We’re Hiring! Informational Webinar for Open Positions

Join us for a virtual information session on Monday, December 4, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. to share details of three open positions in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library: Exhibitions Coordinator, Reference and Instruction Librarian/Archivist, and Digital Archivist. … Continue reading

If You Did It, Show It: A Confessory Manuscript for Deaf People

This post, by Ellen Welch, Manuscript and Archives Processor, is about the recent acquisition: Illustrated Manuscript Confessory for Deaf People (MSS 16803). This leather-bound manuscript serves as a confessional aid, containing illustrations depicting a variety of sins from which a … Continue reading

Call for Artists: As Big as We Make It! Contemporary Artists in Conversation with the Harlem Renaissance

The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia is excited to announce a call for artists to submit proposals for large-scale artwork to be created in conversation with poems highlighted in a forthcoming exhibition, Their … Continue reading

Dakota Goes Digital: Dakota Linguistics Live on from Oral Tradition to App

This post is by Ellen Welch, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Manuscript and Archives processor, about a recent acquisition of a Roman Catholic Catechism (MSS 16778), translated in the Dakota language around 1920. It is not known who translated this … Continue reading

Carr Family on River View Farm 1870-1978: African American History at Ivy Creek Natural Area


Welcome to another story about one of the many interesting collections in the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia. I am Ellen Welch, an Archives processor and an Albemarle County local who enjoys sharing knowledge about historical collections, particularly those from Charlottesville and Albemarle County. This is a post about Hugh Carr (1843-1914) and his family who were African American owners of the land where Ivy Creek Natural Area in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Virginia sits today. Part of my work is responding to suggestions for improvements in describing our collections. My colleague, Katrina Spencer, Librarian for African American and African Studies, recently sent me a request to add more description to the Ivy Creek Natural Area collections MSS 10770,  and MSS 10176.The description was so minimal that the African American history of the Carr family was invisible to anyone searching our collections. With the suggestion from Katrina, I was able to bring the Carr family history into the description so that patrons can know more about this important family in Albemarle County during the nineteenth century.

Hugh Carr (1843-1914) Hugh Carr and Ivy Creek Natural Area papers MSS 10770-a Box 1, Folder 11

The Ivy Creek Natural Area—which is well known for its beautiful views of the Blue Ridge mountains, and its numerous hiking trails, and nature programs—was created in 1978 from the sale of the Carr land. Hugh Carr, born into enslavement, purchased the River View Farm after emancipation in 1870. He doubled the acreage of the farm and built a farmhouse where he raised his family through four generations. The local government, the Nature Conservancy, and the Ivy Creek Foundation preserved this property, making it a National Historic Landmark, and recovered a treasure of local history that memorializes the lives of the Carr family. As a longtime local resident, I had known about the Ivy Creek Natural Area but had no knowledge of Hugh Carr. Similarly, the description in the collection title made no mention of Hugh Carr or River View Farm. This is what makes reparative work so essential in libraries and historical repositories. It is exciting to shine a light on their remarkable lives, making them well known to our patrons today and in the future.

The collections, Papers of the Ivy Creek Foundation and its history of Hugh Carr’s River View Farm, MSS 10770-a , MSS 10176 introduce Hugh Carr (1843-1914), an African American born in enslavement, who bought a 58-acre tract of land for $100, which became River View Farm (Martin Tract from John Shackelford) in Albemarle County in 1870 after emancipation. Hugh Carr continued to purchase land for the farm, and, by 1890, it was over 200 acres, making Carr among the largest African American landowners in Albemarle County. (Brickhouse)

Aerial view of Hugh Carr’s “River View Farm.” Hugh Carr and Ivy Creek Natural Area papers MSS 10770-a Box 1, Folder 11

Receipt for Hugh Carr’s purchase of the land for his farm. Hugh Carr and Ivy Creek Natural Area papers, MSS 10176-a Box 1, Folder 1

The Carr family and their descendants were excellent farmers, modeling the best agricultural practices for other farmers. According to Hugh Carr’s grandson, Dr. Benjamin Whitten, the farm had “horses, milk, and beef cattle, a flock of sheep, pigs, chickens, and crops.  They also worked other jobs, while farming their land, waking at 3 a.m. to begin their work every day. (Brickhouse)

