The Resource Robert Young Clay papers

Robert Young Clay papers

Robert Young Clay papers, 1789-2010
Robert Young Clay papers
Inclusive dates
  • Papers, 1789-2010, of Robert Young Clay (1936-2010) of Richmond, Virginia, including his research on the Clay family and allied lines, subject files, speeches, pension records of soldiers from Smith County, Tennessee, and artwork. The bulk of the collection covers the years 1920 to 2007
  • The Clay Family Research Files are divided into ten subseries, including: a) Alphabetical Files. b) Locality Files. c) Subject Files. d) Clay Family Society Records. e) Ballow, Escue, Kittrell, and Young Family Research Files. f) Allied Families (A-Z). g) Notebooks. h) Photographs. i) Card Files. j) Microfilm
  • The majority of the collection documents Clay's interest in tracing the descendants of John Clay, and more specifically those of Thomas Clay (1745/6-1812) of Dinwiddie County, Virginia. The Alphabetical Files contain information that was used to compile data sheets on specific individuals. There are copies, abstracts, and transcriptions of census records, county court records, land office records, vital statistics, and tax records. There is also information Clay received from other researchers, correspondence, obituaries, Bible records, pedigrees and genealogical charts, published sources, pension records, and tombstone inscriptions. The Locality Files contain much of the same types of information, but are arranged alphabetically by Virginia county name, followed by other states. The Subject Files include a variety of materials relating to the Clay family, most concerning his immediate ancestors. There are files related to Clay's editing and updating of the Clay entry in "Adventurers of Purse and Person," as well as Bible records, genealogical charts, letters, inquiries, and notes compiled by other Clay researchers, and early Clay genealogical compilations
  • The Clay Family Society was formed in 2001 "to encourage research and foster understanding of the genealogy and history of all branches of the Clay family." This series includes minutes and agendas, financial reports, mission statements and by-laws, membership lists and applications, correspondence, mailing lists, and material relating to Clay's design of the Society's logo. There are also files of the Society's annual "gatherings," including those held in Williamsburg, VA, Lexington, KY, and Beckley, WV. The Ballow, Escue, Kittrell, and Young Family Research Files contain much of the same types of information that is found in the alphabetical and locality files, but were kept separate by Clay because of the amount of material on these four families. This series includes copies of the "Ballew Family Journal" published by the Ballew Family Association of America
  • The Allied Families (A-Z) subseries also includes genealogical research on numerous families related to the Clay family. There is a substantial amount of material on the Cabaniss, Filmer, Green, Jenkins, Jones, Parker, Pride, and Watkins families. The Notebooks, or binders, contain the final typed group sheets with supporting documentation that were compiled from the family research files listed above. There are three groups of notebooks, and there is a "key" or listing of them. There is also an explanation of the system Clay used in numbering each individual. Some of the notebooks contain an index at the beginning, and some of them are missing. It is not clear whether these were combined with, or superceded by, other notebooks, or integrated into the family research files
  • The photographs contain images of Clay and allied family members, and are arranged alphabetically. There are also unidentified group photos, negatives, and photo albums. There are also numerous photographs of Clay's hometown of Dixon Springs, Tennessee, as well as homes and other buildings in Smith County, Tennesssee, and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. There are numerous card files that were kept by Clay to aid in his research, including indexes to his notebooks, descendants of specific individuals, Clay marriages, deaths, and tax records, and cards that were never typed in final form or filed. For a complete listing of the card files, the researcher should consult the finding aid to the collection
  • There are various groups of microfilm in the collection, including issues of the "Carthage Courier" from 1913 to 1968, and deeds and wills for Smith and Sumner Counties, Tennessee. There are also copies of census records from the National Archives, and miscellaneous court records from other localities
  • The Subject Files document Clay's interest in genealogical research, his involvement in numerous organizations, and his career as a reference archivist at the Library of Virginia from 1970 to 2001. The files include correspondence with family, friends, colleagues, and fellow genealogists and researchers. Some of the correspondence dates to when Clay was attending the University of Tennessee. The subject files also two groups (A-Z) of photocopies of marriages and obituaries of Clay family members and other individuals. There is genealogical research materials on the Gwaltney and Radford families, miscellaneous research notes, abstracts, and transcriptions, as well as clippings, diaries, maps, newsletters, recipes, scrapbooks, and yearbooks. There is a business ledger of William S. Alexander (1809-1876) of Dixon Springs, covering the years 1841-1845 and 1868-1872, detailing business transactions at his general store. There is a large amount of material relating to Clay's memberships in the Order of First Families of North Carolina, Order of First Families of Virginia, and the Virginia Genealogical Society. There is historical information on Dixon Springs and Smith County, Tennessee. Finally, there are memoranda, policies and procedures, brochures, forms, lists, and guides related to the collections at the Library of Virginia, and also genealogical research information for other states and countries
  • The Speech Files include texts of Clay's talks and presentations made to various historical and genealogical organizations in Virginia and throughout the country on research methods, the Clay family, sources available at the Library of Virginia, and other topics. The files are arranged alphabetically by the title or subject of his presentation, and then there is a group of "working files" arranged chronologically related to specific speaking engagements, which include correspondence, programs and brochures, information on travel and lodging, calendars, clippings, and contact information
  • The Smith County, TN Soldiers' Pension Files series contains copies of War of 1812 pension application files Clay obtained from the National Archives, which he abstracted and prepared for publication in the "Smith County Historical and Genealogical Quarterly." The first appeared in the Winter 1997 issue. The files are arranged alphabetically by soldier's name
  • The Artwork series includes materials related to Clay's interest in heraldic art, landscape painting, and quilting. There are sales account books, correspondence with clients concerning orders, progress, and payment for work, sketchbooks, coats of arms sketches by Clay arranged alphabetically by surname, and photographs of his final work. There are also announcements, brochures and flyers, design ideas, and articles related to Clay's artistic pursuits
Member of
  • Accessioned
  • Described
Biographical or historical data
Robert Young Clay was born in Dixon Springs, Smith County, Tennessee on 4 September 1936. He was the son of Robert Bell Clay (1888-1957) and Ruth Young (1906-1951). He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Tennessee in 1960, and a Master of Library Science degree from George Peabody College in 1969. Clay moved to Richmond the following year, where he was employed as a reference archivist at the Library of Virginia until his retirement in 2001. He also had a career as a landscape painter and heraldic artist. Clay died in Richmond on 6 May 2010, and is buried in the Clay family plot in Dixon Springs Cemetery.
Cataloging source
Location of other archival material
See also: Robert Young Clay Papers, 1863-2008 (Accession 51363).
Robert Young Clay papers
  • The Library of Virginia
Cumulative index finding aids
  • 74.5
  • 1
Governing access note
There are no access restrictions
Immediate source of acquisition
Estate of Robert Young Clay
Organization method
Organized into the following series: I. Clay Family Research Files. II. Subject Files. III. Speech Files. IV. Smith County, TN Soldiers' Pension Files. V. Artwork.
Type of unit
  • cu. ft. (171 boxes) and
  • oversize folder



Member of

Library Locations

    • Library of VirginiaBorrow it
      800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219, US
      37.5415632 -77.4360805
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