What exactly is a Curator, anyway?

Greetings!  This special edition of Curator’s Corner is inspired by an article recently published in The Guardian, interviewing curators at various UK museums about what exactly they do everyday in their jobs.

Our regular readers of the blog and the monthly newspage know me as the Gott Library’s resident curator and archivist, Rachel Scott.  Like many curators at small museums, the various curatorial roles at the Gott are broad and deep, including acquisitions, collections management, exhibit design, and many more.  Movies portray curators are erudite professor types with glasses and elbow patches on their wool sports coats, sitting at a desk in an office full of mahogany book shelves and Tiffany desk lamps.  But what do curators really do?

Real curators spend much of their time in jeans and work shirts, climbing on ladders in stark windowless repositories, and sitting in preservation labs building custom mounts for oddly shaped artifacts, and cleaning.  Lots of cleaning.

Let’s examine a curator’s job through the eyes of a new artifact.

Collecting Parameters: When an educational institutions begins collection artifacts and historical documents, the first decision to be made is what exactly will be collected.  This is the primary role of curating a collection.  As the article above explains, this does not mean choosing nice things.  In the case of the Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Foundation at The John Gott Library, we collect artifacts and documents that provide our visitors with a more complete picture of the history of Fauquier county, including its people, places, and businesses.  The intrinsic value, the specific connection to our history, is more important than the monetary value.

Acquisition and Accession: After deciding what artifacts will be collected, the next step is an acquisition.  When a new artifact comes into the Library as a donation, the curator will oversee the accessioning of the artifact.  Acquiring an object is the official hand-off and transferring ownership (usually involving signing a form and receiving a receipt).  An object is then accessioned when it is evaluated by the curator, and detailed notes and photographs are entered into the official record.

Collections Management: After an object has been accessioned, it will be fitted for proper housing.  Housing refers to the packing materials that will hold the object (which can be much more complicated than it sounds), and its place within the repository (special storage).

Objects are not collected to merely be hidden away in storage.  Collections can be used in various ways, primarily research and exhibition.  In both cases, the purpose of the objects in the collection is for education.  Research collections are specifically for – you guessed it- research.  These collections are more hands-on, and are often utilized for traveling collections (when the curator takes objects to schools and other libraries to provide authentic visual aids to lectures and talks), for analysis (such as carbon dating or chemical analysis), and for individual researchers to access within the Library.

Exhibition:  Most objects collected will be exhibited.  Curating exhibits a primary role of the resident curator, and involves choosing a theme for the exhibit, establishing the educational goals, and then selecting objects and documents that best achieve those goals.  Then, the curator would usually create an exhibit proposal, including what is to be included, all text and labels, lighting, housing, and more.  Once the proposal is accepted, installation begins.

Engaging our Visitors:  Museums and Libraries are educational institutions, first and foremost.  While curating collections and designing exhibits, the curator is constantly seeking further engagement with visitors. We ask ourselves:  How do we make our collections resonate with visitors?  How do we make it personal?  How do we make our collections and our mission relevant?  This is the curator’s goal.

In larger museums, the curatorial department is made up of many jobs- Head Curator, Collections Curators and their Assistant Curators, Collections Management, Registrar, Exhibition Design, etc.  No matter how many staff members are involved, or how many hats a curator wears, the work is never ending.  And we love it that way.



Curator’s Corner: The “Mosby” Saddle

Artifact Spotlight: The “Mosby” Saddle


The Mosby Saddle as it stands today, with prominent bullet hole front and center

On June 22, 1863, a bullet pierced the saddle and leg of Private John N. Ballard, a man most notable for losing his right leg twice in battle during the Civil War.

Hello! I’m Rachel Scott, Curator and Archivist here at the John Gott Library.  This month’s artifact spotlight is the Mosby Saddle.  The colloquial name for this artifact around the library, “The Mosby Saddle,” is actually a misnomer.  The saddle belonged to John M. Ballard, a Private in the 43rd Battalion of the Virginia Cavalry under Mosby’s command.  I suppose the “Ballard Saddle” wouldn’t draw quite the attention in Old Salem as does the name Mosby, although maybe it should.  I’ll let you be the judge.

John Ballard was a young man of 22 years in April of 1861 when he enrolled as a Private in the 2nd South Carolina Infantry.  Two years and one month later, in May of 1863, he would join Company A of what would become one of the most famous battalions of the Civil War, Mosby’s Partisan Rangers, or the 43rd Virginia Cavalry.