Barn at River View Farm, which can still be visited today at Ivy Creek Natural Area, which is located 6 miles from the City of Charlottesville going west on Hydraulic Road toward the South Rivanna Reservoir, off a left turn before the Reservoir bridge. Hugh Carr and Ivy Creek Natural Area papers, MSS 10770-a Box 1, Folder 11

Carr family home. Hugh Carr and Ivy Creek Natural Area papers, MSS 10770-a Box 1, Folder 11

Hugh Carr married his first wife, Florence Lee in 1865 when they were still enslaved by Richard H. Wingfield of Woodlands Plantation. After two years, she left Carr, and they were eventually divorced. Hugh Carr married Texie Mae Hawkins (1865-1899) in 1883. They had six daughters, Mary Carr Greer (1884-1973), Fannie Carr Washington (1887-?), Peachie Carr Jackson (1889-1977), Emma Clorinda Carr (1892-1974), Virginia Carr Brown (1893-1935), and Ann Hazel Carr (1895-1975), and one son Marshall Hubert Carr (1886-1916).

Hugh Carr, who did not know how to read and write, highly valued education for his daughters and son. He raised them by himself after Texie Mae died in 1899. Most of his children earned college degrees and post graduate degrees, becoming teachers and community leaders. Six of the Carrs’ seven grandchildren, ten of thirteen great grandchildren, and nine of twelve great-great grandchildren graduated from college. (National Register of Historic Places Registration Form)

Hugh Carr, (1843-1914) Hugh Carr and Ivy Creek Natural Area papers, MSS 10770-a Box 1, Folder 11

Texie Mae Hawkins Carr, (1865-1899) Ivy Creek Natural Area papers, MSS 10770-a Box 1, Folder 11

Mary Carr Greer , daughter (1884-1973). Teacher and Principle who invited students to stay at her house, which was near the Albemarle Training School, during bad weather. Hugh Carr and Ivy Creek Natural Area papers, MSS 10770-a Box 1, Folder 11

Fannie Carr Washington, sister. Hugh Carr and Ivy Creek Natural Area papers, MSS 10770-a Box 1, Folder 11

Peachie Carr Jackson (1889-1977) daughter. Hugh Carr and Ivy Creek Natural Area papers, MSS 10770-a Box 1, Folder 11

Marshall Hubert Carr (1886-1916) son. Hugh Carr and Ivy Creek Natural Area papers, MSS 10770-a Box 1, Folder 11

When Carr died in 1914, he bequeathed parts of the farm to each of his children. Their eldest daughter, Mary Louise Carr Greer became principal of the Albemarle Training School and was an influential educator in the local community.  Her husband, Conly Greer, was the first African American extension agent for Albemarle County and the last family member to farm at River View Farm.  After his death in 1956, Mary Carr Greer continued to live there but the land was rented to local farmers.  When Mary Greer died in 1973, she left the estate to her only child, Evangeline Greer Jones, who in turn sold it. (Brickhouse)

Following its sale, the farm was slated to become a subdivision with 200 homes, but with strong support from University professors, the Nature Conservancy, and the Ivy Creek Foundation, the land was purchased jointly by the City of Charlottesville and Albemarle County in creation of the Ivy Creek Natural Area in 1978. (National Register of Historic Places Registration Form)

The history of the Carr family, their River View Farm, and the Ivy Creek Area are not only preserved but are a living memory that is thriving today. The cultural heritage of the Carr farm remains in evidence on this site. The property serves as the first stop on the Union Ridge Heritage Trail tour of African Americans, a program administered by the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. (National Register of Historic Places)

Ivy Creek Natural Area. Hugh Carr and Ivy Creek Natural Area papers, MSS 10770-a Box 1, Folder 11

Ivy Creek Natural Area with 400 species of wildlife. Hugh Carr and Ivy Creek Natural Area papers, MSS 10770-a Box 1, Foder 11

Evangeline Greer Jones, granddaughter of Hugh Carr, wrote that she “is glad to see the farm as a home for a wide variety of wildlife, flowers and trees.” She thinks her family would be glad to see how it has turned out. A sign at the Ivy Creek Natural Area reads, “Take only pictures, leave only footprints. However, it is permissible to pick fruit from the trees in the orchard if eaten on the spot.” Jones wrote that she “is very much pleased to know that people can come and visit.” (Brickhouse)

(If you ever need to request a correction or suggest a change to a description of one of our collections, you can find the Suggestion description forms here.) 


National Register of Historic Places Registration Form (contains many details about the Carr and Greer family and the River View Farm)

Brickhouse, Robert. “Nature Preserve Ex-Slave’s Legacy” The Daily Progress. September 12, 1982 (collection material)

Grohskopf, Bernice. “Legacies Nature and History at Ivy Creek: How Hugh Carr rose out of Slavery to Create the Farm that became Our Secret Garden” Albemarle Magazine. 1988 June-August.

For more information:

Flowers, Charles V. “The Creation of Ivy Creek Natural Area” Adapted from interview with Paul Saunier, Jr. The Sun, Baltimore, Maryland. April 15, 1984. (collection material)

Flowers, Charles V. “Ivy Creek is an Oasis of the Unspoiled” Interview with Dr. Benjamin Whitten. The Sun, Baltimore, Maryland. April 1984 (collection material)

Ivy Creek Foundation, Accessed 1/27/2023


Discoveries in The Transformation: An American Tale

Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland, a novel in the Sadlier-Black Collection of Gothic Fiction, gives a tantalizing glimpse into the development of the modern American view of the afterlife. This post was contributed by Emily Pierson, a recipient of the Lillian … Continue reading

Frances Clayton and the Women Soldiers of the Civil War

This post contributed by Elizabeth Nosari, Nau Project Archivist at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library. Her work involves processing the John L. Nau III Civil War History Collection, which includes correspondence, diaries, photographs, military records, currency, and … Continue reading

Julian Bond and Black Popular Culture


This post is contributed by Derrais Carter (he/they), a writer, book artist, and Assistant Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona. As a William A. Elwood Fellowship recipient, Carter used his research to investigate links between Julian Bond and blaxploitation cinema.

I went in search of conspiracy. For a length of time, that I’m slightly embarrassed to admit, I have searched for information about a group of well-intentioned activists who live in my mind as a cabal. Their mission was to rid Black America of demeaning, stereotypical representations in film. They called themselves the Coalition Against Blaxploitation (CAB).

The CAB is said to have originated in 1972. Organized by Junius Griffin, the same man who coined the term blaxploitation, the CAB included activists from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).[1] Blaxploitation, Griffin’s portmanteau of “Black” and “exploitation” names Hollywood’s attempt to capitalize on the film industry’s newfound interest in targeting Black filmgoing audiences. This interest resulted from the success of early 70s films including but not limited to Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971), Shaft (1971) and Superfly (1972). While these films were monumental commercial successes, they also raised questions around the quality of Black representation in film. Enter blaxploitation. Griffin used the term critically to expose Hollywood’s investment in stereotypical representations that were psychologically damaging to Black Americans. When he introduced the term in Variety, Griffin was the head of the Hollywood NAACP. In this way, he was well-poised to work with other civil rights organizations to merge their resources toward the greater end of the film industry’s anti-Black practices.

What has long intrigued me is the shadowy and nebulous way the group seems to have operated. Given the histories and racial triumphs of the organizations involved, I wondered why the CAB isn’t more visible in archival collections or trade publications. So, casting a wide net, I ventured into the Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347 + accreations) at the Small Special Collections Library in hopes of finding incontrovertible evidence of the group’s existence. I don’t know if he was involved with them. But as a founding member of SNCC, I thought his papers might contain some information about the CAB and how they saw themselves extending SNCC’s political efforts. In the absence of a glaring piece of historical evidence, I would have settled for a letter, note, or photograph that provided insight into how the CAB operated.

I found nothing of the sort.

Slightly deterred, my curiosity never wavered. For the next few days, I abandoned my initial inquiry and allowed myself to wade in the papers and wander, folder after folder, photographing items that piqued my interest. On my final day in special collections, I packed my belongings, exited the library, and took a deep dive into the photographs I snapped while researching onsite over copious amounts of earl grey tea. I’d selected a strange amalgam of political speeches, business and personal correspondence, notes and ephemera from various events. As I read, I reviewed my folders and took notes on what might be useful for my blaxploitation research. In the process, I gained a better idea of the extent to which Bond was interested in and engaged with popular culture. In this way, the collection did not disappoint.

Three b/w photos of Julian Bond at work organizing for SNCC

In 1961, Bond left Morehouse College to join the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), becoming a prominent member of the civil rights movement and organizing sit-ins and voter registration campaigns. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347, Box 120-121).

