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September 1, 2006
The Virginia Historical Society was founded in 1831, and I found it very interesting that John Marshall was its first president and James Monroe was an honorary member. The first exhibit that we visited was called "Virginia’s Colonial Dynasties," and we found this an amazing opportunity to put a face on everyone that we had learned about up to this point, and many that we would meet as we continued out trip through Virginia. If we could visit the Richmond Art Museum, we could at least visit a very fine portrait gallery.
If you have root in Virginia, you will want to register to view their library, which has a fine collection of manuscripts, diaries, and newspapers and magazine. There is an online catalogue as well where you can check out the depth of their holdings.
What you can and will see here are some permanent exhibits and some changing ones. "Silver in Virginia" is an ongoing exhibit that features all manner of sterling-silver items produced in Virginia. You will see all the usual items pitcher, platters, and urns, but also silver spurs.
A temporary exhibit that was on when we were visiting was on Patrick Henry. This went along beautiful with our visit to St John Church and our future visit to Red Hill. We got to really know the man behind the patriot/politician.
There is an exhibit called "Becoming New Southerners" covering the period 1859-1865, which deals with every year as a separate entity. You get to watch a 2- to 3-minute video on each of the years sitting on a bench in the center of the exhibit. There are also cases of artifacts and plenty of additional information.
By the year 1776, 40% of Virginians were of African descent. In keeping with this, we met two women from Canada and the grandchildren of one of them who found an ancestor of theirs featured in one of the exhibits. I took their picture and emailed it to them; it was one of those moments that every genealogist dreams of.
You will be able to trace the history of Virginia from prehistoric times through modern-day issues at this museum. They have a very nice gift shop, and to get a current listing of exhibits, visit their website.
From journal Richmond - Rich in History, Part 1
April 12, 2004
From journal A Williamsburg Family Vacation