Follow along with us as we share stories, fun facts, videos and podcasts from the Virginia Beach History Museums! We will post updates at least twice per month. You can click on each image for a link directly to the blog post, video or podcast. While you're here, subscribe to our YouTube channel and our Podcast, as well!
Go behind the scenes of the world of museums collections management with our new Museums Director, Annmarie Reiley-Kay! Learn more about her extensive background in collections and the fine details it takes to preserve centuries-old artifacts.
While the Museum remains closed to the public, we invite you to celebrate the start of Black History Month with a complete virtual tour of the Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Museum! Jasmin will guide you through the history of African American education, as well as the stories of family, community and sacrifice that made the school (the first ever high school for African Americans in Princess Anne County) a reality. The Museum is located within the Virginia Beach City Public Schools' Renaissance Academy, which is where the school once stood.
On January 4, 2021 Annmarie Reiley-Kay officially became the Museums Director for the Virginia Beach History Museums.
Annmarie previously served as Executive Director at the Historic Latta Plantation in Huntersville, NC from 2018 to 2020, and is currently the Director of Museum Studies and an Adjunct Professor at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC, a position she’s held since 2015. Reiley-Kay also has extensive experience managing museum collections, having worked as Collections Manager at Destination Cleveland County and the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, NC from 2009 to 2012, and as the Curator of Collections at the Earl Scruggs Center from 2012 to 2015.
Learn about her background, achievements, community spirit and vision for the future in this exclusive introductory interview with Alex Dye, our Media and Communications Coordinator!
As you pack away the lights and ornaments, and we head into 2021, let's keep the holiday spirit alive a little while longer! On today's episode of the "Beyond the Passage" podcast, Miriam discusses how the holidays would've been celebrated throughout the years at our Historic Homes (the Francis Land House, Lynnhaven House and Thoroughgood House). Grab a cup of that last bit of eggnog and enjoy! #vbhistorymuseums #BeyondThePassage 🎄
LISTEN NOW 🎧: https://soundcloud.com/user-69884504/holidays-at-historic-homes
On this #GivingTuesday, consider a gift to the Virginia Beach Historic Houses Foundation (VHHF). VHHF was formed in 2013 to enhance the City-owned historic houses and sites by providing funding for historic artifacts and education programs and promoting public awareness of Virginia Beach history.
The Virginia Beach Historic Houses are cultural assets that are valued and supported by the community. The Foundation’s Board of Trustees are committed to historic architecture, authentic collections, inspiring landscapes, and stimulating program experiences for all audiences, and to maintaining the highest levels of professionalism and accreditation.
Your support of VHHF will help the Virginia Beach History Museums enhance our sites for years to come. For more information on VHHF, and how you can donate, visit https://www.museumsvb.org/museum-information.
The Virginia Beach Historic Houses Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Gifts made to the Virginia Beach Historic Houses Foundation are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
Looking for new and fun things to do at home over the holidays? We've got a suggestion! The whirligig, also known as a buzz saw toy, was a favorite among colonial-era children. The toy, usually made out of wood and string, involves pulling two side handles rapidly, causing the buzz saw in the middle to spin rapidly, making a "buzz" sound.
You can make your own version of this classic favorite at home. Follow Miriam's instructions here, and enjoy hours of buzzing fun (for the kids in our audience, make sure you have an adult to help with cutting and tying string)!
You will need:
-Buttons (One button per whirligig toy. Buttons need to have four holes, and holes need to be wide enough for yarn to pass through.)
During this Native American Heritage Month, let’s go back through history to learn about the tribes and traditions that have been present in the Hampton Roads area. We are often taught about large villages, tribes, and kingdoms with imagery that frequently refers to a nineteenth century history of tepees and warriors on horseback. Though these images are found in the mid- and southwest, there is a vast and rich history of First Peoples here in Virginia. Check out this article from staff member Violet to learn more about our area's Native history!
Today's Service Story comes courtesy of 1966 Union Kempsville High School Alumnus Charlie Parker. Mr. Parker is a retired Chief Warrant Officer Five (CW5), the highest Warrant Officer rank in the U.S. Army. CW5 (Retired) Parker had a distinguished military career that spanned 40 years, and included numerous decorations. Among his many posts was a special assignment at the Warrant Officer Career Center, Fort Rucker, Alabama, where he assumed the role as Branch Chief of the General Studies Branch. His mission was to train Warrant Officer Candidates to become future Warrant Officers, including Warrant Officer Aviation Pilots. He was the first African American to hold that prestigious position, which he held from 1998-2001. Please read CW5 (Retired) Parker's guest blog post, where he describes his service history, upbringing in Virginia Beach and his legacy.
As we approach Veterans Day, we're gathering stories of Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Alumni who've served in our nation's military. Our first guest blog post is from Lt. Col. (retired) James Belin, a 1966 graduate of Union Kempsville High School who went on to serve in the military for over 20 years. He describes his experience growing up in a segregated Princess Anne County/Virginia Beach, his extensive military and government experience and how educators at Union Kempsville High School inspired and drove him to success. Thank you for your service!
Restoration update! Check out our Director's Letter for the latest updates on the status of the Lynnhaven House and Francis Land House Restorations, as well as an update on the latest happening with Virginia Beach History Museums.
With one week to go before the November election, let's go back in time for a history of the fight for women's suffrage. While the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920, there were decades of fights before and after to secure the rights for all citizens to vote. Today's blog post, from Operations Assistant Kim, discusses women's political role during the Early Republic and women's suffrage. The post also incorporates some of what you may hear on a tour of the Francis Land House about Ann Gardner Land, how she would've been responsible for her daughters' education and what that would've looked like at the time. Make sure to exercise your hard-earned right to vote!
Halloween will be here before you know it! To celebrate, we teamed with Hunter House Victorian Museum on our latest podcast. Listen as Miriam, our Operational Assistant, and Raven Hudson, the Assistant Director at Hunter House Victorian Museum, discuss the origins of unique Halloween practices, Victorian mourning rituals and other hidden histories! #vbhistorymuseums 🎃 LISTEN NOW!
CALLING ALL VIRGINIA BEACH TEENS! Teens With a Purpose and the Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School Alumni and Friends Association invite YOU to improve your written and spoken word poetry skills, all while engaging with living local history! In this FREE program, teens will meet, and learn from, (virtually at first) Alumni from Virginia Beach's first high school for African Americans. Teens will then use these conversations as the basis for their writing, which will culminate in a final public performance in April 2021. The first workshop is November 18, so sign up now! Register today by downloading the registration packet at https://bit.ly/36mYbaj and emailing the completed forms to TWPTeenEvents@gmail.com. #vbhistorymuseums (this event is open to Virginia Beach teens ONLY)
Tours of the Francis Land House consider plantation life; the roles of the household members, both free and enslaved; Federal style; and ways that the formation of the new nation affected private lives. Tour guides also discuss the colorful history of the house in the 20th century, when it functioned as the Rose Hall Dress Shop. While the House remains closed for restoration, check out the video we show guests before they go on tours. We hope to see you again, soon!
As we approach spooky season, Operational Assistant Miriam Jackson discusses the Lynnhaven House Cemetery, which holds centuries of hidden stories!
In this special guest segment of #VirtualHistoryVB, we welcome in a Virginia Beach oceanfront treasure: the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum at DeWitt Cottage! Museum Director Lynn Hightower goes over the history and importance of wildfowling in Virginia Beach, as well as some of the things you can expect to see on your visit to this historic property. The DeWitt Cottage, celebrating its 125th Anniversary in 2020, is the oldest remaining oceanfront property.
(Disclaimer: the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum at DeWitt Cottage is not operated by the Virginia Beach History Museums. All special guest segments of #VirtualHistoryVB are intended solely to bring awareness of other history museums in Virginia Beach.)
As we approach September and a non-traditional start to the school year, it reminds us of what it was like for many students during Colonial times. As actual schools were not common in that era, parents were the main source of education, with mothers most often taking the role of home educator. However, unlike today with high-tech Zoom calls and WebEx classes, students back then used simple chalk and slate to learn at home! When you need recess time from virtual learning, consider getting away from the screen, and play with some cool toys such as a Jacob's Ladder, ball-in-a-cup or paddle ball.
Union Kempsville Alumnus Edna Hawkins-Hendrix describes why the fight for education was so crucial in the African-American community in the first half of the 20th century. Learn how the Princess Anne County Training School/Union Kempsville High School came to be after decades of struggle, sacrifice and dedication.
On August 18, 1920, Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the culmination of decades of movements in favor of women’s suffrage. While the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote, state loopholes caused many women of color to continue to remain disenfranchised. The fight continued for women and minority suffrage, leading to the passage of the 24th Amendment, which outlawed poll taxes, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prohibited racial discrimination in voting. Listen to our podcast, where Miriam discusses the history of some of the women featured at our Museums, as well as an interview with Dr. Kimberli Gant, McKinnon Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, VA. Miriam and Dr. Gant describe their experiences as women working in the museum industry, and where society still has room for improvement. (image from Library of Congress)
All of our Historic Homes have gardens, including several types of herbs (such as rosemary, dill, sage and lemon balm). Homeopathic medicines have been used for centuries, and have gained popularity, but do you know about their connection to witchcraft? Join Miriam to learn more about why herbs are such a big dill to Virginia history!