Grant helps piece together Louisa history
Summer museum interns Katelyn Purcell, Emily Seay, and Rachel Harkrader. Interns are funded from a grant from the Dave Matthews Band.
The story of the Civil War in Virginia doesn’t end at Appomattox Court House in 1865 and yet the details of what happened in the decades following the war are cloudy and little known. The Louisa County Historical Society received two grants this past winter to study what followed during decades of struggle to incorporate formerly enslaved people as citizens. As African-Americans experienced progress and setbacks, women of both races were denied a voice in the politics which governed their lives until 1920.
What happened to women and former slaves in Virginia immediately after the Civil War? What progress toward equality was made during Reconstruction and why was it later reversed? How did the South come under the control of Jim Crow?
These are the topics guest lecturer Dr. Larissa Smith-Fergeson will discuss in the first public lecture sponsored by the Louisa County Historical Society to explore the history of the post war period. As much of the story as possible will be told with examples from Louisa County’s experience.
The lecture is on Saturday, July 21 at 3 p.m. at the Louisa Arts Center at 214 Fredericksburg Avenue in Louisa and admission is free.
Dr. Fergeson teaches American History at Longwood University and is Curator and Scholar-in-Residence, at the Moton Museum of Civil Rights in Education in Farmville. She is advisor to the historical society’s two-year study, “If it Takes a Hundred Years,” funded by grants from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation.
A grant from The BAMA Works Fund of the Dave Matthews Band is allowing interns to work on the initial phase of the study this summer at the museum. The band awarded a grant of $5,000 for four interns. They are editing historic photos, transcribe the early voter records in Louisa County, and researching state archives to find names of residents such as those who corresponded to start a League of Women Voters in 1921 and or chartered the first NAACP chapter in Louisa in 1919, etc.
Aside from the fascination of working with the old documents themselves, the interns find many interesting facts.
“I like seeing all the names I recognize in the county,” says intern Katelyn Purcell.
“For me, the most interesting thing is all the different jobs people list as their occupation back in the early 1900s,” said Rachel Harkrader, “and how they describe those jobs like “Rail Road Man.”
Community members have been adding to the project by sharing photos from the early and mid 1900s of people at work on farms and small factories, the mines, etc. in Louisa County.
A second lecture is scheduled Sunday, Oct. 21 by Dr. Brian Balough, Professor of History at University of Virginia to cover the period of the Women’s Suffrage movement, Jim Crow laws, and the Civil Rights Movement from 1900-1970.
Contact the Louisa County Historical Society at (540) 967-5975 or email@example.com for more information.