29 collection Results

PG 100, Arlington County Government Photographs, 1915-1997, are images generated by several different county agencies documenting government activities and buildings. The bulk of the collection dates from 1955-1988, and many photos document the development of high rise buildings in Crystal City and Rosslyn. There are also images of the many iterations of the county courthouse, Department of Public Works and Department of Parks and Recreation activities, and members of the County Board and County School Board.

RG 29: Arlington County Public Library Department Records

Prior to 1936, Arlington County had five independent neighborhood libraries.  These libraries received limited financial support from the County.  In 1936, Arlington citizens working with the libraries organized a County library association with the goal of creating a county library system and increasing the County's financial support.  County Manager Frank Hanrahan agreed to support a County library system, but stated that the libraries would need to utilize American Library Association standards in order to achieve the long-term goal of having a professional staff and central library. 

In 1937, the Arlington County Library Association voted unanimously to employ a professional librarian to oversee a standardization process.  The County government appropriated $3,500 dollars to the libraries, $3,000 for operational costs matching the appropriation of 1936, and an additional $500 to hire a professional librarian. 

In the years following this beginning, many librarians and volunteers have worked to enhance collections, and increase community services.  In 1949, the eight branches in operation included:  Aurora Hills, Cherrydale, Clarendon, Columbia Pike, Glen Carlyn, Holmes, Shirlington (formerly Fairlington), and Westover.  Except for the Holmes branch, which closed in 1949, and the Clarendon branch, which became Central Library, all these branches remain in operation.  The branches have over time expanded operations, moved into larger facilities, and hired additional staff in order to meet the ever-increasing needs of the Arlington Community.

RG 111: Arlington Outdoor Education Association Records, 1947-2017

During the late 1950s, Dr. Phoebe Hall Knipling, the Supervisor of Secondary Science education for Arlington Public Schools (APS) started a summer science enrichment program that incorporated outdoor education for students. The program aimed to improve students’ environmental awareness by providing hands-on science experience in nature. During the 1960s, students visited various public and private lands in Northern Virginia, but it became apparent a permanent location for the program would improve the experience. Open land in Arlington County was diminishing fast due to the county’s soaring population, as well as increased urbanization and development.
In January 1967, Dr. Knipling located a 200-acre site in Fauquier County at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but APS lacked the funds to purchase the land. In May 1967, Dr. Phoebe Knipling met with representatives of the Natural Sciences for Youth Foundation in Connecticut, who advocated community involvement to acquire the property. Dr. Knipling started, with the help of community representatives, including parents of APS students and five school staff members, the Arlington Outdoor Education Association (AOEA) as a volunteer-run nonprofit on July 3, 1967 to create an outdoor lab exclusively for APS student use. Mrs. Susan T. Baker became the first president. Others first involved included J. Fuller Groom, J. Frederick Abel, Shirley Jolkoviski, Harold Mack, Paul Nelson, Joseph Newlin, and Theodore Taylor. The group began accepting donations and organizing fundraisers to earn the funds necessary to purchase the land. On March 14, 1968, the group purchased the land from Mary Rose Striker, who agreed to sell the property for less than market value to the group. At Dr. Knipling’s suggestion, the land became known both as Tahl which translates into Wonderful Valley and as Floraunaretum, meaning "interaction of flora and fauna in an outdoor setting." APS students began to visit the land to observe the forces of nature firsthand and learn about ecosystems and biology, among other topics.
After Dr. Knipling retired in 1975, the AOEA board voted to rename the property the Phoebe Hall Knipling Outdoor Laboratory to honor her years of service to science education in Arlington County. The AOEA made the final mortgage payment for the property in November 1978, after a generous donation from Mr. Preston Carruthers. The Outdoor Lab, currently containing about 225 acres, features open fields, forests, wildlife, springs, a lake, as well as hiking trails, camping sites, a classroom, kitchen and dining facilities, observatory, and plant and animal identification areas. The land is reserved exclusively for APS student use. Though the lab is owned, maintained, and managed by the AOEA Board of Directors, APS creates and delivers all educational programs.

PG 250, Documenting Arlington's Changing Scene (1997-2019), is an ongoing collection of images taken by Virginia Room staff that document development throughout the county, including structures and neighborhoods. The collection illustrates Arlington's continually evolving landscape and contains both traditional photographs and digital images. The bulk of the collection dates 1997-2001 and 2008-2019, but new photographs are continually being added.

PG 202, the Palmer Collection (1996-2006), consists of photographs taken by library employee Jim Palmer. His photographs document the changing landscape of Arlington and include images of homes, churches, government buildings, businesses, schools, firehouses, cemeteries and parks. There are also many streetscapes of neighborhoods in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. The bulk of the collection dates 1996-1997 and 2003-2006.

