Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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GUIDE FOR EDUCATORS

With more than 110 million manuscript items housed in the collections of the Library of Virginia, there are an abundance of resources documenting the collective story of Virginia. From the momentous to the mundane, these records chronicle Virginia's history through an amazing assortment of primary sources that are waiting to be explored. Virginia Memory presents digital versions of our collections in a variety of ways, creating many features that make excellent classroom resources. The descriptions provided on this page can guide you to an assemblage of important digital resources all of which can be used to assist students in exploring critical topics in Virginia's past.

For quick list of Online Educational Resources from the Library of Virginia, download this short guide.

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Virginia Standards of Learning Correlations

Chronology

Use our Virginia Chronology to explore the hallmarks of over 400 years of Virginia's past, while putting national events in a Virginia context as you study history, social studies, or literature. Compiled by members of the Library's staff, it is designed to give users a brief overview of the key events and turning points, whether political, economic, cultural, or social, that make Virginia what it is today.

Uses:

  • Have students compare national events to events which took place in Virginia at the same time.
  • Have students track changes in Virginia and national politics over time.
  • Use entries from the Virginia Chronology to create an ordering activity for your students.
  • Identify topics for further research as a part of written reports or poster presentations using items in the Virginia Chronology.

This Day in Virginia History

Members of the staff have identified one document — whether a letter, petition, diary entry, photograph, or engraving — for each day of the year and are making them available in This Day in Virginia History. Every item includes a digital image of the featured record, brief description, citation, and transcription when necessary. Sign up for our This Day RSS feed and become more familiar with the Library's holdings while learning more about the fascinating stories of people from Virginia's past.

Uses:

  • Share these items with your students to expose them to the tools historians use to write history and to excite them about unique perspectives that historical documents offer.
  • Start your class sessions with an analysis activity based on an item from This Day in Virginia History.
  • Use entries from This Day in Virginia History to supplement your lessons.
  • Assign students a day and an item from This Day in Virginia History as the basis of a research project.

Digital Collections

The Library of Virginia has been digitizing collections since the mid-1990s. Virginia Memory provides access to a variety of digital versions of our most unique collections, including Civil War maps, Virginia military service records, early governors' letters, and more than a dozen photographic collections. Browse the alphabetical listing or the topic list of the available digital collections to a search in our catalog for the resources you need. Come back often to see "What's New" in our digital collections or to rediscover a "Featured Collection" that's been around for a while. You can also explore the Virginia Digital Newspaper Project, a part of the National Digital Newspaper Project, to find digital versions of Virginia's historic newspapers.

Use our Digital Collections to find instructional resources for your classroom, or refer students to the collections to begin or support their own research projects.

Virginia Newspapers

Historic newspapers are wonderful teaching tools that offer a direct glimpse into the past. They offer snapshots of everyday life in a community, from elections, political ideas, crimes, and natural disasters to weddings, entertainment, and commerce.

The Library of Virginia's Virginia Digital Newspaper Project (VaDNP) is part of an ongoing initiative to provide free access to text-searchable digital images of historical newspapers. Many Virginia papers, covering the years 1860–1922, are hosted with many other states' papers at the Chronicling America site at the Library of Congress.

The Chronicling America repository and database is text searchable and provides full-page images with crop, zoom, and print features. The Chronicling America repository has more than one million pages of digitized U.S. imprint newspapers.

Some Uses:

  • Have students research famous Virginians or events in newspapers.
  • Have students "report" on an event for a historical paper after browsing newspapers from the era under study. If possible, compare real reports covering that event with the students' writings. Also pay attention to how the reporting of particular events changes over the coverage period.
  • Read advertisements in papers over several decades or longer. Discuss what is offered and how much it costs; compare the ads with ads from today. Perhaps have students figure out how much money a family would need to live at a certain time.
  • Compare a front page from the past with a front page from your local newspaper today. What is important in each?

A few of the Virginia papers offered at Chronicling America:

Exhibitions

The Library of Virginia offers exhibitions that explore a wide variety the commonwealth's political, social, and cultural history. Based in the Library's collections, the exhibition program also incorporates materials from the larger library and museum community. Consider bringing your students for a tour of the Library of Virginia's exhibitions, as well as its facilities. We also offer children's activity booklets for each exhibition to provide age-appropriate interpretation for our youngest visitors.

