The Botetourt County Historical Society & Museum has announced that one of its artifacts has been selected as one of The Virginia Association of Museums’ Top Ten Endangered Artifacts for 2021.
VAM’s Top Ten program enables museums throughout Virginia to draw attention to important artifacts in special need of care and attention. The Top Ten winners compete for a prize of $1,000 toward the conservation needs of a single artifact, selected by popular vote. Between Monday, Jan. 11 and midnight, Wednesday, Jan. 20, supporters can vote once a day toward their favorite in the competition.
This year, Botetourt County Historical Society entered “A Manual of Religious Instruction, specially intended for the oral teaching of Colored Persons…,” published in Richmond in 1857. This small catechism and series of biblical teachings, compiled by an Episcopal priest from Clarke County, Va., was “prepared with a special view to the instruction of a very numerous class of persons in our Southern States.” [Preface]. The existence of such a work recognizes the desire of enslaved persons for religious education, and the determination of established church figures to reach out to the African American enslaved community. Fr. John Hoff, the author, emphasized a focus on “oral teaching” in acknowledgement that his desired audience was generally illiterate.
The book was a gift to the museum, many years ago, from a relative of the Price family of Eagle Rock, Botetourt County. “C.T. Price + Family, Prices Bluff 1891” is inscribed in the front of the book. In 1850, Charles Thomas Price was only a boy, but his father, John M. Price, was a prominent figure in the county. The Slave Census of 1850 shows that he “owned” 58 enslaved persons. Prices Bluff is located in the Glen Wilton area of the county, close to a mining area. By 1860, his widow, Eliza, had reduced the number to 33. Young Charles was a member of the Fincastle Rifles at this time, and witnessed the execution of John Brown in 1859. A student at VMI, he later served in Company C of the 2d Virginia Cavalry. He survived the war and lived in Botetourt County for the rest of his life. His obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch mentions that he was an “active member of the Episcopal Church.”
A book repair consultant has given museum officers an overview of the type of repairs that need to be made:
To document the nature and condition of the volume with images and in writing: collate the pages noting all annotations, etc., disband the text block; perhaps surface clean the binding and pages; perhaps wash the pages in alkaline water; mend any tears and guard folds where necessary using Japanese paper and starch past; resew the text block; repair and reattach the binding…This is hours of work….”
To support the museum’s drive for the top award, vote on the unique link for the manual:
You may vote once each day from your IP address (or multiple IP addresses) through Wednesday, Jan. 20.
The voting links will also be available through the museum’s website, www.bothist.wordpress.com and Facebook page.