A program of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
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The New Podcast Is Here!

We’ve just released the first six episodes of our new podcast, Not Even Past. Hosted by our managing editor, Brendan Wolfe, it's for history lovers but also for people who just love a good story. For each episode, Wolfe combs through the encyclopedia looking for the most interesting people and the most provocative questions. One episode tells the story of a woman who preyed on chivalrous men to become one of the most successful spies of the Civil War. Another digs into a court case that began with a bowl of poisoned strawberries and ended with a verdict that left Virginia, even the nation stunned. And that’s not even to mention the mesmerist, the magician, and the Virginia Indian who won an audience with King Philip of Spain.

Read more and listen to the first episode here.


200 years of UVA

The encyclopedia is proud to announce that we've received $30,000 from the President's Office of the University of Virginia to create content about the university's history in time for its bicentennial. We've made a good start. Here's Jefferson himselfarchitecture, UVA during the Civil War, and John A. G. Davis, the professor who was murdered on Grounds.


Jefferson's rendering of the Rotunda, 1818–1819 (UVA Special Collections)


A Month to Celebrate and Learn

March is Women's History Month, and in honor of the occasion, here are a few of our best entries on the experience of women in Virginia.

Cockacoeske and Ann
A descendant of the famed paramount chief Opechancanough, Cockacoeske was the Pamunkey Indian chief from about 1656 until 1686. She united several tribes and even helped to defend the colony during Bacon's Rebellion. Ann was her niece and successor.

Grace Sherwood and Witchcraft in Colonial Virginia
Witchcraft was not just a New England problem. Virginians worried about it, too. Grace Sherwood was the most well-known of the accused witches, and these entries describe her trial and even provide a transcript of the proceedings.

Sally Hemings
One of the most mysterious and talked-about women of her day and ours, Sally Hemings belonged to Thomas Jefferson. She lived with him in Paris and at Monticello, perhaps bearing his children. Our entry looks at the evidence and provides the most comprehensive guide to Hemings on the web.

Elizabeth Van Lew, Mary Bowser, Antonia Ford, and Belle Boyd
Women largely did not fight during the Civil War, but on the home front some served as particularly effective spies. These four are among the most interesting, with Van Lew and her one-time slave, Bowser, working for the Union, and Ford and Boyd the Confederacy.

Mary Custis Lee
She was the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington and the wife of Robert E. Lee. But Mary Custis Lee also was an artist, an author, and early in her life an antislavery activist. In her later years, she was an ardent defender of her husband's legacy. Few women were more interesting or complex than Mrs. General Lee.

Women Suffrage, Equal Suffrage League, Adèle Clark
These entries trace the long struggle by Virginia women to gain the right to vote. While efforts began as early as the 1870s, the Equal Suffrage League was founded in 1909, in Richmond, by a group that included the artist Adèle Clark. The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified a decade later, although Virignia delayed its official approval until 1952.

Leslie Byrne
Women received the right to vote in 1919, but Virginia's first woman member of Congress did not take office until 1993. A native of Salt Lake City, Leslie Byrne moved to Falls Church with her family in 1971 and has served in both the House of Delegates and Senate of Virginia.

(Image: Adèle Clark in 1973, courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch)