Not a Bad Addition to the Collection, If I Do Say So Myself
As the Virginia Historical Society’s senior officer for public relations and marketing, I’m responsible for letting the public know what the VHS is, what we’re doing, and how we can be a resource. In the almost six years I’ve been working at the VHS, I’ve developed mutually beneficial relationships with many media contacts. They help me spread our news and I help them find talented and knowledgeable historians to interview for their stories.
These interviews usually lead to the VHS’s name and the historian’s quote—and sometimes an image from the collection—in the newspaper, on TV, on the radio, on a website, etc. This is great! That means I’m doing my job.
The last time I helped arrange an interview, it led to the society getting an autographed Lincoln movie poster!
Here’s the story.
Katherine Calos at the Richmond Times-Dispatch was writing a piece about watch night traditions related to President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation taking effect on January 1, 1863. She called to chat with one of our historians, Andrew Talkov. In addition to his extensive Civil War knowledge, Andy had also helped plan the VHS’s Emancipation Nation Watch Party in September 2012.
During the phone interview, Andy referenced the Lincoln movie. The discussion digressed slightly as Andy and Katherine chatted about the movie, its popularity in central Virginia because of the area’s filming locations, what it could do for general interest in U.S. history, and finally the upcoming Richmond Forum appearance by Doris Kearns-Goodwin, Steven Spielberg, and Tony Kushner.
(In case you don’t know who those people are, you can learn more here.)
Katherine mentioned that she would be attending the Forum to cover the event for the paper. Almost as if she was thinking aloud, she said that she had a Lincoln poster that was used at a Richmond Times-Dispatch event and wondered if Kearns-Goodwin, Spielberg, and Kushner would sign it for her.
Andy lamented that the VHS hadn’t been able to get much related to the movie for the collection, and Katherine replied, very matter of factly, “Well, if I get them to sign the poster, maybe I should donate it to the VHS.”
Andy and I both exclaimed something like “that would be awesome!” We briefly talked about how that would be a nice addition to the collection because of all of the movie’s ties to Virginia and the fact that the potential signers would be doing so in Virginia.
After the interview, Andy and I joked about how cool it would be to get the poster but didn’t think too much more about it. Honestly I figured even if Katherine got the poster signed, she would like it so much that she would decide to keep it to hang in her office or house.
The following evening, I received an email from Katherine.
Subject: Lincoln poster has been signed
Body text: When should I bring it to you? A photo of them with the poster will be in the TD tomorrow.
I was in shock. First, she was able to get the poster signed, and by all three people. Second, she was telling us she wanted to bring it to the VHS. I quickly responded with a “THANK YOU” and told her we would be in touch.
On Sunday, not only was there an image of the poster in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, but it also said in the caption, “to be donated to the Virginia Historical Society.”
It was official. It was in the newspaper. She had to donate it now!
I was ecstatic because for the first time I had helped facilitate a donation to the VHS. And it was something awesome!
A few days later, Katherine visited the VHS, signed poster in hand, to make her generous donation. She presented the poster to VHS president and CEO Dr. Paul Levengood as Andy and I proudly looked on.
The VHS Lincoln collection now includes:
- One printed program from the Richmond Forum event on January 5, 2013, entitled “Bringing History to Life on Film” featuring Doris Kearns-Goodwin, Steven Spielberg, and Tony Kushner.
- One copy of the Sunday, January 6, 2013, edition of the Richmond Times-Dispatch featuring an image of Doris Kearns-Goodwin, Steven Spielberg, and Tony Kushner signing the Lincoln poster.
- And one massive, striking, amazingly acquired Lincoln movie poster featuring the impressive signatures of Doris Kearns-Goodwin, Steven Spielberg, and Tony Kushner.
Are you interested in seeing the poster? The VHS will display this item for the first time in public on Saturday, February 9, 2013, during the Virginia Commonwealth University Southern Film Festival screening of the documentary The Making of Lincoln.
Jennifer Guild is the Senior Officer for Public Relations and Marketing at the Virginia Historical Society.