Following the Rangers’ raid on Seneca Mills, Maryland, Mosby and Ballard made their way to the Bull Run Mountains on the east, near Ewell’s Chapel, to resume patrol.  Unbeknownst to them, a concealed US Infantry under the command of Union General George Meade lie in waiting for Mosby’s Rangers, and the confederate soldiers were attacked on their approach to the Chapel that June morning.  It is there that Ballard took a musket ball to the right leg, with any structural integrity spared by the bullet being lost on the rough ride back to the Bull Run Mountains.  Ballard was transported to the home of Robert Whiteacre near the top of the mountain for amputation, and then to Bennevue, the home of Mr. William Ayre in Fauquier County, to convalesce.  He was then admitted to the Richmond General Hospital #1.  On a disability discharge from the hospital dated October 17, 1863, Ballard retired to his home in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Retirement did not seem to suit Mr. Ballard, as he was back in service with Mosby by winter on a prosthetic leg.  His first prosthesis was crushed in battle near Halltown, Virginia in a charge led by Captain Adolpheus Edward Richards, marking the second time John Ballard would lose his right leg in combat.  Afterwards, the artificial leg of US Cavalry Colonel Ulric Dahlgren was recycled and fitted to Ballard, and it is on this leg that he saw the completion of the Civil War on active duty as a 1st Lieutenant to the 56th Virginia Infantry Regiment.

After the War was over, Ballard made his home in Fairfax county.  Employed as the Commissioner of Revenue for the county for the next 32 years, he would live out the rest of his life in Fairfax married to Miss Lillie Thrift (m. 1874) with whom he had four children.

John Ballard attended several reunions of the 43rd VA Cavalry including the 1895 50year reunion held here in Marshall, where this photo was taken in which Ballard is seen resting his crutch on his wooden leg.

group photo ballard reunion in marshall va

Group Photo taken at the 2nd Reunion of the 43rd Cavalry

ballard civil war pic

John N. Ballard as seen in the photo above, front row, left of center

He also attended the 1897 reunion in Baltimore, the 1905 reunion in Fredericksburg, and the anniversary of Gettysburg in 1913.

After his death in 1922, so Library lore tells us, his bullet-pierced saddle went to his son who was a contemporary of Mr. John Gott.  For years, Mr. Gott offered to purchase the saddle from Ballard’s son with no success.  Years passed, and when Ballard Jr. passed on the John N. Ballard collection became part of his estate.  Mr. Gott approached the executor of the estate regarding the saddle, and unlike the late Ballard Jr, the executor of the estate considered the old, dusty saddle junk and was more than happy to gift it to Mr. Gott free of charge.  John Gott would retain the saddle, held in safe keeping, until the founding of the Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Foundation and the Library in 1993, at which time Mr. Gott gifted the saddle to the Library.


Saddle at the time of accession.

Media source: Fairfax County Photo Archive, Group 168, Fairfax County Library, Virginia Room

Special Thanks to Mr. Robert Sinclair, FHPF President and resident Keeper of Institutional Knowledge, for the background information on the provenance of the object. 

For more on this story and others, become a member of the John Gott Library and get the complete monthly newsletter.

300 yr old Ship Discovered in our Backyard

The discovery of a 300-year-old ship at a construction site has archaeologists ecstatic

A Washington Post article by Patricia Sullivan

A large, heavy ship, scuttled between 1775 and 1798, is being dug out of its damp grave at the site of a new hotel construction project in Old Town Alexandria.

Archaeologists found the partial hull of a ship at 220 S. Union Street, part of the city’s major redevelopment of the Potomac River waterfront. It’s on the same one-block site where workers two months ago discovered a 1755 foundation from a warehouse that is believed to have been the city’s first public building.

“It’s very rare. This almost never happens,” said Dan Baicy, the hard-hatted field director for Thunderbird Archeology, the firm watching for historic evidence during construction. “In 15 years that I’ve done this work, I’ve never run into this kind of preservation in an urban environment where there’s so much disturbance.”

View the whole article here:


Holiday Greetings from the Gott

We Give Thanks

Thank you to all those who submitted feedback after our November newspage dedicated to Northern Fauquier Veterans.  We are curating an updated list of Fauquier Veterans, and expanded to include veterans of the entire Count, that will be published in the early Spring of the new year.  We also plan to add this list to our web site and Facebook page.  Once again, if you know of any Fauquier Veterans who were not mentioned in the November newspage, please help us update our list by contacting the Gott Library with your additions.

A special Thank You to Mr. and Mrs. Thorpe of Warrenton, who graciously hosted the Gott Library Board of Directors for a guided tour of their extraordinary historical home, which was recently featured in the December issue of Early American Life magazine.  A newspage dedicated to their work and collection is planned for the new year.

Seasons Greetings

The crisp air and smell of chimney smoke signals the start of the holidays here in Fauquier.  Main streets all over the county are decked in red and green boughs and candles glimmer in window panes.  Here in Marshall, we are preparing for our annual holiday parade to be held the morning of December 5th on Main Street.


Marshall Christmas Parade

Saturday, December 5th, at 11:00am on Main Street

Dress warmly and bring the whole family to Main Street, Marshall,

to enjoy this traditional, small-town Holiday celebration. 

For more information on the parade, please call (540) 364-2047


 You are invited to an

Open House

at the Gott Library on December 5th

following the Main Street Holiday Parade.


Scenes of the Season

Beatty Brothers sleigh ride - Copy

Beatty Brothers Garage, sleigh ride (in rear of garage)

  snow scene marshall jan 7 1916

A snowy Main Street, January 7, 1916

klipstein house in west end marshall jan 8 1892

Klipstein House in West End, Marshall

Jan. 8, 1892

The above photo taken by James H. Klipstein on a snowy Main Street.  In the distance, on the right, is

the Methodist Parsonage and the gables of the Russell-Rose Home

klipstein house east from keyser building 1916 - Copy

Klipstein House, East from Keyser Building, 1916

Some may recognize this as the later site of Nick’s Glascock Grocery.

The Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Foundation Salutes our Fauquier County Veterans

Veterans Day 

Veterans Day began as a recognition of those who died in World War I.  The cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I was signed on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918.  To honor our veterans of that war, on May 13, 1938, Congress made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday – a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.”   In 1954, after World War II had required the greatest mobilization of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in the nation’s history; and after Korea War, Congress amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word “Armistice” and inserting in its place the word “Veterans.”  Thus, today, Veterans Day honors American veterans of all wars (Memorial Day salutes those who died in combat).  Below is a list of WWII veterans who lived in northern Fauquier County.

Those killed in action are listed in bold.  We welcome photographs of these veterans, and any additions or corrections to our list.  We salute all Fauquier residents who served in wartime throughout America’s history and hope to compile lists of those veterans.

