Discover the Past in Fredericksburg Branch's Virginiana Room
“The CRRL is very happy to offer to the community a more spacious and attractive local genealogy room, complete with historical records, beautiful, museum-quality historical wall panels, an attractive work space and free computers and databases for research. Please stop by any time we are open!"
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Fredericksburg rises from the fall line of the Rappahannock River. Its natural hills are generally considered to be just part of the scenic landscape. Wealthy townspeople, such as the Willis and Marye families, built their mansions on the heights. Before the Civil War, the scenery was pleasant but otherwise unremarkable.
In November and December of 1862, Confederate troops, under the command of General Robert E. Lee, fortified the hills above Fredericksburg. The townspeople were mostly evacuated, which was well as what was to follow certainly resembled a hell on earth.
“I predict you will wonder from this day forward how you ever got along without the services we are starting here today.”
—Randolph Church, Virginia State Librarian, speaking at the opening of Central Rappahannock Regional Library (Reported in The Free Lance-Star, July 19, 1969)
From 1969 through 2000, Jean Jett carefully clipped this and other newspaper articles about the regional library where her daughter, Vikki Dembowski, was employed. Those yellowed articles have been copied by library volunteers and compiled in seven big loose-leaf notebooks entitled CRRL in the News. They can be perused in the Virginiana Room, located at Fredericksburg Branch.
The William B. Crawley Great Lives Lecture Series returns to the University of Mary Washington in 2018 with a fabulous lineup. The popular lectures begin at 7:30 p.m. in Dodd Auditorium in George Washington Hall and are free and open to the public. For more information about each lecture and presenter, see the full schedule here.
By Janet Payne
Janet Payne is the retired fine arts coordinator of the Stafford (VA) County Public Schools. This article originally appeared in the International Review of African American Art, volume 16, number 1, and is reproduced here with the permission of this publication.
In 1996 on one of my many visits to the Hampton University Museum, I had the opportunity to see the recently acquired Countee Cullen collection. As I viewed the familiar names of African American artists, I noticed an artist unknown to me—Palmer C. Hayden of Wide Water, Virginia. Could that be the same Widewater in Stafford County where I am the fine arts coordinator? How could this be? My research on the Stafford-born artist Palmer C. Hayden began in this moment.