The Resource Virginia War History Commission Office Files

Virginia War History Commission Office Files

Virginia War History Commission Office Files, 1917-1927
Virginia War History Commission Office Files
Inclusive dates
  • The Office Files series is housed in 94 boxes and 4 oversize folders and is arranged into eight (8) subseries. Subseries have been designated for Correspondence, General; Correspondence, Local Branches; Correspondence, Section Editors; Financial Records; Forms; Index Card Files; Miscellaneous Records; and Publications. The most substantial and significant records in this series are the various correspondence files which consist of incoming and outgoing correspondence dated between 1919 and 1927. This series consists primarily of incoming and outgoing correspondence from Virginia War History Commission chairman Arthur Kyle Davis and office manager Ruth Cunningham. This series documents the activities of the Virginia War History Commission between 1919 and 1927 including the formation and collection of records by the local branches and the publication of Commission's books. Although the Virginia War History Commission was not created until January 1919, this series contains financial records of the First and Second Virginia Council of Defense between 1917 and 1919. Correspondence, account books, invoices, receipts, bills, books, manuscripts, newspaper clippings, reports, minutes, forms, questionnaires, index cards and other items are found in this series
  • The Correspondence, General subseries is housed in 14 boxes and 3 oversize folders and is arranged alphabetically by subject or sender. The records in the sub-series Correspondence-General relate to a variety of topics including, the American Historical Association meeting in Richmond, Virginia, on 27-31 December 1924; organization, field agents, problems with office equipment, publications and employees, and day-to-day operation of the War History Commission; National Association of State War History Organizations; Negro Collaborators; and Service Legion
  • Noteworthy correspondents include Arthur Kyle Davis, Ruth K. Cunningham (War History Commission Chief Clerk/Office Manager), H.R. McIlwaine (Virginia State Librarian), and Walter F. Beverly, Arthur W. James, Henry H. Simms, and R.C. Stearnes (all War History Commission Field Agents). The correspondence of Arthur Kyle Davis are arranged chronologically include Davis' appointment as head of War History Commission by Governor Westmoreland Davis (7 January 1919) and Davis' acceptance of the position (9 January 1919), and H.R. McIlwaine's suggestions for the organization and instructions to local branches and section chairman (26 December 1919). Other notable correspondence include a request from John Garland Pollard, professor at the College of William and Mary, requesting information about the Commission (12 January 1923) and Davis's reply in which he provides a frank overview of the Commission's work and problems (30 January 1923), and two letters by Davis to his son, Arthur Kyle Davis, Jr., a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, relating family news and describing problems with the source volume, Virginians of Distinguished Service (30 January 1923 and 28 February 1923) and a letter to Davis, Jr., now at the University of Virginia, relating family news and discussing the source volume, Virginia War Letters, Diaries and Incidents (21 October 1925). Davis lived in Petersburg and worked in the Commission's Richmond office one day a week. The majority of Davis's correspondence is with Ruth K. Cunningham, War History Commission Chief Clerk/Office Manager, and describes day-to-day operations of the Commission. Noteworthy correspondence from Cunningham to Davis include a description of her difficulties with Commission employee, T.R. Jehne during the Commission's office move (20 January 1924), her illness and recovery (10 June 1924, 20 June 1924, 19 July 1924 and 15 August 1924), and the closing of the Commission's office (29 March 1927)
  • Ruth K. Cunningham's letters document her February 1921 trip to southwest Virginia on behalf of the Commission. Virginia State Librarian and Commission member H.R. McIlwaine corresponds with Davis on Commission records and policy including the organization of the Commission's files (20 December 1919) and the creation of newspaper scrapbooks (2 June 1922) and with Charles R. Keiley, Commission Secretary and member, about hiring Field Agents (3 July 1920). Also included with McIlwaine's letters are minutes of the 12 November 1919 Commission meeting. Walter F. Beverly was employed by the Commission as a Field Agent mainly in southwest Virginia between July and September 1920. His records include diary entries for the weeks of 24 July, 31 July, 7 August and 14 August 1920 that describe the organization and work conducted by local branches in Russell, Wise, Scott, Smyth, Tazewell, Dickenson, Washington, Bland, Wythe, Pulaski, Grayson, Carroll, Lee, Giles and New Kent Counties. Additional reports and correspondence documenting the activities of the local branches in the summers of 1920 and 1921 are filed with the records of Field Agents Arthur W. James, Henry H. Simms, and R.C. Stearnes. Stearnes spoke about the Commission's work at "Robert E. Lee's Last Camp Memorial Rally" held at the Buckingham County Court House on 24 July 1920. A broadside of the event is included with his records