Henry E. Rankin

Robert L. Canard

Arthur W. Fishback

Gordon L. Staples

Curtis M. Payne

Lloyd A. Hughes

Albert C. Payne

Alice M. Bennett

Richard A. McCarthy

Howard A. Glascock

William W. Elgin

Norman L. Moore

Harvey Pearson

Elmer E. Clemmer

Wallace Glascock

Charles D. Edwards

Edward Glascock

Thurston K. Cubbage

Roger Pearson

Raymond G. Canard

Georges Hawkes

Roger I. Russell

Richard Hall

Warren Lee

Paul E. Queen

Warren Glascock

Anderson G. Moffett

Archie Woodward

Philip “Poodle” Yowell

Henry Ball

Claude S. Sisk

Presley C. Ashby

Forrest N. Moffett

Estel H. Ashby

Elias E. Creel

James E. Poe

Archie J. Butler

John C. Butler

Elmer L. Allison

Bernie S. Walters

Nimrod Olinger

Abner Adams

Harry L. Smith

John C. Jones

Alfred R. Falls

  1. Harfield Brown

Luther Pearson

Chester A. Hall

James N. Fudd

Royal Swann

Lee N. Allison

Melvin Corum

Thomas S. Bishop

Marvin M. Creel

Frankie Woodward

Monroe Muse

Vernon I. Payne

Daniel R. Fishback

Harry V. Tinsley

Vincent Grigsby

Elijah Griffith

Green B. Bohn

William D. Turner

William H. Herbert

Cleveland L. Ramey

Wilbur W. Milton

Frank S. Vickers

Foster R. Carter

John W. Strother

Morris A. Hitt

Carroll L. Payne

Douglas F. Monger

Curtis M. Payne

James N. Soaper

Alfred W. Glascock

Lee W. Glascock

Vernon C. Hunt

Edward A. O’Bannon

John W. Jeffries

Norman L. Moore

Shirley F. Edwards

Bedford Fletcher

Leo F. Pearson

Bessie Owens

Alexander Strozier

Earl M. Wines

Floyd G. Butler

Julian F. Griffith

Richard L. Griffith

Howard Morris

Alvin Pearson

James D. Tibbs

Lafayette Lake

John D. Haley

John T. Leach

Paul M. Glascock

George D. Lacy

Frederick H. Wines

Charles Baird III

Harry A. Kerns

Vernon M. Russell

Richard Holzaphel

Haywood N. Grant

John S. Lunsford

James W. Edwards

Willis L. Hatcher

Robert A. Huff

Nelson Kirk

Jack Glascock

Calvin Glascock

Edward M. Walter

Thomas C. Anderson

Robert B. Moriarty

Grafton Brown

Leonard C. Robinson

Wilfred E. Lewis

Cleveland E. Conard

Isaac R. Woodward

Wallace S. Lunsford

John F. Miller

John D. Brown

The Shenandoah Valley Tapestry – A Journey Through Time Project, The Kernstown Battlefield Association and the Friends of Handley Regional Library have joined together with Margaretta Barton Colt to create a community project celebrating 250 years of history in the Shenandoah Valley through needlework.  For further details contact Linda Suter at 540-364-782.  The Handley Regional Library will host the first event in the Handley Auditorium on November 14th.

In Loving Memory of Laurene Bridges, The First Editor of the Gott Library Newsletter


…from the Gott Library

Dedicated to our first editor, Laurene Bridges

A publication of The Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Foundation, Inc.

Volume 5, No. 10   October 2015

Laurene Bridges memorial photo

Laurene Bridges

1937 – 2015

Laurene Bridges, board member of the Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Foundation/ The John K. Gott Library, died October 8, 2015 following a long and gallant battle with cancer.

Laurene was the editor of our Foundation newsletter since its inception, spanning nearly five years. She was dedicated to her adopted home of Marshall and was active in her church, various reading groups, and certainly dedicated to the functions of the Gott Library.  Laurene was loved by all who knew her.  She gave freely to the various efforts of the Foundation and her ready smile and laughter will be missed.

From this point forward all editions of our monthly newsletter will carry Laurene’s name as a token of the Foundation’s love and affection for our departed co-worker.  As Bridges…from the Gott Library, the newspage will continue to bridge the distances between the FHPF and our membership.

Bob Sinclair, President

Fauquier Heritage and Preservation Foundation / The John K. Gott Library

Archival Treasures: Find Your Hidden Gem

October is Archives Month in Virginia  

Here at the John Gott Library, our archives overflow with hidden gems of Marshall and Fauquier county heritage.  Across the Commonwealth, find your hidden gems at museums, libraries, and historical sites statewide!

October is Archives Month in Virginia

Virginia Archives Month Events:

Monday, July 06, 2015—Saturday, March 26, 2016
Library of Virginia
Remaking Virginia: Transformation through Emancipation
9:00 AM–5:00 PM
Free admission

Even as the Civil War was still being fought, the status of almost a half-million African Americans in Virginia began to change. No longer were they someone else’s property—they were free. They anticipated the promise of change from their former status as slaves: the promises of education, political participation, and full citizenship. Yet, in their struggle to achieve these goals, freedmen and freedwomen faced the hostility of their former masters and the society that had long benefitted from their labor. Union troops and U.S. government officials reconstructing the Southern states were often indifferent. What challenges did African Americans face in their struggle to achieve what they believed freedom would bring them? What obstacles blocked their efforts to gain citizenship? How successful were African Americans during Reconstruction in claiming their objectives? Did the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution significantly aid them in their struggles? The Library of Virginia’s exhibition Remaking Virginia: Transformation through Emancipation offers a look at the changing world Virginians faced during Reconstruction. Radio One is the exclusive radio sponsor for Remaking Virginia.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Meherrin Regional Library, Lawrenceville, VA
Library to Celebrate 75 Years
4:00 PM-9:00 PM
Free admission

The Meherrin Regional Library System is pleased to announce the 75th anniversary of the Brunswick
County Library. Opening in 1940, the Brunswick County Library has faithfully provided decades of information, literature, services, programs, and more to local residents and visiting researchers. In honor of this momentous occasion the Brunswick County Library
will host a special celebration Wednesday, Oct. 7. The day will include patron appreciation, memory lane displays, and featured art by William Ward Moseley. A special gathering of friends from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. for food and fellowship will highlight the day.

For more information contact the Brunswick County Library at (434) 848-2418 ext. 301 or on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/meherrinregionallibrary.

