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Meet the Staff: Candice Roland


From answering phone inquiries to photographing new acquisitions, the staff at the VHS have a wide range of talents that help make our collections accessible to the world. Who are the talented men and women of the VHS? In a series of “Meet the Staff” blog posts, we will introduce you to the people who work behind the scenes to collect, preserve, and interpret Virginia history.

Meet the Staff - Candice Roland

What is your job title?

Library Clerk

When did you begin working at the VHS?

April 2014

What are your job duties?

I assist patrons in the Joseph Bryan and John Stewart Bryan Reading Room by serving research materials, answering questions, and filling mail orders, among other things. You can learn more about our library and what we offer on the VHS website.

How did you become interested in history?

Growing up in Virginia, I loved visiting nearby historic sites. Places like Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, and Mount Vernon really made an impact on me. I have always loved stories in general, so studying history came naturally.

What is the favorite part of your job?

I enjoy meeting patrons and hearing about the wide variety of research topics they are pursuing—it’s like a “behind the scenes” preview of the newest books, exhibits, and historic preservation efforts.

What has been your most memorable moment at the VHS?

My most memorable moment in the short time that I have worked at the VHS has been taking a hard hat tour of the new exhibit spaces and learning about all of the exciting new plans to tell the story of Virginia.

What is your favorite item in your office? Why?

Since I do not have a traditional desk, I’ll consider the whole Reading Room my office. I love the bust of Pocahontas that sits behind the Reference Desk. She’s such an impactful figure in the Virginia story—almost mythological—and the dramatic pose and expression really capture that memory of her.

Bust of Pocahontas

This bronze bust of Pocahontas by Griffin Chiles is one of my favorite items at the VHS. (VHS accession number: 1995.27)

What is your favorite collection piece at the VHS?

Right now I would say “The Compleat Housewife” in the Rare Book collection, but my favorite piece changes often.

The Compleat Housewife

“The Compleat Housewife (VHS call number: TX705.S59.1732.Rare)

What is your favorite historical period?

Twentieth century U.S. history.

What are your hobbies?

Hiking, cooking (not baking), and playing viola.

If you did not work at the VHS, what would you be doing?

Taking a photography adventure across the U.S.

Read more blog posts written by Candice.

Fifty shades of grey at the VHS


Anyone who knows me, knows that I love color. My masters’ thesis was about symbolism in color. I drive a metallic pink Vespa. I love my Pantone guide. And I am not afraid to embrace the fact that “pink is my signature color.” 

You could say that because I am the Designer/Visual Communications Officer at the VHS, color is “my thing.” When I first heard about the book Fifty Shades of Grey, I thought that is was a new design book (whether you spell it gray or grey, we all know that grey is the new beige). I knew I was missing something…I could not figure out why I kept seeing people standing in line at the library to add their name to the wait list to read a book about color (I’m guessing that I’m probably not the only designer who was confused about the subject matter of the book). I eventually figured out that Fifty Shades of Grey is a very colorful book, but not the type of color I was expecting. Since I spend so much time surrounded by and thinking about color every day, I thought I would show you a random selection of objects from the VHS collections that include the color grey. So, I invite you to enjoy fifty shades of grey from the VHS.



Do you see any pieces that you like? Visit the VHS website to learn about purchasing a digital reproduction of items from the VHS collection.

Color is all around us and as I am sitting at my desk editing this post, I can see multiple shades of grey in the objects on my desk. So as a bonus photo, here is my non-staged desk. How many shades of grey can you spot?

Nesossis desk

How many shades of grey can you spot in this picture?

Jennifer Rohrbaugh Nesossis is the Designer/Visual Communications Officer at the VHS. Read more posts from Jennifer.

George Washington Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Our First President?


George Washington was a legend in his own time, and some of his later biographers have been careless with the facts. A few of the legends are factual, and some are a mix of fact and fantasy. In honor of Washington and the Presidents’ Day holiday, test your knowledge of “the Father of His Country” with this brief quiz and see if you can separate fact from fiction.


Question: As a young boy, George Washington got into trouble for chopping down a cherry tree with a hatchet. True or False?

This is one of America’s most enduring legends. It first appeared in The Life of Washington (1806) by Mason Locke Weems and gained wider notoriety when it was printed in one of the McGuffey Readers. Most historians consider the tale a myth, but some believe that it is possible Weems heard the tale from a woman who knew the Washington family.

Because there is no proof, the answer is False. If you do believe the tale, the answer is still False because according to the story, Washington confessed his deed (“I can’t tell a lie, Pa . . . I did cut it down with my hatchet”), and as a result, he did not get into trouble.



Question: As a teenager, Washington copied out 110 rules of etiquette. True or False?

 We don’t know many details about Washington as a schoolboy, and he described his education as “defective.” Some time before he was sixteen, he copied pages from a French book of manners, Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour and Conversation. Perhaps self-conscious about his lack of a gentlemen’s education, these etiquette rules are regarded as formative influences on the development of his character. The answer is True.


Title page of George Washington’s Rules of Civility (Virginia Historical Society, Call number: E312.78 1926)

Title page of George Washington’s Rules of Civility (Virginia Historical Society, Call number: E312.78 1926)


Question: George Washington had wooden dentures. True or False?

By the time of Washington’s inauguration, he had only one tooth left. Four different sets of dentures were made for him. A number of myths are associated with them: one is that Washington had a set of wooden teeth, another is that Paul Revere made a set of false teeth for him. Actually, his first set of dentures was made from elephant tusks and a second from a walrus tusk. The third set, attributed to the artist Charles Willson Peale was lead based with two powerful steel springs. The upper teeth were probably made from cow’s teeth. The last set of teeth, now owned by the Smithsonian, was made of gold and hippo and elephant teeth.

Because of ill-fitting dentures, Washington’s mouth often appears in his portraits to be swollen and uncomfortable. The total effect gave him a somber appearance. The answer is False.

George Washington (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number 2001.200.153)

George Washington (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number 2001.200.153)



Question: Washington contracted smallpox when he was nineteen. True or False?

Smallpox was not common in Virginia when Washington visited Barbados in 1751. He contracted the virus and thereby acquired a life-long immunity. During the American Revolution, smallpox became a deadly threat to both civilians and the military, and Washington ordered that all new army recruits be inoculated. The answer is True.


Question: George Washington was the only president who never lived in the White House. True or False?

Washington selected the site for the White House in 1791, but he never lived there. New York and Philadelphia were the capitals while he was president, and the White House was completed after he died. John Adams and his wife, Abigail, moved into the unfinished house in 1800. Washington is the only president who did not live at the White House, so the answer is True.


Question: George Washington surveyed Natural Bridge in 1750. True or False?

There is no evidence that Washington surveyed Natural Bridge. Other Washington legends associated with the bridge include that he carved his initials on a spot twenty-three feet up the arch and that he tossed a stone to the top. The answer is False.


Postcard of Natural Bridge of Virginia claiming that George Washington surveyed the site in 1750. (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number: 2015.1.24)



Question: George Washington made moonshine at Mount Vernon. True or False?

Washington was the only Founding Father to operate his own whiskey distillery. Five copper stills produced almost 11,000 gallons of whiskey in one year, making it the largest distillery in the country in the eighteenth century. Because Washington paid excise taxes on the whiskey, it was legal and therefore not moonshine. The answer is False.


Question: Virginia’s official state dog is the American foxhound, a breed that George Washington developed. True or False?

An avid sportsman, Washington imported French foxhounds for hunting purposes at Mount Vernon. He bred the hounds with his own black and tan hounds to create a new breed, the American Foxhound. Washington doted on his dogs and gave them playful names like Tipsy, Drunkard, Frisky Moose, and Sweet Lips.

In 1966 the General Assembly adopted the American Foxhound as the state dog.

The answer is True.


"Under My Own Vine and Fig Tree, 1798" by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris . (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number: 1996.49.11)

“Under My Own Vine and Fig Tree, 1798″ by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris . (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number: 1996.49.11)

Question: Which one of these is an image of George Washington?


The answer is all of them depict Washington.

Frances Pollard is Vice President for Research Services at the Virginia Historical Society.  Read more posts by Frances.

Glasgow’s Broken Heart


Miniature portrait on ivory of Ellen Glasgow (1874-1945) in her twenties by I. Carregi. (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number: 1946.2.A)

Valentine’s Day is now what I call a Hallmark holiday, and I support Hallmark by sending Valentines the way some people send Christmas cards! As a child I received a very special Valentine from an anonymous boy in my fifth grade class, which made me feel special, and I have been a Valentine fan from that moment on.

Valentine’s Day cards and the celebrations around the holiday began to escalate during the early twentieth century. Yet, there is one twentieth-century woman who did not receive a valentine from a man to whom she was secretly engaged from 1917 to 1918. Ellen Glasgow was forty-three and an acclaimed Richmond novelist when she first met Henry Watkins Anderson on Easter Sunday 1916 after the death of her father. In her autobiography, The Woman Within, published after her death, Glasgow writes that “I was surprised by the attraction of opposites . . . for my part, I was warmed and thrilled by the man’s vitality” (p. 225).

Henry Watkins Anderson

Henry Watkins Anderson in his Red Cross office in Romania. A portrait of Queen Marie (not his fiancée Ellen Glasgow) hangs on the wall behind his desk. (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number: 2001.1.18)

Henry Watkins Anderson was a Richmond corporate attorney who became an ardent supporter of the Red Cross after the United States entered World War I. Given the rank of colonel by the Red Cross, he was appointed its commissioner to the Balkans. In July 1917, Anderson set sail for the Balkans, and, as Glasgow notes, “we were never nearer in spirit than at that moment—for we were engaged to be married” (p. 230). Watkins wrote her every day on his voyage, but once he arrived in the Balkans, he “vanished into the silence of Rumania” (p. 231). Glasgow finally received a letter after several months, which announced his arrival and mentioned Queen Marie of Romania. After that, silence reigned again.

Queen Marie Of Roumania

Henry Watkins Anderson and Queen Marie on a hospital inspection tour in Romania. (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number 2015.1.1)

Queen Marie of Romania, granddaughter of Queen Victoria, married Crown Prince Ferdinand of Romania in 1893 and began a series of romantic affairs in 1897. She became involved with the Romanian Red Cross in 1916 and met Henry Watkins Anderson on his arrival there in 1917. She writes in her autobiography, Ordeal, that “Colonel Anderson, their chief, put himself entirely at my disposal . . . and I took [him] about to the hospitals” (p. 234). By the week of September 24, 1917, she notes that in their travels “Colonel Anderson quoted poetry and spoke to me of the stars” (p. 240). Anderson had made the transition from Glasgow to Queen Marie. They exchanged gifts, notes, and letters, and a love triangle was born.

Queen Marie Of Roumania

One of the many photographs given to Henry Watkins Anderson by Queen Marie Of Romania in 1921. (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number 2015.1.2)

One month after Valentine’s Day in 1918, the German army overran Romania, and Anderson eventually returned to the United States in June. Queen Marie writes of his departure: “I saw how his heart was wrung and how his soul revolted against this going away which was like an abandonment” (p. 320). Glasgow had a sad Valentine’s Day, having not heard from Anderson since the fall of 1917. Upon his return to Richmond, Anderson visited Glasgow in his Red Cross uniform and could do nothing but talk of Queen Marie. Several weeks later, Glasgow and Anderson quarreled, and she succumbed to depression and “did not care, for I had finished with the living” (p. 238). She tried to commit suicide with sleeping pills, “yet life would not release me” (p. 240).

In November 1918, Anderson returned to the Balkans and then to Richmond in October 1919 with “a half length portrait in oils, of Queen Marie, innumerable generously inscribed photographs in every imaginable costume and pose . . . and a forlorn and pathetic Russian wolfhound from the royal kennels” (pp. 242–43). Anderson and Queen Marie continued to exchange gifts, but it has been said that Glasgow received the greatest gift of all. Her devastating romantic relationship with Anderson gave her the creative spirit to produce her greatest literary works.

Ellen Glasgow, 1946.30

A painting of Ellen Glasgow based on a 1938 photograph published in Glasgow’s autobiography, “The Woman Within”, published after her death in 1954. (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number: 1946.30)

For the most complete information on this love story, come to the Virginia Historical Society and read the late Sara Bearss’s article entitled “Marie of Rumania and Henry Anderson of Virginia: A Faery Queen, A Virginia Knight Errant, A Pulitzer Novelist” (April 1987 issue of Virginia Country).

Paulette Schwarting is Director of Technical Services at the Virginia Historical Society. Read other posts by Paulette. 

