The following information is abstracted from an article entitled "Early
Penitentiary Photographs Put a Face on Crime" that appeared in the Nov/Dec 2004
Library of VA Newsletter. Since AA's are disproportionately represented in the
current prison population I would imagine we appear in great numbers in this
The Library of VA is currently processing a vast volume of records which
they obtained from the VA State Penitentiary a number of years ago.
span the time period from the 1860 to the 1960's. They include "prisoner
registers, superintendent's correspondence, board of visitors reports, board of
directors minutes, state convict road force records, photographs, architectural
drawings and financial records."
The photos mentioned in the title are over 6,000 glass plate negatives of
prisoners photograped from about 1906 to March 4, 1914. Considering
of the glass plate negatives when received by the LVA, it is a slow process
in developing the negatives and will take a number of years.
"In addition to photographs of the general prison population, the glass
plate collection includes images of 60 men and women executed in VA's electric
chair between 1908 and 1914." Included in the article are pictures of 3
individuals all AA: Henry Smith age 22 of Portsmouth (convicted of
rape), the first
person to die in the electric chair on Oct. 13, 1908; William Brown age 33 who
along with his father John Brown of Powhatan County (his image not included)
were both executed on the same day, April 30,1909 for murder; and Virginia
Christian age 17 from Elizabeth City County who was the first woman
to die in VA's
electric chair on August 16, 1912.