Explore the Collections and Research at Stratford
The varied collections at Stratford Hall contain examples of man-made, as well as natural, objects. Some collections are better documented than others, but all are considered important resources for better understanding Stratford’s history.
Take a closer look at our collections: find us on Facebook to see weekly highlights and explore our blog for more in-depth information.
Current Exhibits in the Visitor Center focus on the Lee Family and its slave community, Stratford during the Civil War, Miocene fossils, Archaeology at Stratford, and historic photographs of visitors to Stratford.
Past exhibits include Robert E. Lee and the Women in his Life, which was installed to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Robert E. Lee’s birth in 2007.
One of our summer 2012 interns, Grace Williams, has just completed an on-line exhibit about the impact of the War of 1812 on the Lees and the Northern Neck in general. This almost forgotten war was significant because it inflicted greater destruction in this part of Virginia than America’s first war for independence from Great Britain. Because we anticipate new exhibit areas to be under construction within the year, we are beginning to plan for exhibitions in those spaces. Your ideas for exhibit topics are welcome.
Conservation & Management
Conservation: Some objects in the collections require conservation to keep them from deteriorating. We use all kinds of conservators to keep our collections in good order. When not on display, objects in the collections are stored in environments that help to preserve their physical integrity.
Collections Management Policy Our current Collections Management Policy describes the scope of our collections and the policies in place to manage them.
Support the Collections
Funds for new acquisitions, object conservation and sponsorship of exhibits are always welcome.
Stratford Hall is continually looking to add appropriate objects to the collections. If you believe you may have an object that originally belonged to the Lee family or other residents of Stratford; dealing with the legacy of the Lee family; or artifacts from the landscape and built environment of Stratford, we would like to hear from you. A formal collecting plan is currently in place and outlines the types of materials we are seeking. Donations of appropriate materials are gratefully accepted and inquiries or offers can be made to the staff members listed below.
Paid summer internships dealing with collections research, care and management are often available.
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Research Appointments & Services
Research in the collections is by appointment only and fees may apply. Please contact Gretchen Pendleton, Curator, or Judy Hynson, Director of Research & Library Collections, before planning a research trip.
To request images of building interiors or objects in the curatorial, paleontological,archaeological, horticultural or architectural fragment collections for publication or exhibit, please call or email Gretchen Pendleton, Curator. To request images of documents, books, historical photographs and prints in the library’s collections, please call or email Judy Hynson, Librarian. After consultation, a request form containing service fees and use guidelines can be printed, completed and mailed with payment to: Curator [or Librarian], Stratford Hall, 483 Great House Road, Stratford, VA 22558.
Media Office/Press Room
Jessie Ball duPont Memorial Library
The duPont Library was constructed in 1980 in memory of Jessie Ball duPont, a member of Stratford Hall’s first Board of Directors and a generous supporter of education and research. The library serves as an educational classroom, meeting space and research facility for studying four generations of Lees and their slaves, indentured workers, plantation landscape and the Lee family’s impact on the development of this nation. The library’s collections are used by on-site staff and interns as well as by visiting researchers, teachers, students and the general public.
In addition to its specialized reference collection of approximately 8,000 books on American history, biography, architecture, gardening and the decorative arts, the library holds special collections of rare books (4,000+), manuscripts, historic photographs and the Robert E. Lee Memorial Association archives. A digital catalog of the rare book collection is available on-line at the Founding Fathers Library Consortium website. The duPont Library’s partnership with the libraries at Mount Vernon and Gunston Hall through the Consortium on-line catalog makes our resources available to an increasingly larger audience. We plan to add our manuscript collection to the on-line catalog in the near future.
Requesting an Appointment
We welcome researchers of all ages who are interested in learning about the Lees and the times in which they lived. If you decide to visit the library, your first step is scheduling an appointment with the librarian by calling (804)493-1940 or by emailing Judy Hynson. Your request for an appointment must be confirmed by a phone call or by email. Please do not arrive at Stratford without prior confirmation of an appointment.
The duPont Library is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On-site research is by appointment only. The library is closed for the following holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve & Day, New Year’s Eve and Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.
Friends of Stratford can research for free in the library after making and confirming an appointment; FOS members will be required to show their current membership card at registration. There is a nominal charge for other researchers, payable by cash or check to RELMA. Please inquire about fees when requesting an appointment.
The duPont Library is located next to Stratford Hall’s Visitor Center. Parking is available in the Visitor Center or Library parking lots. Our mailing address is: duPont Library, Stratford Hall, 483 Great House Road, Stratford, Virginia 22558.
Upon arrival, please register with the Director of Research & Library Collections by filling out a form which requires your signature and a photo ID. Jackets and large bags are prohibited in our research areas. We suggest that researchers lock personal belongings in the trunks of their vehicles before entering the library.
The Director of Research & Library Collections responds to questions by telephone, mail and email as long as they can be answered without lengthy research. Reference inquiries will be answered as time permits. Students needing information for school assignments or projects on Robert E. Lee or Stratford Hall will be referred to the appropriate references for finding the information they need. Students should allow plenty of time for information to get to them by mail. We cannot guarantee responses by a certain date.
Paid internships are sometimes available for students who apply to work on special projects during the summer. These opportunities and application requirements are posted on Stratford’s website. Unpaid internships requested by students who live within commuting distance will be considered on a case-by-case basis; contact Judy Hynson with inquiries.
Special Collections for in-depth research:
The Lee Family Papers – a collection of documents and manuscripts to and from the family of Lees descended from Richard Lee, the Emigrant.
William Lee Letterbooks – several 18th-century letters of Thomas Lee’s son William; other William Lee letterbooks are located in the collections of the Virginia Historical Society.
The Edmund Jennings Lee Collection – a collection of Lee manuscripts compiled by the author of the massive family genealogical reference Lee of Virginia: 1642-1892.
The Walter Herron Taylor Papers – a collection of letter written by and to Col. Walter Taylor, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Chief Aide-de-camp.
The Taylor Family Papers – a miscellaneous collection of letters, photographs, and ephemera from the Taylors and related families who lived in the Northern Neck of Virginia; donated to Stratford by Bill & Sue Taylor of The Grove, Kinsale, Virginia.
Cartes de Visite Collection – various cartes of the Lee family and an album “Heroes of the Confederacy,” a collection of over 100 carte photographs compiled by a Confederate veteran after the war.
Robert E. Lee Memorial Association Archives – Correspondence and reports of Stratford Hall’s Board, Executive Directors, staff, researchers, historians and architects; from 1929 to the present [not all processed with finding aid]; includes 1930s research by Ethel Armes and correspondence of restoration architect Fiske Kimball dealing with his work at Stratford Hall.
Visual Arts Collection – Photographs, engravings and other images of the historic buildings and grounds; 1860s to present.
Archaeological Reports for Stratford Hall – from the early excavations of the 1930s, the Clifts “Manner House” dig of the 1970s, and Field School reports from 1993 to the present.
Microfilm Collection – includes Lee Family Papers, Jefferson Papers, Virginia Gazette, Maryland Gazette, Shippen Papers, and others.