The Library of Virginia’s collection of nearly 25,000 petitions reveals how Virginians communicated their concerns on a wide range of topics. Your Humble Petitioner highlights petitions to the General Assembly that involved deeply personal issues, including divorce, religious freedom, and emancipation, offering a glimpse into the realities of life during the 18th and 19th centuries. Library staff have created videos focusing on some of the petitions that are currently on display in our gallery. We’ll be adding more videos while the exhibition is open during 2022 so check back for additional content. Videos from past exhibitions can be found at our In the Gallery playlist.
Listening to the Voices of Virginians
What is a legislative petition? Why did Virginians submit petitions to the General Assembly in the decades between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War? Library of Virginia historian Brent Tarter discusses the legislative petitions collection, the subject of the Library’s exhibition, “Your Humble Petitioner: Legislative Petitions Gave Voice to Virginians.”
Miserable Little Children: The Legislative Petition of Mary Webley
After being bombed out of her Norfolk home during the American Revolution, Mary Webley petitioned the General Assembly for assistance. Library of Virginia historian Mari Julienne discusses the petition, which is included in the Library’s exhibition, “Your Humble Petitioner: Legislative Petitions Gave Voice to Virginians.”
10,000 Signatures for Religious Freedom
After the Revolutionary War, Virginians seeking religious freedom petitioned the General Assembly to disestablish the state church. Library of Virginia historian Brent Tarter describes one of these petitions that garnered thousands of signatures throughout the state and how it helped to shape the Constitution of the United States. The Library’s legislative petitions collections is the subject of our exhibition, “Your Humble Petitioner: Legislative Petitions Gave Voice to Virginians.”