Wednesday, November 29, 2023

A new exhibit at Tabb Library teaches about women in Virginia history

A new exhibit is coming to the Tabb Library that will bring women’s history to patrons.

“The Library of Virginia created this exhibit and sends it to different libraries,” said Beth Lane, programming and outreach librarian for the Tabb Library. “We thought it would be a good idea to host because there isn’t a lot of exposure for women in history in Virginia.”

Starting Friday, the library will host the “Virginia Women in History” exhibit which will feature women of Virginia who changed the world around them. It will include information on a female Pamunkey chief, runaway slave, a pioneering scientist and others, according to a news release from York County.

“Throughout Virginia’ history, women have played important, but often overlooked, roles as educators, entrepreneurs, health care providers, religious leaders, farmers, artists, writers, reformers, pioneers, laborers, and community builders,” according to the news release.

While the Library of Virginia creates the exhibit every year, this will be the first year the Tabb Library has hosted it. Each year, the Library of Virginia selects a different group of historic women in the state and tells their stories through the exhibit.

This year’s women are:

  • Ann, 1706 to 1712, Pamunkey chief from King William County
  • Ona Judge, 1773 to 1848, a freed slave from Fairfax County
  • India Hamilton, 1879 to 1950, a teacher who fought for educational opportunities for African Americans from King William County
  • Lucy Randolph Mason, 1882 to 1959, a labor organizer and social reformer from Richmond
  • Kate Peters Sturgill, 1907 to 1975, a musician from Wise County
  • Georgeanna Seegar Jones, 1912 to 2005, an endocrinologist from Norfolk
  • Claudia L. Dodson, 1941 to 2007, a women’s sports advocate from Charlottesville
  • Sharifa Alkhateed, 1946 to 2004, a community activist from Fairfax County

Previously, the library has put up posters with the information but this year, the Library of Virginia reached out to Tabb Library about hosting the event. Land said after they learned how many of this year’s women were from the region, they realized it would be a great opportunity.

“I think hosting the exhibit brings more attention to these women than posters ever could,” Land said. “For me, as a woman, it is important to find these role models throughout history and know it’s not just national people. There are people from Virginia, worked in Virginia and made a difference in Virginia.”

Since the exhibit features Lucy Randolph Mason, a woman who used to be involved in the League of Women voters, Land said it seemed perfect that it coincided with their special program, “A Woman’s Right to Vote.”

At 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 26, the League of Women Voters of the Williamsburg Area will give a presentation and host a discussion about the fight for women’s suffrage. The league will have a voter registration drive during the event as well.

Until Oct. 22, locals can stop by the library and learn about these women, Land said.

“One of the things the library tries to do is curate information,” Land said. “So having this exhibit is another avenue for providing information that people might not seek out themselves. But if they’re already here, then they may be more likely to read that information.”

While the information and resources will only be available at the Tabb Library through October, all the information about the featured women is available through the Library of Virginia online.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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