History Blog

Tue, 02/21/2017 - 10:03am
Thomas Armat: Fredericksburg Native Was an Inventor of the Motion Picture Projector

Most Fredericksburg cinephiles have to content themselves with a life far removed from the gaudy glamour of the flashy film world that is now at its yearly peak as “award season” takes over Hollywood. However, if not for the ingenuity and tenacity of Fredericksburg-born entrepreneur and movie projector inventor Thomas Armat (1866-1948), the movie magic viewers take for granted today may have had a very different history.

Thu, 02/02/2017 - 12:25am
Cover to I Lay My Stitches Down: Poems of American Slavery

Poems by Cynthia Grady with illustrations by Michele Wood

Cynthia Grady and illustrator Michele Wood have crafted a book to share with children where each poem, together with its picture, is a thoughtful illumination of some aspect of slaves’ experiences.

Mon, 01/23/2017 - 10:34am
Civil War to Civil Rights: How African American Artists Engage the Past

Brought to us by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, this presentation examines the multifaceted and highly politicized dimensions of “race” and American identity depicted in the artistic productions of African American artists. Our lecturer is Dr. Evie Terrono, Professor of Art History at Randolph-Macon College. Dr. Terrono will introduce us to artists such as Elizabeth Catlett, Faith Ringgold, Kara Walker, Fred Wilson, Kehinde Wiley, and Hank Willis Thomas, among others.  She will discuss how the transition from slavery to the Civil War to the Civil Rights period in the 1960s and 1970s can be viewed in their works.

The event will be at the Headquarters Library on Thursday, February 9, 7:00-8:00.

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 11:53am

On May 29, 2005, a public dedication ceremony was held at the Richard Kirkland Monument, adjacent to the newly restored Sunken Road. Workers spent months burying power lines, removing pavement, and restoring the stone wall. All of this recreated the look and feel of what became one of the bloodiest pieces of ground in the Civil War.

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.

Wed, 12/21/2016 - 9:21am
2017 Great Lives Lecture Series

The University of Mary Washington's popular Great Lives Lecture Series returns in 2017 with another fabulous lineup. 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.

Tue, 12/06/2016 - 10:40am

From a Scottish port to colonial Fredericksburg to the royal courts of France and Russia, the little man who famously refused to give up the fight was perfectly at home in both cottages and elegant salons, but he was always eager to set sail for adventure and glory.

Tue, 11/29/2016 - 2:36am
Cover to Escape to Virginia: From Nazi Germany to Thalhimer’s Farm

When I was a child, Thalhimer’s meant shopping—Christmas shopping in Richmond. It was one of the last grand old department stores before shopping malls took over, and it got itself gussied up for the holidays. We might come home with bars of marzipan or hermit crabs but always with stars in our eyes. It was a place of sweet and inventive dreams. Little did we know that the store’s founder had played an important part in making dreams of safety come true for many Jewish teenagers in World War II.

Robert H. Gillette’s previous book, The Virginia Plan: William B. Thalhimer and a Rescue from Nazi Germany, gave an overview of how Mr. Thalhimer managed it.  In Gillette’s current work, Escape to Virginia: From Nazi Germany to Thalhimer’s Farm, readers learn the in-depth stories of two of the rescued teenagers.

Wed, 11/09/2016 - 9:20am
Cover to Washington's Monument

The Washington Monument’s starkly simple design and imposing presence on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., both belies the complex machinations that led to its construction and embodies the singularity of George Washington, in whose honor it was erected.

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 3:31pm
Three for Thanksgiving

Our libraries will be closed on Thanksgiving and the day after, so now's the time to pick up some reading to take you through the holiday. We have many cookbooks to help plan the feast, but of our other collections these three books tell stories especially true to life and true to the heart to help make your holiday a warm one.

Mon, 10/03/2016 - 12:50pm
Robert A. Kishpaugh: Making Local History

The recent placement of Fredericksburg on Entrepreneur Magazine’s list of “The Fifty Best Cities for Entrepreneurs” would have come as no surprise to businessman and longtime resident of 1201 Prince Edward St. Robert A. Kishpaugh, who owned and operated a thriving local printing and stationery shop throughout the first half of the twentieth century.

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