The Library of Virginia, one of the oldest state libraries and archives in the nation, marked its bicentennial in 2023 with a free exhibition — 200 Years, 200 Stories.
The exhibition and multimedia experience (on view Jan. 24–Oct. 28, 2023 in our Gallery) celebrated more than 200 Virginians whose fascinating narratives are housed in the Library’s collections and together reflect the stories of Virginia.
Explore our timeline of the Library of Virginia’s 200 years of service to the Commonwealth.
200th Anniversary Lecture | The Origins of the Library of Virginia’s Book Collections
The Library of Virginia was founded by the General Assembly on Jan. 24, 1823, to organize, care for and manage the state’s growing collection of books and official records, many of which date back to the early colonial period. Historian and author Brent Tarter discusses the origins of the Library’s book collections.
Tarter is a retired historian and editor at the Library of Virginia, a founding editor of the Library’s Dictionary of Virginia Biography project, the author of numerous journal articles on Virginia history, and the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of 16 books, including, most recently, Virginians and Their Histories.
“200 Years, 200 Stories”
The Library of Virginia, one of the oldest state libraries and archives in the nation, marks its bicentennial in 2023 with a free exhibition — “200 Years, 200 Stories.” On view Jan. 24–Oct. 28, 2023 in our Gallery at 800 East Broad, Richmond, VA.
The exhibition and multimedia experience celebrate 200 Virginians whose fascinating narratives are housed in the Library’s collections and together reflect the stories of Virginia.
Thank you to Riggs Ward Design studio for their vision and design with the exhibition and this introductory video.
Watch our In the Gallery videos to learn more about some of the items on display in “200 Years, 200 Stories.”
The Library of Virginia’s collections include many composite photographs of members of the General Assembly, including this one from 1871–1872, which includes thirteen Black members of the House of Delegates. Learn more about Virginia’s Black Legislators of the 19th century and this item on display in the Library’s 200th anniversary exhibition “200 Years, 200 Stories.” Check out the entire Virginia Legislature Photograph Collection in our Digital Collections Discovery.
Discover high school history at the Library of Virginia’s 200th Anniversary exhibition “200 Years, 200 Stories.” We are collaborating with Virginia public libraries to collect and scan high school yearbooks from the past. The Virginia Digital Yearbook project is possible thanks to a partnership between the Library of Virginia and IMLS, LYRASIS, and your public libraries. Check out the entire Virginia Digital Yearbook collection at https://lva-virginia.libguides.com/yearbooks.
Vince Brooks, senior local records archivist at the Library of Virginia, discusses three architectural models displayed in our “200 Years, 200 Stories” exhibition. Richmond native Haigh Jamgochian was a visionary architect who pushed his designs to the limits of materials. Best known for the landmark Markel Building, a cone-shaped structure clad in wrinkled aluminum, he gained international prominence for his futuristic building designs. Learn more in this UncommonWealth blog post.
The Library of Virginia has a long tradition of supporting the development and growth of public libraries across the commonwealth, beginning in 1904 with the advent of its traveling libraries program. Nan Carmack, director of the Library Development and Networking division, describes the traveling library on display in “200 Years, 200 Stories.” Learn more about this division of the Library at https://www.lva.virginia.gov/lib-edu/.
Despite the racism and sexism she experienced, Ethel Bailey Furman persevered as one of the first Black female architects in Virginia. The Library’s community engagement & partnership specialist Ashley Ramey Craig discusses Furman’s long career and one of her architectural plans featured in the Library’s “200 Years, 200 Stories” exhibition. Learn more about Ethel Furman in the Dictionary of Virginia Biography.
Barbara Batson, exhibitions coordinator at the Library of Virginia, discusses “Lady Luck,” the personification of the Virginia Lottery. Portrayed by actress Melanie MacQeen and created by Lawler Ballard Advertising, “Lady Luck” added whimsy and character to Virginia’s entry into offering jackpot prizes. She promoted the lottery in a glittery dress, a tiara and a wand, which are on display as part of the Library’s “200 Years, 200 Stories” exhibition. See some of “Lady Luck’s” commercials in our YouTube playlist.