COVID-19 UPDATE: During the current threat to public health from the coronavirus, DHR is open for business and the majority of staff is teleworking. However, our offices are temporarily closed to the public until further notice. Staff can be reached by email using this format: first name.last email@example.com. You can also check the staff directory for a phone number to leave a message. Also, documents can still be mailed to DHR, although staff may be unable to retrieve them immediately.
Public use of our Collections and Collections Room for research, loan transfers or processing of artifacts by members of the public is suspended as well until further notice.
In other news, DHR has extended the deadline for Cost Share program applications to 4 p.m., May 1.
DHR staff has compiled this list of online tools, activities, lesson plans, and other material for parents, teachers, students, and anyone seeking engaging content about Virginia history, archaeology, and architecture or other specific aspects of our cultural heritage.
We will continue to add to this webpost weekly, if not daily. If you have suggestions for additional content that DHR may want to consider adding, please contact Randy Jones (540-578-3031), DHR, public information officer.
More information about sites and links added on April 1.
—Proposed markers cover topics in the counties of Campbell, Clarke, Fauquier (2), Greene, Hanover, King George, Montgomery, New Kent, Scott, and Shenandoah; and the cities of Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Roanoke (2), and Suffolk —
Topics covered in sixteen proposed historical markers currently pending approval include the lynching of an African American woman in the Shenandoah Valley, a nationally noteworthy rescue squad in Roanoke, and early 20th-century initiatives to improve educational opportunities in African American and in isolated Blue Ridge Mountain communities.
The Virginia Board of Historic Resources, authorized to approve new markers, was to have considered the proposed marker texts during its quarterly meeting in March, which DHR cancelled due to the coronavirus threat.
—Eligible projects can target repairs to storm-damaged properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places as well as surveys of historic resources to assess NRHP-eligibility and/or storm damage—
The National Park Service (NPS) has awarded the Virginia Department of Historic Resources more than $4.7 million in funding to provide recovery assistance to historic properties including archaeological sites damaged by hurricanes Florence and/or Michael in September and October 2018 that are listed or are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
—Pending VLR listings are in the counties of Bath, Hanover, Page, Rockbridge, and Rockingham; and the cites of Lynchburg, Newport News, Roanoke, and Williamsburg—
—Sites are associated with the history of African Americans, education, railroads, and 20th-century architecture and commerce—
A former plantation cemetery for enslaved African Americans, and a one-time rural town hall and a Pennsylvania-style barn in the Shenandoah Valley are among nine sites pending nomination to the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
Staff members of DHR were to present the nine nominations to the Virginia Board of Historic Resources and the State Review Board during their combined quarterly meetings in March. However, DHR postponed that meeting due to the public health threat stemming from the coronavirus.
Making the Past More Accessible
One of the privileges I enjoy as the Chief Curator for the Department of Historic Resources is my role as steward of a number of Virginia’s artifacts. DHR provides a stable, secure climate for over a million objects, ensuring that they will remain available for future generations. We also care for the associated, original field records associated with these precious resources. I enjoy facilitating access to these irreplaceable objects for exhibits, analysis, and scholarly research.
As a curator, I can too easily take for granted my ready access to these one-of-a-kind artifacts from the past. Thankfully, the advent of three-dimensional (3-D) scanning technology allows us to make these unique items accessible to more people either online or by way of replicas for hands-on examination.
An early proponent of 3-D technology for archaeology in Virginia, Dr. Bernard Means created the Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University in August 2011. For years, he and his students have scanned objects, artifacts, and fossils from all over the world. He has created a “virtual museum” online, where three-dimensional images of objects can be accessed—and many (when permission is provided by the objects’ owners) can be 3-D printed, allowing students of the past from all over the world to conveniently print replicas. (Here is a link to a gallery of popular items that you can 3-D print. If you do not own a 3-D printer, check out your local library, many provide 3-D printers for public use.)
Kristie Kendall, Historic Preservation Coordinator, Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC), submitted these photos to DHR. PEC is curious about the timeline for these artifacts. Kendall added this information:
PEC owns several properties in Virginia, including a 50-acre parcel known as the Piedmont Memorial Overlook on Ovoka Mountain next to Sky Meadows State Park. The Piedmont Memorial Overlook sits within a large block of privately and publicly protected land that is a patchwork of forest, livestock pasture and mountainous fields. The property is accessible from Sky Meadows State Park and the Appalachian Trail.
The St. John’s Church Foundation proposes to perform rehabilitation work on a portion of the foundation beneath St. John’s Church, located in the Church Hill neighborhood of the City of Richmond. The proposed foundation work has the potential to disturb human burials within the churchyard and beneath the church building. The St. John’s Church Foundation has determined that disturbance of human burials may be necessary in order to complete the restoration of the church foundation.
DHR is now soliciting applications for our 2020-2021 Survey & Planning Cost Share program. Cost Share projects are funded through a partnership between DHR and a local government and/or regional planning district commission. Eligible projects encompass a broad range of survey and planning activities, protection of historic resources through identification, documentation, and evaluation, and preservation planning activities consistent with the responsible stewardship of historic resources. The deadline for applications is now extended to 4 p.m., May 1, 2020.
See this Request for Applications. Questions? Contact Blake McDonald at (804) 482-6086.
Ask an archaeologist. . .
A property owner plowing a field in the Southampton area found in broken pieces this bowl (photo). The person glued it together and asked DHR about it.
Here’s what we think:
The bowl is made of steatite (soapstone) likely quarried from present-day Brunswick County. Soapstone is relatively soft and was cut and chipped from outcrops using harder stone and bone tools. These bowls date from the Late Archaic into the Early Woodland (between 3,000 and 4,000 years ago) and have been found quite far from their source. They are generally associated with broad spear technology. Broad spears are larger points/blades that dominate the region at the time.
For Black History Month in 2020, DHR created this slideshow compilation of 33 state historical markers about African American women whose contributions made a difference in Virginia (and in the nation’s) history.
Photo: Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996) was born in Newport News, Va. Marker W-70-a recalls her career. The photo shows her in 1947 with Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt (Milton) Jackson, and Timmie Rosenkrantz. (Library of Congress)
The Department of Historic Resources has released a new book that features the texts and locations of more than 300 state historical markers highlighting people, places, and events important to African American and Virginia history, ranging from the colonial era through the civil rights movement.
Compiled by program staff at DHR, A Guidebook to Virginia’s African American Historical Markers sells for $12.95 and is available through local bookstores and online book retailers. It is also available from the University of Virginia Press (www.upress.virginia.edu), the book’s distributor.
DHR now has two newsletters: a DHR Quarterly Newsletter, and a newsletter for Register Program Updates. We invite you to subscribe to our newsletters. Once you have signed, you will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Any questions or problems, please contact Randy Jones at DHR. We look forward to hearing from you and keeping you up to date with DHR’s register programs and other preservation news and Virginia history.