Putting “History on Tap” with recipes from the VHS collections


Three Virginia Historical Society employees walk into a bar. . . . No this isn’t a joke. This is the true story of how (in a short period of time) the VHS tapped into the craft beer and cider scene.

Three VHS employees: L. Paige Newman, Associate Archivist for Collections Processing; Jamie Davis, Visual Resources Manager and Exhibits Preparator; and Greg Hansard, Manager of Web and Digital Resources, met to enjoy some brews (after work hours, of course); little did we know that by the end of the evening, “History on Tap” would be born.

History on Tap:  Jane's Percimon Beer

VHS Staff Members at “History on Tap: Jane’s Percimon Beer” with Tom Sullivan and Kevin O’Leary from Ardent Craft Ales, and author Lee Graves

Richmond, like the rest of the nation, has been swept by the craft beer scene. The region is alive with more than a dozen breweries, and Virginia itself has more than one hundred! How could the VHS tap into (pardon the pun) this scene? There were many different ideas floating around on how to do this, but what would we use to connect the people with their history? Then it hit us. The VHS’s massive collection contains several cookbooks and ledgers that have recipes for alcoholic beverages (mead, wine, cider, beer, etc.). Why not team up with a local brewery and have them brew a batch of beer based on one of our historic recipes? Can’t get more craft beer than that, and it just so happened that Jamie had a contact at Ardent Craft Ales.

“The ‘History on Tap’ program is a great way to show that we have diverse collections and that they are accessible to the public. Instead of a scholar researching an 18th-century manuscript to cite in a book, a brewer or cider-maker is researching an 18th-century recipe to recreate a tasty beverage.” Greg Hansard, Manager of Web and Digital Services

We met with Ardent’s owners, Tom Sullivan and Kevin O’Leary, to discuss the collaboration and a few of the more interesting colonial beer recipes. They chose to work with a persimmon beer recipe, found in the cookbook kept by Jane (Randolph) Walke (1729–1756) and her mother, Jane (Bolling) Randolph (1703–1766). After researching native persimmons and picking approximately sixteen pounds worth from a farm near Charlottesville, Ardent scheduled a brew date for November 1, and the rest is history.

Jane's Persimmon Beer Recipe

On December 9, 100 beer enthusiasts met at Ardent Craft Ales to taste and hear about this persimmon beer that was based on a ten- or eleven-year-old girl’s recipe. The sold-out event (“History on Tap:  Jane’s Percimon beer) and the collaboration was a hit. Tom and Kevin spoke about the process of brewing the persimmon beer, Paul Levengood, VHS President and CEO, talked about the VHS’s collections, and Lee Graves discussed the history of beer in Richmond. News coverage reached as far away as New Zealand. Greg had friends in Brighton, England, who read about it in the British tabloids. There were people in San Diego, California, who wanted to buy a ticket for the event and were ready to book a flight until they learned it was sold out. The program was so popular that we decided to have another History on Tap event with Blue Bee Cider.


History on Tap:  Jane's Percimon Beer

History on Tap: Jane’s Percimon Beer

Soon after the success of the first History on Tap event, VHS staff members met with Blue Bee owner Courtney Mailey and her team to discuss cider recipes. After looking at several options, Courtney selected a recipe from The Compleat Housewife that contained pippin apples and raisins. As part of the VHS’s rare book collections, the 1742 edition of The Compleat Housewife is unique because it is known to be the first cookbook published in America. It contains recipes for preparing and preserving food, brewing, and medicine, along with housekeeping advice. In December, Courtney and her staff began recreating the “Compleat Cyder” by pressing pippin apples. Then they fermented juice along with three pounds of raisins in a fifty-gallon barrel.

The Compleat Housewife (VHS Call Number:  Rare Book TX705 S59 1742)

The Compleat Housewife

To make Cyder from the Compleat Housewife (VHS Call Number:  Rare Book TX705 S59 1732)

The Compleat Cyder

On April 21 at 6 p.m. at Blue Bee Cider ticketholders for “History on Tap: The Compleat Cyder” will get the first taste of this unique beverage. Along with a taste of the “Compleat Cyder,” there will be a lecture about cider and cider-making in colonial Virginia, featuring Dr. Sarah Meacham, author of Every Home A Distillery: Alcohol, Gender, and Technology in the Colonial Chesapeake, and Courtney Mailey, owner of Blue Bee Cider. Dr. Paul Levengood, VHS President and CEO, will speak about the importance of the society’s collections. It should be a fun night of history, cider, and conversation.