Thursday, October 8, 2015
Richmond Times-Dispatch
300 E. Franklin St., Richmond, Va. 23219
Stories to Tell: Exploring Richmond’s Archives
11 AM – 2 PM
Free admission

Doing some genealogical research, looking for an obituary, writing a book, a paper or a thesis,
or just interested in local history? Our (Richmond Times Dispatch) 59th Public Square will help you learn how to access a treasure trove of history going back hundreds of years. As we celebrate National Newspaper Week and National Archives Month, we’ll tell
you about the extensive archives of The Times-Dispatch, and you’ll hear from some of the country’s best sources of history: The Valentine, the Virginia Historical Society, the Library of Virginia, VCU Special Collections and the University of Richmond Special

After the formal presentation, from 11 a.m. till noon, we’ll hold a two-hour archive fair in our

So bring your questions. We’ll have plenty of experts who can answer them.

Parking will be available in The Times-Dispatch’s Third Street deck.

Friday, October 9, 2015
VCU Tompkins-McCaw Library

“Edith Cavell: ‘A Nurse Who Did Her Duty'” Exhibit Opening Reception
5:30-7:30 PM
Free admission

In October 1915, Edith Cavell, an English nurse working at a Brussels medical school was executed by the Germans for sheltering British soldiers. Her execution caused an international uproar and media frenzy, and she quickly became an icon of the war effort and the nursing profession. In recognition of the 100th anniversary of Nurse Cavell’s martyrdom, Tompkins-McCaw Library for the Health Sciences proudly presents an exhibit of postcards pertaining to Nurse Cavell from the collection of Kay Seidenberg, a long-time Friend of VCU Libraries donor, as well as a graduate of the VCU School of Nursing.

The exhibit is free and open to the public during normal library hours. An opening reception will be held on Friday, Oct. 9, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Special Collections and Archives reading room at Tompkins-McCaw Library. Refreshments will be served, and there will be remarks at 6 p.m. Please visit our website for additional information.

Monday, October 19, 2015
Library of Virginia
Archives Month Tour
10 AM–Noon
Free admission, registration required

Come to the Library of Virginia for a special “treasure hunt” tour.Explore some of the Library’s many unique treasures, from newspapers and private papers to local and state records and special collections. Registration required. Go to http://www.eventbrite.com/e/behind-the-scenes-tour-archives-month-at-the-library-of-virginia-tickets-18053613845 Tour repeats at 2:00 PM.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Library of Virginia

Restructuring the American Family
Noon–1:00 PM
Free admission

Before 1865, Virginia law refused to recognize the relationships of enslaved couples. Emancipation, however, permitted formerly enslaved people to reconnect, if not reunite, with family members. Local records archivist Greg Crawford will share stories found in the Library of Virginia’s collections of African Americans seeking to rebuild their families following emancipation. He will also discuss resources offered by the Library to access these stories. This talk complements Remaking Virginia: Transformation through Emancipation.

Monday, October 19, 2015
Library of Virginia
Archives Month Tour
10 AM–Noon
Free admission, registration required

Come to the Library of Virginia for a special “treasure hunt” tour.Explore some of the Library’s many unique treasures, from newspapers and private papers to local and state records and special collections. Registration required. Go to http://www.eventbrite.com/e/behind-the-scenes-tour-archives-month-at-the-library-of-virginia-tickets-18053613845 Tour repeats at 2:00 PM.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Open House, Norfolk Southern Historical Collection
Norfolk Southern Corporation
Three Commercial Place, Norfolk, Virginia 23510
11:00 AM-3:00 PM
Free admission

See everything from menus and maps to Samuel Spencer’s watch. Also during the
month of October, e-posters will be displayed throughout the corporate headquarters featuring images from the archives collection.
A new exhibit in the Norfolk Southern museum will highlight the contributions of women to railroad history.
If you’re unable to attend, follow us on Facebook because our Throwback Thursdays will continue to highlight the company’s history.

Thursday, October 22, 2015
Poe Museum, Richmond, VA
G.R.A.B. meetup at the October UNhappy Hour
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
$5 admission

This one is for the archivists and the people that love them! Join G.R.A.B. (Greater Richmond Archives
Bunch) at the Poe Museum for the October UNhappy hour. This is a chance for archivists and archival enthusiasts to meet, relax, and have a little fun in the Museum’s Enchanted Garden. It will feature live music by Connor Wood, a cash bar, food, and performances.
Halloween costumes are encouraged, but not required. Visit the Poe Museum website for more information:

(Events via the Library of Virginia: http://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/archivesmonth/2015/)

Explore more of Virginia’s rich archival collections at The Library of Virginia’s Flickr page:

Check out the Library of Virginia's Flickr Page and Find Your Hidden Gems!

James Q. Jones with donkey