Virginia Historical Society
428 North Boulevard
Richmond VA 23220
Mission Statement

The mission of the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) is to connect people to America’s past through the unparalleled story of Virginia.

By collecting, preserving, and interpreting the Commonwealth’s history, the VHS links past with present and inspires future generations.


Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Dr. John R. Nelson
Board Chair Mr. John R. Nelson
Board Chair Company Affiliation Retired
Contact Information
Address 428 North Boulevard
Richmond, VA 23220
Telephone 804 358-4901
Fax 804 342-9647
E-mail info@vahistorical.org
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1831
Financial Summary
 
 
Projected Revenue $6,291,000.00
Projected Expenses $6,291,000.00
Additional Documents
Annual Report2013View
Annual Report2011View
Annual Report2010View
Annual Report2009View
Annual Report2008View
Annual Report2007View
Statements
Mission

The mission of the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) is to connect people to America’s past through the unparalleled story of Virginia.

By collecting, preserving, and interpreting the Commonwealth’s history, the VHS links past with present and inspires future generations.


Impact
  1. We successfully completed our Story of Virginia Campaign, which exceeded its $38 million goal by 20 percent. 
  2. We completed an $18 million construction project on time and within our budget. 
  3. We introduced the state's first crowd sourced documentary Virginia Voices.
  4. We launched a successful special exhibitions program. Our first special exhibition was Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times which was followed by The Art of Seating: 200 Years of American Design and Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  5. In August 2015, we opened our new 11,000 square-foot The Story of Virginia long-term exhibition. This exhibition was met with enthusiastic school attendance.

As we move towards 2016, our goals include:
  1. We will restore our 104-year-old skylights in our historic core, and we will selectively repoint and clean the exterior limestone façade of our building.
  2. We will conduct a national search for a new president and CEO.
  3. We will expand our Created Equal Film Series, in honor of Grady W. Powell from four times a year to eight.
  4. We will continue a robust special exhibitions schedule with the October 2016 opening of The Private Jefferson: From the Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
  5. We will continue and expand our online teachers institutes and educational resources.


Needs
  1. Additional Endowment: $20,000,000
  2. Underwrite Free Admission: $60,000 annually
  3. Conservation of Collections: $250,000
  4. Youth Education Fund: $30,000 annually
Background

Although a private, non-profit institution, the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) is unique in that it is the Official State Historical Society of Virginia. The nature of our comprehensive collection allows us to interpret broad themes in Virginia history spanning all centuries of the state’s history, all geographical regions, and all socioeconomic groups. We are the only Southern member of the prestigious Independent Research Libraries Association. Our educational programs for the public, teachers, and schoolchildren have reached all of the state’s counties and cities. We host an extensive website on the Internet (www.vahistorical.org) and our catalog of collections records is now online. In recognition of the high standards of museum professionalism and our success in the advancement of our mission, the American Association of Museums awarded accreditation to the VHS in 1998 and again in 2008. In the course of its 184-year history, the Society has reinvented itself numerous times in order to survive and serve an ever widening public.

Maintaining the momentum of the last two decades and continuing to expand the ways we fulfill our mission are key initiatives as we set the course for our institution in the 21st century.

 

 


CEO Statement

If you have read David Stewart’s book, Madison’s Gift: Five Partnerships that Built America, you know that James Madison cared more about achieving results than taking the credit. Because of that, Madison is frequently over-shadowed by other founding fathers who were more charismatic, better orators and taller. But James Madison understood the power that comes from strategic partnerships and because of that, he was able to achieve his lifelong dream of a self-governing constitutional republic.

In many ways, the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) is using the same technique — forming strategic partnerships — to accomplish our goals. Recently, we announced the VHS and George Mason University (GMU) NoVA Banner Lecture Series, an initiative created from meetings with GMU, Historic Fairfax City, Friends of Fairfax Courthouse and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. And, we worked with the Taubman Museum of Art to create a special evening for our VHS members in Roanoke. There, our members enjoyed a lecture on George Washington’s Southern Tour given by Warren Bingham followed by a tour of the Taubman’s path-breaking exhibition, A Portrait of George Washington, The Man, The Soldier, and The President. Our partnership with the American Civil War Museum to transfer the research collections from the Museum of the Confederacy to the VHS to be catalogued and digitized will create the Civil War Research Center at the VHS which will be the largest private repository of Civil War research materials.

In the months to come you will learn about other programs in the planning stage, all supported by strong partnerships with other nonprofits to reinforce our strategic goal of providing statewide programming. We think James Madison was definitely on to something — working with others — to create something larger than can be achieved alone.

We shouldn’t be surprised. He was, after all, the first honorary member of the VHS.

Board Chair Statement

I have been a VHS member and supporter for more than a decade. Were I a native Virginian, it surely would have been longer. That’s one thing you can expect—an effort from the VHS to make the Commonwealth’s history more accessible and more relevant to everyone, not only those fortunate enough to have been born in Virginia.

You also can expect some changes in how we communicate with you. Soon, we will offer you a choice of receiving certain publications in digital format instead of print. And, we are working on an easier way for you to search our collection of digital images and an easier way for you to navigate our website when you want to renew your membership, purchase tickets, or check on an event date.

After having completed a nearly two-year construction project, you can expect to see more exhibitions and more VHS collections on display. If you depend on our HistoryConnects programming, you can expect more topic offerings. If you are a teacher, you can expect more professional development opportunities online and onsite.

If you are a researcher, you can expect progress in our daunting project to absorb the immense Civil War collections of the Museum of the Confederacy into our research collection, thereby creating the largest single collection of Civil War research material in a private institution.

Areas of Service
Areas Served
Area
Throughout the United States
Statewide
Metro Richmond
Tri-cities Region
Richmond, City
Ashland
Chester
Chesterfield County
Colonial Heights, City
Dinwiddie County
Ettrick
Goochland County
Hanover County
Henrico County
Hopewell, City
Matoaka
Petersburg, City
Powhatan County
Prince George County
Sussex County
Charles City County
Gloucester County
King and Queen County
Lancaster County
Louisa County
Mathews County
Middlesex County
New Kent County
Northumberland County
Charlottesville-Albermarle
Hampton Roads
Northern Neck
Northern Virginia
Shenandoah Valley
Southside Virginia
Southwest Virginia
The Virginia Historical Society is located in Richmond, VA, but we have members in all fifty states as well as nearly a dozen different countries. We serve state, national, and international audiences through our web presence (www.vahistorical.org), our online catalog, and our distance-learning initiative HistoryConnects.
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. John R. Nelson
Company Affiliation Retired
Term Jan 2016 to Dec 2017
Email johnrobertnelson@aol.com
Board CoChair
Board CoChair Charles L. Cabell III
Company Affiliation Williams Mullen
Term Jan 2016 to Dec 2017
Email ccabell@williamsmullen.com
Board of Directors
Board Members
NameAffiliation
Mr. Thomas N. Allen Chairman, The Clovelly Corporation
Mr. H. Furlong Baldwin Former Chairman, Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust Company
Mr. Harry F. Byrd IIISenseny South Corporation
Mr. Charles L. Cabell Partner, Williams Mullen
Mr. Herbert A. Claiborne IIICarpenter Company
Mr. Richard Cullen McGuireWoods, LLP
Mr. Cordel L. Faulk Director of Admissions, University of Virginia School of Law
Mr. William H. Fralin Jr.President/CEO, Medical Facilities of America, Inc.
Mr. George C. Freeman IIIChairman, President & CEO, Universal Corporation
Ms. Susan Goode Active civic volunteer
Mr. Gary M. Gore Managing Director-Mid-Atlantic Regional Executive U.S. Trust Bank of America Private Wealth Management
Ms. Nancy H. Gottwald Community Volunteer
Mr. Conrad M. Hall Dominion Enterprises
Mr. Brenton S. Halsey Community Volunteer
Mr. Richard S.V. Heiman Virginia Historical Society
Mr. Landon Hilliard Brown Brothers Harriman & Company
Mr. Linwood Allen Lacy Jr.Retired
Dr. John R. Nelson Executive Vice President $ Chief Technology Officer, Altria Group, Inc.
Mr. Grady W. Powell Retired pastor, Gillfield Baptist Church
Mr. E. Claiborne Robins Jr.E.C. Robins International
Ms. Pamela Kiecker Royall Royall & Company
Mr. Thomas G. Slater Jr.Hunton & Williams
Mr. Robert C. Sledd Retired
Mr. Thomas G. Snead Retired President/CEO-WellPoint, Inc., Southeast Region
Mr. Joseph Stettinius Americas
Mr. Robert D. Taylor Retired
Ms. Carole M. Weinstein Vice Chairman, Weinstein Properties
The Honorable J. Harvie Wilkinson IIIJudge-US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
Mr. William C. Woolridge Retired Vice President, Norfolk Southern Corporation
Ms. Anne R. Worrell Community Volunteer
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 2
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 28
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 25
Female 5
Governance
Board Term Lengths 6
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 75
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Standing Committees
Audit
Building
Collections
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Program / Program Planning
Finance
Investment
Nominating
Executive
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
Executive Director
Executive Director Dr. John R. Nelson
Experience

