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History Blog

04/23/2018 - 11:46am
Cover to The Devil's Company by David Liss

Benjamin Weaver, retired prize fighter and now professional thief-taker, is back in action on the streets of 18th-century London. What seemed a simple job—cheating a card cheat—turns nightmarish when Weaver discovers he’s the one who has been rooked in David Liss' The Devil’s Company. The mysterious and wealthy Mr. Jerome Cobb has a very dangerous plan in which Weaver is an essential player. His physical skills, intelligence, connections, and indeed his very character are necessary to make the plan a success.

No one else will do, and in order to secure his cooperation, Cobb and his cronies have drawn a diabolical net around those Weaver holds dear. The Devil's Company referred to in the title is none other than the terrifically wealthy East India Trading Company. Their near monopoly on imports of tea, fabrics, and other luxury items began more than 100 years before this story opens in 1722, and it is this fortress-like institution that Weaver must infiltrate.

04/17/2018 - 12:56pm

Fredericksburg rises from the fall line of the Rappahannock River. Its natural hills are generally considered to be just part of the scenic landscape. Wealthy townspeople, such as the Willis and Marye families, built their mansions on the heights. Before the Civil War, the scenery was pleasant but otherwise unremarkable.

In November and December of 1862, Confederate troops, under the command of General Robert E. Lee, fortified the hills above Fredericksburg. The townspeople were mostly evacuated, which was well as what was to follow certainly resembled a hell on earth.

03/13/2018 - 9:02am
“CRRL in the News” for Almost Half a Century

“I predict you will wonder from this day forward how you ever got along without the services we are starting here today.”

—Randolph Church, Virginia State Librarian, speaking at the opening of Central Rappahannock Regional Library (Reported in The Free Lance-Star, July 19, 1969)

From 1969 through 2000, Jean Jett carefully clipped this and other newspaper articles about the regional library where her daughter, Vikki Dembowski, was employed. Those yellowed articles have been copied by library volunteers and compiled in seven big loose-leaf notebooks entitled CRRL in the News. They can be perused in the Virginiana Room, located at Fredericksburg Branch

12/18/2017 - 11:53am
2018 Great Lives Lecture Series

The William B. Crawley Great Lives Lecture Series returns to the University of Mary Washington in 2018 with a fabulous lineup. The popular lectures begin at 7:30 p.m. in Dodd Auditorium in George Washington Hall and are free and open to the public. For more information about each lecture and presenter, see the full schedule here.

01/08/2018 - 8:23am

By Janet Payne

Janet Payne is the retired fine arts coordinator of the Stafford (VA) County Public Schools. This article originally appeared in the International Review of African American Art, volume 16, number 1, and is reproduced here with the permission of this publication.

In 1996 on one of my many visits to the Hampton University Museum, I had the opportunity to see the recently acquired Countee Cullen collection. As I viewed the familiar names of African American artists, I noticed an artist unknown to me—Palmer C. Hayden of Wide Water, Virginia. Could that be the same Widewater in Stafford County where I am the fine arts coordinator? How could this be? My research on the Stafford-born artist Palmer C. Hayden began in this moment.

11/16/2017 - 11:58am
From the Virginiana Family Files: Nannie Brown Doherty

King George County was not the site of any full-scale battles between the Union and Confederate armies, but Union General Ambrose Burnside made his headquarters in King George. To local residents, the presence of the Northerners was nothing short of an invasion. The local homes were regularly searched—and often burglarized—by Federal troops.

Our first sight of them was one day when three, mounted on fine horses and with swords and many things that made a big noise, dashed through the front lawn, across the backyard to the woodpile where Father was. We children were terrified, for we thought they had come to carry Father and perhaps all of us away…Presently we heard that they were going to search the house for soldiers and ammunition…Father…was so perfectly willing that they should do so, that they began talking instead, and finally said there was no necessity for searching.

11/01/2017 - 1:54am
CRRL Guest Picks: Yvette Blake

Born and raised in Newport News, Virginia, I am a retired military warrant officer, serving 27 years in the United States Army. My family consists of a charming husband, handsome twin boys, a beautiful daughter, and two energetic grandsons. I presently work for the Department of Defense and own a small business, which provides a number of financial services. Additionally, I am a licensed real estate agent associated with the CTI Real Estate firm. I hold an associate’s degree in graphic design, a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management, and a master’s in organizational management.

I have had an interest in art, history, reading, and culture for over 30 years. I am a member of the Sisters Sippin’ Tea Literary and Social Club. This book club has chapters all over the United States, and we not only read books but also participate in community service programs as well. I’ve been a collector of miniature dolls for over 10 years. I use my miniature collection to design historical exhibits for various venues. One of my exhibits ("For Love of Liberty") was in Fredericksburg’s downtown library last year. My newest interest is Civil War reenacting. I am a member of the 23rd Regiment United States Colored Troops, the Women of the American Civil War group, and a board member of the John J. Wright Educational and Cultural Center Museum.

10/12/2017 - 12:38pm
The Protestant Reformation - 1517-2017

October 31, 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation. The 16th century is a fascinating era of big personalities, schisms, and upheavals, many of which led to the birth of the modern world.  Biographies and historical narratives bring the past to life, and many new books are being published to commemorate this crucial time in Western history.

10/04/2017 - 3:37pm
In the Beginning... A Checklist for Genealogical Neophytes

Genealogical research is a profession for some and a hobby for many. With the advent of TV shows such as Who Do You Think You Are? and the multitude of resources available online, there are some interested novices entering the field who need a little help knowing where to start. The following brief overview is for these beginners.

10/02/2017 - 1:40pm
Cover to George Washington’s Virginia by John R. Maass

Virginia has long held the nickname of “the mother of presidents,” and surely its most famous native son was the first president, George Washington. His birthplace in Westmoreland County, now a national monument, can be visited today and often features living history performers demonstrating what life was like in the times he knew. George Washington’s Virginia, by John R.

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