"In the Beginning, all America was Virginia."
William Byrd II
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Featured Promotion

Experience the nation’s most popular toys and their stories through three imagined living rooms that bring the decades back to life.

Toys of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s

Other Exhibitions and Displays

Carole and Marcus Weinstein Learning Center Displays

Joining Forces: Selections from the Confederate Memorial Literary Society Collections

Founded in the 1890s by women who sought to preserve and interpret the history of the American Civil War from a southern nationalist perspective, the Confederate Memorial Literary Society (CMLS) diligently gathered “relics” of the Confederacy. The collection of books, letters, photographs, and other artifacts was displayed in the former Confederate executive mansion in Richmond—also known as the “White House of the Confederacy”—which the CMLS had rescued from destruction. In the 1976 the CMLS transferred the collection to a new museum building and began restoring the White House to its wartime appearance.

The Museum of the Confederacy merged with the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar in 2013 and was renamed the American Civil War Museum. Soon after the merger, it entered into an agreement with the Virginia Historical Society to digitize thousands of images in the collection, as well as make the paper-based collections available to researchers in the VHS library.

This display is a sample of the materials that will eventually be available for research once the collection has been fully processed.

All items in this display are from the collections of the Confederate Memorial Literary Society managed by the Virginia Historical Society by agreement of January 1, 2014.

Image Types

The collections of the CMLS include over 6,000 images of various types dating from before and after the Civil War including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes. About a third of the CMLS image collection consists of carte de visite (CDVs), which are thin, paper prints mounted on thicker card backings. By the time of the Civil War, CDVs were an inexpensive way to produce images of soldiers going off to war, as well as the loved ones they left behind. Learn more about the Civil War Research Center

Stone Bits to Computer Chips

What is technology? At the root of the word is the Greek term, techne, meaning “art, skill, trade, craft,” but a more contemporary definition was provided by sociologist Read Bain who wrote in 1937 that, “Technology includes all tools, machines, utensils, weapons, instruments, housing, clothing, communicating and transporting devices and the skills by which we produce and use them.” Although today the word technology most often implies the use of computers, Bain’s definition reminds us that technological innovation has been occurring since the dawn of humanity. When prehistoric people learned how to control fire they created a technology that allowed them to stay warm, see in the dark, and cook food, making it easier to digest.

During thousands of years since the advent of stone tools, successive waves of technology have ushered in agricultural, industrial, and digital revolutions that drastically altered the way people live and work. The items displayed here are a small sample of the things that made those changes possible. Some were profound in their impact while others were mere novelties, but no matter how dated they look to us today, they were once considered the cutting edge.

Pamunkey Pottery

Virginia natives began making pottery out of local clays more than 3,000 years ago. These vessels were produced and used by households for cooking and storage.  Many different sizes of bowls and wide-mouthed jars, usually with rounded bases, were made. Their outside surfaces were often textured by cord, fabric, or net impressions, or had stamped or incised designs. Sometimes crushed shell, sand, or crushed rock was mixed with clay to improve draying and firing. 


Organized by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, this exhibition focuses on the Algonquin Indian settlement that was the center of power for the Powhatan paramount chiefdom when the English established James Fort in 1607 and discusses archaeological discoveries from the last decade.

Related Resources:

The War Horse

On September 17, 1997, the Virginia Historical Society unveiled The War Horse, a memorial to the horses and mules killed during the Civil War, designed by Tessa Pullan of Rutland, England, and given to the historical society by Paul Mellon of Upperville, VA.  Mounted on a six-foot base, the life-size bronze sculpture is on display at the Boulevard entrance to the VHS.


Virginia Voices

Virginia Voices is the first state-specific, crowdsourced film of its kind. For more than a year the Virginia Historical Society collected stories from people in more than fifty locations across the commonwealth. The resulting film is a snapshot of Virginia as told by the people who live and work here.

Virginia Voices (22 minutes) is shown daily at the Virginia Historical Society in the Robins Family Forum on the hour beginning at 10:00 a.m. with the last screening at 4:00 p.m. The film was a fully funded project of the VHS’s wider Story of Virginia Campaign, a $38 million effort to expand, enhance, and renew the society’s presence both in Virginia and across the nation.

Virginia Voices was produced by Orange Frame using archived footage in the collection of the Virginia Historical Society and based on an earlier film by BPI that premiered at the Virginia Historical Society in the spring of 2015. 

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