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Publication Details

The Norfolk Virginian.

More information about this newspaper title may be available on the source website.

Source: Chronicling America [US Library of Congress]

Country: United States

State: Virginia

City: Norfolk, Va.

Issues of this title available in Elephind: 934

Items (articles and/or pages) from this title available in Elephind: 7,738

Earliest Date: 1 January 1895

Latest Date: 19 March 1898


The Norfolk Virginian

Norfolk, Virginia, lies where the James and the Elizabeth rivers converge upon the lower shores of the Chesapeake Bay. “Original old Norfolk,” explains Carroll Walker, author of Norfolk: A Tricentennial Pictorial History, “was virtually an island, connected to the mainland by a narrow umbilical cord. All around were coves, creeks, and narrow inlets that poked their watery fingers deep into the irregular shoreline, creating small and large patches of marshland.”

Norfolk was established in 1680 by an act of the House of Burgesses. Its location as a port made it a center of commerce and by 1776 Norfolk was the largest community in Virginia. Although British forces burned Norfolk during the Revolutionary War, the city recovered in large part due to trade with Europe and the West Indies. In March 1862, the waters off Norfolk were the setting for the historic battle between the ironclad ships, the CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimack) and the USS Monitor. Only two months after this epic naval battle, Willie Lamb, the mayor of Norfolk, surrendered the city to Union troops. It remained under martial law for the duration of the war.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, the daily Norfolk Virginian was established on November 21, 1865, by G.A. [Gustavus Adolphus] Sykes and Company. Though conservative and pro-Democrat, the paper publically claimed that it accepted “the results of the war.” It was first edited by Anthony M. Keiley and Captain James Barron Hope [1865-74]. The latter was a well-known Confederate veteran, lawyer, poet, and novelist. During its life, the Norfolk Virginian had several illustrious editors who had been loyal to the South during the war. Among them were William Evelyn Cameron (April-November 1866), who later became Virginia’s 39th governor, and John Hampden Chamberlayne (1874-76), son of the founder of the Medical College of Virginia and founder of the Richmond State

The Norfolk Virginian was co-owned by several men for much of its life span, but on March 24, 1876, Michael Glennan--a native of Ireland and Confederate veteran--- became sole owner until it merged with the New Daily Pilot in 1898. Before assuming ownership, Glennan had been general manager of the Virginian for nine years. Though he knew little about newspaper management when he assumed the job at age 24, Glennan “had the spark, and for most of the next 30 years would be the dominant personality in the Virginian’s command” (Lenoir Chambers, Salt Water and Printer’s Ink: Norfolk and its Newspapers, 1865-1965)..

The Norfolk Virginian focused on local and market news, as well as covering activities at the port and international developments. Early on, stories about the recent war were still prominent and advertisements filled most of its pages, but by 1898, local news and politics had emerged as key topics. In 1877, Glennan began publishing a summary edition called the Weekly Virginian. On November 25, 1886, the paper’s name was changed to the Weekly Virginian and Carolinian, which eventually ceased publication in 1898.

Due to the rising publishing costs, Glennan was forced to merge the Norfolk Virginian with the rival New Daily Pilot on March 31, 1898, to form the Virginian-Pilot. The Virginian-Pilot was published by the Virginian and Pilot Publishing Company; Albert H. Grandy became president and majority shareholder, and Glennan served as vice-president until his death the following year.“ Glennan played a vital role in the newspaper drama of Norfolk,” wrote Lenoir Chambers in Salt Water and Printer’s Ink. “No one could follow the record of these pages without realizing often the importance of his influence, the humanity of his Irish nature, and the ‘indomitable spirit’ to which his long-time rival paid just tribute.”

On January 1, 1912, the Virginian-Pilot merged with the Norfolk Landmark to become the Virginian-Pilot and Norfolk Landmark. On September 9, 1935, the title was shortened to the Norfolk Virginian Pilot, and on May 8, 1955, the name was again shortened to the Virginian-Pilot. With a proud history dating back nearly one and half centuries, this newspaper is still published today.

Provided by: Library of Virginia; Richmond, VA