Getting to know Virginia
My name is Cody Cole and I am a Digital Archivist at Historic Sandusky. Although my major is in political science, history has always been my passion. I came to work Sandusky at the beginning of 2017 through a Westover Honors class on the Civil War. The purpose of the class was to design a digital history site for Sandusky. I came to Sandusky three times a week and spent my time reading and summarizing letters from the Bell Collection, which was donated back in January of 2017. After reading and summarizing each letter, I would then scan them into a digital file, with the goal of digitizing every letter and document in the collection.
Much of the letters I scanned were written by Virginia Shearer Hopper, a descendant of the Bell family and a Lynchburg resident. Most of her letters I worked with were written between 1928 and the early 1940s while she was living up in New York City, including her time working and studying at Columbia University. She addressed much of these letters to her mother, residing at the family on Fifth Street, and were weekly updates on every aspect of her life. It was interesting for me to read Virginia’s fine cursive script, which has quickly become a lost art in my own lifetime. Trying to decipher it often made me feel as though I was reading a different language. Even more intriguing was being able to see how she matured from her early days at school into a successful adult, who would go on to write a book of poetry, A Closed Garden.
Although I am a life-long resident of Lynchburg, I had never been to Sandusky until Halloween of 2015 for the Haunted History Tours. During my time this semester, I have come to see Sandusky as a historical gem for Lynchburg. There is a quiet, charming nature about the house, and the occasional glimpse of the mountains in the distance behind the surrounding trees gives it a beauty that is characteristic of Lynchburg itself. My hope is that others, especially locals like myself, will come to see and admire this old house in the same light as I have.
*To view the website that Cody helped construct as part of the class "Common Soldiers of the Civil War" go to sanduskydigitalhistory.wordpress.com
About the author: Cody Cole is a senior undergraduate political science major and Latin minor Westover Honors Fellow at Lynchburg College. He began work on the Sandusky digital humanities project while in an honors class for Westover Fellows. Cody has spent the spring semester of his senior year at Sandusky working with the digital archives and will continue his work through the summer of 2017.
The Diary of Virginia Shearer Hopper was generously donated, along with many other artifacts and historic papers, by Historic Sandusky board member Stewart Coleman.