FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2005
Contact: Carol Anne Baker, Media Relations Specialist
(804) 342-9665 email:
VIRGINIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS RECEIVE NATIONAL RECOGNITION
Richmond, VA – The Virginia Historical Society (VHS) has been awarded federal funding for two nationally significant collections. The first grant came from the National Endowment for the Humanities for state-of-the-art housing for the society's Virginia business history collections, which have increased by thirty percent in the last five years. The $488,077 NEH award is part of the endowment's "We the People Project" and gives special recognition to the VHS for "improving environment and storage of archival collections." The grant specifically supports the installation of compact shelving designed to protect and enhance the accessibly of our business history records collections, which number in the hundreds and are each made up of thousands of items.
The business history collection, which includes the records of firms such as Reynolds Metals Company, A. H. Robins Company, Inc., Thalhimer Bros., Signet Bank, Lane Furniture Company, Best Products, and James River Corporation, and includes documents signed by Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Franklin Roosevelt, will be housed in the society’s new $16-million, 4-story, 54,000-square-foot wing opening in 2006. "The history of business in Virginia is as much a part of the commonwealth's historical landscape as is its social and political past," remarks Charles F. Bryan, Jr., President and CEO of the Virginia Historical Society. "We are pleased that the National Endowment for the Humanities has recognized this project as an important part of its effort to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history," he adds. Selected items from the business collection will be on display in the exhibition, Virginians at Work, which will open in July 2006.
The Virginia business history collections and the upcoming exhibition form the core of the Reynolds Business History Center, the centerpiece of the Society's new addition and the first such program of its kind in the South. Researchers, scholars, and history enthusiasts will enjoy access to records of the state's economic past and an organized interpretation of the work of the people of Virginia over four centuries. This new venture also offers increased field trip opportunities for middle and high school students studying government, economics, sociology, and business-related topics. Supplementary materials, teacher resources, and the exhibition will reinforce Virginia's economics Standards of Learning objectives.
A second federal grant was made by the National Park Service's "Save America’s Treasures" program. This initiative was launched seven years ago as an innovative federal partnership to fund the preservation and restoration of irreplaceable and endangered historic properties, sites, documents, artistic works, and artifacts.
The grant of $78,289 was awarded to the VHS to conserve the George Washington/Robert Dinwiddie papers. Dinwiddie was Britain's lieutenant governor of Virginia from 1751 to 1758. His letters and papers document the administration of the largest and wealthiest North American colony and include his correspondence with George Washington during the formative years of the young man’s military career. "This award is evidence of the nationally-significant collections under the stewardship of the Virginia Historical Society," says Bryan. "We are grateful to be acknowledged by the 'Save America's Treasures' program once more." In the seven-year life span of this highly competitive grant program, the VHS has received two awards – the first for the conservation of the Custis family papers, which record the history of Martha Washington’s family.
Over 330 applicants applied to the 2005 "Save America's Treasures" program, which awarded $14.89 million to 32 historic properties and 29 nationally-significant artifacts, collections, documents, and artistic works.
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 Sundays. For group tour
information, call (804) 342-9652. For more information, please call (804) 358-4901 or visit