Friends Education Committee Acknowledgments

Thomas Balch Library Staff

From an initial field trip concept, the Library staff, especially LaVonne Markham, Mary Fishback, Lee Catlett, and former library manager, Jane Sullivan, helped the Friends Education Committee locate the documents provided at this site. It was through these staff members that we learned about the true richness of Thomas Balch Library. With every inquiry, one of them could identify yet another collection or secondary source to be tapped, or a local historian with the required expertise.

Friends of Thomas Balch Library Black History Committee 

An active and highly productive Black History Committee serves as a wonderful source of information about African American history in Loudoun County. Members of the committee provide resources and development of many impressive projects, and allow us to tap these projects for materials on this site. The two-volume work, The Essence of a People, compiled and published by the committee, tells the story of important African Americans in Loudoun. Five selections from Essence are included here: two from Volume I, subtitled, Portraits of African Americans Who Made a Difference in Loudoun County, Virginia; and three from the second volume, subtitled: African Americans Who Made Their World Anew in Loudoun County, Virginia. The committee also made available to us through a link at this site, Loudoun County’s African American Communities: A Tour Map and Guide, an especially rich resource for teachers.

A special thanks to these committee members:

Pauline Singletary, the committee’s chairperson, enthusiastically embraced our project, and assisted us from the beginning

Betty Morefield transcribed, and provided for this site, several reports from the Freedmen’s Bureau Papers, which are found on microfilm at Thomas Balch Library. It was Mrs. Morefield who introduced us to Courage, My Soul: Historic African American Churches and Mutual Aid Societies, which she co-authored with Elaine E. Thompson. This publication is a follow-up to a Loudoun Museum exhibit of February 13-April 30, 2000, curated by Ms. Thompson. It provides important local information on these black institutions.

Elaine E. Thompson, an historian who has written extensively about African American history in Loudoun County, allowed us to use, with permission from the Loudoun Museum, both the introduction which she wrote for Courage, My Soul: Historical African American Churches and Mutual Aid Societies, and an excerpt from “Let Our Rejoicing Rise.” A publication funded by the museum, “Rejoicing,” tells the story of Loudoun’s Emancipation Association. Further, we have Ms. Thompson to thank for several scanned photographs and documents bearing on these subjects. 

Deborah A. Lee, an historian, who wrote the text for Loudoun County’s African American Communities, A Tour Guide and Map, acquainted us with this remarkable resource. Moreover, when the committee needed a specific document, even on some narrowly defined subject, Mrs. Lee always seemed able to identify just the appropriate museum exhibit or publication that might provide the resource. 

Rachel Yarnell Thompson, special projects director of the George C. Marshall International Center and author a recent biography on Marshall, developed the concept, selected documents, and wrote supporting text for A Glimpse into the History of African-American in Loudoun County. To learn more about the development of Glimpse, click here.

The Loudoun Museum

The Loudoun Museum uses its collection of artifacts and documents to interpret the history of Loudoun County. One such collection is the “Lucas-Heaton” letters. The correspondence was written from 1830 to 1836 by freed slaves living in Liberia to Albert and Townsend Heaton, two brothers in Purcellville, Virginia, who had freed them. We are grateful to the museum for allowing us to use transcribed copies of two of the letters at this site. Collections curator, Christie Huber, was most helpful in assisting the committee in how to best access this amazing resource.

The Afro-American Historical Association

Located in The Plains, Virginia in Fauquier County the Afro-American Historical Association is a rich repository of local black history. Karen Hughes White, the association’s curator, helped the committee locate many rich resources available about African American history in this area. She gained permission from the association for us to use on our website substantial material from Black Laws of Virginia as well as sections of The Virginia Register of Free Negroes, both of which were produced and funded by the AAHA. We were also allowed to include Joan Peters’ complete introduction to Black Laws of Virginia, a must-read for any teacher wishing to instruct students about the history of African Americans in the state. All of these contributions were substantial and greatly strengthened this site.

The Loudoun Times-Mirror

Thomas Balch Library houses on microfilm the newspapers of the Loudoun Times-Mirror, and its predecessors, The WashingtonianThe Loudoun Times and The Mirror. Many articles from these newspapers appear at this website, shedding light on events and attitudes that shaped Loudoun’s history, especially during the post-Civil War era. Mr. Arthur Arundel, owner and publisher of the Times-Mirror, kindly gave us permission to use these primary materials. The documents greatly enrich the site, offering topical glimpses into the history of African Americans in Loudoun County.

The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom

The National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom Program provides technical assistance to organizations that are attempting to identify, document, preserve and interpret sites, routes, and landscapes related to the Underground Railroad. Through this National Park Service program, the committee met and worked with the Capital Area Director of the Network, Jenny Masur. She provided us with excellent information about documents relating to our regional African American history. Ms. Masur continues to act as a resource, and is never too busy to find the answer to yet one more question about that history. (Thomas Balch Library, the Loudoun County Courthouse, and Oatlands Plantation have all been selected as members of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.)

Jerry Michael

A dairy farmer most of his life, Jerry Michael has developed a deep interest in local history. He compiled articles from local newspapers into two books. The Year After (1865) includes items of interest, including many related to African Americans, from Loudoun’s The Mirror, a forerunner of The Loudoun Times Mirror. A second publication, Back to the Seventies, Items of Interest from the Local Press, provides a treasure trove of articles from that period, including many about black citizens of the community. Mr. Michael generously provided copies of these books, and allowed us to use the articles at this site, thus saving us hours and hours of scrolling through archival microfilm. 

Denise Oliver-Velez

In 2002, while conducting genealogical research, Mrs. Oliver-Velez visited the Library. Research librarian, LaVonne Markham, assisted her in finding the records of her great-great grandfather, Presley Roberts, who was a slave in Loudoun until freed by the will of his owner. The history of Roberts and his wife, Amelia Weaver, whom he married after Emancipation, sheds light on African Americans in Loudoun. Mrs.Oliver-Velez has enthusiastically allowed us total access to the material featured at her website, and has provided many valuable clues in our search for documents.

Arlene Janney 

The late Arlene Janney was the widow of Asa Moore Janney, who co-authored Ye Meetg Hous Smal, a history of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in this area. Mrs. Janney kindly gave us permission to use an entire chapter from that text. This material offered insights into the relationship between the Friends and the black community in the period just before the Civil War.

Charles Poland

Charles Poland, the author of From Frontier to Suburbia, a history of Loudoun County, gave us permission to use material from his book, especially a chart on the distribution of slaveholders in Loudoun, at our site.

Cheryl Sadowski

Cheryl Sadowski shared with us her background as a communications specialist, offering valuable suggestions for adapting an initial Thomas Balch Library field trip concept into this primary documents website piece. 

John and Bronwen Souders

Local historians John and Bronwen Souders, shed light on African American history in the Quaker village of Waterford through their book, A Rock in a Weary Land, A Shelter in a Time of Storm. They also provided copies of runaway slave ads from a pre-Civil War Loudoun newspaper, Genius of Liberty. Mrs. Souders was a constant source of help, especially in apprising us of African American history materials available through the Waterford Foundation.