The Virginia Historical Society will cast a national net for a new CEO while getting interim leadership from John R. Nelson Jr., chairman of the VHS board of trustees and a recently retired executive vice president and chief technology officer at Altria.

The national search will be conducted by Bryan & Jordan Consulting, a firm that knows the VHS inside and out. Charles F. Bryan Jr., one of the co-founders of the consulting firm, ran the VHS for 20 years and was named president and CEO emeritus upon his retirement.

Paul A. Levengood, VHS president and CEO since 2008, has resigned from his position effective July 1. He will be on sabbatical for the next year. His last big public event was a Banner Lecture on Wednesday evening, when he led a conversation with Edward L. Ayers, president emeritus of the University of Richmond, on “The Roads from War to Reconstruction and Beyond.”

Nelson, who holds a doctorate in history, has served more than 10 years on the board in two terms. He said the goal for the executive search will be to “get a really top talent ... since we think this is the outstanding historical society in the United States.”

Bryan & Jordan just completed a search for the Nebraska Historical Society. “We know the society well, and we know the field very well,” Bryan said of the VHS. “I think it’ll be a very attractive job for any number of people.

 
Former CEOs
NameTerm
Dr. Charles F. Bryan Jr.Jan 1988 -
Dr. Paul A. Levengood 2008 - 2016
Senior Staff
NameTitle
Richard S. V. Heiman Senior Vice President for Operations
Frances Pollard Vice President for Research Services
Pamela R. Seay Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement
E. Lee Shepard Vice President for Collections
Andrew H. Talkov Vice President for Programs
Staff
Full Time Staff 63
Part Time Staff 12
Volunteers 46
Plans
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Under Development
Years Strategic Plan Considers 4
Date Strategic Plan Adopted Nov 2007
Management Succession Plan? Yes
Organization Policy and Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
Collaborations
The Virginia Historical Society was a founding member of Museums on the Boulevard (MOB), a collaboration of museums in Richmond that are geographically connected in the heart of the city. We are also a member of CultureWorks, a group of non-profits with arts and cultural missions in the City of Richmond.Additionally, we collaborate often with IRLA (Independent Research Libraries Association) and the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH). An example of a specific collaboration is our Created Equal Film Series, in honor of Grady W. Powell. We collaborate with the Richmond Peace Education Center and Diversity Richmond to bring this program to the public free of charge. 
Affiliations
AffiliationYear
Museums on the Boulevard2002
Virginia Association of Museums1985
External Assessments and Accreditations
Assessment/AccreditationYear
American Association of Museums - 10 Year Accreditation2007
Awards
Awards
Award/RecognitionOrganizationYear
We the People for "Lee and Grant" exhibitionNational Endowment for the Humanities2006
We the People for "Rehousing Women's History Collections"National Endowment for the Humanities2006
Merit Award for "George Washington, the Man Behind the Myth" traveling exhibitionAmerican Association for State and Local History2001
Save America's Treasures for the "Custis Family Papers" projectNational Trust for Historic Preservation1999
Award of Merit for "An American Turning Point, The Civil War in Virginia"American Association of State and Local History2011
Tourism Award for promoting increased knowledge & awareness of the city's heritage, cultural assets, & entertainment with "Unknown No Longer" slave name database & "An American Turning Point" exhibitRichmond Department of Economic and Community Development2012
Gold Medal Award in Short Films. Special achievements in directing and editingCinema in Industry (CINDY) Awards2015
Silver Award for Videography/Cinematography and Bronze Award for DocumentaryTelly Awards2016
Programs
Description

