Shenandoah County Library Archives

Shenandoah County Library Digital Archives

Browse Exhibits (7 total)

Court Square: The Center of Life

Ever since Shenandoah County was founded in 1772, the town of Woodstock served as the seat of local government. While the first court met in private homes, within a year a courthouse was in operation on this site. Ever since, this area has served as the legal, and often the cultural, social, and political, center of the county.

Large crowds were always present when court convened here on the third Monday of each month. Residents from throughout the county had to come to the courthouse to complete land transactions, to pay taxes, or to perform other legal transactions.

The presence of so many people was an opportunity most business owners could not pass up. Food vendors, horse traders, and money lenders flocked to town to provide services to visitors. Eventually these became permanent businesses, restaurants, and banks. Hotels also emerged to provide lodging. Theatres, music halls, taverns, pool halls, and bars also emerged in the general vicinity to provide entertainment.  Downtown in Woodstock developed within a single block of the courthouse.

Court Square, as this area became known, was home to more than legal and business activity. Since it was the largest structure in the area, the Courthouse became a community center. Churches, social organizations, volunteer groups, and even the local library met inside. Plays were performed in the structure. Militia units mustered here. The Woodstock Fire Department was organized on this site and moved only a few buildings away. School was taught on Lawyers Row and educational programs were held in several area buildings. The local political establishment also used the Courthouse as its base. It was a polling site, the location of rallies, and the background for speeches.

The system of Court Days and the activity that surrounded it changed in the 20th century. Today the court system is in session throughout the year and residents can conduct legal transactions almost every day of the week. Large crowds only flock here for special occasions and most business is conducted outside of downtown. Yet the Courts, and the Courthouse, remain a symbol of the county and the town which built them. 

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Daughters of the Stars: Lives of Local Women

Women have always been a part of our history. Understanding their role in the past, helps us understand who we are as a community today.

 This exhibit examines a snapshot of that history. It is not designed to provide the full story of these women’s lives, but instead a brief description of what their life was like at a specific time.

Most of these women, and the information we know about them, comes from the Shenandoah Valley-Herald. During the latter half of the 20th century the paper regularly featured what could be called "human interest pieces." Whether it was in the paper’s weekly home cooking column or another article highlighting an individual's work in the community, the Valley-Herald’s editor found a reason to not only mention these women, but to describe, in detail, their life at the time.

The times in which these women lived saw dramatic changes. Feminism, women’s lib, and the Equal Rights amendment became a part of the nation’s political and cultural discourse. At the same time, women around the country were living their lives, sometimes in ground breaking ways, other times more simply. Through these women, we hope you can see this reality as it existed in Shenandoah County. 


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Shenandoah County Fair 100 Years of Heritage

In 2017 the Shenandoah County Fair Association celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding. As part of that celebration the Northern Virginia Daily newspaper partnered with the Fair Association to collect digital scans of historic material related to the fair and to utilize some of these scans to create the book "Shenandoah County Fair 1917-2017."

Following the completion of this project the scans collected by the newspaper were donated to the Shenandoah County Library. These became the basis of our Shenandoah County Fair Digital Collection and a special exhibit at the 2017 Shenandoah County Fair which featured 100 historic fair images.

Capturing the history of a unique and complex event like the county fair is a daunting task.

This exhibit that seeks to do that by highlight various aspects of this event. The animals, ribbons, food, entertainment, exhibits, and crowds are all here. These 100 images hopefully help capture the true identify of the Shenandoah County Fair.

We invite you to explore and learn about the history of our fair and the communities it represents. Share your impression and experiences on the fence wall behind you. Then be sure to venture out and capture new memories at the fair. 


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Slices of Fort Valley Virginia


Located in the northern section of the Massanutten Range, Fort Valley is 25 miles long and was formed by the flow of passage creek. Sometimes called a "valley within a valley" it is part of the Shenandoah Valley and lies within the jursidiction of Shenandoah County.

Depite its ties with the county, Fort Valley's geographic isolation helped its residence develop a unique community identity. 

This exhibit attempts to define a portion of that community by bringing unique items from the area's past to you. Be sure to visit now and on a regular basis as we add new images that will help tell Fort Valley's story. 

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Warrior Images: Korea


On June 27, 1950 the United States deployed troops to South Korea to help that nation repel an attack from North Korea. Thus began the Korean War, which lasted until  1953 when a ceasefire was signed.


During the course of the conflict, over 300,000 Americans would serve during the war. This included scores of Shenandoah County residents.  Several died during the war, leaving behind wives , mothers, fathers, and other family members.


On the homefront, Korea seemed to be a distant separate from the lives of most Americans. While Shenandoah County residents certainly worried about those fighting overseas and provided support through blood drives, bond drives, and other events, the impact of the war on the local population paled in comparison to the recently ended WWII. 


“Warrior Images: Korean War” recognizes those individuals who fought in the conflict. It highlights select Korean War veterans from our area, including some who never returned. 


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Warrior Images: WWI

Albert Steele.jpg

On April 6, 1917 the United States of American entered World War One when Congress approved a declaration of war against the German Empire.

Many across the country had argued for war because of German attacks on American shipping, attempts by the German government to ally with other nations against us, and because of perceived German atrocities in Europe.

However noble these principles were, Shenandoah County’s citizens mainly felt fear when war was declared. Residents were afraid for their fathers, brothers, and sons who would have to fight and die oversees. Local men also felt fear, fear for their families who would be left behind, fear of travelling to a foreign land when most had never left the region, and fear of death.

Despite this many locals responded to the call, most because of a sense of duty to report when ordered by the draft board. While we are unsure exactly how many served, based on national averages somewhere between 600 and 1000 county residents went off to war.

Those who did become part of the Armed Forces were subject to a wide array of experiences. Some stayed in the states serving in various essential ways. Others deployed oversees. Many saw combat in bloody battles in France and Belgium. A few even went on to be a part of the force occupying Germany.

After the fighting stopped, those serving were demobilized and sent home. They returned and tried to resume their prewar lives as quickly as possible. Most never talked about their experiences even though their war service certainly influenced their lives. Today, none remain to share their story.

This exhibit helps us understand just how strong an individual’s service in World War One may have influenced their life. 

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Warrior Images: WWII


On December 7th, 1941 the United States of America entered the Second World War. Over the course of the next four years millions of Americans would become warriors and fight around the globe. Over 400,000 of them would die while serving.

Several hundred Shenandoah County residents became part of the Armed Forces. They served in almost every branch of the military and in combat theatre. Many never came home.

Local photographer Hugh Morrison captured images of these local warriors in his studio on Court Street in Woodstock. Often these soldiers, sailors, and marines had their photograph taken after completing their training or before deployment. They were usually photographed in their dress uniforms and usually had a joyful expression. Several appear alongside sweethearts, spouses, parents, or other family members.

A few of these images are of service members who died during the war. These photographs, usually the last showing these individuals, would have been cherished by their families.

The pictures displayed here help us remember local residents who served our country during this conflict. Help commemorate them by discovering their story and commenting on your experience.


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