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Dance in Video: Dance technique and style reference

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With more than 500 hours of video to choose from dance enthusiasts are able to find instructional dance videos from a variety of genres. It contains genres from contemporary ballet to avant-garde. Watch Frederic Franklin and Stanley Zompakos beautifully recreate excerpts from Mozartiana or discover the proper center work techniques with the Finis Jhung Ballet. There is a video for everyone to enjoy.

The database offers insight into dance moves from the most influential performers and companies of the 20th century with nearly 800 videos to access. Dance in Video provides users with in-depth coverage on dance techniques and styles for dance lovers to discover.

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By Katlyn Pierre, public relations intern. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Creative Commons

Journal of Social Theory: Art education resouce

Scholars Compas

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An important publication in the arts world, The Journal of Social Theory in Art Education, now has a new publishing base: Virginia Commonwealth University’s Scholars Compass.

VCU Libraries launched it in mid-summer. Paper proposals for the next thematic issue on “Navigating Divides” will also be managed through Scholars Compass. Deadline for submission is October 15.

Published annually since 1980, and currently edited by a VCU faculty member, The Journal of Social Theory in Art Education (JSTAE) serves as an alternative voice in art education. It showcases research that addresses social issues, action and transformation as well as creative methods of research and writing. JSTAE is the official journal of the Caucus of Social Theory in Art Education, an issues group of theNAEA National Art Education Association.

“We were founded to represent points of view that have not always been embraced or accepted by mainstream journals,” said Editor Melanie Buffington, Ph.D., an associate professor of Art Education at VCUArts. “As a journal, we are open to a range of article formats and different points of view. There are numerous traditional journals in the field. We co-exist alongside them and present a range of voices.”

The intersection of arts and society provides a broad canvas for JSTAE. Recent article topics include craft as activism, feminist zines, religion and visual culture, freedom of speech and censorship, and public monuments and memorials. Many of the ideas explored and theories investigated have immediate real-world applications in schools, non-profits, galleries, public art offices and other community resources that generally lack access to scholarly journals.

“Anyone who is interested in the content, anywhere in the world can now access it,” Buffington said. “The theories our members and authors embrace often address underserved populations, so making these ideas freely available to a wider audience is appropriate for our mission.”

Outreach beyond academic circles was appealing to Buffington, who particularly wants teachers to have access to these ideas that can translate to classroom use. For the first time, the peer-reviewed journal’s full archives, from the first issue in 1980 to the present, are openly available online.

An additional appeal to Scholars Compass, she said, is posting contributions that go beyond text and include robust images, video, audio and interactive components. “Contemporary artists expand the limits of works of art. It is fitting that an art education journal expands the limits of what is an article.”

JSTAE is a sound example of the kind of journal that is well suited to open-access publishing. It serves the public and also serves scholarship. Its content has public-serving purposes and fulfills VCU’s mission of translational research–moving findings and ideas from the academy quickly into the public realm, where scholarship can improve quality of life and society.

“Given the international prominence of VCU’s School of the Arts and the established reputation of JSTAE, this is a great fit for Scholars Compass,” said Jimmy Ghaphery, Head of Digital

Technologies for VCU Libraries. “We expect the journal to continue to grow in exposure and gain readership through our search engine optimization. We are also very excited that the journal embraces open-access publishing as a way to share its content as widely as possible. This is especially rewarding to me in a field like art education, where many of the practitioners do not have access to high priced subscription journals.”

“This is our first full peer-reviewed open access journal in Scholars Compass since we launched less than one year ago,” said Sam Byrd, Digital Collections Systems Librarian at VCU Libraries. “We invite more faculty to bring their projects to VCU Libraries. We’re here to help.”  Byrd can be contacted at

About Scholars Compass

Academic journals are at the foundation of scholarship. As digital access becomes more the norm and prices of printed or electronic journals continue to rise unchecked, academic libraries nationwide are providing affordable avenues for easier publication online and management of the peer-review process. Run by VCU Libraries, Scholars Compass provides technical support and training to faculty who want to manage journals, peer-review processes, conferences, conference proceedings and reports and much more. Have a project to discuss? Contact: Sam Byrd,

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Image: Illustration of an article on assessment by Sharif Bey, Syracuse UniversityThe Journal of Social Theory in Art Education, Cover, No. 34

African-American Music: Genres, artists and liner notes

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African-American Music Reference contains more than 50,000 pages of text and 17,000 pages of liner notes that offer insight into one of the many forms of African-American musical expression.

