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Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in Broadside, the magazine of the Library of Virginia, Issue No. 2, 2020.

As we near the end of our second pandemic summer, changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic might have altered your travel plans or kept you from enjoying favorite group activities. With that in mind, we invite you to take a virtual vacation by exploring Virginia summers of the past through the Library of Virginia’s digital collections. Our Visual Studies Collection contains photographs and ephemera that showcase swimming, sports, concerts, and other summer pastimes in the commonwealth.

Adolph B. Rice Photograph Collection

The Adolph B. Rice Studio Collection constitutes a unique photographic record of life in Richmond from 1949 to 1961, with digital versions of more than 500 of the 16,000 images from Rice’s commercial studio, covering studio portraits, aerial views, advertising shots for local department stores, and local religious and educational events. The photos featured here show recreation activities in the city of Richmond. The Rice collection as well as others are available on the Library’s Flickr page. If you’re familiar with the people, places, or events covered in the Rice Collection, you can add comments and metadata that will help us identify the content.

Postcard Collection

The Library’s postcard collection includes approximately 30,000 items with images and themes ranging from Virginia cities and counties, historic sites, and natural landscapes to holidays and humor. Although the collection has not been digitized yet, the selection of postcards featured here is available online on our Pinterest page in a board called “Virtual Meeting Backgrounds.”

1939 World’s Fair Photograph Collection

The 1939 World’s Fair Photograph Collection contains more than 3,000 photographs prepared by the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce to be displayed in the Virginia Room in the Court of States at the World’s Fair in New York City. In addition to recreation, the images selected promoted aspects of life in the commonwealth such as scenery and natural wonders, history and culture, agriculture and industry, and commerce and transportation.

Tantilla Gardens Poster Collection

Known as “the grandest ballroom in the South,” Tantilla Gardens, located at 3817 W. Broad Street in Richmond, opened during the height of the Great Depression in 1933 and was a huge draw for big-name performers. Thanks to the ballroom’s retractable roof, visitors were able to see their favorite acts perform under the stars on a beautiful summer night. View the collection online.

Dana Puga

Prints & Photographs Collection Specialist

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