Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Real Haunts of Virginia

vghostsIt wouldn’t be October without a few ghosts and ghouls creeping around, and various “haunted houses” popping up in shopping malls to frighten us. Not surprisingly, Virginia claims quite a few legitimately haunted houses, and woods, according to Marguerite du Pont Lee. In her book, Virginia Ghosts (Galvin Rare Book Room F 227 .L48), she relates eye witness accounts such as the ghost of Aquia Church, in Stafford County.  A woman was murdered in the church, sometime in the early 1800’s, and her body was hidden in the belfry. Her ghost has been reported by many, walking the aisles of the church at midnight.

On Leigh Street in Downtown Richmond, stands the Hawes homestead. Many reports tell of a small lady dressed in gray gliding along the second floor hall only to disappear through a closed

Aquia Church, Stafford County.

Aquia Church, Stafford County.

door. And Matthews County contains the Old House haunted woods where from as early as 1798 there have been reports of the ghosts of pirates, murdered royalists, and officers and men of British General Cornwallis’s army, seen roaming through the trees.

Mrs. Lee signed her book, dedicating it to the Marion Garnett Ryland Virginiana Collection in 1932. Underneath her inscription she wrote:

            Spirits from brighter stars draw near

            When camps are lit, and fires burn clear.

            With gentle touch, and loving look

            Bless them for me, my little book.

Come down to the Rare Book Room and take a look and Virginia Ghosts, and some of our other chilling reads. If you dare.

Civil rights leader donates permanent collection to Boatwright Library

Wyatt Tee Walker, a distinguished theologian and civil rights leader, has gifted his personal collection to the University of Richmond Boatwright Memorial Library. The collection includes hundreds of historical pieces, including papers, recorded sermons and memorabilia.

Walker, who lives in Virginia, served as chief of staff to Martin Luther King Jr., executive director of the Southern Leadership Conference and special assistant for Urban Affairs to Nelson Rockefeller. He is a specialist in sacred music, cultural historian and prolific author. Walker is pastor emeritus of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem.

Significant items in this historical collection include photographs Walker took of King while they were jailed in Birmingham in 1967; numerous letters to King and others regarding civil rights issues; and journals, drawings, diagrams and notes kept by Walker’s wife Theresa, who was also active in the civil rights movement. The collection also includes books, records, awards and clothing.

“We are justly proud that we were on the right side of history and can share our experiences with the general public through this partnership with the University of Richmond,” said Walker.

“We are honored that Dr. Walker has entrusted Boatwright Memorial Library with the care of this amazing collection,” said Lynda Kachurek, head of rare books and special collections. “We expect civil rights and other historians from all over the country and world to be interested in this scholarship, as well as our faculty, staff, students and the general public.”

This special collection will be the largest under the care of Boatwright Library. It will be housed in the Galvin Rare Books Room. The collection will be catalogued and processed and is expected to be available for research beginning in late 2016.

“This collection documents a critical moment in American history,” said University of Richmond President Ronald A. Crutcher. “It will help generations of students and scholars better understand the men and women who led the Civil Rights Movement and their work for social justice. We are so grateful for Dr. Walker’s generosity and for the opportunity to bring this collection to the University library.”


Link to original press release

The Magic of Dickens


Memoirs of Robert Houdin.

Memoirs of Robert Houdin.

From an early age, Charles Dickens was fascinated by all things paranormal. He pored over tales of phantoms, murder, and cannibalism. Later, he belonged to London’s famous Ghost Club that investigates ghosts and hauntings to this day. (Arthur Conan Doyle was a member, too.) Dickens was also a believer in the benefits of mesmerism, a fairly new and controversial therapy that he practiced on family and friends to some success.

What does this have to do with Boatwright Library? Well, in our Galvin Rare Book Room we have a book purchased from Dickens’ personal Dickens3library–a two volume set of the Memoirs of Robert Houdin (Rare Book Room GV1545.R47 A4 1859a, v. 1 & 2), a French magician of great importance. (Houdini took his stage name from Houdin.) If the label in the front saying, “From the Library of Charles Dickens,” isn’t enough, on page 1 of volume one, in very girlish penmanship is written “Katey Dickens”, his youngest sur


viving daughter’s signature.

Need more? We have original serialized copies of David Copperfield, as well as, Little Dorritt, Bleak House, and others, complete with illustrations. We also have two collections of sketches and illustrations of Dickens’ work by George Cruickshank and Thomas Sibson.

So, drop by the Galvin Rare Book Room and have a Dickens of a time!