History on Tap:  The Compleat Cyder

History on Tap: The Compleat Cyder

Let us know what you think should be next on tap for the VHS’s recipe collection?

Greg Hansard is the Manager of Web and Digital Services at the Virginia Historical Society. Read other posts by Greg.

Meet the Staff: Paige Newman


From answering phone inquiries to photographing new acquisitions, the staff at the VHS have a wide range of talents that help make our collections accessible to the world. Who are the talented men and women of the VHS? In a series of “Meet the Staff” blog posts, we will introduce you to the people who work behind the scenes to collect, preserve, and interpret Virginia history.

Meet the Staff - Paige Newman

What is your job title?

Associate Archivist for Collections Processing

When did you begin working at the VHS?

I began working at the VHS in January 2003.

What are your job duties?

The short answer is that I help provide access to manuscripts at the VHS. A somewhat longer answer, though in no way complete, is that I arrange and describe manuscript collections, research, transcribe handwriting, answer reference questions related to manuscripts, and talk to the public about manuscript collections at the VHS.

How did you become interested in history?

In college, I was a history and classics major and really enjoyed learning about Roman and Greek history.

What is the favorite part of your job?

The favorite part of  my job is diving into a collection, finding out what the collection is about, and figuring out how this information will be useful and interesting to patrons.

What has been your most memorable moment at the VHS?

I have more than one…helping process the Mary Custis Lee collection (you may listen to a podcast of Lee Shepard’s 2010 Banner Lecture about the Mary Custis Lee trunks online); meeting and working with Phyllis Galanti on the papers she donated and assisting with the exhibition, “Bring Paul Home: Phyllis Galanti and Vietnam War POWs” (the podcast of Phyllis and Paul Galanti’s 2009 Banner Lecture is available online); speaking to the public about Unknown No Longer; and most recently, tasting the persimmon beer brewed by Ardent Craft Ales from a historic recipe in the VHS collection.

What is your favorite item in your office? Why?

One item that always makes me smile is a photocopy of a postcard from our collection. It is titled “Greetings from Virginia” and includes drawings of Lee and Grant at Appomattox, George Washington, Natural Bridge, the seal of Virginia, and a giant cat.

"Greetings from Virginia" postcard (VHS accession number: 2004.515.6) Black on white postcard produced from various clip art. Printed across the top: "Greetings From Virginia" with a small bust portrait image of R. E. Lee in between "From" and "Virginia." An image of a cat is on the left side with a surveyor, the seal of Virginia and Natural Bridge below it. An illustrated image of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant inside the McLean House in Appomattox is to the right below the printed text "SURRENDER OF LEE." Handwritten in red ink on the reverse over the place for the stamp: "Lucky Lone Star Card."

“Greetings from Virginia” postcard (VHS accession number: 2004.515.6)

What is your favorite collection piece at the VHS?

Again, it’s hard to pick a favorite! For now, the postcard mentioned in the above question.

What is your favorite historical period?

Whatever the period of the collection I’m currently working on. So, at the moment my favorite historical period is the seventeenth century though the twenty-first century.

What are your hobbies?

My hobbies include reading, in depth research on beer and wine, socializing with friends and family, and enjoying sunshine.

If you did not work at the VHS, what would you be doing?

What?!? Not work at the VHS.

Read more blogs written by Paige.

Who was Oliver Hill?

Oliver W. Hill, Sr. (1907-2007)

Oliver W. Hill, Sr. (1907-2007) (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number: 2003.298.17)

At the Virginia Historical Society, we place our collections at the very heart of our mission. We believe that you can learn more about the people who inhabited the past by reading the words they wrote and looking at the things they owned. This is the fundamental assumption that guides all our efforts—and the efforts of all collecting institutions.

