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Va. Historical Society to Preserve VBA Archives

Wednesday, January 11, 2017   (0 Comments)
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The Virginia Bar Association has ensured the perpetual preservation of its history by conferring its archives into the expert care of the Virginia Historical Society.

VBA archives include minutes from past executive committee meetingsIn a formal signing ceremony today at the VHS in Richmond’s Museum District, VBA President James Patrick Guy II executed a deed of gift to donate the bar’s nearly 130-year-old collection of archival materials to the society. These historically significant items will be preserved by the privately financed historical society and will be made available for research and examination by scholars, VBA members and the public.

The VBA also joined the Virginia Historical Society as a corporate member. This expands the VBA’s long-standing affiliation with VHS. Since 2000, VHS speakers have presented topics at Legacy Series Luncheons during VBA summer and winter meetings.

The VBA collection includes minutes, working papers, memorabilia, photographs and books. They reflect the history of Virginia’s oldest statewide bar association, founded in 1888.

VBA Journal cover Winter 2016-2017“The VBA’s working papers are written in a manner akin to transcripts of proceedings,” Thomas M. Winn III wrote in "Historic Preservation at the VBA,” an article in the winter 2016-2017 issue of the VBA Journal. Winn led the VBA Committee on Art & Artifacts that catalogued items for the collection.

“These are living, breathing documents that provide the reader with the feeling of having been present when our past leaders conducted business,” Winn wrote. “If not preserved, these long-ago voices would be silenced.”

The deed of gift allows the VBA to borrow items from the collection for display or other purposes.

The Virginia Historical Society holds more than 8.5 million documents and artifacts, a significant number by or about people who played some role in the VBA’s own history. E. Lee Shepard, vice president for collections at VHS, informed the committee last year that the VBA collection would nicely complement existing VHS holdings.

The signing reflects the culmination of work performed by the volunteer Committee on Art & Artifacts. Winn was appointed by VBA President Guy to lead the effort. Winn enlisted the assistance of past VBA presidents David Landin and Tom Bagby, legal historians Hamilton Bryson and John Peters, law librarian Henry Robb, attorney Victor Cardwell, and VBA staff liaisons Yvonne McGhee and Brenda Dillard.

Guy charged the committee with determining which artifacts hold historical significance before the association moves to a new office location. VBA leaders signed a lease for the new site in December and the association expects to move this spring. Unique among Virginia bar groups, the VBA’s new home in downtown Richmond will include a business and social center for lawyers, judges and law school faculty and students.

The VBA live-streamed the signing of the deed of gift on Facebook.

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