Comfortable History

Brown Library has a terrific Virginia collection that includes some very old books along with newer publications. One of the more fascinating ones is “Virginia: A Guide to the Old Dominion,” a tourism guide done by the Virginia Writers’ Project.
The guide, part of the American Guide Series published by Oxford University Press, came out in 1940 and had F.B. Kegley of Southwest Virginia on its advisory board. The preface, written by Eudora Ramsay Richardson, State Supervisor, offers this:
“We welcome the traveler to our shrines, and we shall always share with him our spoonbread, Smithfield ham, Brunswick stew, peanuts and tobacco if he will but listen to the tales we like to tell of our worthy ancestors..”
Except for tobacco, those offerings still are part of the state’s attraction. The book includes many photos of scenes no longer available, such as one of salt being pumped from underground in Saltville. The photo was taken by W. Lincoln Highton, who served as the chief still photographer for the U.S. Information Service in the late 1930s.
The book was reprinted in 1941, 1946 and 1947 and reissued by the Library of Virginia in 1992.
The Virginia collection stands in front of comfortable seating on the top floor of Brown Library Building, a good place to hang out.

Pumping salt in Saltville

Pumping salt in Saltville

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