Almost 20 great books about Richmond or specific parts thereof

11/22/2008 11:25 AM by

Just in time for the holidays, a write-up of some great books about Richmond and/or specific neighborhoods or other areas. Stop by Fountain Bookstore or Black Swan and see if you can pick up a copy in person or hit the links below to order online.

In no particular order…

  1. Carlton McKenney’s Rails in Richmond

    A history of Richmond’s horse-drawn and electric trolleys, with photos and maps. Fantastic.

  2. Ann Field Alexander’s Race Man: The Rise and Fall of the Fighting Editor

    A fascinating look at Richmond and especially Jackson Ward and the African-American experience at the turn of the last century as seen through the perspective of the life of Richmond Planet publisher John Mitchell. One of my heroes.

  3. Veronica Davis’ Here I Lay My Burdens Down: A History of the Black Cemeteries of Richmond, Virginia

    Davis is still fighting the good fight for Evergreen. Read this and Built by Blacks to get the details on that mess, or see for your self.

  4. Elvatrice Parker Belsches’ Richmond, Virginia (Black America Series)

    120-page book with photos from around Richmond, a good half or more of the book is from Jackson Ward. The 10 chapters of photos include buildings, events, and portraiture (including a young Doug Wilder, and a stunning photo of 95-year-old Edward R. Carter – the only Reconstruction-era councilman who lived to see Oliver Hill elected in 1948). The book is fascinating for the history that is overlaid on almost every building in Jackson Ward, but equally wrenching as many of the buildings are gone or continue to decline (Elks Lodge, Hotel Eggleston, the Hippodrome).

  5. Selden Richardson’s Built by Blacks: African American Architecture and Neighborhoods in Richmond, VA

    Richmond’s black architecture and neighborhoods and the founding of Richmond. Essential.

  6. Historic Photos of Richmond

    200-page. A nice collection of photos from around the city. The emphasis seems to be on the more common areas, in attempt to provide a portrait of Richmond through the years. There are photos from many of the other neighborhoods, though downtown seems to get the most attention. Lacking in Church Hill images.

  7. Harry M. Ward’s Richmond During the Revolution, 1775-83

    A crucial time for the city, with the move of the capital from Williamsburg and the war. Gives a good account of the time prior as well.

  8. Michael B. Ghesson Richmond After the War 1865-1890

    The title of the book is very clear about the topic of this book, yes.

  9. Pamela K. Kinney Haunted Richmond

  10. Harry Kollatz’ Richmond in Ragtime: Socialists, Suffragists, Sex & Murder

    In the words of the author: “This is a narrative, bricolage style, covering just three rambunctious years, 1909-1911.”

  11. Harry Kollatz’ True Richmond Stories

    A collection of 40 or so of Kollatz’ “Flashback” columns from Richmond Magazine. Released in late 2007. The stories span Richmond history from 1607 until just a few years ago, and range across the city.

  12. Mary Wingfield Scott’s Old Richmond Neighborhoods

    The one must-have book for anyone interested in the history and development of Richmond’s oldest neighborhoods.

  13. Church Hill: The St. John’s Church Historic District

    Bon Air, A History

    Richmond’s Fan District

    Some neighborhoods/districts have their own books with specific detail that you won’t see in the more broad histories. For the real geek enthusiast, get a copy of the DHR application printed and bound.

  14. Mordecai’s Richmond in By-Gone Days

    Samuel Mordecai’s 1856 book, “an invaluable resource”, surveyed over 150 years of Richmond’s history.

  15. Silver and Moeser’s The Separate City: Black Communities in the Urban South, 1940-1968

    “The districts in which southern blacks lived from the pre-World War II era to the mid-1960s differed markedly from those of their northern counterparts. The African-American community in the South was (and to some extent still is) a physically expansive, distinct, and socially heterogeneous zone within the larger metropolis. It found itself functioning both politically and economically as a “separate city” – a city set apart from its predominantly white counterpart. Examining the racial politics of such diverse cities as Atlanta, Richmond, and Memphis, Christopher Silver and John Moeser look at the interplay between competing groups within the separate city and between the separate city and the white power structure. They describe the effects of development policies, urban renewal programs, and the battle over desegregation in public schools. Within the separate city itself, internal conflicts reflected a structural divide between an empowered black middle class and a larger group comprising the working class and the disadvantaged. Even with these conflicts, the South’s new black leadership gained political control in many cities, but it could not overcome the economic forces shaping the metropolis. The persistence of a separate city admitted to the profound ineffectiveness of decades of struggle to eliminate the racial barriers with which southern urban leaders – indeed all urban America – continue to grapple today.”

  16. Robert P Winthrop’s Cast and Wrought: The Architectural Metalwork of Richmond, Virginia

    Richmond’s architectural cast iron is second only to that of New Orleans, yet it is hardly recognized. Over 130 porches and balconies, hundreds of yards of elaborate fencing, as well as scores of cast iron front buildings remain in the city today and make up the bulk of the city’s architectural metalwork.

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