Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Virginia Americana Collection

Accession Number: 99
The Virginia Americana Collection
Papers: 1792-1889
0.4 Linear Feet

Series Description
Series I - Correspondence
Series II - Counties

Subseries A - Campbell County
Subseries B - Dimwiddie County
Subseries C - Floyd County
Subseries D - Henry County
Subseries E - Montgomery County
Subseries F - Patrick County
Subseries G - Scott County
Subseries H - Unknown Counties

Series III - General

Access and Use

Provenance: Materials in this collection were obtained by Berea College from a rare book dealer. There are no restrictions other than federal copyright regulations.

Preferred Citation: Virginia Americana Collection, Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Berea, Ky.


This collection consists of one manuscript box of documents that pertain to Virginia, primarily focused on Henry and Patrick Counties. The papers span the years from 1792 to 1889. Contained in this collection are court documents, a small amount of correspondence, voting records, and bills of sale. The collection does not focus on a specific aspect of Virginia, but provides information on political, commercial, and to some extent personal experience in Virginia during the 19th century.

There are many items of note in this collection. For example, there is a land contract dated 1792 by which trustees of the town of Lynchburg grant title to a one-acre lot. Also, there are bills of estate sales in which slaves are among the items sold. A copy of a bond between a governor and three indentured men is included. Two letters, one early in the Civil War and another near the end, give eloquent witness to the changed situation of the writer. Detailed voting records from one Virginia county during the decade of the 1880s are included.


The background for the primary documents in this collection is the often turbulent history of Virginia between 1792 and 1889. During this time the practice of indentured servants faded, the state's dependence on slave labor grew and then was abolished by civil war, the economy of cotton production developed, the railroad became a primary means of transport, West Virginia broke off from Virginia, the Confederacy rose and fell, and Reconstruction was attempted and abandoned. Before 1889 three amendments to the Constitution were passed, abolishing slavery, establishing civil rights, and granting the vote to all male citizens 21 or older. Through it all, of course, Virginians bought and sold land, goods, and slaves; developed businesses and lost them; raised families; went to school; probated wills; went to court when they could not collect money owed to them; and for four terrible years, went to war.

Series Description
1 Manuscript Box

Series I Correspondence Box 1

The personal letters in this series provide rich insight into the personalities, attitudes and experiences of the writers. They also indirectly picture their economic and social situation. The business letters provide more direct information on how economic transactions were conducted.

Box 1

  1. Re: Payment for building of Henry County Jail Pillory and Stocks (1805)
  2. James Burns to Mary Shirts (1823, 1844)
  3. James H. Hooe to Andrew McNabb & Joseph Fellows (1817,1818)
  4. Letters From a Rebel Lady in Virginia (J.C. Preston) to Mr. John Preston (1861) and Mr. Walter Preston (1864?)
  5. Sally Isom to a former classmate who attended a female seminary in Virginia (1874)
Series II Counties Box 1

Many of the court records are letters requesting payment or judgments enforcing payment by one plaintiff to another. All of them are prior to the Civil War, and many are dated in the first 15 years of the 19th century. Among them is an incomplete 1829 copy of a land grant made in 1795, perhaps in what was then Patrick County.

The voting records of Patrick County are dated 1880 to 1889, and consist of total votes for electors for President and Vice President, State Representatives, Attorney General, Governor, an amendment to the United States Constitution (1882) for or against a Constitutional Convention, Justice of the Peace, and County Officers. Each document contains not only the outcome of each election, but also the number of votes cast for each candidate.

Subseries A: Campbell County

  1. Court Documents [2]

Subseries B: Dimwiddie County

  1. Court Documents [1]

Subseries C: Floyd County

  1. Documents [1]

Subseries D: Henry County

  1. Court Documents [14]

Subseries E: Montgomery County

  1. Documents [1}

Subseries F: Patrick County

  1. Court Documents [2]
  2. Voting Records (I: 1880)
  3. Voting Records (II: 1881-1886)
  4. Voting Records (III: 1886-1889)

Subseries G: Scott County

  1. Court Documents [1]

Subseries H: Unknown Counties

  1. Court Documents [6]
Series III General Box 1

IThe bond of three men to the governor of Virginia and the concert program sung by former slaves are both of unusual interest.

  1. Concert program (a 1875-76 program of spirituals sung by the Virginia Choristers, including some original Hampton Singers)
  2. Property transactions (1792-1885)
  3. Indentured labor bond with a governor of Virginia (1816)

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