There are two small rooms on White House of the Confederacy tours into which large groups simply cannot fit. Tours walk through one of them, the Library. The other is Varina Davis’ Dressing Room. Too small for traffic and with no way to pass through, the room offers visitors a quick peek as they move on to the next stop along the tour.
Prompted by Germany’s declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare, the United States entered “the Great War” on the side of the Allies in April 1917. While the U.S. government worried about the loyalty of millions of German-Americans, other “hyphenated Americans” went out of their way to demonstrate their support of the American war effort.
One of the things we try to do as the education and interpretive staff at the American Civil War Museum is make sure our visitors understand how war affects everyone. It is not just soldiers that get caught up in the onslaught of war. Civilians too can find their lives drastically changed. One such person during the American Civil War was Mary O’Melia.
The plight of refugees has been in the news a lot since the November presidential election. The phenomenon is not new, however. People have been displaced through disaster and war for millennia. The American Civil War was no exception.
Our guest blogger, historian David Silkenat, provided a glimpse into the story of one such refugee.
By Patrick Saylor
Director, Marketing Communication
Old homes hold many stories within their walls, and the house at 12th and Clay Streets in Richmond is no exception. As the residence of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his family from 1861-1865, the White House was the scene of many conversations and interactions, both public and private, among family members, free and enslaved servants, and visitors.
Katherine Clay “Kitty” Stiles died a century ago on October 7, 1916. Who was she and why should we care?
Since 1899 she had served as the vice-regent, or de facto administrator, for the Georgia Room of the Confederate Museum, predecessor to The Museum of the Confederacy and the American Civil War Museum. She helped make the Georgia Room one of the richest collections in the entire museum, focused not only on Georgia history, but also the history of the Confederate States Navy and the work of Cdr. Matthew Fontaine Maury.
Born June 27, 1864, in the White House of the Confederacy, Varina Anne Davis was destined to become an icon of the South. The youngest of six children born to Jefferson and Varina Banks Howell Davis, her father’s favorite nickname, “Winnie,” passed from spouse to daughter.