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Local archivist recounts history behind collection of 20th century Valentines

Posted at 6:00 PM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 18:00:14-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Love comes in a lot of forms.

That's evident by a collection of Valentines that were sent to a very sick little girl in the early 1900s.

News 3 Photojournalist Michael Woodward went to the Central Library in Chesapeake for a look at this unique antique collection.

"To my Valentine - postman, handle this with care," read Robert B. Hitchings.

Hitchings is the archivist historian at the Chesapeake Central Library.

"Two years ago, I did a program for the Currituck County Historical Society. They asked me to bring the history of the Valentine," he told News 3.

I'm sending my heart to a lady fair...

"A lady afterwards gave me a round wooden container and she said, 'Mr. Hitchings, I want your room to have these old Valentines of Laverne Miller,'" Hitchings recalled. "This little Valentine belonged to Laverne Miller."

"You can see the detail and the craftsmanship. Although she wasn't from our area per se in Virginia, the little girl lived in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania," he explained.

Who is an old sweetheart of mine...

Hitchings said Laverne was the only child of Walter and Hazel Miller and died of diphtheria.

And I want her to be my Valentine...

He said her mother saved all the Valentines that she received in 1924.

Related: ‘Colored Notes’: A look into the 1920s Portsmouth column written by a former slave

"And it's sad that she passed away. And this is a little tribute to Laverne Miller," Hitchings said.