RG 21, Records of the Arlington County Department of Health, 1938-1973, houses images documenting the department's activities. Special yearly scrapbooks, similar to an annual report, were created from 1938-1943 and are the bulk of the collection. Images document inspections of restaurants and dairies, vaccinations and check-ups, and even the Department's Children's Christmas Party. Arlington's Department of Health was one of the first of its kind in the nation.

RG 60 is the Eastman-Fenwick Collection, and houses a wide variety of personal papers of first the Eastman and then Eastman-Fenwick family, spanning several generations. There is correspondence (including some from the front lines of the Civil War and World War I), photographs, financial and legal papers, sermons, diaries, maps, and even Virginia State reports and campaign materials from Charles Fenwick’s time in the state legislature. It is a unique, wide-ranging collection that gives a full view of an important Arlington family.

PG 218, the Ernest E. Johnson Photograph Collection, 1948-1955, consists of images of the Parks and Recreation Department's Negro Recreation Section. The photographs show children and adult activities such as sports teams, dance recitals, plays, parades and award ceremonies. Ernest E. Johnson was the head of the Negro Recreation Section and then head of all county recreation centers after desegregation in 1962. He continued to serve Arlington until the 1980s.

The story of the SUN GAZETTE is really the story of two newspapers and how they eventually came together:
The SUN:   The newspaper now known as the Sun Gazette began publishing as the Sun on Dec. 12, 1935.  The paper was printed weekly until 1951 when it was sold and merged with the Arlington Daily, a 6-days a week paper that had been published since the early 1940s.  The daily paper became known as the Northern Virginia Sun, and its focus expanded throughout the growing western suburbs. The paper was sold again in 1957 and once more in 1963.  During the 1960s and 1970s the Sun combined in-depth local coverage with wire-service reports or national and international news as well.  From 1963 until 1988 the Northern Virginia Sun had the same owner, but in 1988, for economic reasons it was again sold.
The GAZETTE:  The Gazette was founded in 1979 in Great Falls and expanded over the next few years to include coverage of nearby Virginia jurisdictions.  By 1989, as competition increased, the Gazette was sold to the same company that had purchased the Northern Virginia Sun.
The two papers continued to be published as separate entities with several different ownership groups from outside the local area, but eventually the papers would merge and take the name Sun Gazette, referencing both the original Sun and the later Gazette.  Despite further changes in ownership the name has remained the same.
In keeping with the digital age, the Sun Gazette is now also available online.  For online access to more recent issues of the Gazette please visit: www.insidenova.com
Digitization of the Sun Gazette microfilm was made possible by a generous donation from the Friends of the Library.

Additional issues are being added weekly to this collection.

The Center for Local History's oral history program has been ongoing for over 40 years. Subjects include civic leaders, government officials, business owners, and ordinary citizens: men and women who describe firsthand accounts of their everyday lives, places, and neighborhoods. These primary documents are a rich resource for researchers as well as anyone interested in the development of the Arlington community. In addition to this online collection, transcripts of additional interviews are available in the Virginia Room, and more interviews will continue to be added to the online collection on a regular basis.

RG 332: Overlee Preschool Records

On August 7, 1945, a group of Arlington parents met to organize their own cooperative preschool. World War II brought an influx of permanent residents to the county: the population doubled between 1940 and 1944. An unprecedented demand for day care and early childhood education centers emerged since the county public school system did not offer preschool or kindergarten. Mrs. Hazel Mahler decided to organize a new cooperative preschool when she discovered the nearby Rock Spring Cooperative was full, the waitlist long, and local private schools remained too expensive. She organized a meeting with local, interested parents at her home to discuss how they could provide reasonably-priced education for their young children. The parents decided to form their own cooperative preschool, named Overlee Preschool in honor of the nearby neighborhood, Overlee Knolls. As a cooperative preschool, parents made all the decisions regarding school policy, tuition, and classroom activities. Parents paid tuition, hired professional teachers, managed finances, served on the board of directors, acted as teaching assistants, and maintained the school facilities.
The founding parents secured three rooms for their preschool in the Resurrection Lutheran Church on Washington Boulevard and North Powhatan Street in Arlington. The school opened on October 8, 1945 and offered a morning session for nursery and kindergarten age children. In 1947, Overlee offered a separate kindergarten class for the first time, as well as a nursery class for children aged three and four. Overlee discontinued kindergarten classes in 1960 when Arlington County Public Schools began to offer kindergarten. Instead, Overlee offered a separate class for 3-year-olds (called the Bluebirds) and 4-year-olds (called the Redbirds). In 1980, Overlee introduced an additional class for 2-year-olds (called the Yellowbirds). Overlee classes emphasized social and emotional development over other specific skills (like reading or math) through play, activities involving art, music, and nature, and field trips.  
Overlee has occupied several different locations in Arlington since opening, all in local churches, though it has been nonsectarian throughout its existence. 
  1. Resurrection Lutheran Church, 6201 N Washington Blvd (1945-1947)
  2. Trinity Presbyterian Church, 5533 N 16th Street (April 1947-September 12, 1955)
  3. Christ Methodist Church, 5700 Lee Highway (September 13, 1955-1965)
  4. St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, 2425 N Glebe Rd (1965-1989)
  5. Church of the Covenant, 2666 N Military Road (1989-present)

RG 28, Pamphlets and Ephemera, is a reference group of materials collected from many different sources. The materials in this collection were originally conceived of as ephemeral, or disposable, but in reality give researchers an intimate look at Arlington life. This collection holds postcards, catalogs, informational pamphlets, flyers and other advertisements, and even sheet music. The majority of the collection dates between 1900 and 1985, and does include subjects concerning other Virginia localities.

RG 19: Personal Papers of Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell, 1942-1991

The personal papers in this collection are those collected and generated by Elizabeth Pfohl Campbell of Arlington, Virginia. Mrs. Campbell had long been involved in Arlington County educational and civic issues and active in many civic associations. She was a member of the American Association of University Women, the League of Women Voters, Women's Democratic Club, and the Arlington County Citizen's Committee for School Improvement.

Mrs. Campbell's  involvement in the CCSI prompted her to run as a candidate for  the first elected Arlington County School Board in 1947, and she served from 1948 through 1955. In 1956, the Virginia General  Assembly mandated appointed school boards and Mrs. Campbell  accepted an appointment, serving from 1960 to 1963. 

The collection measures approximately seven linear feet and covers the period from 1945 through 1991, with the bulk of the material falling between 1947 and 1959.

PG 230, Arlington Historical Society Photographs, are images collected by the Arlington Historical Society over several decades. These images were then donated the Center for Local History in 2006. The images capture a wide variety of Arlington life, showing people, buildings, landscapes, streetscapes, and local events. The bulk of the collection is 1920-1990, and the images are of varying quality.

RG 97: Records of Church Women United of Arlington, 1944-2001

On January 20, 1944, representatives from sixteen churches in Arlington met to discuss organizing an Arlington Council of Church Women. The name was changed in 1953 to United Church Women of Arlington and then, finally, to Church Women United (CWU) in 1968. 
The national Church Women United describes itself as “a national volunteer Christian ecumenical women’s movement.” From its beginning in 1941 it has been an interdenominational and interracial group. The national CWU has been a significant leader in developing the churches’ role within the Civil Rights movement, the peace movement, and the equal rights movement.
Early in its formation, United Church Women in Arlington advocated for integration of many facilities including hospitals, restaurants, and movie theaters. It also argued for racial equality in matters of churches, schools, housing, and the workplace. In 1952 the Arlington Council started a Child Care Center for Eastern Shore migrant workers and provided supplies and programs.  Local child care centers were a few of the other projects in which CWU was a leader.
CWU’s calendar revolves around an annual meeting in January, a World Day of Prayer (first Friday in March), May Fellowship Day (first Friday in May), and World Community Day (first Friday in November).

RG 156: Records of Soroptimist International of Arlington, Virginia, 1938-2008

Soroptimist International (SI) is an international organization whose members work to improve the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment. The Arlington organization was formed in 1938.

Over the years the Soroptimists raised money in a variety of ways for projects benefitting many worthy local causes such as Arlington Hospital, Over-60 Employment and Counseling Services (publicized in 1957 by “The Ladies Home Journal”), American Red Cross, and the Arlington Public Library, among others.

It was challenging over the years to keep the number of members at a sustainable level. The club disbanded in 2008.

The record group measures approximately 3 linear feet and additionally 21 large scrapbooks. The collection dates from 1938 to 2008 with the bulk between 1956 and 2007 with few records dating from the later 1970s. Types of material include minutes, club histories, newsletters, correspondence, photographs, clippings, conference and award documents and miscellaneous items, as well as the aforementioned scrapbooks.

The RG documents the organization’s activities including participation in regional and national conferences. SI scrapbooks, 1950s-2001 especially are valuable in this regard, including many programs, officer lists, newsletters, clippings, and photographs. The Venture Club scrapbook covers activities 1971-1973.

RG 44: Records of the League of Women Voters of Arlington, VA, Inc., 1945-2001 

The League of Women Voters of the United States was formed in 1920 in order to foster education in citizenship and to support improved legislation, but the organization is allied with no political party. From 1900 to 1946 the League was a federation of state leagues, but in 1946 it became an association of members enrolled in local leagues.