The site provides essays with commentary on the various works it has to offer. It contains a variety of genres from American folk to hip-hop and rap. Discover artists like Willis Laurence James and Jay-Z. With the database, users can not only search through their works, but are able to read artists’ biographies and find related resources on that very person.

Users can search genres, people, instruments and more. African-American Music Reference also allows users to create playlists to compile personal favorites for class viewing and listening assignments or use as a teaching resource for in-class use. It is regularly updated so users can use the “what’s new” option to search through the newest updated images and essays.

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By Katlyn Pierre, public relations intern. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Creative Commons

Oral History Online: 2,700-plus collection of text, audio, video

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Oral History Online takes pride in being a landmark database of English language oral history. It offers more than 30,000 pages of full text.

The materials are divided into several categories, including repositories, collections, interviews, places and historical events and are in alphabetical order. More than 2,700 collections are offered. Interviews date back to the 1930s and can be accessed through full text, audio or video.  Information on historical events range from the American Revolution to the Iraq War. The database offers information on a wide variety of places.

Access this information in the form of audio, video and text. There are almost 19,000 bibliographic records to choose from.

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By Katlyn Pierre, public relations intern. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Creative Commons

Virginia Heritage: Find manuscripts and archives

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Virginia Heritage: Guides to Manuscript & Archival Collections in Virginia provides users with access to a historic records about Virginia.

Information is taken from various libraries, museums and universities all around Virginia. Users can look through some of the 12,000-plus materials that Virginia has to offer using the browse option or go through basic search and look for specific topics that may interest them.

Discover materials on everything from the New Deal to school accreditation in Virginia. There is a plethora of information from around the state that explore the events that made Virginia what it is today.

Many of VCU Libraries historic collections are discoverable through this resource.

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By Katlyn Pierre, public relations intern. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Creative Commons

Collections Librarians: Wilder School

Wilder School

VCU Libraries uses a team approach to serve schools and units. Outreach librarians, who support research, curricular and information literacy, work side-by-side with collection librarians who advise schools and faculty on materials and acquisitions to support teaching, research as well as new course and degree development.

In 2014, Pattie Sobczak joined the VCU Libraries faculty as the collections librarian for the Wilder School. Posted recently, a position for a Public Affairs Research Librarian is expected to be a part of the team in the 2015-16 academic year.

In the meantime, the Wilder School is being assisted by these professionals. In addition to Sobczak, liaisons are:

Image: L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

Baist Atlas: 19th century digitized map


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Researchers and others interested in the history and architecture of Richmond can now explore the city as it was at the end of the 19th century, thanks to a newly digitized map from 1889 that Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries has posted online and made fully interactive.

The map is from the “Atlas of the City of Richmond,” which was published in 1889 by the Philadelphia firm of George William Baist. The original Baist Atlas is made up of 20 panels, each 18 1/2 inches tall and 28 inches wide, mapping all areas of Richmond, including parts of Henrico and Chesterfield counties, as well part of as what was then the city of Manchester on Richmond’s Southside.

VCU Libraries spent several years preserving and restoring the fragile map held by James Branch Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives and photographing and digitizing the entire atlas. Over the past several months, the VCU Libraries web team also built an interactive website that allows users to explore the city’s urban archaeology and architectural history.

“It’s a learning tool, a way to explore Richmond, a way for people to do research on different parts of the city, and, due to the fact that it is in the public domain, to use in ways we haven’t even thought of yet,” said Lauren Work, digital collections librarian with VCU Libraries.

The interactive Baist Atlas site features an in-depth contextual exploration of each area of the city, information on various points of interest located within each panel, a number of historical illustrations and photographs from other VCU digital collections, and a street index.

The entirety of the map is juxtaposed over the modern Richmond map in Google Maps, showing both how the Richmond area was outlined by Baist and how Richmond has changed, grown and evolved. Geospatial data used to create the modern day map overlay is also available for download and use.

“We’ve created a whole new way for people to interact with the map,” Work said. “It’s also fully downloadable so people can use it on their own. We also see this as a nice segue into other VCU Library special collections – because you can click through and keep exploring other VCU digital collections.”

For example, a visitor might be interested in exploring the Jackson Ward neighborhood. The website shows several points of interest, such as the Richmond Almshouse, which was built in 1860 to 1861 as a refuge for the city’s poor, and Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was built in 1873 and replaced the original church and was the city’s first public school for African-American children.

Images of the points of interest link to VCU Libraries’ Jackson Ward Historic District collection of photos documenting the historic neighborhood, as well as its Richmond Commission of Architectural Review Slide Collection of more than 7,000 color photographs of Richmond.

The overlaid maps also show how Richmond’s urban planning significantly impacted Jackson Ward.

“There are buildings that are still there, but a lot have disappeared,” Work said. “You can really see the impact of modern day Richmond – for example, you can see [Interstate] 95 coming in through Jackson Ward – and a lot of other things that weren’t there before.”

John Kneebone, Ph.D., chair of the Department of History in the College of Humanities and Sciences, said Baist Atlas project holds interest “because it reminds us that the landscape is evidence of our history, too, and in Richmond one can certainly read the past on the landscape.”

Kneebone added that “the site uses images from existing image collections that VCU Libraries digitized and made available some time ago, but now the images are connected with their locations on the map, making those collections even more useful for teaching and for study.”

The Baist Atlas links with several digital collections held by VCU Libraries, including its Rarely Seen Richmond collection of more than 600 vintage postcards of Richmond from the early-20th century, and Richmond Illustrated Imprints, a new collection of illustrations and photos from books published in the late 1800s and early 1900s to sell Richmond as a destination.

“VCU Libraries has rich and diverse special collections, and the interactive 1889 Baist Atlas is only the beginning of the type of research and digital resources these collections can provide to our community,” Work said.

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By Brian McNeil, public relations specialist

Image: Outline & index map Richmond and vicinity, Baist Atlas

Medicovan: VCU new publications

Medicovan, the monthly newsletter for the MCV Campus from 1948-73 has now been added to the digital collection VCU News Publications. This collection also includes VCU Today, VCU Voice, VCU News, and UniverCity News–all of which were official university news sources.

According to the Digital Collection’s website, in the years following World War II, the administration of the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) sought to enhance communication among its growing faculty and staff through the publication of a monthly newsletter. The publication first appeared in February of 1948 under the masthead “Name Me, Please!” Ann Blanton, secretary in the St. Philip Hospital administrator’s office, won the naming contest with her suggestion of The Medicovan. For the next 25 years. Medicovan carried announcements, administrative messages, personnel updates, and news from the hospitals, departments, schools and other units at MCV. Following the creation of Virginia Commonwealth University in 1968, the Medicovan broadened its scope to include news of people and events on the Academic Campus of VCU. With the appearance of the new University newsletter, VCU Today, in May of 1972, the Medicovan was phased out.
The VCU News Publications collection contains a wealth of information on the University’s past. In addition to news stories, feature articles and event calendars, there are hundreds of images of campus life and of former students, staff, faculty and administrators. What might be most significant is the wide range of University reports that were published. Departments and schools also submitted articles and other news items of interest to the University community. Letters to the editor, editorials, and formal messages from deans and presidents are examples of some of the content found in this digitized collection.

The print issues of The Medicovan are housed in Special Collections and Archives at the Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences on the MCV campus. VCU Today, VCU Voice, UniverCity New and VCU News are available in Special Collections and Archives departments on both campuses.

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Medical Artifacts: History of health care in Virginia

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VCU Libraries The Medical Artifacts Collection, housed in Special Collections and Archives at the Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences, offers a visual representation of the history of health care in Virginia since 1838. Started in the 1930s by the first Directing Librarian of the Medical College of Virginia, the collection now includes more than 6,000 items. Artifacts range from surgical, dental and diagnostic instruments to the uniforms of health care professionals to medical furniture; the collection also includes a large selection of bedpans.

The Medical Artifacts Collection is also now available online through VCU Libraries Digital Collections. Images and descriptions of 167 objects were chosen to provide a representative sample of the larger collection. All artifacts also have Medical Subject Headings for better access.

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To see the collection in person, visit Special Collections and Archives at Tompkins-McCaw Library.

Image: Medical Artifacts Collection

Index of Christian Art: Catalogs of Christian art

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The Index of Christian Art catalogs art found within a broadly-defined Christian context. In its digital form, the index contains some 80,000 full-text records and more than 100,000 images dating from 30 C.E. to 1550 C.E.

Founded in 1917 and continuously updated, this resource is maintained by Princeton University. Much of the art in the index comes from the western world, but recent efforts have been made to include art from a broader range of countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Ethiopia.

Art is categorized based on subject–figures, scenes, nature, objects and miscellany. The Index of Christian Art has an especially large collection of crucifixion scenes, saints and personifications.

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Image: The Index of Christian Art

Oral Pathology Review Images: Oral abnormalities compilation

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Oral Pathology Review Images gives dentistry students a new and improved way to study oral abnormalities.

Dr. Dennis Page of the Department of Oral Pathology at the VCU School of Dentistry developed this collection to help students learn about the most common abnormalities of the oral cavity. The collection includes images of soft tissue abnormalities and radiographic abnormalities of the oral cavity. The images may be searched by type of abnormality, description or Medical Subject Heading (MeSH).

These images were previously on a website, but have been upgraded to a content management system that is especially designed to handle archives and special collections. The images are clearer and brighter and can be resized. The original slides are still held at Tompkins-McCaw Library Special Collections and Archives.

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To view the images in person, visit Special Collections and Archives at Tompkins-McCaw Library.

Image: Oral Pathology Review Images, VCU Libraries

Social Science Electronic Data Library: Sciences datasets


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The Social Science Electronic Data Library includes more than 680 health and social science datasets from more than 285 studies all chosen by an expert panel from Sociometrics for their technical quality, substantive quality, policy relevance and potential for secondary data analysis.

Nine topical data archives are in the collection: The American Family, Child Well-Being and Poverty, Maternal Drug Abuse, HIV/AIDS and STI, Adolescent Pregnancy and Pregnancy Prevention, Aging, Disability in the U.S., Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Contextual.

Each data set has been processed and documented in a standard way that facilitates use. Each dataset contains raw data files, SPSS & SAS command files, SPSS portable and SAS transport files, data dictionaries, frequencies files, detailed user’s guides and instruments where available. You may search for variables within and across studies by topic, type or keyword(s).

Researcher can use SSEDL to analyze quality secondary data for coursework or research.

Faculty will find well-documented data for research and grant writing, teaching research design and methods, including the use of statistical software, and integrating current research into lectures and assignments.

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By Margaret Henderson, director of research data management

Image: The Piper Report

ICPSR: Social science archive

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The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research is a data archive of more than 500,000 files of research in the social sciences. It includes specialized collections of data in education, aging, criminal justice, substance abuse, terrorism and other fields.

VCU has an institutional membership to ICPSR which allows users to download most of the data sets. After setting up a personal MyData account on campus, users will be able to download data with just an email address and password.

Datasets archived at ICPSR are formatted for use with statistical software such as SPSS, SAS and Stata. Some datasets can be analyzed online through the Survey Documentation and Analysis (SDA) system.

Researchers and students use ICPSR to write articles, papers or theses using real research data and to conduct secondary research to support findings or current research, or to generate new findings. ICPSR data are also often used as introductory support material in grant proposals.

Data producers take advantage of ICPSR’s services to preserve and disseminate their primary research data and often to fulfill funder requirements for data management plans.

Instructors use ICPSR’s educational resources to introduce students to the principles and practices of data analysis in order to support quantitative literacy efforts.

Find out more in our ICPSR Research Guide.

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By Margaret Henderson, director of research data management

Image: ICPSR

Chick Larsen Papers: Samples of clippings, pieces and tools

The Chick Larsen Papers give a local perspective to VCU Libraries’ expansive Comic Arts Collection with a look at the life and methods of an award-winning cartoonist.

