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Women in History 2010 Exhibit to Open at Manassas City Hall | Events

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Women in History 2010 Exhibit to Open at Manassas City Hall

From The Manassas Museum:

A new exhibit honoring the contributions of eight extraordinary Virginia women opens at Manassas City Hall on Monday.

Virginia Women in History 2010, an exhibit on loan to The Manassas Museum from The Library of Virginia, will be displayed in the Manassas City Hall lobby from November 1 through December 4. City Hall is located at 9027 Center Street in Manassas.

The exhibit honors eight women, past and present, who have made important contributions to Virginia, the nation, and the world. These fascinating women saw things differently from their contemporaries, developed new approaches to old problems, served their communities, strove for excellence based on the courage of their convictions, and initiated changes in Virginia and the United States that continue to affect our lives today. This year’s project marks the Library of Virginia’s participation in the 2010 statewide program “Minds Wide Open: Virginia Celebrates Women in the Arts.”

Women featured in the exhibit include:

An avid book collector and amateur botanist, Jean Miller Skipwith, Lady Skipwith (1748–1826), assembled one of the largest libraries owned by a Virginia woman early in the nineteenth century. Born near Petersburg, Jean Miller began her lifelong passion for acquiring books after returning to Scotland with her family. She arrived back in Virginia and continued to buy books, eventually acquiring more than 800 volumes. Her library contained numerous novels and other works of fiction as well as volumes on travel and history, along with encyclopedias, cookbooks, essay collections, botanical books and children’s literature.

Kate Mason Rowland (1840–1916) was the great-great-grandniece of George Mason, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. She wrote The Life of George Mason, 1725–1792, Including His Speeches, Public Papers, and Correspondence, a two-volume work published in 1892. Five years later Rowland completed a two-volume Life of Charles Carroll of Carrollton, 1737–1832, profiling a Maryland signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Mollie Wade Holmes Adams (1881–1973) grew up in King William County in the Adamstown (later the Upper Mattaponi) Indian community. She faced the same hardships as her neighbors, including poverty, difficulty in attaining education, and the racism of outsiders. In 1900 she married Jasper Lewis Adams, who served as chief of the Upper Mattaponi from 1923 to 1973. Mollie Adams joined her husband as a leader of the tribe as he facilitated the purchase and construction of the Sharon Indian School in 1919 and the Indian View Baptist Church in 1942.

Dubbed the “Grandma Moses of Virginia,” Emma Serena Dillard “Queena” Stovall (1888–1980) painted nostalgic scenes of people and activities in rural Virginia. Stovall’s approximately fifty paintings document her life on a farm, as well as events that occurred among her neighbors, both black and white. She combined careful detail with bright colors to produce nostalgic scenes of ordinary life. She occasionally used figures cut out of magazines to solve compositional problems.

The daughter of a Richmond building contractor, Ethel Madison Bailey Carter Furman (1893–1976) studied architecture privately in New York City. Returning to Richmond with her family in 1921, she began designing houses for local residents. She worked in partnership with her father, while also raising three children and holding a variety of other jobs to supplement her family’s income. Furman surmounted the discrimination she faced as a black woman, often by submitting her building plans to local administrators through the male contractors with whom she worked.

Edythe Colton Harrison was born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1934. Her mother, a concert pianist, and her father, an opera devotee, instilled in her a love of music. Following her marriage she moved to Norfolk, where she raised her children and became active in the arts community and in numerous civic causes, including advocacy for day care to aid working mothers, membership in the National Conference on Christians and Jews, and support for women’s reproductive rights and the proposed Equal Rights Amendment. From 1980 to 1982 she served in the House of Delegates. In 1984 Harrison won the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate but lost in a Republican landslide.

Marian A. Van Landingham, born in 1937, encourages artistic spirit and volunteerism in her community. In 1973, as the president of the Alexandria Art League, Van Landingham led a movement to renovate a dilapidated torpedo factory on the Potomac River and transform it into a center for artists’ galleries, classrooms, and studio spaces. She not only handled much of the politicking but also pitched in on the manual labor of renovation. The Torpedo Factory Art Center opened in 1974 and has become an innovative space for working artists as well as the centerpiece of the revitalized historic downtown Alexandria. In 1980 Van Landingham established the organization that became Volunteer Alexandria to match prospective volunteers with organizations in need of help. As a member of the House of Delegates from 1982 to 2005, she fought to increase funding for human services, education, healthcare, and aid for the homeless.

Janis Darlene Martin (1940–2007) began playing guitar and singing by age six and was dubbed the “Female Elvis” by record executives. After appearances on radio stations in Danville and Martinsville, she began performing in Richmond on WRVA’s well-known Old Dominion Barn Dance. A test pressing made there led to a recording session in Nashville for RCA Victor. Martin had a top-40 hit with the song “Will You, Willyum,” and the B side, “Drugstore Rock and Roll,” became an enduring rockabilly classic. Martin combined her early country influences with a later appreciation for the singing of rhythm-and-blues artists. The resulting hybrid music, rockabilly, crossed musical and racial boundaries, was a major foundation for the emergence of rock and roll.

The exhibit is open free from 9 a.m. till 5 a.m. Monday through Friday.

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