Virginia Commonwealth University

Make it real.

Archive by Author

Suffrage Centennial: VCU Libraries offers resources to explore online

August 26, 2020 will mark the centenary of the 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote in state and federal elections in the United States. As the nation celebrates this expansion of suffrage, VCU Libraries is sharing items from its collections of women’s history materials held in Special Collections and Archives and additional materials from the Image Portal partners.

You may enjoy exploring: 

More to come in 2020!

Image: Equal Suffrage League, 1915 from Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library

Digital Collections moves to a new software platform

VCU Libraries’ Digital Collections are now housed on a new platfom. After nearly 15 years using one software, the libraries is now using Islandora. Check it out at

After: digital collections in Islandora screenshot

After: digital collections in Islandora

Why Islandora?

Islandora is emerging as an industry standard for digital library repositories. It is open-source software that supports modern library technologies and new and emerging metadata standards. The nonprofit membership organization LYRASIS hosts the software and sets best practices. The libraries are reaping savings of about $10,000 per year compared to the previous software. Islandora offers capabilities to connect with other digital tools and future digital preservation tools. “Islandora is opening doors for future growth in  digital collections capabilities,” says Erin White, head of digital engagement.

Impacts for users

The biggest impact for a lot of users will be broken links. Links that pointed directly to collection pages or specific items on the old site will break. Since VCU Libraries had used the old platform for so many years, it will take time to identify and repair all the bad links.

Users will, however, have a much easier time viewing and zooming in on images. They’ll see a much improved mobile browsing experience. Search is also way, way faster.

Previous digital collections site screenshot

Before: digital collections in Content DM platform

Art history grad student creates ‘Considering Comics’ online exhibit

Explore the exhibit

“Considering Comics” is a new VCU Libraries online gallery exhibit. The exhibit was created by Veronica Parker, Art History Master’s candidate, who fulfilled a 2019 internship with the James Branch Cabell Library Special Collections and Archives. The exhibit may well inspire others interested in studying or making comics.

The art historian turned to a variety of original sources to curate an exhibit that explores the making of comic arts.

Materials credited included:

  • Gaiman, Neil, and J. H. Williams. The Sandman: Overture: Deluxe Edition. Burbank, CA: DC Comics/Vertigo, 2015. 39-40.
  • G., Ash. Elements: Fire. Edited by Taneka Stotts. Beyond Press, 2017. 87.
  • Vess, Charles. Scotland Yard Detective, Page 1-A. 1987. Charles Vess Papers M374, VCU Libraries, James Branch Cabell Library, Special Collections and Archives. (Image, above right, by Vess, Scotland Yard Detective, Page 1-A.)

Her reading and research produced an exhibit that dissects the six building blocks of comic arts–paper, layout, drawing, text, color and scale. She approaches each element from a beginner’s viewpoint using illustrative examples from Cabell Library’s Comics Arts Collection. She also provides detailed descriptions of each work explaining how it furthers understanding of the underling concept.

In the exhibit’s introduction, she writes: “Comics exist in the middle-ground between art and literature. Drawing from elements from each, comics creators developed the medium into the sequential narrative art form that we know and love. Combining text with art in a sequential order to create a cohesive narrative is not something that happens spontaneously. Like painting or novels, comics work under a set of principles. These principles are what visually and functionally set comics apart from other media, or to put it simply, they make comics appear to be comics.”

She explains essential concepts involved in the construction of comic arts. This exhibition serves as an introduction for anyone interested in how comics work and how they can be made.

Find it 

More about VCU’s Comic Arts Collection

Students interested in an internship in Special Collections and Archives should contact Yuki Hibben, Interim Head, James Branch Cabell or (804) 828-1108.

Oral histories of civil rights committee reveal students’ beliefs, fears and activism

Find It

Virginia Civil Rights Memorial

Newly available from Special Collections and Archives are nine oral histories about VCU students in the Civil Rights movement. Video files of the interview are available online.

The Virginia Student Civil Rights Committee (VSCRC) was a short-lived, integrated civil rights organization, whose membership included students from colleges across Virginia.

In 2015 and 2016, nine members of the VSCRC gave interviews detailing their work with the organization and with the Civil Rights movement in general, in a project spearheaded by VCU professor Brian Daugherity. The Virginia Student Civil Rights Committee Oral History collection can be accessed online through the finding aid.

According to the Finding Aid prepared by Special Collections and Archives:

The Virginia Student Civil Rights Committee (VSCRC) grew out of a December 1964 conference, organized by Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Although the committee evolved from a SNCC sponsored event, the VSCRC was not formally or officially affiliated with any other organizations. The purpose of the VSCRC was to increase communications among black and white college students involved in the civil rights movement in Virginia by holding monthly meetings of the elected representatives from participating colleges and universities. The original members realized that they did not have to go into the Deep South to encounter the major civil rights violations as there were many problems in the Commonwealth of Virginia, particularly in the more rural counties of Southside Virginia. The committee planned for a conference in the spring of 1965 and assigned people to research and plan for a summer project in Virginia. The committee ultimately focused on empowering local people and groups in Southside to make changes in their own communities themselves.

The leadership of the VSCRC felt there was not enough focus on local, people-oriented, and self-led organizing. They decided to focus on Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, working in six Southside counties to empower local Black residents to work for change. They were encouraged to demand better services from their city and local government, to advocate for the desegregation of businesses and community groups, and to register Southside residents to vote.

White supremacists and the local Klan noticed the VSCRC’s work and attempted to intimidate or threatened the civil rights activists. Despite this, the VSCRC prevailed, successfully forging ties with the Southside community. Their success was short-lived. Differences of opinions among the membership and ideological disagreements about the escalating war in Vietnam and the emergence of black-power groups like the Black Panthers divided the VSCRC. The changing membership further damaged group cohesiveness and the VSCRC disbanded in 1966.

Social Welfare projects and partners grow in 2018-19

The Social Welfare History Project continues to serve the public as both an educational resource and a portal for reference questions related to the site’s materials. 

More than 1.5 million visits to the project were recorded, most of which occurred during the school year. Undergraduates, public school students and researchers accessed hundreds of different articles.

The most highly used article was “Jim Crow Laws and Racial Segregation,” which was viewed more than 44,000 times. 

Other frequently consulted entries included:

Among the new articles posted this year, two were especially noteworthy. “Your Girl and Mine” recounts the story of a lost suffrage film that played in Richmond in March 1915. This piece also uncovered the names of 17 women appearing in a well-known photograph of the Equal Suffrage League of Richmond as they promoted the film. In October, guest author Breanna Schuetz, an M. S. W. student at UNC-Greensboro, contributed an article about social worker Alan Keith-Lucas

The project’s companion site, the Social Welfare History Image Portal, expanded significantly. It welcomed four new partner institutions and added more than 150 new documents and photographs.

Four new “Discovery Sets” were created as introductions to topics for archival research. “Valuable connections between institutional collections became increasingly apparent,” said Alice W. Campbell, who manages the project. “This year, for example, Issues of The Southern Frontier (Stitt Library at Austin Seminary) and The Interracial News Service (Special Collections and Archives, VCU Libraries) greatly enhanced possibilities for study of pre-civil rights era efforts to improve race relations.”

New Partners

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s Stitt Library The Southern Frontier publication of the Commission on Interracial Cooperation. 

Tulane University Libraries, materials on job discrimination, LGBTQ activism, school desegregation, and a New Oreleans orphanage

Brandeis University – World War I posters, manuscript by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, pamphlet signed by Louis Brandeis of his famous “True Americanism” speech

Virginia Museum of History & Culture range of materials dating as early as 1866, related to emancipation, public health, suffrage, labor and LGBTQ history. 

New Discovery Sets  

  • Child Laborexamines the exploitation of children in factories and mines, and early efforts to regulate or eliminate the practice beginning around 1900.
  • The White Plague: TuberculosisAlso known as consumption or “the white death,” tuberculosis remains one of the world’s most deadly infectious diseases. This set examines the history of efforts to prevent the spread of TB through public education and improved health care facilities.
  • Annotating SuffrageUsing the non-profit browser extension,, this set creates a virtual discussion space around a collection of suffrage handbills in preparation for the upcoming centennial of the 19th Amendment.
  • Controlling the Vote. Rights. Registration. RepresentationLacking the power to control how people vote, the next best option for ensuring who gets elected is to control who can vote. “Controlling the Vote” looks at the complicated and contentious history of attempts to control suffrage, voter registration, and access to the polls. 

Image Portal users responded with great enthusiasm for the Discovery Set “Comics on a Mission: Educational and Public Service Comic Books.” A tweet to this set from an Eisner Award winner immediately brought more than 1,000 visitors to the site. One comic collaboration between Marvel and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, The Amazing Spider-Man vs.The Prodigy! was viewed more than 2,000 times in the past year.

Outreach and presentations 

Project manager Campbell had a busy year getting the word out about these valuable online resources and how they might be used in the classroom. Campbell was invited to speak at the NASW Pioneers luncheon at the National Woman’s Democratic Club, Washington, DC, and for the Jefferson Senior Living community in Arlington, Va. She gave numerous conference presentations and shared the Image Portal widely.

  • Teach with Stuff Unconference, Library of Congress, Washington, 
  • Digital Archives in the Commonwealth Summit. George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.
  • Virginia Library Association/College and Research Libraries, Williamsburg, Va.
  • Virginia Forum, Longwood University, Farmville, Va.
  • Museums and the Web Conference, Boston  

This outreach paid off as the number of visitors to the Image Portal doubled from the previous year, with page views exceeding 28,117 for 2018-2019. Like its companion project, analytics reveal the highest usage during week days of the school year. While efforts continue in the long process of building an audience, the climbing statistics are very encouraging.

New LGBTQ manuscript collections available for researchers

Rainbow Flag consists of six stripes, with the colors red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet

Thanks to the work and dedication of talented summer intern Jon Faulconer, two manuscript collections documenting stories of the LGBTQ community in Richmond are now open and available for research. This work strategically aligns resources in support of VCU’s new LGBTQ Studies hiring initiative.

The Betsy Brinson collection of AIDS epidemic exhibit materials includes seven oral histories that have been digitized from their original format on audio cassette and carefully transcribed. In the oral histories, the interviewees share their experiences during the height of the AIDS epidemic in Central Virginia. Both the audio files and transcripts can be accessed online through the finding aid in ArchivesSpace.

The second collection is the Equality Virginia records, which consists of materials created and acquired by the local organization from its founding through 2008. The collection documents the administrative functions of the group, as well as its numerous outreach and advocacy initiatives aimed at securing equal rights for LGBT Virginians and their families.

The department truly appreciates all the excellent work Jon did this summer to get these collections arranged, described, and available. We all were impressed by his enthusiasm, professionalism, and diligence, and we wish him all the best as he moves forward in his pursuit of a career in the cultural heritage field. 

Zelda Nordlinger Papers: New finding aid for Virginia feminist’s materials

Find It 

Now available for researchers, the finding aid for the Zelda Nordlinger papers describes the recently-reprocessed collection.

Zelda Nordlinger (1932-2008) devoted much of her adult life advocating for feminist causes. A freelance writer, she composed essays and short stories for numerous publications. The majority of her work carried a message promoting feminist ideals. The collection contains examples of her writings in addition to correspondence with publishers.

Nordlinger was also a co-founder of the Richmond branch of the National Organization for Women (NOW), which primarily focused on lobbying for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and women’s equality. The collection includes correspondence, logistical information, and newsletters from her time working with NOW.

A unique aspect of the collection is Nordlinger’s extensive button collection (shown at right). The buttons carry messages supporting political causes, feminism, and reproductive rights. Prominent among them are buttons advocating for the ratification of the ERA, which continues to be deliberated in public debate today. The buttons provide a visual and tactile element to the collection, and illustrate the issues and causes central to Nordlinger’s advocacy. The collection documents the efforts of feminists in the Central Virginia and provides researchers with insight into their motivations and activities.

The Zelda Nordlinger papers (M 089) is open for research and can be found in the VCU Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library. The finding aid is available via the VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives Finding Aids

Find It

Blog posting authored by Dillon Thomas, Processing Archivist


Two new collections align with LGBTQ Studies program

Find It Betsy Brinson collection of AIDS epidemic exhibit materials

Find It Equality Virginia records

Two manuscript collections documenting stories of the LGBTQ community in Richmond are now open and available for research.

This work was scheduled in part to strategically align resources in support of VCU’s recent hiring initiative that will support a new Virginia Commonwealth University a minor in LGBT+ and queer studies this fall, providing students with rigorous and broad training in an expanding and influential interdisciplinary field

Rainbow Flag consists of six stripes, with the colours red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet/Getty

In addition, plans are underway to establish the Queer Research and Advocacy Center, which will be known as the Q Collective, to serve as a creative and intellectual hub in support of LGBTQIA+ artistic and scholarly activities among faculty, staff, students and the Greater Richmond community.  The Q Collective, which will be operated through VCU’s Division for Inclusive Excellence will stand out on the national higher education landscape as a rare effort to merge research, scholarship and advocacy to bring greater awareness to issues that affect LGBTQIA+ populations and communities.


New libraries collections that support these initiatives and field of study are

The Betsy Brinson collection of AIDS epidemic exhibit materials includes seven oral histories that have been digitized from their original format on audio cassette and carefully transcribed. In the oral histories, the interviewees share their experiences during the height of the AIDS epidemic in Central Virginia. Both the audio files and transcripts can be accessed online through the finding aid in ArchivesSpace.

The second collection is the Equality Virginia records, which consists of materials created and acquired by the local organization from its founding through 2008. The collection documents the administrative functions of the group, as well as its numerous outreach and advocacy initiatives aimed at securing equal rights for LGBT Virginians and their families.

Trip Pro: Free trial to July 21

VCU Libraries has secured a free trial of Trip Pro database. This free trial will last through July 21.To help VCU Libraries determine whether or not we should subscribe to the Pro version of Trip, please send your feedback to gaukh@vcu.eduThe Trip Database is designed to find answers to clinical questions using the best available evidence. TripPro offers these enhancements compared to the free version.

More content

  • More than 100,000 extra systematic reviews;
  • Millions of extra free full-text articles
  • Easily searchable 175,000 ongoing clinical trials
  • Access to a massive database of medical images
  • Access to tens of thousands of clinical videos

More functionality

  • Export of records to reference management software
  • Advanced search
  • Ability to filter results by clinical area
  • Article views, see which articles are most popular for your search

Other features

  • No advertisements
  • Discounts on evidence services provided by the Trip Evidence Service
  • Be the first to benefit from new features added to Trip

Communal effort creates access to rare ms.

On Friday afternoon, April 7, Transcribathoners gathered in the lecture hall of Cabell Library. A Transcriba-what? 

Transcribathons are organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library: Think of it as crowd-sourcing to decipher the handwriting of early modern manuscripts. Co-sponsored with the Folger Shakespeare Library, the VCU Department of English, the VCU Humanities Research Center and VCU Libraries, the Transcribathon provided hands-on digital humanities work—moving forward the Folger project to provide readable transcriptions of rare manuscripts in their collections via an open-access database for global access by researchers and students of this pivotal era in history (

Handwriting from this period followed a variety of forms, including the prominent “Secretary’s Hand,” which may seem to our eyes ornate and often somewhat unreadable. And yet this kind of detective work is extremely popular—especially at VCU, which has the honor of being the only university to host a Transcribathon twice!

her photos are available on the library Flickr site.

Games: Focusing on artistic and cultural value

Always working to meet faculty and student needs, VCU Libraries collects video games that have significant artistic and cultural value to meet the growing interest of students and faculty in the fields of animation, multimedia, digital worlds and gaming. The impetus of the collection, which started with 11 games, came from a faculty request to add both board and digital games to support a course.

The early collection (2014) features games across various platforms, and additional new releases are expected to be added soon. The games in the collection include critically acclaimed titles such as “Journey,” “Flower,” “The Last of Us,” “Shadow of the Colossus,” “Katamari Damacy,” “BioShock” and “Child of Eden.”

In 2015–16, the libraries began to collect games only available as downloads — important for representation of smaller, independent game developers. “Never Alone” and “Firewatch” are two significant titles. Also new is an “Alienware” gaming PC. This super powerful computer is located in The Workshop. A diverse collection of a dozen games includes “Papers Please” and “That Dragon Cancer.” These works are catalogued and they appear in library records, only for in-house use. This is significant because many libraries avoid downloads, which limits the collection parameters, or they don’t catalog games and instead rely on a finding aid. VCU Libraries catalogers developed creative, flexible workflows to manage these new-age materials.

“There’s a great interest in video games and virtual worlds in the School of the Arts and across the campus,” said Arts Collections Librarian Emily Davis Winthrop. “Gaming is emerging as a key area of research. We hope that this collection will support the growing research interests of our patrons and provide inspiration for the many creative endeavors occurring across campus.”

“We are purchasing games for research, teaching and learning — not necessarily for entertainment,” Davis Winthrop said. “We’re looking for games that have certain aesthetics, that are important to the history of video games and that have significant artistic direction, unique narrative or cerebral gameplay.”


The library’s Innovative Media department provides hardware support for the gaming collection and game developers in a dedicated gaming and group viewing room in The Workshop. Six video game consoles — Sony’s PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 2; Microsoft’s Xbox One and Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii U — provide users with the means to explore a wide range of game worlds. For computer-based games, the room is equipped with a high-end Alienware Area 51 gaming PC with gaming keyboard and mouse. Games and videos are displayed on a 47-inch, high-definition, 3D-capable LED monitor, and sound is supported by an LG wi-fi streaming sound bar with wireless subwoofer. Users reserve time in the room through an online scheduling system, checkout games and components at the information desk and seek help from knowledgeable staff about hardware, software and game play.

Collections of Distinction: Current focus areas

The “Collections of Distinction” initiative focuses on expanding and improving collections that provide crucial and unique materials for teaching, research, discovery and enjoyment.

Collections of Distinction exemplify VCU’s mission to inspire and foster creative ideas that celebrate diversity, inclusiveness and engagement on campus and beyond. Supporting established or emerging areas of research, Collections of Distinction receive funds to strengthen knowledge in the identified areas — with the goal of elevating them to national and international stature. At the fundamental level, however, they support and foster teaching, research and discovery by VCU’s faculty and students.

Current Collections of Distinction

  • Economic Botany/Medicinal Plants
  • Experimental Digital Animation
  • Forensic Science
  • Leadership Education
  • Poetry
  • Special Education and Disability Policy
  • Traumatic Brain Injury

Want to know more or discuss the Collections of Distinction program at VCU Libraries? Contact Karen Cary, head, Collection Analysis and Investment.

CRL: Vast, rare, global primary sources

Find It

VCU Libraries’ new membership in the Center for Research Libraries opens vast, rare, global primary sources to VCU.

The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is an international consortium of more than 200 university, college and independent research libraries. Founded in 1949, the center supports original research and teaching in the humanities, sciences and social sciences. It preserves and makes available to scholars a wealth of rare and uncommon primary source materials from all world regions. After a hiatus of many years, VCU Libraries is again a member of CRL.

The diversity, global scope and primary evidence materials contained in CRL enable groundbreaking faculty and student research. Among its vast collections and digital resources is the largest circulating collection of newspapers in North America, including more than 1,800 U.S. ethnic titles and some of the earliest African-American papers. Researchers benefit from 38,000 foreign journals and 800,000-plus foreign dissertations, major microfilm and paper collections from Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe, South Asia, and more.

Areas of distinction include:

  • Broad collections in the area of primary legal and government resources, with an emphasis on serial publications from central governments including legislative, administrative, financial, and statistical reports. CRL holds several hundred thousand volumes of publications from government agencies of more than 100 countries, including more than 1,750 official gazettes.
  • Holdings of more than 500,000 volumes of monographic and serial publications of U.S. state government agencies and legislatures from the earliest period through 1950, including financial reports and research studies.
  • Rich historical holdings of U.S. and foreign scientific and technical publications. Generally, its collections in science, technology and engineering emphasizes titles not commonly held by other major North American research libraries.
  • Many specialized groups of materials, including a reference book archive, college and university catalogs, primary and secondary textbooks, railroad publications, curriculum guides and foreign central bank publications. Also held are major microform sets in literature, art, theater, music, science, and other fields.

How to use Center for Research Libraries materials

Discover items by using the CRL Catalog or the link to Digital Collections

The Center for Research Libraries is also listed in the A-Z databases list. Physical items may be requested using VCU Interlibrary Loan services. Contact Shirley Thomas,, (804) 828-1706 with questions. For more detailed information, please see the CRL Research Guide. 

Find It

Stubbins: U.S. municipal buildings postcards

Find It

Researchers studying planning, history, architecture and similar subjects that involve built environments now have a new national resource. The Stubbins Collection of U.S. County Courthouse and Municipal Building Postcards has been digitized and is now freely available online.

The collection features U.S. county courthouses and other municipal buildings such as town halls and city halls. The postcards represent every state except for North Carolina. Many of the buildings depicted were built  in the late 19th or early 20th century. Some no longer exist. The collection documents various architectural styles. Browsing the collection, you can find clock towers aplenty (Springfield, Mass., Springfield, Ohio, Lincoln, Neb. and more). You’ll find public buildings hundreds of miles apart that resemble each other. (Take a look at Richmond, Va.’s city hall and that of Grand Rapids, Mich.) Domes, columns, soaring arches are typical features of these turn-of-the-century governmental cathedrals.

The postcards also illustrate the various state government structures. Many states have at least two tiers of local government, counties and municipalities (village, town, city, and borough), but some have unique governing structures. For example, the Commonwealth of Virginia has 95 counties and 38 independent cities. In most states, cities are part of the county government.

This collection was amassed by James F. Stubbins, who taught pharmaceutical chemistry for 34 years at the School of Pharmacy, Virginia Commonwealth University. Born in Honolulu in 1931, his family was living in the Philippines when Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941. Stubbins, along with his mother and brother moved to Denver to live with family until the war ended. When he was 14 the family moved to Las Vegas. Stubbins earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Nevada at Reno in 1953 and then served in the Army. He earned a master’s degree in organic chemistry from Purdue University in 1958 and a doctorate in medicinal chemistry in 1965 from the University of Minnesota. Stubbins joined the faculty of the Medical College of Virginia (now VCU) in 1963 as an assistant professor of pharmaceutical chemistry. Among the faculty, he was well known for his boxes of index cards on which he recorded the details of every scientific paper he read. Stubbins retired from VCU in 1996 and was granted emeritus professor status.

An avid postcard collector, he began the hobby as a young man. He was a founding member of the Old Dominion Postcard Club, formed in Richmond in 1978. Stubbins died on April 22, 2009. His family made a gift of his collection to Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library in 2010.

Find It

By Sue Robinson, director of communication and public relations. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Talladega County Court House, Talladega, Alabama, VCU Libraries Special Collections and Archives

Collections Profile: Kevin Farley

Kevin FarleyCollection librarians advise on acquisitions and materials to support teaching and research as well as new course and degree development.
Humanities Collections Librarian Kevin Farley serves the VCU Department of Music.

Schools and Departments Served: African-American Studies, English, History, World Studies (including Philosophy, Religious Studies, and world languages), MATX, Music


  • Ph.D., English, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  • MLS, Library Science, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • MA, English, Kent State University
  • BA, English, Old Dominion University

Areas of Interest

  • The future of humanities publishing
  • Cultural theory
  • Digital Humanities
  • Shakespeare
  • World literature and translation studies
  • Poetry and poetics
  • Film studies and experimental film
  • Music history

What do you like most about what you do?

Collections are at the forefront of tremendous changes underway in academic libraries, reflecting the transformations taking place in how disciplines are taught, studied and practiced. This is challenging but also very exciting, and with the increasing role of digital collections, it’s possible to see researchers find connections that are now often more visible than ever before. The variety of ways of thinking about oneself and the world that is the foundation of doing the humanities has been my lifelong fascination. Creation in the humanities is especially vibrant at VCU. Contemporary humanities are diverse, inclusive and internationalist in thinking and approach, and to be part of that is fulfilling both professionally and personally.

What currently has your attention?

At work, the shift into digital environments for media access, and ways to provide dynamic and wide-ranging streaming access to the VCU community. At home, the intricacies of the classical guitar, which I am determined to learn.

* * *

Collection librarians like Farley work in collaboration with outreach librarians, who support research, curricular and information literacy. More about other outreach librarians for the arts: Creative Catalysts: VCU’s arts librarians

Portals to the Past: 1898 catalog offers RVA design details

Find Itrsz_page_55resized

The newest addition to VCU Libraries’ digital collections featuring architectural elements of the American South is a catalog of doors, windows, mantels and sashes for 1880s buildings.

Thomas E. Stagg was a 19th century Richmond, Va. firm and manufacturer of sashes, blinds and doors for the construction of homes and businesses. Operations were run out of an office and storage space at 1444 E. Main St.

This 1898 “vest-pocket” edition of the Stagg catalog–likely intended to be used on building sites–includes order instructions, price lists and measurements. The Digital Collections catalog is searchable and has hundreds of detailed images of window sashes, doors, columns, mantles, corner and plinth blocks available from the Stagg company.

Many of these architectural and decorative elements are seen throughout Richmond’s historic private and commercial buildings.

According to window restorer and woodworker Dixon Kerr in an article, “How to Copy Vintage Millwork” posted on the Old House Authority website, Richmond was an area prominent in the manufacture of millwork sold throughout the United States. Kerr writes: “In the late 1880s there were approximately a dozen such businesses in Richmond with 30 to 50  employees: Thomas E. Stagg, at 1421 Cary St.; J.J. Montague, at the corner of 9th and Arch Streets; Hare and Tucker, at 2318 Main St.; Whitehurst and Owen, at Byrd and 10th Streets; DuVal & Robertson, at 11th and Porter and 7th & Hull Streets; and Binswanger & Company, at 1427 E. Main St. Binswanger, now a commercial glass company, is still in business; Siewer’s Lumber Company and Ruffin and Payne, still in business, were also in business at the time. Beckstoffer & Son continued in the business until the early 21st century.”


Materials in this collection are in the public domain, and thus are free of any copyright restriction. Please acknowledge VCU Libraries if any of the materials are used.

Additional Research Information

The print catalog is housed in Special Collections and Archives at James Branch Cabell Library. For more information, see the catalog record. Please direct reference and research inquires to or call (804) 828-1108.

Image: Cottage Doors, page 55, Thomas E. Stagg catalog

Find It


New Web of Science Databases: Expanded resources

VCU Libraries in 2015 expanded its access to Web of Science (WOS) databases with the addition of new titles and backfile coverage for existing titles.

Compiled by Lynne Turman, head of collections, Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences and Ibironke Lawal, engineering and special collections librarian

Image: Creative Commons

VCU Bulletin: Available online

Shafer Court students group

The bible for students, the new VCU Bulletin is available in an updated website. The undergraduate, graduate and professional bulletins contain information about university policies, course descriptions and academic requirements for the programs available to the respective student populations. Visit to view the 2015-16 edition on its new site.
One of the tabs on the site links to archives of bulletins housed in VCU Libraries’ Scholars Compass. These archives are useful to alumni and faculty.
Old bulletins, also called catalogs, and course descriptions are available on this archives site as PDF files. The electronic files of the bulletins from 1998 forward were transferred to the University Archives beginning in 2015. VCU Bulletins from the founding of the university, 1968 through 1998, are also available on this site as PDF files. The archived copy of each bulletin reflects all policies and procedures in effect at the beginning of the stated academic year. Printed copies of the VCU Bulletin from 1968 through 2003 are available in Special Collections and Archives at VCU Libraries.
Image: Shafer Court students group, VCU Bulletin

Book Citation Index: Books and publications connections

Find ItBookcitationindex_website

A powerful new tool allows researchers and scholars to identify connections between books and other forms of scholarly publications. The Book Citation Index (BCI) is now part of  VCU Libraries’ subscription to Web of Science and includes information on more than 30,000 books in the social sciences, humanities and sciences.

BCI tracks the number of times books and book chapters are cited by journals, conference proceedings and other books. It also includes the cited references of the original book or chapter.

Users can click the Get It@VCU button to search for a book at VCU Libraries. Books from a variety of commercial and university presses, including Wiley, University of Chicago and Oxford University Press, start with publication year 2005.  More than 10,000 books are selectively added each year based on well-defined criteria.

Authors from VCU have over 700 items already included in BCI. Alerts can be created to track VCU authors or analyze custom data based on a search set. Explore the Book Citation Index and learn more about this tool.

Find It

By Sue Robinson, director of communication and public relations. For more information about this resource or others

Image: Book Citation Index Website

Historic Fulton: Online oral history project


Find It

VCU Libraries announces the next stage in telling an important and little-known story of the once-vibrant Historic Fulton community that fell victim to 1970s urban renewal.

The Historic Fulton Oral History Project is now digital. Transcripts are searchable. Audio files that literally give these accounts voices are also available.

“We are very excited to partner with The Valentine and the Historic Fulton community to make this important collection accessible online,” said Lauren Work, VCU Libraries digital collections librarian.

The physical neighborhood of Historic Fulton, a venerable history-rich section of Richmond that had declined into blight and slum-like conditions, was razed in the early ‘70s. Gone were some 800 houses and businesses. While the physical neighborhood was lost, emotional ties to the East End community remain strong. The oral histories capture memories, observations, facts and, for some, sadness and outrage at what was taken from Historic Fulton residents.

The team that initiated the oral history project was The Valentine, the Neighborhood Resource Center (NRC), Virginia Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and the Greater Fulton’s Future Legacy Committee (GFF). The project was funded by a grant from Virginia LISC and is part of the Greater Fulton’s Future Plan. At its onset, Veronica Fleming, then Virginia LISC senior program officer, said theoral history project would be a model for other community documentation efforts nationwide. “Neighborhood revitalization is not just about bricks and mortar projects. It is also about preserving history and creating pride in communities.”

The project was spearheaded by former Valentine curator Suzanne Savery. During 2011 and 2012, Caroline Morris, then a College of William & Mary history doctoral student, and Project Coordinator Corliss Freda Johnson interviewed current and former residents of Historic Fulton.

“Finally, we have a chance to share our story. Fulton is gone and this project will keep it alive,” reflected Johnson.

The Historic Fulton Oral History collection contains 17 interviews with 32 named interviewees, teachers, activists, clergy and community leaders who grew up in the predominantly African-American community in the 1930s through 1950s. The interviewees also witnessed the death of Historic Fulton through Richmond’s urban renewal efforts.

The collection presents the unique perspectives of these residents. As Historic Fulton undergoes more change with the pending arrival of the Stone Brewery in Rocketts, oral history participant the Rev. Mary Perez reflects, “Historic Fulton as we knew it, lived and loved it, was taken, but our memories will never be taken away.”

The Valentine is the repository for the project and holds copyrights. Physical copies of the oral history transcripts have been distributed to various research institutions in the Richmond region, including James Branch Cabell Library’s Special Collections and Archives. VCU Libraries involvement was at this last stage—providing a stable, accessible digital platform for paper and audio files to house these important voices.

Making the project available in a searchable, digital format with streaming audio will expose these oral histories more broadly to researchers and residents alike at a time when interest in Historic Fulton is keen and the region is poised for renewal. The new Stone Brewing Company is locating to Fulton, heralding a potential rebirth of a forgotten community in coming years. “We expect this new collaborative collection to perform at the same high level as our other historic collections, to be used in courses and research at the university and in the community, and to receive thousands of touch points nationwide through its online visibility,” said Work.

“The Historic Fulton Oral History Project will be an invaluable research tool as students and scholars begin to examine what happened in Fulton during the 1970s,” said Meg Hughes, curator of archives for The Valentine. “Hearing firsthand accounts of living and working in this neighborhood brings Fulton to life.”

VCU Libraries has long fostered these sorts of partnerships in community and neighborhood documentation as part of our core values.

Said University Librarian John E. Ulmschneider: “VCU Libraries is proud to present and preserve this digital collection alongside its previous online efforts, such as Carver Community Oral Histories, Farmville Civil Rights Photographs, Voices of Freedom Oral Histories, and Jackson Ward Architectural History.” These collections are available online.

Find It

Image: Historic Fulton, Circa 1925, The Valentine