From 1950 to 1954, Carl E. “Chick” Larsen (1923-1991) studied commercial art at Richmond Professional Institute (RPI), the forerunner of VCU. He later became an editorial cartoonist for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where he worked for more than 35 years. One of his best-known creations was a color comic strip about a newspaper carrier. “Carrier-Toons” ran in newspapers nationwide from 1979-1984.

The collection documents Larsen’s career as a professional artist. Samples of his work include clippings of “Carrier-Toons,” some of his student work and pieces he created for various clients. It also contains some of Larsen’s art supplies–the X-ACTO knives and India ink that were common tools of the trade from the 1950s to 1980s. These pieces offer a look at the way cartoons were made in the pre-digital era.

To view the Chick Larsen Papers, visit Special Collections and Archives on the fourth floor of James Branch Cabell Library.

Image: Portrait of Chick Larson, 1978. Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries

Nineteenth Century Collections Online: Digital archive

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Nineteenth Century Collections Online is a global digitization project working to make primary sources from the 19th century available to scholars around the world. These sources provide a personal look at an age of massive change and expansion, with the birth of industrialization and nationalism, increasing literacy and the growth of culture.

Nineteenth Century Online provides cross-searchable digital archives of newspapers, maps, photographs, ephemera and more. The topical archives include “Asia and the West: Diplomacy and Cultural Exchange,” “Photography: The World through the Lens” and “Science, Technology and Medicine: 1780-1925.” Four more archives are scheduled for release in 2014.

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Image: Nineteenth Century Collections Online

Poictesme: VCU student literary publications

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VCU has a long history of student publications, many of which are available through VCU Libraries. Now you can access the full archives of Poictesme, a student literary journal, through VCU Libraries’ digital collections.

Poictesme publishes undergraduate students’ prose, poetry and artwork once a year. The journal was started in 1980 by the VCU English Department, under the name The Writer’s Corner; it changed to Millennium in 1997, then finally to Poictesme in 2006. The current title pays homage to fantasy author James Branch Cabell, after whom the Monroe Park Campus library is named. A fictional country roughly analogous to France, Poictesme was the setting of many of Cabell’s works.

VCU Libraries now has digital versions of almost all issues of both Poictesme and Millennium and plans to add The Writer’s Corner in the near future.

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Image: Poictesme, VCU

Sykes Editorial Cartoon Collection: Political cartoon collection

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Ediorial cartoonist Charles Henry ‘Bill’ Sykes (1882-1942) drew barbed political cartoons often loaded with complex political commentary on Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, Germany and Japan and other major actors on the international stage in the years before the United States entered World War II. The Sykes Editorial Cartoon Collection contains almost 300 original cartoons of great value for students and researchers interested in history, political science, international affairs, art, art history and more.

Born in Alabama and graduated from Philadelphia’s Drexel Institute in 1904, Sykes drew as a freelancer and then worked for newspapers. In 1914, he became the first and only editorial cartoonist for the Evening Public Ledger. It ceased publication in 1942, the same year Sykes died. Sykes also had working relationships with Life, Colliers and The New York Evening Post.

Sykes’ cartoons focus on American reactions to the major events of World War II. They also offer insight into medium and method: he created early cartoons using the unusual patterns of coquille board for the shading effect and later transitioned to crayon-and-wash technique. The cartoons are available for view in Special Collections and Archives, or online in digital format, further augmenting access to Cabell’s outstanding collection of comic arts. The collection consists of 297 original editorial cartoons, three unfinished sketches, a U.S. War Bond poster and a U.S. Victory poster.

His most famous cartoon, “Madonna and Child A.D.1940,” depicts the ugliness of war. The image is of a mother and child wearing gas masks. It was published on August 13, 1940–the first day of the Battle of Britain.

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To view the collection in person, visit Special Collections and Archives on the fourth floor of Cabell Library.

Image: Sykes Editorial Cartoon Collection, VCU Libraries

Digital-Tutors: Online training library

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Digital-Tutors, a vast online video training library, presents professional instruction that is accessible and comprehensive. Designed by industry professionals, video tutorials assist artists and designers in developing skills and learning the latest techniques for two-dimensional and three-dimensional digital art, game development, video and video effects.

With more than 24,000 videos and constantly growing, Digital-Tutors is the largest resource of its kind with training that ranges from learning basics of a program such as Photoshop to advanced instruction for scripting in Nuke. Tutorials cover major design software as well as smaller, more specific programs. These include: Adobe design and photography software, Maya, Zbrush, Cinema 4D and many more.

Members of the VCU community first must create a member account and log in to our group.

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Image: Digital-Tutors website

Index Islamicus: Islam, Middle East and Muslim world records

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Where can you find information on every aspect of the Muslim world, from both Eastern and Western perspectives? Index Islamicus includes coverage of Islam, the Middle East and the Muslim world on topics such as art, history, literature, medicine, politics, religion and science. Coverage dates back to 1906 and is updated annually by the School of Oritental and African Studies in London.

Index Islamicus is searchable by author, journal and title, with access to more than 3,000 journals, plus book reviews, conference proceedings and scholarly monographs.

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Image: Index Islamicus

Rarely Seen Richmond: Never seen before sights

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Visitors to Capital Alehouse, a popular restaurant located in downtown Richmond, may have noticed some unique pictures of the city hanging on the walls. What they probably don’t know is that these pictures are actually prints of Richmond postcards that Virginia Commonwealth University has been collecting for years.

The images came from a digital exhibit called Rarely Seen Richmond that contains early 20th century postcards of the city. The exhibit was put up by Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library, and contains about 600 unique postcards that anyone can download and use for free – which is how Capital Alehouse got them.

“Both owners were from Richmond and wanted to incorporate Richmond into the restaurant,” said Kyle Johnson, the restaurant’s associate manager. “That’s when they found the postcard series at VCU.”

The exhibit began in 1998, when archives coordinator Ray Bonis put up 50 postcards that focused on Richmond architecture. Then, a few years later, a retired police officer called Bonis with an interesting offer.

“He said, hey, I’ve got a collection of about 2,000 postcards. If you want them, you can have them,” Bonis said. William Schuman donated the 2,000 postcards to VCU, and about 500 of them made it into the Rarely Seen Richmond exhibit.

The cards chosen from Schuman’s collection, as well as the original cards Bonis collected, are all from the same period.

“We stuck with the ones from about 1900 to 1930,” Bonis said. “They picked better scenes, and the color was more natural…. We also didn’t have to worry about copyright, which is the big thing if you put stuff on the Digital Library.”

Bonis called this period the golden age of postcards: lots of people were printing them, he said, and lots of people were buying – both for actual use and for collections like Schuman’s.

“I’d say about 90 percent were used,” Bonis said. “It’s kind of neat to see the writing on the back…. Sometimes they say outrageous stuff.”

But the real attraction of these postcards, according to Bonis, is the history of the images.

“I think the best thing about this is the architectural history,” Bonis said. “It gives people an idea of what Richmond looked like. A lot of Richmond is torn down now, and it gives people a chance to look at how things were.”

Tom H. Ray, the collections management coordinator at the Library of Virginia who worked with Bonis on a book about Richmond postcards, said he is especially fascinated by images of buildings that look very different today. He said some of his favorite cards show the capitol building in its original state.

“I would have liked to have seen the capitol before it had those additions put on and got whitewashed,” Ray said. “It’s the capitol building as Jefferson would have seen it.”

The images of city sights never seen before may be the most attractive thing about the collection, because Capital Alehouse is not the only venue interested in using copies of the postcards; Bonis said he gets requests to use the images three or four times a year. But Bonis is especially interested in the prints at Capital Alehouse.

“They’ve got a ton of our postcards,” he said. “I keep hoping to go down to the restaurant and mention to them that I scanned all these cards, and maybe I’ll get a free meal.”

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To view the collection in person, visit Special Collections and Archives on the fourth floor of James Branch Cabell Library.

By Caitlin Puffenberger, communications intern
Public Relations Office

Image: The Egyptian Building. Rarely Seen Richmond Collection