by ECW Correspondent Katherine Duffek
Imagine the history of a city, neatly lined up on a bookshelf. Every year, more and more of that history gets published and added to the shelf. That’s what you would see if you walked into the office of the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust (CVBT). For fifteen years now, CVBT has been adding one volume of their Fredericksburg History and Biography journal per year to their bookshelf of history. With each volume, they’re giving readers more and more information about the battlefields around Fredericksburg, Virginia.
“Having a written record that helps tell the stories of the lands we’re helping to protect is a way to make sure people understand why these lands are important,” said CVBT executive director Elizabeth Heffernan. “The journal has allowed us to preserve history in a different way,” she added, which is the preservation group’s ultimate goal.
The journal was originally started in 2002 as a CVBT membership benefit and, to date, 16 volumes have been published. “While our major emphasis has been the Civil War, the journal has really explored a lot of different areas of history,” says Heffernan. Not only do the different volumes of the journal tell stories of what the soldiers went through during the war, but they also tell stories of what the everyday civilians experienced in Fredericksburg.
The journal also includes articles from beyond the Civil War-era, too.
CVBT President Tom Van Winkle has been overseeing the journal for years now. “Basically, it’s stories and articles that you won’t find anywhere else,” he said. “We have a lot of primary information from people that lived here, and we know what exactly happened.”
This journal can teach anyone, even Civil War experts, something new about Fredericksburg at the time. They hold everything that a Civil War lover would want: primary resources, stories and photographs, diary entries from civilians, minutes from town meetings, detailed timelines, information about the economy at the time—it’s all there. Plus, it’s all written by local authors—people from the community and National Park Service—which adds a personalized touch.
The contents for each issue of the journal are posted online. By visiting CVBT’s webpage, and then clicking on the covers of each journal, its table of contents will appear. Individual volumes of the journal are available for only $6.00.
It is so fortunate that CVBT has given people access to this ever-expanding bookshelf of history.