The Arlington-Alexandria League was provisionally founded in 1944 and divided into two separate branches in 1947. An important emphasis has been voter information services and the production of studies on local and state issues.


Record Group 44 houses records of the League of Women Voters of Arlington, Virginia, 1945-2001.  Making up a small proportion of the collection are some scattered papers of the League of Women Voters of the National Capital Area, 1971-1995; of the League of Women Voters of Virginia, 1975-1993; and of the League of Women Voters of the United States, 1971-1994. The records give a good overview of the most important governmental and social issues of Arlington, of Virginia, and of the United States in the post-World War II era. The collection measures approximately 23 linear feet.

RG 17: Records of the Organized Women Voters

The Organized Women Voters of Arlington County was founded in 1923 as the Arlington County League of Women Voters, and later that same year changed its name to the Organized Women Voters in order to remain clearly independent of the now nationally known League of Women Voters. As of 2017, the organization was still active in Arlington County.

The objectives of the organization were "to collect and disseminate political and civic information; to be non partisan; and to be free to take action on any County problem." The Organized Women Voters has been active in educating Arlington County voters on voting procedures and political candidates, as well as actively supporting women candidates for County Board positions. The organization also sponsored two yearly local events for a number of years    the Woman of the Year Award and the annual Birthday Luncheon.

Record Group 17 houses the scattered records of the Women Voters of Arlington County. The collection measures 9.2 linear feet, and ranges from 1923 to 2015. Found in this group are scattered meeting minutes, membership lists, meeting announcements, by‑laws and constitution, financial documentation, memorabilia, and news clippings. Of particular interest are the early meeting minutes and correspondence for the 1923 through 1925 period. The collection also houses several photographs of members at their various functions.

RG 196: Records of the Syphax Family, 1920-1993

The name Syphax has been present in northern Virginia since the early 1800s. Some historians believe that Maria Carter Syphax might have been the daughter of George Washington Parke Custis, the grandson of Martha Washington and adopted by George Washington. Maria grew up at Arlington House, the slave of Parke Custis, and married Charles Syphax, another slave owned by Parke Custis. After their marriage, they were granted 17 acres of land which was officially deeded to them by an act of Congress in 1866. William Syphax, one of Maria and Charles’ ten children, became the first president of the trustee board of Colored schools in Washington, D.C.  This William Syphax was the great-uncle of William Thomas Syphax.
William Thomas Syphax, who was born in Arlington, Virginia, became one of the leading black business entrepreneurs in the 1970s. His wife, Margarite Reed Syphax, was one of the first black business women to be designated a Certified Property Manager. This prominent couple started a real estate and construction business that was recognized in Black Enterprise’s first list of the 100 Top Black Businesses in 1973. While building his business, William also found the time to get a Masters’ Degree in Engineering Administration from George Washington University, and a PhD in Behavioral Philosophy from Pacific Western University. He had earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the Virginia State College for Negroes in 1942 and became its Rector in 1974. 
William and Margarite met when both were serving the United States during World War II.  William was a Group Electronics Officer in the United States Army Air Corps and Margarite toured as an acrobatic dancer with the USO. When William and Margarite returned to Arlington County after World War II, housing was still heavily segregated. In the early 1950s they started selling real estate and then filled a need by designing and building housing for other black residents who were then living in substandard housing in the area then known as “Johnson Hill” and now called Arlington View; William and Margarite lived at 1327 S Queen St. They also built an apartment complex that had an open rental policy – unlike other apartment buildings at the time that were race restrictive. Photographs of the first houses they built are found in the “The Syphax Story – Getting Started.”

Carrie Johnson (1941-2018), originally from Milwaukee, moved to Arlington in 1979 as a speechwriter for Katherine Graham, owner of the Washington Post. She soon became involved with the Arlington County Democratic Committee, keeping track of actual and potential voters and eventually earning the nickname "The List Lady." However, Johnson is even more well-known for her long tenure on the county's Planning Commission, which was from 1986 to 2005. Known for her ability to get opposing factions to relax, talk, and compromise, and for her concern for all of Arlington's residents, upon her retirement she was called "The Michael Jordan of Planning." After leaving the Planning Commission, Johnson was still active in local planning discussions through volunteering for working groups on specific issues and making appearances at County Board meetings.

The Carrie Johnson Papers document Johnson's work on the Planning Commission and date from 1958 to 2005, with the bulk of the materials dating 1986-2004. The collection measures approximately 2.5 linear feet and contains reports, architectural renderings and specs, meeting notes, memos, and correspondence. Many documents have Johnson's notes on the margins.

This collection has significant materials on Arna Valley, Pentagon Row, and development plans along the Rosslyn-Ballston Corridor, including Virginia Square, Clarendon, and Courthouse neighborhoods.

This collection is currently being processed and will be available to researchers soon.
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