  • Additional significant correspondence, filed by subject heading, include the American Historical Association, Hooven Automatic Typewriter Corporation, National Association of State War Organizations, Negro Collaborators, and Service Legion. The American Historical Association held their annual meeting in Richmond, Virginia, on 27-31 December 1924. Correspondence, mainly to and from Arthur Kyle Davis, describe meeting preparation, a copy of the meeting program and Davis' address to the AHA. Correspondence between the Commission and the Hooven Automatic Typewriter Corporation between 1920 and 1927 document the poor performance of the office typewriter and the futile attempts to have it repaired. The National Association of State War History Organizations was founded in September 1919 in Washington, D.C. by representatives of war history commissions and similar organizations from fifteen states. The group maintained an office in Washington to locate, describe, and copy documents in governmental archives relating to war activities. The correspondence document Davis's activities as the Association's vice-president and chairman of the executive committee. Notable records include minutes of the Association's meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, on 29-31 December 1919 (attached to a 26 January 1920 letter to Davis from Albert E. McKinley, Association Secretary), minutes of a special meeting of the Association in Washington on 28 December 1920 (attached to a 19 January 1921 letter to Davis from McKinley), and minutes of meetings in Washington on 6-7 April 1920 and 29-30 April 1921. The National Association of State War History Organizations was inactive between 1922 and 1925 and dissolved in the spring of 1925. The War History Commission made a special attempt to collect records of African-American involvement in the war by designating Negro collaborators and hiring a field agent to encourage black participation in the Commission's program. Correspondence filed unde
  • The Correspondence, Local Branches subseries is housed in 11 boxes. Records in the sub-series Correspondence-Local Branches illustrate the activities and the successes and failures/difficulties of the local War History Commission branches. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by locality (counties then cities) with the correspondence arranged alphabetically by reverse chronological order (primarily 1922-1925 and 1919-1921). The majority of the correspondence is between Arthur Kyle Davis and Ruth Cunningham and members of the local branches, many of them women, and documents the organization, collection of records, and problems of the local branches. Sara Lyle Marshall, chairwoman of the Fauquier County branch, describes her successes and failures in her correspondence (especially 23 March 1921). Grayson County records include a postcard of Jack Allen taken in the backyard of Floyd Allen on 20 March 1913, the day of Floyd and Claude Allen's funeral. This material, unrelated to World War I, was submitted by R.E. Cox
  • The Correspondence, Section Editors subseries is housed in 3 boxes and is arranged by the topical outline developed by the War History Commission. The War History Commission created fifteen topical sections covering distinct subjects to be included in the Commission's proposed four volume history of Virginia during the war. Each section had a chairman and associates who assisted writing the historical narrative of their topic. These sections were: I. Virginians of Distinguished Service; II. Pre-War Conditions and Activities; III. Virginia Churches in War-Time; IV. Virginia Schools and Colleges in the War; V. Political Contributions of Virginia; VI. Draft Law and Virginia Organizations; VII. Virginia Camps and Cantonments; VIII. Economic Conditions in War-Time; IX. Local Branches of Virginia Commission; X. Chesapeake Bay Area in War-Time; XI. Virginia Soldiers and Sailors Overseas; XII. The Red Cross in Virginia; XIII. War Work and Relief Organizations; XIV. War Letters, Diaries and Incidents; and XV. Post-War Conditions and Activities. Records in the sub-series Correspondence, Section Editors contain both incoming and outgoing correspondence between the Commission and section chairman. Noteworthy records include correspondence between, Dr. S.C. Mitchell, chair of the Virginia Churches in War Time section, and clergy across Virginia. A photograph of Dr. Mitchell (B177, F8) is also included. Correspondence filed under the Virginia Communities in War Time document the status of the War History Commission's local branches as of December 1922
  • The Financial Records subseries is housed in 8 boxes and is arranged alphabetically by type of record. The financial records sub-series contains bills, receipts, invoices, and ledgers of the Virginia Council of Defense and War History Commission
  • The Form subseries is housed in 2 boxes and is arranged by the topical outline developed by the War History Commission. These records contain blank examples of various forms used by the commission to document Virginia's contribution to the war effort
  • The Index Cards subseries is housed in 39 index card boxes. The majority of these records are unidentified. However, there are some cards for Virginians killed during the war
  • The Miscellaneous Records subseries is housed in 4 boxes and is arranged alphabetically by topic. Notable records include casualty lists of Virginians killed during the war
  • The Publications subseries is housed in 13 boxes and one oversize folder and is arranged by published an unpublished material. In addition to annotated copies of the Commission's seven source volumes, the publication files contain drafts of histories of the First and Second Virginia Council of Defense and Selective Service and copies of the War History Commission News Letter (1919-1920)
Agency history record describes the history and functions of the Virginia War History Commission. (Search Virginia War History Commission as author).
Member of
  • Accessioned
  • Described
Cataloging source
Citation source
Virginia War History Commission Office Files
  • Part of Record Group 66 (Virginia War History Commission)
  • Series XI. Office Files, 1917-1927
  • The Library of Virginia
Cumulative index finding aids
  • Inventory
  • Inventory
Governing access note
There are no access restrictions
Immediate source of acquisition
Virginia War History Commission
Organization method
Organized into the following sub-series: A. Correspondence, General. B. Correspondence, Local Branches. C. Correspondence, Section Editors. D. Finanical Records. E. Forms. F. Index Card Files. G. Miscellaneous Records. H. Publications.
Terms governing use
There are no use restrictions.
Type of unit
cu. ft. (94 boxes and 4 oversize folders)

Library Locations

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