Our signature exhibition is The Story of Virginia, and features objects that will help guide the visitor through more than 16,000 years of Virginia history from prehistoric times to the present. Other long-term exhibitions include Changing Styles: 300 Years of Virginia Art and Design, Landscapes of Virginia, The Memorial Military Murals by Charles Hoffbauer, and Charles Hoffbauer: "Painter of Historical Murals.

 

The new Virginia Sargeant Reynolds Gallery accommodates large, nationally travelling exhibitions. With a sufficiently large and secure space, we offer special exhibitions from other museums, private galleries, and collectors. Very often, these shows may only be available in central Virginia if the VHS hosts them.

Our special exhibitions engage a broader public by presenting history in unexpected ways. And, in some cases by presenting unexpected history. The first exhibits highlighted in our newly created special exhibition gallery represent a look at more national topics, at collections that may not otherwise be available to the public, and at exhibitions not normally associated with history museums.

- Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times;
 
October 2015 – January 2016

- The Art of Seating: Two Hundred Years of American Design

February 2016 – April 2016

- Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame

May 2016 – September 2016

 

We offer free admission to our long-term and changing exhibitions. As a benefit of membership, members receive free admission to our ticketed special exhibitions. We made the decision to eliminate admission fees in 2010 as a testament to our commitment to make history accessible to everyone. No family, student, or up-and-coming historian is ever turned away from our doors for lack of funds.

Population Served General/Unspecified
Budget $60,000.00
Description

HistoryConnects is an outreach education initiative by the Virginia Historical Society utilizing Interactive Videoconferencing equipment, Skype, and Zoom Meetings to reach students across the state of Virginia, the nation, and the world.

HistoryConnects programs:

  • are interactive,
  • are primary source based historical explorations, and
  • reinforce both national and state standards of learning.

 

Programming is offered to Virginia schools at a reduced rate, and a limited number of free programs will be made available through the Skype in the Classroom (SITC) partnership.
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years)
Budget $30,000.00
Description

According to the US Census, the oldest of the Baby Boomer generation turned 60 in 2006. Since then, this group of 78.2 million has been turning 60 at a rate of 7,918 per day. Our “We’ll See You in Class” series is specifically designed to target this demographic and their need for educational programming.

The addition of our new, state-of the art classroom serves an audience of teachers and students as well as a new audience we have dubbed “life-long learners.” We developed a program entitled “We’ll See You in Class” to specifically target this audience. This wildly successful series, established in 2005, invites students of all ages to after-hours classes hosted by staff and visiting historians. Topics have ranged from World War II to Civil War and Southern History film classes.  Additionally, we serve this audience with bus trips to various attractions and destinations throughout the Commonwealth. This is a part of a new program which did not exist ten years ago.

