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Organizing your Family History Research: Special Program with Family History Hunters

April’s Family History Hunters meeting will feature a special presentation on organizing your family history research. Our presenter for this meeting, Tina Claflin, is the owner of Halcyon Reflections, a certified photo manager, and offers independent consulting and organizing services for veterans, families, and non-profits to help others get organized to preserve their stories.

Tina will cover how to manage the physical organization of genealogy materials, as well as organizing digital files on a computer and on a chosen cloud service. The presentation is intended for both begin...

Blog Type: Archives Homepage Adults
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Meet Joan Wood, Genealogy Specialist at the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives

Joan Wood has worked as an Archives Assistant at the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives for ten years. She has a passion for genealogy, and as our resident genealogy specialist she has helped countless researchers uncover ancestors who once lived in the Winchester-Frederick County area. Joan also leads a genealogy discussion group known as Family History Hunters open to anyone interested in learning more about their family history, regardless of research experience. As the Family History Hunters kicks of its 2022 programming, we thought it would be a good time to let Joan tell you a little about her...

Blog Type: Archives Homepage
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Archives Highlights 2021 Accessions

At the end of every year, we like to highlight some of the new items added to the collections of the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives. Most of these items are donations and we are grateful to everyone who has helped build our collections for the benefit of future researchers.

You can view a selection of these items on our latest Facebook post. They are also on exhibit in the display cases near the Archives entrance in the Handley Library.

The photograph on the right is of Cornelia Anne Showalter Larrick, circa 1870, part of the Jeanne M. Stamper Collection, 1807 THL. Our collec...

Blog Type: Archives Homepage Adults
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Historic Marker Approved for Dr. Madison Spencer Briscoe, African American Scientist

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has approved a historic marker for the site of the former home of African American scientist and Winchester native Dr. Madison Spencer Briscoe.

Early this year, a committee, assisted by the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives, began to assemble an application packet and supporting documents. With assistance from the City of Winchester and the Winchester-Frederick County Historical Society the application was successful. The text of the marker will read as follows:

Dr. Madison S. Briscoe (1904-1995)
Madison S. Briscoe, biologist,...

Blog Type: Archives Homepage
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Archive’s Photograph of Betty Taylor Dandridge to be displayed at National Portrait Gallery

A photographic portrait of Betty Taylor Dandridge, daughter of U. S. President Zachary Taylor, is on its way to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. for an exhibit on first ladies. The photograph was taken in 1860. “Miss Betty,” as she was known, served as the White House's official hostess during her father’s presidency and later settled in Winchester, Virginia with her second husband.

Personnel from Crozier Fine Arts arrived the morning of Thursday, 24 September to pack the picture and deliver it to the National Portrait Gallery. Crozier specializes in moving a...

Blog Type: Archives Homepage
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How a Native Wildflower Helped the War Effort during World War II

Today, milkweed plants are often cultivated by nature lovers seeking to attract monarch butterflies. But in World War II, these native wildflowers were sought out for an entirely different reason. Milkweed pods contain silky floss that is both waterproof and buoyant, making it ideal filler for the life preservers relied upon by American sailors and airmen.

Normally, life preservers contained fibers from the seeds of the tropical kapok tree, but Japanese control of the Dutch East Indies prevented access to this material, forcing the U.S. Government to look for alternative sources o...

Blog Type: Archives
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The Stewart Bell Jr. Archives & Research Appointments

The Reading Room of the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives is reopen to researchers. For the safety of staff and researchers, and to protect our collections, we have had to make some changes to our procedures. Researchers will now need to make appointments to do research in the Archives. Currently, researchers are limited to a one hour research appointment per day. Research appointment times are as follows:  

Monday to Thursday: 10:15 AM to 11:15 AM, 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM, 1:15 PM to 2:15 PM, 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM, 3:45 PM to 4:45 PM, 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Friday: 10:15 AM to 11:15...

Blog Type: Archives Homepage
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New to Digital Collections! The Journal of Alexander Balmain

The Stewart Bell Jr. Archives Digital Collections now includes the Journal of Rev. Alexander Balmain, the rector of Frederick Parish from 1782 to 1821. The journal covers the years 1777 to 1820 and includes a wealth of information for people interested in the early history of Winchester and its inhabitants.

Balmain was born in Scotland in 1740 and originally trained to be a Presbyterian minister. He first moved to America 1767 to tutor the children of Richard Henry Lee in Westmoreland County. He returned to England briefly to become ordained as a minister in the Established Church...

Blog Type: Archives
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May I Have this Dance?

While going through a collection of personal papers, staff at the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives found this sweet handmade dance card for a Grand Masquerade Ball. There isn’t much information about who hosted the ball or when, but the dances, which include a grand march, the two-step, the waltz, German figure, and the Virginia Reel were all popular in the middle to late nineteenth century.

This particular item comes from the papers of Isaac Fontaine Hite (1807-1884), Hite was born at the Belle Grove plantation in Middletown, Frederick County, to Major Isaac Hite Jr. and his wife, Ann T...

Blog Type: Archives
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Surprises in the Pages of an Old Account Book

Are you a doodler? If you are, you might appreciate this sketch found in an account book kept by George William Bragg between 1880 and 1884. The sketch shows a fantastical landscape of giant books connected by ladders and stacks. Meanwhile, a small figure in a top hat scrambles to reach the peak via a high staircase leading to what is labelled “room at the top.”

It’s not uncommon for archivists to find sketches and doodles in the pages of manuscripts, rare books and other items in their collections. Some are detailed works of art; others are more abstract patterns. The margins of ...

Blog Type: Archives
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Records of Frederick County, Virginia Courts-Martial of Militia Troops Now Online

Frederick County, Virginia, Courts-Martial of Militia Troops conducted between September 1755 and October 1761, transcribed by John Walter Wayland from originals in back pages of  Frederick County Deed Book 18, are now available online through the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives Digital Collections.

Ordered that John House of the foot Company Commanded by Capt. William Vance be fined Five shillings or fifty lbs Tobo.[tobacco]  For absenting him Self from one private muster within Twelve months last past.

John House’s name appears in a list of delinquents submitt...

Blog Type: Archives
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Shenandoah Valley Heritage Day is March 7, 2020

The Stewart Bell Jr. Archives and the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley are again partnering to host Shenandoah Valley Heritage Day on Saturday, March 7, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley (MSV).

This year’s conference honors the centennial of women’s suffrage with two lectures related to women’s history. At 10:30 a.m., Barbara Batson of the Library of Virginia will discuss the challenges and opportunities of tracing women’s history. A second presentation at 12:00 p.m. discusses the preservation of historic textiles and will be led by MSV Curator of Col...

Blog Type: Archives
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The Doom of the Saloon: New Exhibit Focuses on Prohibition

“Patient and long we waited for the day/ When the saloons should all be wiped away,” begins The Doom of the Saloon, one of several song scores to be found in the book Best Temperance Songs, published in 1913.   This book and many other prohibition related items are featured in the latest exhibit by the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives.

Federal prohibition began in 1920 following the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to United States Constitution which banned the production, importation, and sale of alcohol. In Virginia, however, a statewide ban on alcohol began in 1916 f...

Blog Type: Archives
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Remembering Company I, 116th Virginia Infantry

On September 2, 1919, only a few months after their return from Europe, members of Company I of the 116th Virginia Infantry marched down North Loudoun Street as part of a World War I Victory Parade.

Company I was organized at Winchester in March 1911 and formed part of the longest serving unit of the Virginia National Guard, the 116th Virginia Regiment. The regiment, formed in 1741, had participated in every major American conflict beginning with the French and Indian War.

When the United States entered World War I in April 1917 the men of Company I a...

Blog Type: Archives
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A Lucky Find in Florida

You never know what will be the next donation to the Archives, or where it will come from. In this latest blog post from the Stewart Bell Jr. Archives, photograph assistant Bettina Helms tells the story of how we acquired several new images of the Baker family of Winchester.

In June, Rebeca Thibodeau of Ocala, Florida contacted the Archives after she had purchased a framed set of eight pictures of Henry Baker family members at a church rummage sale. After researching the family, she realized they were from the Winchester area. Would we like to have them?

Henry Baker...

Blog Type: Archives
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