Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Earth Day

Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22nd, but do you remember when and how the celebration got started? The first Earth Day celebration was held 41 years ago on April 22, 1970.
U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin is credited as being the founder of Earth Day. Nelson, inspired by the anti-war movement of the 1960's, felt that if that same kind of energy could be harnessed for an environmental movement it would force environmental issues onto the national political agenda.

That first year 20 million Americans demonstrated in massive coast-to-coast rallies for a healthy environment while thousands of colleges and universities protested against the deerioration of the environment. A political alignment was also achieved that day as supporters from different walks of life (rich and poor, Republican and Democrat, urban and rural) came together for a common cause.

Earth Day 1970 led to President Richard Nixon's decision to create the United States Environmental Protection Agency as well as passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. For his role as Earth Day founder Senator Nelson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995.

Twenty years later in 1990 Earth Day became a global event encompassing 200 million people in 141 countries. Harrisonburg held its first Earth Day celebration that year. Volunteers from the George Washington National Forest were among the participants at the Harrisonburg event.

In 2008 Court Square Theater extended Earth Day into Earth Week and filled the week with speakers and films about climate change and environmental issues. A "green collar" job fair was also held that year at JMU. The fair featured nonprofit organizations and envirnomental consulting and engineering firms.

Want to know more about Earth Day and/or ways you can help the environment? Check out books on Earth Day, recycling, conservation, and other related topics and Massanutten Regional Library. For Earth Day 2011 activities in Harrisonburg, log onto

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ordinance of Secession of Virginia

On February 4, 1861, the county electorate chose Samuel A. Coffman, John F. Lewis, and Algernon S. Gray as their representatives to a state convention on Virginia secession from the Union. The Rockingham Register described the elected as conservative men who hoped to preserve the Union, but “they were not submissionists.[1] The delegates embodied the local mixed feelings abut the purpose of the convention and they surely had an awareness that less than 75 years ago illustrious representatives of the State were creators of the nation.

With the scent of spring in the air, three men from Rockingham County rode eastward, propelled by the ominous, encouraging events at Fort Sumter, South Carolina between April 12th and 14th, 1861. On April 17, the convention met at the State Capital in Richmond where 143 delegates adopted the Ordinance of Secession by a vote of 88 to 55. Only John F. Lewis in the Rockingham delegation refused to sign. The Ordinance declared “the Federal Government having perverted its powers not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States…that the union between the State of Virginia and other States under the Constitution, is hereby dissolved….” [2]

Ratification of the Ordinance of Secession required a vote of the people of Virginia, which was held on May 23, 1861. Attributed to patriotic fervor, coercion, and physical intimidation, an unusually large turnout of the citizens in Rockingham County voted 2,499 for the referendum; 593 opposed. Six days later on May 29 Richmond became the Capital of the Confederacy and over the next four years Virginians endured over one-third of all the bloody engagements of the Civil War. [3]

The Library of Virginia in Richmond will be displaying Virginia’s Signed Ordinance of Secession this Saturday April 16, 2011 in the Library Lobby from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Check out their website for more information. To find resources at Massanutten Regional Library check out our latest Readers Resource Guide, or search for books under United States Civil War. 

[1] John W. Wayland. The History of Rockingham County Virginia. p. 131.
[2] secession/VA
[3] NPS Battle Summaries

DNR Reference Blog 11 April 11, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Unknown Lovely

Do you know who this is?

Any information regarding the time of year or event would be greatly appreciated!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Did You Know???

Young pranksters mark April Fools' Day by tying a kite to old man's wig in a circa-1770 illustration.
Illustration from Hulton Archive, Getty Images
Happy April Fool's Day

No, we're not joking, we really are starting a blog.  We hope to use this space to provide our patrons with information about interesting events, issues, or reference desk tidbits.  If you have something you would like to know about please let us know...which leads us to our first entry.

Did you know???

Origin of April Fool's Day

Most sources suggest that April Fool's Day began as a French tradition and was originally called "poisson d'Avril".  That's right, an April Fish.  This saying referred to young fish that could be more easily caught or fooled.

An "April Fool" or "Fish" was someone in France who did not recognize the change from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calender.  This change was officially adopted in France in December of 1582 and meant that the New Year went from March 25th under the Julian Calendar to January 1st under the Gregorian calendar.  Under the Julian Calendar, new year festivities would culminate on April 1st with visits and presents.  Under the Gregorian Calendar mock visits and gifts were exchanged to make fun of those who forgot the date change of refused to conform to the new calendar.  The fun migrated to Britain in the early 18th century and the rest is history.