Below are a few excerpts from my time in the Bond papers. From these materials, another story emerges; one that takes me away from my initial inquiry yet delights me as a scholar invested in histories of Black culture. Through these documents, Bond becomes an unexpected vector in the 1970s Black popular culture landscape. With a curiosity I can’t shake I find myself asking, over and over, “Who is this guy?!”

Typewritten letter from Julian Bond letter to his brother James about Black music.

Julian Bond letter to his brother James about Black music. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347, Box 115, Folder 5)

Personal correspondence intrigues me. I’m nosey, so I relish opportunities to read correspondence by Black artists and activists.  The significance of the communication, when viewed by a reader who is not the intended recipient can produce a host of reactions. But in this letter from Bond to his brother James, I relish the references to Black music. They give us insight into Bond’s musical taste, alerting us to the voices and sounds that filled his speakers. In this letter, Melba Moore, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith and Modern Jazz Quartet share space in his personal collection. The sounds emanating from these records, divergent and capacious, allow us to eavesdrop (in a broad historical way) and take in the tempos, grooves, and lyrics that buoyed him. And should we desire to glean the albums that overtly befit Bond the activist, then Alan Lomax’s “prison song recording” or Alan Ribback’s Movement Soul (1967) are fitting references. So, if you can “go for” songs that remind you of Bond, this letter is a great place to begin.

Typewritten letter from Julian Bond to Clarence Avant about starting Julian's music record label

Letter from Julian Bond to Clarence Avant about starting theBlack, Brown, & Beige music record label. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347, Box 29, Folder 5)

Bond’s interest in music was also business-related. According to this letter to Clarence Avant, a.k.a. The Black Godfather, Bond was starting his own record label called Black, Brown & Beige. The name appears to be a reference to Duke Ellington’s 1943 composition. The song conveys the story of an African named Boola who is enslaved and brought to the United States. Across 20 minutes, the composition moves listeners from slavery to the emergence of the Blues. While I have yet to verify the existence of the record label, Bond’s desire to extend his activist tactics by releasing an Angela Davis record is especially interesting.

Promotional still photograph of Bond appearing on SNL

Bond’s appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1977. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347 – Box 120).

To get a glimpse of Bond’s relationship to humor, one need only look at the documents pertaining to a roast in his honor and his 1977 appearance on Saturday Night Live. The roast materials include a program listing featured speakers, as well as Bond’s script for the event. His barbs at attendees are laced with Black historical references, political commentary, and personal history. The Saturday Night Live materials include a typed draft on his opening monologue, scripts for various segments featuring Bond, and press documents.


Typewritten press release with NBC logo

Press release for Bond’s 1977 appearance on Saturday Night Live. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347, Box 6, Folder 22).

typewritten script

Saturday Night Live script for Julian Bond. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347, Box 6, Folder 22).

Typewritten letter

Letter from Julian bond to Jean Carey Bond about being in the film (Greased Lightning) with Richard Pryor and Pam Grier. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347, Box 28, Folder 1).

This letter from Bond to Jean Carey Bond is the closest I came to finding any meaningful connection between Bond and 1970s cinema. Blaxploitation was on the decline by this point, but I can’t help but wonder what conversations, jokes, arguments, and thoughts percolated between Bond, Pam Grier, Jim Hinton (a.k.a. James E. Hinton), Cleavon Little, Richard Pryor, and Melvin Van Peebles on the set of Greased Lightning (1977).

B/w photograph of Bond shaking hands with Stevie Wonder while others look on.

Julian Bond with Stevie Wonder. Julian Bond Papers (MSS 13347 – Box 120).

These materials give me insight into Bond, but they also remind me that there is so much more to be considered as I examine the cultural life of blaxploitation. Yes, there are iconic films like Superfly (1972) and Blacula (1972). Additionally, there are at least 200 more films that fall under the blaxploitation banner. But, for me, the term exceeds Junius Griffin’s definition. It encapsulates a cultural moment wherein Black artists, activists, and scholars wrestled over the attention and loyalty of Black audiences. And while my time in the Bond Papers did not bring me closer to uncovering the CAB, I take solace in Bond’s musical wants, his humor, and his prismatic Black humanity.

[1] https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/blaxploitation-films

Beyond Making the Grade: Student and Life success at UVA (in 1854 and 2022)

As students approach their final exams for the Fall of 2022, Manuscript and Archives processor Ellen Welch is pleased to share an original letter from a new acquisition of the Bennett Taylor Papers (MSS 9221), written in 1854 from a … Continue reading