While we rotate exhibitions in our galleries several times throughout the year, the web pages supporting these exhibitions continue to live online and offer a wealth of readily-accessible information on Virginia's history. Online versions include key themes and artifacts from past exhibitions that can be mined for primary source documents and educational materials to use in your classroom.

Check out these Web exhibitions for more resources and information to use in your classroom. To see a full list of Web exhibitions at the Library of Virginia see Past Exhibitions.

African American History

Death or Liberty: Gabriel, Nat Turner, and John Brown

Explore three dramatic events in Virginia that focused America's attention on the problem of slavery: Gabriel's Conspiracy in 1800, Nat Turner's Rebellion in Southampton County in 1831, and John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859. Short descriptive essays about the events are paired with images of documents from the incidents as well as transcripts.

Brown v. Board of Education: Virginia Responds

Investigate Virginia's reaction to the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education including the adoption of the policy of "Massive Resistance" through photographs, radio recordings, and the letters and petitions of individual citizens and organizations sent to elected officials.

Mapping and Surveying

Maps, Charts & Atlases

Based on a large collection of maps that focus on the exploration of the Chesapeake Bay area and the development of Virginia within the context of both European and American history, this Web exhibition displays the cultural perceptions, political aspirations, and extent of geographical knowledge of those who created these maps and atlases. Explore more than fifty maps of Virginia created in the fifteenth to the nineteenth century.

From Williamsburg to Wills's Creek: The Fry-Jefferson Map

This exhibition focuses on the sources and sequels of the Fry-Jefferson map, created by Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson's father) in 1755. The exhibition examines the role of surveyors in colonial Virginia, the importance of the surveying experience for Fry and Jefferson in creating their important map, and the influence of their map on later cartographic representations of Virginia.

Notable Virginians

Poe: Man, Myth, or Monster?

An instantly recognizable American author and historical figure, Edgr Allan Poe's name calls to mind spine-chilling stories and melancholy poetry. He evokes the image of the tragic romantic poet, misunderstood and rejected by society. Learn more on this site, which includes plenty of primary sources related to Poe, little known facts about his life, and even an interactive hosted by "Little Edgar."

John Marshall

Marking the 200th anniversary of his becoming the fourth chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the exhibition John Marshall highlighted the life of Marshall (1755-1838).

Popular Culture

Virginia Roots Music: Creating and Conserving Tradition

Listen to sound files of early recordings of Virginia's music. Explore the collecting and recording of Virginia music in the two decades before World War II. That music formed the bedrock of the country, blues, and gospel music traditions that exist today.

Radio in Virginia

Explore the rise of radio in the Commonwealth through the WRVA collection. Established in 1925, WRVA was one of the earliest radio stations in Virginia. Listen to sample recordings from the Library's WRVA collection.

Women's History

Working Out Her Destiny: Women's History in Virginia

Take a fresh look at the history of Virginia's women and the history of Virginia based on the Virginia women's history book, "A Share of Honour," Virginia Women 1600-1945. Browse themes in women's history; see images associated with those themes and full transcriptions of documents. Also included are biographies of important Virginia women, an extensive list of further resources, and a timeline of events in Virginia women's history.

Additional Resources

Tours, Research Visits, and More!

In addition to what's available on Virginia Memory, our Educational Outreach program offers many resources for you and your students that will develop greater understanding of the Library, our collections, and how both complement and enhance the study of Virginia history and the social sciences. Please visit the Library's Web site at www.lva.virginia.gov/lib-edu/education to learn more, or schedule a tour online.

Find It Virginia:

Find It Virginia offers full text access to a variety of magazines and newspapers, encyclopedias and other reference works, TV and radio transcripts, company information and investment reports, health and wellness information, and homework help, plus photos, charts, maps, diagrams, and illustrations. All you or your students need are a computer with internet access and a public library card.

Publications:

The Library has published a variety of useful books for adults and children on Virginia topics. For information on available publications or to place an order, please contact the Virginia Shop staff at 804.692.3524 or visit our online shop at www.thevirginiashop.org.