Budget $10,000.00
Description

In 2008, the popular Banner Lecture Series was endowed in honor of Charles F. Bryan, Jr., to celebrate his twenty years (1988–2008) of service to the VHS as president and to commemorate his retirement after two decades of remarkable leadership. The series, established in 1988 by Dr. Bryan, was the first public lecture series ever offered by the VHS. Contributions to the endowment to support the series are still being accepted. 

For more than twenty-eight years, the VHS has been hosting noontime lectures that are open to members and the general public. Authors and scholars discuss their most recent work and research on a variety of topics, ranging from architecture and art to genealogy and modern-day politics. Held in the society's Robins Family Forum, the Banner Lecture Series continues to be a highlight of the VHS calendar for many people. These lectures last approximately one hour followed, in many cases, by a book signing. The VHS has been recording Banner Lectures since 2007. Watch and/or listen to more than fifty past lectures.

Population Served General/Unspecified
Description

In 2013, the VHS was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to participate in its Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle initiative. This program used the power of documentary films to encourage community discussion of America’s civil rights history. The film series was so well-received that the VHS decided to continue the program and to name it in honor of Rev. Grady W. Powell, Sr., of Petersburg, Virginia, who has served on the VHS board since 1996 and as honorary vice chair since 2011, and is instrumental in the development of relevant and accessible programming.

Now in its third year, the series focuses on themes related to civil rights, human rights, and social justice in American history. The VHS partners with the Richmond Peace Education Center and Diversity Richmond in efforts to present this program free of charge to a new and diverse audience.

Already this year, we have shown Freedom Summer, a film about ten memorable weeks in 1964 when more than 700 student volunteers joined with local organizers and black Mississippians in a historic effort to shatter the foundations of white supremacy in one of the nation’s most segregated states. In May, we showed the documentary, The House I Live In, which examines the forty-year history of the war on drugs—a war that has resulted in more than 45 million arrests with tremendous and disproportionate consequences to African American communities. Later in September, we will screen Rosenwald. This film tells the story of Julius Rosenwald, the son of Jewish immigrants who rose to become the chairman of Sears, Roebuck and Co. Perhaps his greatest achievement was the establishment of a challenge grant program that led to the creation of more than 5,000 schools for rural African Americans in the south.

After each film, a notable historian or a panel of distinguished guests provides historical context to the audience, and in turn, the audience has a chance to ask questions.

Population Served Families
Budget $25,000.00
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $6,291,000.00
Projected Expenses $6,291,000.00
Endowment Value $56,500,000.00
Spending Policy Income plus capital appreciation
Percentage (if selected) 5
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201520142013
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$2,028,802$617,554$306,266
Government Contributions$104,138$0$224,163
Federal------
State------
Local------
Unspecified$104,138--$224,163
Individual Contributions$2,470,144$10,480,721$5,903,372
------
$136,417$184,207$398,308
Investment Income, Net of Losses$1,982,465$6,444,544$6,740,111
Membership Dues$238,941$256,855$239,389
Special Events------
Revenue In-Kind$157,280--$2,150,369
Other$442,656$499,776$337,378
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201520142013
Program Expense$7,944,546$6,055,525$6,032,150
Administration Expense$1,521,286$1,236,147$1,236,213
Fundraising Expense$828,787$784,493$732,408
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.732.292.04
Program Expense/Total Expenses77%75%75%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue18%7%11%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201520142013
Total Assets$103,532,095$97,166,968$86,311,595
Current Assets$8,062,396$6,737,626$4,194,414
Long-Term Liabilities$11,879,239$4,660,525$4,858,384
Current Liabilities$3,581,506$1,701,317$1,055,577
Total Net Assets$88,071,350$90,805,126$80,397,634
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities2.253.963.97
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201520142013
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets11%5%6%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit 5/2014View
Comments
Foundation Comments
  • Form 990 and audit prepared by Keiter, Stephens, Hurst, Gary & Shreaves.
  • Financial analysis performed with audit.