Wilderness Road Museum ‘Registry of Free Blacks’ among Top 10 Endangered Artifacts in Virginia


The Wilderness Road Regional Museum’s “Registry of Free Blacks 1855-1864 and Witness Book 1871-1876”Journal of life in Pulaski County has been named to the Virginia Association of Museums’ Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts program.

The Wilderness Road is now one of 10 museums for the public to root for in the annual online endangered artifacts competition. The museum’s chosen artifact includes a registry of free blacks leading up to and during the Civil War, and legal proceedings and information on life in the post war era.

“After a competitive review of 30 applications from museums across Virginia, the review panel of conservators and exhibition and collections care experts from the Library of Virginia, Preservation Virginia, Virginia Conservation Association, and Virginia Department of Historic Resources have selected the 2019 honorees of the Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts program based on the importance and conservation needs of the artifacts,”according to information released by the competition.

The public is invited to vote online for their favorite “Top 10” endangered artifact in an online competition happening Jan. 13-22, 2020. People will be able to vote daily for their favorite museum and artifact and the two items receiving the most votes will receive awards of $2,000 and $1,000

toward the artifacts’ conservation. Additional awards totaling $5,000 will be awarded by the panel to the remaining eight museums.

The award winners and honored museums will be recognized during a legislative reception on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020 at 6 p.m. at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture in Richmond following Virginia Museums Advocacy Day at the General Assembly.

“This marks the ninth year of the Virginia Association of Museums successful campaign to create awareness of the importance of Virginia’s museums and historic sites and the unique historic, cultural and artistic items in their care,” according to competition organizers. “The top 10 program has benefited over 170 institutions to date, shedding light on the expense museums undertake every day, and connecting them with future donors wishing to help in their stewardship efforts.”

The Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts Honorees for 2019 also include:

Anne Spencer Memorial Foundation (Lynchburg, VA)

“Cocktail Party”; 1944

Oil on canvas painting by African American artist, Dolly Allen Mason, created for Anne Spencer

depicting the Harlem Renaissance era of which the poet was a notable literary figure.

George Mason’s Gunston Hall (Fairfax County, VA)

“Truro Parish Register”; 1818

Manuscript from Fairfax County Anglican church noting enslaved workers of the Mason,

Washington, and Custis families.

Historical Society of Western Virginia (Roanoke, VA)

“Eliza Breckinridge Watts Receipt Book”; 1818-1857

Cookbook and record of life in rural Virginia in the 1800s by Eliza Breckinridge Watts, daughter of

Col. James Breckinridge of Fincastle and wife of Roanoke County’s first commonwealth attorney.

Pamplin Historical Park & National Museum of the Civil War Soldier (Petersburg, VA)

“Zachary Taylor Presidential Inaugural Ball Banner”; 1849

Banner created by notable Mexican-American War and Civil War veterans, such as William T.

Sherman and George B. McClellan, for 12th president of the U.S. and native son of Virginia, Zachary


Patrick Henry’s Red Hill (Campbell County, VA)

“Patrick Henry Letter Advocating for Native Americans”; 1792

Rare handwritten letter by Patrick Henry advocating for the rights of Cherokee Indians in the

fledgling United States.

Poe Museum (Richmond, VA)

“Lucy Dorothea Henry’s Autograph Album”; 1840-50s

Scrapbook of Patrick Henry’s granddaughter filled with over 250 items and autographs from

18th & 19th century celebrities like Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, and Lord Byron.

Stratford Hall (Westmoreland County, VA)

“Hannah Ludwell Lee’s Sewing Purse”; 1700s

Sewing kit or “housewife” made and used by original owners of historic Stratford Hall,

Hannah Ludwell Lee and Thomas Lee, founders of a Virginia family dynasty.

The Valentine (Richmond, VA)

“Sophie Meredith’s Congressional Union Banner”; 1918

Political sign used by Virginia leader during protests for women’s equal rights movement

and ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Virginia Beach History Museums (Virginia Beach, VA)

“Folk Art Jugs”; 1700s

Set of leather folk art jugs in the shape of barmaids from 1700s England, and part of Virginia

Beach History Museum’s Thoroughgood House collection gathered by esteemed Hampton

Roads philanthropist and historic preservationist, Henry Clay Hofheimer II.

Virginia’s Top 10 Endangered Artifacts, a program of the Virginia Association of Museums, was originally funded through an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Connecting to Collections Statewide Implementation Grant. The program has been replicated in other states, recognized as one of the grants most successful initiatives, and recognized with a Virginia PR Award by the Richmond Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.