A Guide to the

Town of Harrisonburg Council Minutes , 1849-1859

SC# 4048

Compiled by: Tracy Harter, May 2008

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: Town of Harrisonburg Council Minutes, 1849-1859

Collection No.: SC# 4048

Creator: Harrisonburg (Va.) Town Council

Extent:  One CD-ROM



The Town of Harrisonburg Council Minutes, 1849-1859, consists of one CD-ROM containing several files: images of the ledger, transcription of the first year of incorporation (1849-1850), and a May 1, 2007 press release describing the digital project.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions:


Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions:


The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk. (library-special@jmu.edu).

Acquisition Information:


Digital surrogates received as a gift from the volunteers of the Court Days Festival 2007 and the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance by Karen Ryder Lee, director.



Original ledger is the property of the City of Harrisonburg; in 2006, the city allowed representatives of the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and the Court Days Festival 2007 to coordinate scanning and transcribing the first volume of the Town of Harrisonburg's Council Minutes.

Preferred Citation: 


[Identification of Page], Town of Harrisonburg Council Minutes, 1849-1859, SC# 4048, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

Location of Originals:


Original ledger is the property of the City of Harrisonburg.

Alternative Forms:


Copies of this CD have also been made available to the Massanuten Regional Library in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society in Dayton, Virginia.

Historical Note

Harrisonburg, in Rockingham County, Va., was named after Thomas Harrison, who settled in the area in 1737 and acquired several thousand acres of land. Known as Rocktown for a short time, in 1779, Harrison deeded 2 ½ acres of his sizeable holdings to the public, on which the first court house was built on present-day Court Square. Shortly thereafter, Harrison deeded fifty more acres, which prompted the Virginia House of Delegates to recognize "Harrisonburg" as the county seat. The town was governed by trustees until, as a result of an act by the Virginia General Assembly, in 1849, which outlined provisions for an elected mayor and town council, and established officially recognized boundaries for the "Town of Harrisonburg."

During the Civil War, Harrisonburg was used by Confederate and Union forces in their various marches through the nation.The population was divided in its loyalties, evidenced by the fact that the area's delegates to Virginia's assembly were opposed to secession. Cavalry officer Turner Ashby was killed near the town's borders. By the turn of the century, Harrisonburg had annexed over 1,000 additional acres. The Town Council Minutes, 1849-1859 thus document specifically the early years of Harrisonburg's official government, and more generally, the issues facing a small Virginia town in the antebellum South.

Scope and Content:

The Town of Harrisonburg Council Minutes, 1849-1859, consist of one CD-ROM containing several files.  Files include a folder containing 352 .jpg images scanned at 180 dpi, created from 300 dpi .tiff images on December 5, 2006, using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.  The disc also includes a 307,460 kb .pdf version of the ledger. A transcription of the first year of incorporation (2 April 1849 to 31 March 1850), transcribed by Harriet Lee Welch, is also available in .pdf form.  Additionally, a press release dated May 1, 2007, by Karen Lee, Director of the Court Festival Days 2007, is available in .pdf form, and describes the digital project in detail.


Caldwell, Martha, Caroline Marshall and Mike Zirkle.  Harrisonburg: The Transformation of a City.  [Harrisonburg, Va.: Harrisonburg-Rockingham Historical Society, 1980.]

City of Harrisonburg website: http://www.harrisonburgva.gov/city.php

Wayland, John W. Historic Harrisonburg. Staunton, Va.: McClure Print. Co., 1949.