Hands-on Humanities, with a Digital Heart

Virginia Arts of the Book Center

Taking our VFH tagline at its words—Explore the Past, Discover the Future—this year we invited artist Frank Riccio to illustrate significant points in Virginia’s history across a map of the Commonwealth, working from a list of Encyclopedia Virginia’s online entries. We used Frank’s artwork to design our New Year’s greeting cards and called on VFH staff to crank the letterpresses at the Virginia Arts of the Book Center.

We think the map and its images provide a unique path for you to explore Virginia history from 20,000 years ago to 1990.

Where’s the future in all this? Check out our calendar for events throughout the year or subscribe to our e-newsletter for regular updates. Happy New Year!

Learn more about each map point via these links to Encyclopedia Virginia entries.

  • Sussex County: The location of Cactus Hill, the site of the earliest human settlement in Virginia (18,000 to 20,000 years ago).
  • James City County: The English establish the Jamestown settlement in 1607.
  • Point Comfort: Virginia’s first Africans arrive in 1619; General Benjamin F. Butler declares three black fugitives “contraband of war” in 1861.
  • Westmoreland County: George Washington is born in 1732.
  • Yorktown: Washington defeats British general Charles Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.
  • Southampton County: Nat Turner leads a slave insurrection in 1831.
  • Manassas: The First Battle of Manassas is fought in 1861, the Second Battle in 1862.
  • Appomattox: Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrenders to Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant in 1865.
  • Buchanan: Helen Timmons Henderson becomes one of the first female legislators in Virginia after her election to the House of Delegates in 1923.
  • Bristol: In 1927, the Victor Talking Machine Company brings a field unit to Bristol to record musicians from the region, including country music legends Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family.
  • Winchester: Country music star Patsy Cline is born in 1932.
  • Prince Edward County: In 1951, students go on strike to protest conditions at the all-black Moton High School.
  • Richmond: L. Douglas Wilder is inaugurated as governor of Virginia in 1990. He is the first elected African American governor in U.S. history.