Preliminary Survey of Sources

I. Academic Catalogs and Bulletins

We are fortunate to have a digitized collection of course catalogs and bulletins from the State Normal School from 1914 and forward. Many references to clubs, like the YWMC and the Red Cross Club, will provide us a start for further research. Some of these have particularly interesting information with regards to the war and the homefront experience.

  • October 1917: addressed the school’s plan to support the war effort, and references President Russell’s speeches across the region concerning the war.
  • April 1918: lists a special course offered on food conservation for the war effort
  • October 1918: a literature course compares classical texts with the current war, asking questions like, “How would a soldier read this today?”
  • January 1919: discusses war gardens
  • April 1919: addresses the effects of the war on the State Normal School
  • October 1919: “War Activities”: this short bulletin discusses the school’s involvement in World War I, including the service of two faculty members: Gunyon M. Harris (Assistant in Mathematics) and Roy S. Cook (postmaster.)

II. President Russell’s Papers

The archive of the letters, speeches, and other documents President Russell, who served the State Normal School during the war years. We will particularly seek his speeches on the war effort, referenced in the October 1917 catalog.

III. Student Scrapbooks

The Special Collections of the UMW Library houses a collection of scrapbooks made by women at the State Normal School during the war years. These could be an especially valuable resource for a visual element in our final digital project. Some early discoveries include pictures of students dresses as nurses, some standing with member of the military. This also includes the Hamilton Eckenrode scrapbook collection of newspaper clippings from 1914-1915. All of the articles appear to be military in nature, regarding the war in Europe; however, they are indicative of the area’s awareness and interest in the war prior to American involvement.

IV. Battlefield Yearbooks

Many yearbooks from the State Normal School are digitized online, and available in original format from the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center. These are an especially valuable resource for understanding student life during this era, and the ways the war may have impacted their college experience. Information on clubs and events relating to the war effort will be used.

V. War Posters

Also available through Special Collections, these posters are war propaganda, many in French. They are not specific the Fredericksburg area. Accompanying the posters is a senior thesis on the collection written by Paloma Bolasny in 2006.

VI. Administrative Records

The papers of the Board for the State Normal School, including minutes from meetings, is available, though not easily searchable. In the coming weeks, we will develop specific times and topics to investigate in this archive, which will provide further information on the school’s positions and decisions during this era.

VII. Goolrick Family Papers

The Virginia Historical Society holds the papers of this influential Fredericksburg family from 1896 to 1927. Some relevant portions may include:

  • Section 8: discusses the rebuilding of the Mary Washington monument, and local historic preservation efforts

VIII. Oral Histories and Personal Accounts

Several transcribed oral histories exist at the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center which are relevant to the time period and tagged as war-related. The heritage center also has archived two diaries recounting homefront experiences, along with several photographs from the time.

IX. The Postcard Collection

The Central Rappahannock Regional Library has a valuable postcard collection, digitized and easily available for research via Flickr. Many of the postcards feature images of the early campus of UMW, which could be very useful for the final project.

X. Histories of Fredericksburg and UMW

Several books have been written over Fredericksburg’s long history, several of which are useful for our project.

  • Alvey, Edward Jr. History of Mary Washington College. 1976. (Alvey was also a dean at MWC.)
  • Crawley, William Bryan. University of Mary Washington: A Centennial History. Fredericksburg, VA: University of Mary Washington, 2008.
  • Fitzgerald, Ruth Coder: A Different Story: A Black History of Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania, Virginia. New York: Unicorn Publishing, 1979.
  • Images of America series: these books on Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, and Stafford are essentially a collection of captioned images from the history of the region.
  • Embrey, Alvin T. History of Fredericksburg, Virginia. 1937.

XI. Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Circuit Courts

We will be utilizing the tax, land deed, and court records available at two regional circuit courts to fill in details about particular people and places we find in our other research. With information about the way the physical town changed over time, including local commercial and residential trends, we could create an interactive mapping element in our final project which would allow visitors to visualize the way the war impacted the town economically, socially, or otherwise. A list of Fredericksburg locals who served in the war overseas is also available from the CRHC.

XII. Other Local Documents

Thanks to the thorough and long-going research of Prof. Gary Stanton in the Historic Preservation department at UMW, a great number of local resources are digitized and available online. Any number of these could be useful to our broad understanding of the town during this era, or to specific ways the homefront experience played out in Fredericksburg.

  • Business Directories: a list of local businesses, their owners and operators, and their locations in town.
  • Census Records: These are available elsewhere, specifically through at the local library, but here only relevant information is provided.
  • Plats and maps

XIII. Google News Archives

The complete archive of the local Fredericksburg newspaper, then called the Daily Star, is available digitally via Google News. Though not keyword searchable, this provides a valuable look into the homefront experience of the town. We will be looking for references to a local recruitment station, rallies, and other war-related ads, rather than the readily-avaiable articles on the larger military events abroad.

XIV: Further Research Plans

Our group is seeking to contact other local institutions we feel may have archives or relevant sources from this era. These include:

  • The Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center: which has a small exhibit on World War I and the town, and likely has collections from the era
  • The National Museum of the Marine Corp: located in Quantico, VA not far from Fredericksburg, officers from the marine base frequently visited girls at the State Normal School. The museum has a large archive and may have pictures, letters, or other documents related to the school.
  • The Fire Department
  • The Masonic Lodge
  • The Women’s Army Museum
  • Kenmore (George Washington Foundation)

We will also be looking into the vast resources at the Library of Virginia, many of which are digitized. We have yet to determine the resources which may be available there.


–Candice, Jack, Julia, and Leah

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