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Thomas J. Nottingham papers

Identifier: MS-0017
This collection consists of the diary (1883-1885) written by VMI cadet Thomas J. Nottingham. It contains a consistent record of the daily cadet routine as it existed during the mid- 1880s and is an excellent source for information about student life during that era. Included are specific references to the following:
  • Recitations
  • Fights
  • Dress parade
  • The Dialectic Society (a student debating society)
  • YMCA
  • Girls
  • Baseball and football games with Washington College students ("minks")
  • Death and funeral of John D. Letcher
  • Destruction of the VMI arsenal
  • Death of Henry W. Williamson (VMI Class of 1845 and staff member)
  • Death of Sara Henderson Smith
Some special events are also mentioned, including the election of President Grover Cleveland and the local Democratic Party celebration in November 1884. The volume also includes a list of letters sent and received by Nottingham, along with lists of staff and class members.

An addition to the collection (7 items) was received in 2016, consisting of miscellaneous family correspondence. Included are letters regarding Thomas Nottingham's studies at the Suffolk Military Academy, 1880-1881, and one letter written by cadet Nottingham from VMI on May 11, 1884 to his father, in which he discusses his religion, his promise to give up drinking and smoking, and a dispute with his mother.


  • 1883-1885


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

Manuscript collections in the VMI Archives are made available for educational and research use. The VMI Archives should be cited as the source. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright holders. Materials from our collections may not be redistributed, published or reproduced without permission from the VMI Archives. Contact the VMI Archives for additional information.


8 items (1 volume diary and 7 miscellaneous documents, including letters.) : Letter of May 11, 1884 appears to be a fragment.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Jacob Nottingham was born in Richmond, Virginia on September 1, 1864. He was the son of Thomas J. Nottingham (1834-1891) and Mary B. Tarrall (1835-1886). Nottingham entered VMI in 1882 and graduated in 1886.
After graduation, Nottingham was a businessman in Norfolk, Virginia, primarily associated with the wholesale coal and lumber industry. He served in both the Spanish-American War and World War I. He married Minie Virginia Mapp on December 12, 1888 in Baltimore, Maryland. They had one son, Thomas Jacob Nottingham, