Friday Roundup: Newspapers, Photos, Grants, and More!

Friday Roundup First, an addendum to last week’s post on newspaper archives. We missed one provided through the Handley Library, Advantage Digital Archive. This archive provides OCR searchable text and full page images of some of Winchester’s more obscure historical newspapers, including:
Virginia Gazette (1787-1796)
Winchester Gazette (1798-1824)
Republican Constellation (1814-1814)
Daily Item (1896-1897)
Morning News Item (1906-1907)
Daily Independent (1923-1925).

The search functions are similar to the other newspaper archives covered last week, and browsing is available for those looking for a surprise or coverage on a certain day. We are happy to report a quick test search for “Burgess” turned up a new tidbit on the first owner of the Hexagon House, James W. Burgess, that we had not previously seen. It corroborated other accounts of his furniture business in 1870 (about the time construction started at the Hexagon House.) His furniture was used in the newly built home of John M. Miller near Middletown. The residence in question is likely the Cooley House, referenced in Maral Kalbian’s Frederick County, Virginia: History Through Architecture on page 93.

Virginia Woolen Mill SiteWhile reviewing some of the files being moved around for painting, we found some images that had not been scanned. Sixteen images have been added to Flickr, including eight that were attached to a display board for the Kurtz, possibly in a fundraising or open house event in the early 1990s. The remaining eight photos may include some duplicates of images already scanned from the slide collection on North Loudoun Street, the Virginia Woolen smokestack, and one image of the John Wall House at 11-17 S. Kent during demolition. You can catch the photos right at the top of the photostream.

As we are also working on the files during the office shuffle, we have made a few edits to our online directory of program and event files. While it feels like we started this index just yesterday with two boxes of Kurtz Cultural Center files, we anticipate adding an eighth box to the storage collection of programs and events from the last ten years. Although these files are of limited interest to researchers outside of PHW, this is a bit of a teaser for the next round of indexing we hope to tackle for our themed research files on topics or locations. No precise timeline is available (yet!) but the indexing will likely take place in the spring.

The National Trust has several grant deadlines approaching, including African-American Cultural Heritage Action Fund (Jan. 31), National Trust Preservation Funds (Feb. 1), Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors (Mar. 1), and Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation (Mar. 1). You can see the full list and details on how to apply and what qualifies for each grant here.

Preservation Virginia is also taking applications for their Most Endangered Historic Places list of 2018. If you know a site worthy of recognition that is imperiled with damage, neglect, or development pressure, you can find the application and instructions here. Nominations are due by March 9.

How to Find Historic Newspaper Articles Online

Around the InternetHappy Friday! We are still deep in the throes of repainting, cleaning, and better organizing our office at the Hexagon House. Instead of us sharing something interesting this week, we want to help you find things that are interesting in your own research projects. Finding unusual historic accounts and articles in newspapers is a goldmine – and a never-ending rabbit hole. Unfortunately, some of the most comprehensive archives are paid subscription only, but for historic accounts, there are still ways to find articles online. If you are researching something a little off the beaten track, here are a few sources where you can start a free newspaper archive search. This can be helpful to find dates for an event you know took place to help narrow down a search range before resorting to paging through microfilm, or to find connections to topics you didn’t know to pursue.

First stop: Chronicling America
The Library of Congress’s historic digitized newspapers collection is a quick barometer on how much information you are likely to find in other online sources. When searching, I often have the best luck with a broad keyword topic, followed by either “Winchester” or “Winchester VA.” In many cases, this will turn up a story from a Winchester newspaper reprinted elsewhere. Commonly, stories have been picked up in Alexandria, Berryville, Charles Town, Richmond, Staunton, Stephens City, Washington D.C., Woodstock, and other nearby localities. Be sure to watch out for other Winchesters when searching – Kentucky is a frequent false hit.

Second stop: Virginia Chronicle
Many of the papers here are duplicated in the Library of Congress holdings, but a few are unique to this collection. Searching here can either turn up the same or nearly identical articles, but on occasion new or more in-depth accounts can be found. The Virginia Chronicle site also allows users to register and correct the OCR (optical character recognition) text files generated from the newspaper scans and aid researchers in future reading and searching.

Third stop: Google News Archive Search
Particularly the newspaper archives. Not quite as easy to use as the first two websites, but it has the advantage that it covers more recent newspapers – at least until the 1970s and possibly even newer than that. The advantage here is that any articles will likely be new and unique finds.

Fourth stop: Archive.org
The pilot program for newspapers is of limited use to Winchester researchers currently, but while you are here, you may also want to check out their other free text collections, which includes patents, fiction and nonfiction books, pamphlets and other ephemera.

Fifth stop: Newspaperarchive.com
If you are looking for something more modern and just need the text, I have had some limited success with this paid subscription site. Newspaperarchive.com provides OCR text transcriptions of the scanned pages, so while a free user won’t be able to load the scan of the newspaper, they will probably be able to get the gist of the text. There are options to browse the site, but for a search to just see what turns up, I often use Google’s advance search options for a string like “preservation of historic winchester” site:newspaperarchive.com. This random search turned up a 1982 newspaper article on our tenth Preservation Week activities, which I had not seen before. If you need to see the original page (for illustrations or to check the OCR text accuracy), you are now armed with a date and page for when you visit the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives or whichever archives is most convenient for you.

Sixth stop: Advantage Digital Archive
This free online archive is provided through the Handley Library. It provides OCR searchable text and full page images of some of Winchester’s more obscure historical newspapers, including:
Virginia Gazette (1787-1796)
Winchester Gazette (1798-1824)
Republican Constellation (1814-1814)
Daily Item (1896-1897)
Morning News Item (1906-1907)
Daily Independent (1923-1925).
The search functions are similar to the other newspaper archives. Don’t be discouraged if the OCR text does not return a hit on the topic you want – text recognition for older newspapers can be tricky. Instead, if you have a date or year range in mind to check an event, you may want to try the browsing option to read the scan yourself.

Happy searching!

Friday Photos: Indian Spring

This week, we added 23 images to our Flickr account of a building known as Indian Spring from the 1988 Holiday House Tour. The site has roots back to the very earliest settlers who came with Yost Hite to the area in 1732, Jacob and Magdalena Chrisman. Much like the story of Abram’s Delight in Winchester, the original, likely log home was replaced in the 1750s by a more substantial limestone structure. The oldest part of the stone house built by Jacob Chrisman dates to 1751, as recorded in the gable. Two log buildings were also extant on the property and noted in the 1988 brochure; one of those may be Chrisman’s original dwelling.

Indian Spring

In addition to hosting some of the oldest remaining structures in Frederick County, the original 750 acre tract was also notable for the large spring, which was first called Indian Spring, and later Chrisman’s and Stickley’s Spring as the ownership of the property changed hands. In addition to being an important landmark for the area, the spring was also a hub for early religious gatherings. Bishop Francis Asbury, a famous traveling Methodist minister, was reportedly the first to use the spring for a camp meeting. T.K. Cartmell writes in his Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants (p. 204):

“There was an ideal place [for a primitive Methodist Camp Meeting] near the centre of the Upper Circuit . . . . The place . . . was Chrisman’s Spring . . . . The famous spring and adjacent forests were freely offered by this generous family. The oldest inhabitant to day has no recollection of the first Camp Meeting with the old tent wagons on the ground and roughly improvised annexes to offer shelter to the families who had come well provided with food. The scanty sleeping accommodations were sufficient to induce the Campers to remain on the Grounds for about ten days . . . . Kercheval says, ‘The first Camp Meeting held in the Valley in my memory was at Chrisman’s Spring . . . probably in the month of August 1806.'”

If you are interested in learning more about this important site, more details may be found in Some Old Homes in Frederick County, Virginia by Garland Quarles, p. 67-69. Other images of Indian Spring and the log building thought to be Chrisman’s original home may be found on pages 6 and 7 of Frederick County, Virginia: History Through Architecture by Maral Kalbian. Further historical and genealogical references to Jacob and Magdalena Chrisman may be found at chrisman.org and Shenandoah Valley Pioneers and Their Descendants. Christian History issue 114 is dedicated to Francis Asbury and the history of camp meetings.

Friday Roundup: Patsy Cline, Photos, Tax Credit Updates, and More!

Friday RoundupHappy Friday! There is a lot to cover this holiday weekend. First, the Celebrating Patsy Cline Block Party will be held Saturday, September 2 in front of the Patsy Cline House at 608 S. Kent St. The block party is free but tours of the house are $5. A special exhibit will be presented of an item that has not been on display before at the house. Attendees are asked to bring chairs to the event. For more information, call 540-662-5555 or visit their website.

For Friday Photos this week, we found some reference photos for the house art from Holiday House Tour 2003 and 2004. The houses are primarily on North Braddock Street, Washington Street, and Stewart Street. Check out the the 23 photos at the top of our Flickr photostream.

331 N. Braddock St.

From the National Trust comes the August and early September outlook for the Historic Tax Credit. There is information in the blog post about how to add your business or organization to a letter of support for the historic tax credit, how to check if your representative is a cosponsor for the Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act, and information on how to sign up for a webinar on the historic tax credit September 21 at 2 p.m.

From CityLab comes the article An Architectural Rescue Gone Wrong by Mark Byrnes. In short, it is a familiar story on the struggles of preserving the recent past for “ugly” buildings that don’t seem to mesh well with a “traditional” city. In an even more familiar refrain, in trying to please everyone, it seems no one is completely satisfied with the efforts to save Paul Rudolph’s Brutalist-style Orange County Government Center after decades of deferred maintenance and hurricane-related damage.

Last, A Short History of Fire Marks, The World’s Hottest Insurance-Related Antiques from Atlas Obscura is a five minute introduction of some various crests, why they were used, and resources to identify them in case you find one in your architectural travels.

Happy reading, viewing, and listening this weekend!

Friday Photos: St. Thomas Chapel and Monte Vista

Happy Friday! This week we have started scanning images of the 1988 Holiday House Tour, which took place predominantly in Frederick County. This set of photos poses a bit more of a problem during digitizing than some of our past collections, as the images were placed in a photo book that does not have removable pages for ease of use on a flatbed scanner. On top of that, the pages themselves are of the adhesive variety, and the photos seem to be well and truly stuck in place. While that’s normally not much of a problem with photo editing software, a number of photos in this book were placed overlapping each other.

In order to not lose the overall look of both photos, on a number of the Monte Vista pages we have scanned the entire page without trying to crop them down to individual images. Also, the risk to try to unstick photos from the page (and the plastic cover sheet) to reveal what is beneath is unacceptable due to the likelihood the images would be damaged. The entire album (which is, as you would expect, rather bulky) is held in place with the binding supported during the scan and kept as still as possible, but a few pages do show some anomalies from this technique. The anomalies are an acceptable trade-off to making these images available and for making a digital copy before the adhesive material deteriorates and damages the images. You can view the images of Monte Vista and St. Thomas Chapel at the top of the Flickr photostream, or at the end of the Frederick County album.

St. Thomas Chapel

If you are wondering what to do with an album or scrapbook in a similar state, you may want to read Preservation Basics: Preservation of Scrapbooks and Albums and Preservation Guidelines for Digitizing Library Materials. Each album is unique and will have its own challenges, but these Library of Congress guidelines can give you a good idea of where you might have the most problems and some best techniques to avoid damaging one-of-a-kind artifacts.

Friday Photos: John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive, Belle Grove

When a tantalizing story of a photographer who went around the country taking photographs of dinosaur statues and other roadside attractions crossed the PHW news feed, of course we had to check if Dinosaur Land made the cut. While we haven’t found the iconic brontosaurus, we did find a two other locally famous kitschy landmarks:

The apple at Kimberly’s (photo taken in 1982)
Two angles of the lighthouse on Weems Lane (now dismantled, removed from the site, and re-purposed), also in 1982. Sharp eyes can also spot a corner of the distinctive Hardee’s in the background of one picture.

If you too would like to browse or search the John Margolies collection, you can find over 11,000 images in the Library of Congress prints and photographs catalog. As you can guess, the collection is not just dinosaurs, but also gas stations, signs, drive-in theaters, mini golf courses, motels, and other interesting roadside follies.

Perhaps less impressive, this week we discovered an envelope of photos tucked into a file folder of Belle Grove Plantation while doing other filing tasks. These five images are circa 1986. You can see these photos at the end of the Frederick County album, or at the top of the photostream. Happy viewing!

Belle Grove, Middletown

Dating Historic Window Glass

Glass DetailWe had a great question last week on whether there were any efforts to date window glass. As you might know, there were two usual ways to produce window glass by hand which were used until the early 1900s – crown glass and cylinder glass. In general, crown glass was used in older construction, with cylinder glass becoming more prominent during the Victorian era as larger windows with fewer individual panes became desirable. Crown glass is usually thinner, and ripples often have a circular pattern. Cylinder glass ripples and bubbles are usually less pronounced and parallel, like the example photo taken here at the Hexagon House (circa 1870).

Here are a few articles we found on the history of window glass, some guidelines for dating glass primarily based on thickness, and case studies applying and interpreting the dating guidelines to specific sites. These articles are on the technical side, but interesting reading nonetheless.

1. “The Value of Historic Window Glass” by David Dungworth
This article covers the period from about 1500-1960 in English glass manufacturing. While some of the information is likely to not apply here in America, the article contains many great illustrations of the way this glass looks, how it was made, and what color and surface texture you might see in the glass. The more technical aspects start in the second half of the article by breaking the glass down by chemical analysis into distinct periods of English glass manufacturing.

2. “A Comparison and Review of Window Glass Analysis Approaches in Historical Archaeology” by Jonathan Weiland
This brief is perhaps even more technically-heavy than the first, but it is geared toward American glass dating, primarily by measuring the thickness of glass and with an emphasis on archeology. Because of the archeology approach, there is also discussion on distinguishing window glass from mirrors, flat bottles, and other glass sources. If you like looking through charts and weighing different methods of analyzing data collected from a dig site or trash pit, this could be a good starting point.

3. “Window Glass Dating: When Was McConnell’s Homestead Built?” by Grant L. Day
Putting article #2 in action is this paper on window glass dating conducted at the site of two structures near Lexington, Kentucky during excavations. The conclusions from the archeology here are combined with other historic knowledge on ownership and historic events to help extrapolate some theories about the glass found at the site.

4. Windows Through Time
Although not precisely scientific and the lack of scale between images may make comparisons difficult, the exhibit by the Historic Preservation Education Foundation catalogs the appearance of the entire window by period and style and not just the glass itself. If you have an intact window, this might prove useful to help date it. Don’t miss the muntin profiles, which are fairly reliable ways to date the wood in windows based on the shape of the wood bars which hold smaller pieces of glass together in the larger sash.

5. “Making A Home: Window Glass and the Transition from Slavery to Freedom” by Terry Brock
In addition to documenting the changes to slave quarters which continued to be used as African-American housing after the Civil War in St. Mary’s City in Maryland, this blog post is more easily accessible than some of the other articles here. For the visual learners who can’t stand wading through charts of thickness and age, the post has a very clear comparative thickness image of glass dated circa 1830, 1860, and 1900.

Above all, the lesson seems to be that dating glass is not yet a precise science, due in part to the variations of the skill of craftsmen and the tools and base materials impacting the thickness of the glass. Rough estimates based on visual clues and measurements, combined with other sources of corroboration, seem to be the best guides. Chemical analysis on historic glass does not yet seem to have been utilized in American glass dating, but perhaps we can look forward to it in the coming years.

Friday Roundup: Reading Old Handwriting, Closet Archeology, and More!

Friday RoundupHappy Friday! This week, we gathered some interesting links from around the internet to share with you.

One thing we get asked about from time to time is reading the handwriting in early deeds and insurance policies. A good starting point if you’ll be reading or transcribing a lot of older writing is “How to Decipher Unfamiliar Handwriting” (geared to British and Australian sources, but the tips are universally applicable). Keithbobbitt.com has shared a chart and common abbreviation list of Colonial American handwriting by Kip Sperry that may help you decipher some tough letters and words in 17th century documents. If you feel up to testing your skills, you can try a matching game of individual letters based on Kip Sperry’s work at Reed.edu.

If you’re in need of help with 18th century writing, we found an in-depth guide with tips and sample writing and transcription (among other activities!) at DoHistory.org. Reading and transcribing will be easier in 19th and 20th century documents as writing was taught to standardized forms that remain similar to the cursive you may have learned in school yourself. Like most things, reading older handwriting is a skill that can be learned and improved, and some handwriting is easier to read than others.

If you are looking for something, perhaps at a graduate level, to study in conjunction with a public history or historic preservation degree, the National Trust recently posted Show Me the Studies! Environmental Design Research and Historic Preservation. While most preservationists have a gut feeling historic places help anchor us in time to our past, there have been very few studies on the subject as to the causes of those feelings – and studies are often key to having data that is “known” to be true to be validated and used in other important ways.

If you’d like your study to be a little closer to home, one class of fourth grade students has started a closet archeology project in their school. The project came about through a gap in the floor left by the removal of some sliding doors. Students would find interesting items in the gap – and the deeper they went in the hole, the more interesting the finds became. See some of the items found under the floorboards at the Closet Archeology Instagram. Some of those puzzle pieces look awfully familiar. . .

In a different sort of closet archeology, the blog 1970s Activist Publishing in West Virginia: Researching Appalachian Movement Press detailed the author’s journey to uncover the story of a small press that operated between 1969-1979 in Huntington, West Virginia. It is a good case study of how to research something of the recent past that has largely been forgotten. Perhaps my favorite passage, and one that I am sure all researchers wish more organizations would take to heart is:

“Suffice it to say that, if you’re publishing things on paper right now: Archive Your Work! You never know when someone decades later is going to care about what you were doing, and have a hell of a time trying to find out about it. Don’t leave it in a moldy basement!”

Last, if you are a National Trust Forum member, be sure to check out the latest issue of the Forum Journal, which covers a number of topics on preserving and interpreting difficult history, a topic that is perhaps more relevant than ever before.

Friday Roundup: Clowser House, Drinks from the Past

Friday RoundupWe have two exciting pieces of news to share on the Clowser House. Earlier this week, the Frederick County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the 99 year lease of the house to the Clowser Foundation. This move will allow the Foundation to move ahead with efforts to stabilize the deteriorating wall. In addition, the Clowser Foundation has also received approval from the IRS for the group to be a tax-exempt non-profit organization.

Of course, this is only the first step – now the Clowser Foundation needs your help. They are just beginning their official fundraising efforts. If you would like to support saving the Clowser House, checks can be mailed to:
The Clowser Foundation
152 Tomahawk Trail
Winchester, VA 22602

Apple Blossom kicks off tonight downtown with the Bloomin’ Wine Fest. In that spirit of celebration, we have a few links to share on drinks of the past. The Library of Virginia opened a new exhibit Teetotalers & Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia, Distilled. If you happen to be in Richmond on May 5, you may want to stop by the free event “‘Goodbye Booze’: The Music of Prohibition,” an upbeat look at popular music of the Prohibition era through live and recorded performances. More information can be found on the Virginia Memory website.

If you are looking for something a little less intoxicating for your historic beverage of choice, you could read about the escalation in soda fountain technology and ornamentation in “Victorians Drank Soda Out Of Monstrous Gilded Machines” by Cara Giaimo. The article, full of illustrations and photos of the soda fountains of yore, is a lighthearted look at an arms race which helped shaped how we think of the interiors of pharmacies and soda shops. If you can’t get enough of viewing these elaborate soda machines, the Matthews Catalogue and Price List of Apparatus, Materials and Accessories for Making and Dispensing Carbonated Beverages is available as a free Google e-book so you can read the enticing description of soda fountain machines with evocative names like Snowdrop, Avalanche, and Drinkjoy.

Friday Roundup: Preservation Resources

ResourcesHappy Friday! As the weather gets warmer you might have some outdoor preservation projects on your to do list. You may want to consult a few online sources for information before diving in to your next project. Here’s a handy reminder of some of the sources of information you can access for free online!

From the National Park Service:
Preservation Briefs (common preservation issues and how to resolve them, often used as a supplement for tax credit projects)
Preservation Tech Notes (case studies of preservation techniques)
Preservation by Topic (alphabetical list by preservation topic, useful if you have an issue but you are not sure where to look for an answer)

From the Virginia Department of Historic Resources:
Historic Trades Directory
Publications (a mix of both hard copy only and PDF publications on various preservation and archeology topics, including New Dominion Style Guide for help identifying architecture styles of the recent past, and How to Research Your Historic Virginia Property)
Technical Reports (a Virginia-level companion to the NPS Preservation Briefs and Tech Notes)

The Historic Preservation Education Foundation has provided digital versions of some hard to find print publications generated from conference proceedings, including:
Roofing
Windows
Interiors
Preserving the Recent Past

If you are looking for some period materials in catalogs in your research into house parts and appliances, check out:
Building Technology Heritage Library
Winterthur Museum Library

If you are looking for in-person training opportunities, check out:
Traditional Trades Youth Initiative pilot program, looking to provide youth (age range 18-30) with exposure and experience in the fields of Historic Preservation, Cultural Resources and Facility Maintenance
Historic Real Estate Finance Training Program May 8-12 in Fairmont, WV, an intense, interactive workshop in the real estate development process including underwriting, appraisals, cash flow, depreciation, passive income/loss, syndication, tax credits and more

And if you are in need of some actual architectural salvage pieces for a project, the PHW office has a selection of window sashes with historic glass (two, six, and nine light sashes) ready to go back out into the world. Drop us a line at 540-667-3577 or phwinc.org@gmail.com for more information.