This week I will be making a presentation to the society’s board of trustees about a group of items that belonged to Oliver W. Hill, Sr., a prominent Richmond civil rights attorney. As lead attorney for the Virginia Conference of the NAACP, Hill initiated a number of legal challenges to Jim Crow, including Davis v. School Board of Prince Edward County, one of the five cases that became a part of the 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

Lapel pin commemorating the Brown vs. Board of Education case (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number: 2014.79.8)

Lapel pin commemorating the Brown v. Board of Education case (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number: 2014.79.8)

The small collection consists of nineteen items. It was donated recently by Oliver W. Hill, Jr., professor of psychology at Virginia State University and the attorney’s son. What do these items tell us? Three of them—a square white button, a financial statement for services in the Prince Edward County case, and a Harvard Law School medal—relate to Hill’s role in the Brown decision. The most significant of these is the Harvard Law School Medal of Freedom, an award established “to honor individuals who have worked to uphold the legal system’s fundamental commitment to freedom, justice, and equality.” It has been awarded only a few times—in this instance to the attorneys for the litigants in the Brown case. The medal is engraved, appropriately, with the image of Charles Hamilton Houston, the first African American admitted to the Harvard Law Review and the dean of the Howard University School of Law, where Hill earned his degree in 1933. Under Houston’s leadership, Howard’s law school became a training ground for a generation of attorneys dedicated to pursuing racial justice and equality under the law. His students often recalled Houston’s admonition that “a lawyer’s either a social engineer or he’s a parasite on society.”

After graduating from Howard, Oliver Hill practiced law briefly in Roanoke before returning to Washington. In 1939, he moved back to Richmond, where he immediately became involved in a legal challenge concerning inequalities in pay between black and white teachers in Norfolk Public Schools. In Alston v. School Board of the City of Norfolk, the U.S. Court of Appeals found the school system’s pay scale to be discriminatory, leading to the equalization of teacher’s salaries in the city and in school systems around the commonwealth. This was an important step in undermining “separate but equal” education.

Two other items—a U.S. Army collar pin and a pay voucher from February 1944—remind us of Hill’s service in the armed forces during World War II. Like other lawyers, he applied for a commission in the U.S. Navy, a request that he believed only “hasten[ed] my being inducted into the military.” Hill was drafted into the army in 1943 and served in an engineering unit in Europe. At the time, he was thirty-six years old and married, circumstances that convinced him that the local draft board targeted him because of his civil rights work. Ultimately, however, World War II served to accelerate efforts to end legal segregation in the United States. The contributions of African Americans during the war and the discrediting of the racist ideologies of America’s enemies helped fuel the modern civil rights movement.

In April 1951, black students staged a walk out of Farmville’s Robert Russa Moton High School to protest poor conditions there. The leader of the strike was a sixteen-year-old junior, Barbara Johns. Johns contacted the Virginia NAACP, and Hill and his law partner, Spottswood Robinson, traveled to Farmville to meet with the students and their families. The lawyers agreed to take the case, but only after the plaintiffs agreed to press for the desegregation of Prince Edward schools and not just a separate, equal facility. Davis was combined with four other cases and moved through the courts as Brown v. Board of Education. In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision, declaring that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

The financial statement, dated September 17, 1957, is written on the letterhead of Hill, Martin, and Olphin. Under the terms of a previous partnership agreement, Oliver Hill was to receive $1,253.34 in attorney’s fees for his services in the Davis case from 1954 to 1957. In contrast, the state spent millions of dollars hiring outside law firms to defend Jim Crow.

A copy of a memo outlining fees for services in Davis v. School Board of Prince Edward County (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number: 2014.79.17)

A copy of a memo outlining fees for services in Davis v. School Board of Prince Edward County (Virginia Historical Society, Accession number: 2014.79.17)


Two other items caught my attention. These were lapel pins—a cardinal and the Virginia state seal—and they reminded me that Oliver Hill was a Virginian. With the exception of the few years he lived on the other side of the Potomac River and his time in the service, Hill spent his entire life in the commonwealth. His father was the founder of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Richmond. His mother and stepfather worked at the Homestead Resort in Bath County. And family members trace his ancestors to Chesterfield County before the American Revolution.


Oliver W. Hill, Sr., died at his home in Richmond on August 7, 2007. He was 100 years old and had lived long enough to be recognized for his many contributions to civil rights. In 1999, Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2003, the General Assembly named him Virginian of the Year, and in 2005 he received the Spingarn Medal, the NAACP’s highest honor.

Learn more about the Civil Rights Movement in Virginia and Brown v. Board of Education at

Bill Obrochta  is the manager of educational services at the Virginia Historical Society. Read other posts by Bill.


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