The first Bulletin of the Northumberland County Historical Society was published in 1964. At 19 pages in length, it was diminutive in size but did not lack in quality, a trait that continues to this day. Volume I, dated July 1964, celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mundy Point, when the Northern Neck was confronted by the reality of the War of 1812 on August 3, 1814. The article presents a compelling account of the battle from newspaper articles, personal accounts of residents, and affidavits sworn by military officers and residents.
The original Bulletin was offered as a benefit for those who joined the Northumberland County Historical Society at its inception in 1964 and its popularity was very likely instrumental in the growth and success of NCHS. Membership required a donation of at least four dollars and entitled the member to a copy of The Bulletin. There have been 58 more volumes published since then and the tradition continues of rewarding members with a new copy of the informative and scholarly annual journal.
Nearly 700 articles total have been published in The Bulletin. They vary in length from two pages to thirty-five, probably averaging about fifteen pages. All are concerned with various aspects of the history of the Northern Neck, most often specifically of Northumberland County. Many contributors of the articles have been members of the Board of Directors, NCHS officers, educators, and historians, but articles are accepted from anyone, local or otherwise, if they are well-written, informative, and relevant to Northumberland County.
This diversity in authorship has fostered an atmosphere of expression where differing points of view and debates about controversial subject matter are not unusual. Possibly due to this honesty, the popularity and notoriety of The Bulletin has grown, and its reputation has spread among historians and scholars across the country. The Bulletin, as it is published now, is generally about 80 to 100 pages in length and presents about six to ten articles of varying lengths from authors with varied backgrounds. It is certainly much more than a “bulletin,” but that name has stuck.
The most recent Bulletin, published in 2022, was 77 pages in length and offered six articles. As is typical, topics covered the breadth of Northumberland County history, from an examination of 17th and 18th century records to determine the changes in wealth distribution between 1679 and 1783, to biographies of two twentieth-century Northumberland County natives, one of whom earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as an entertainer and another who became a professional athlete, earned a Ph.D. in Education and founded a school as well as earning a spot in the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. Also discussed were the 1850 List of Free Blacks as well as the Heathsville Office of the Virginia Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands Bureau. The volume also chronicles the life of a War of 1812 veteran whose abandoned grave was discovered and investigated by two NCHS members, who later had him reinterred with an appropriate military ceremony.
The 2023 volume of The Bulletin of the Northumberland County Historical Society, the 60th edition, will be distributed in January or February 2024, as is the custom, continuing a proud tradition.
For your convenience, a 29-page file that contains the Table of Contents for each issue of The Bulletin of the Northumberland County Historical Society, from 1964 until the present, can be opened here for viewing. It can also be downloaded to your computer as a PDF file and saved for viewing and/or printing.