, and
black when flipped the other way; a rag doll made from leftover fabrics; and a Lulu doll copied from a pattern
produced by McCall Corporation. Dolls like these and other items tell the story of the cultural, economic, and
educational realities that have shaped the lives of African American children from the era of slavery to the present
day. The exhibition also highlights those who supported and educated young African Americans and the victories
Infants of enslaved women were born into slavery. While attempts were made to keep mothers and daughters
together, this was not typically the case with fathers and sons. Those fortunate enough to be apprenticed saved
their earnings to purchase their freedom. Even after slavery, young African American children were subjected to
hard labor in fields, factories, or private homes.
Individuals, civic groups, and religious denominations like the Quakers provided education for African American
children, which at times was risky. Margaret Douglass was imprisoned in the 1850s for teaching free African
American children. Her published account is in the exhibit. Some freed children attended church-sponsored
schools during Reconstruction. Jack and Jill of America, a non-profit organization still in existence, was founded
in 1938 by mothers to improve the quality of life, particularly for African American children between the ages
of two and nineteen. A 1957 photograph of the Richmond chapter at Virginia Union University, is included. Also
on display is a group photo of five African American friends who grew up to become a playwright, a real estate
agent, college professor, attorney and American Bar Association president, and psychology professor.
Another section of the exhibition addresses the commercialization of the image of African American children.
Some laundry detergents, medicines, spices, sewing supplies, and dry goods donned labels with black children
as the main illustration. Books such as Young Master and Young Folks Uncle Tom's Cabin are full of stereotypical
depictions of young African Americans, as is the Story of Little Black Sambo. Also featured in this section are a
black Mother Goose and other rare versions of books for black children.
Children of Hope: African American Childhood in Virginia will be on view at the Virginia Historical through July 10, 2005.
The Virginia Historical Society is located at 428 N. Boulevard. The Story of Virginia, An American Experience,
a 10,000-square-foot exhibition with more than a thousand objects covering all of Virginia history from prehistoric
times to the present is featured in the Robins Center for Virginia History. Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am - 5pm
and Sunday 1pm - 5pm (Museum Galleries only). Admission: $5/adults, $4/seniors 55+ ($2/Tuesdays–galleries
only), $3/children and students, free/members. Admission to the galleries is free on Mondays. For group tour
information, call (804) 342-9652. For more information, please call (804) 358-4901 or visit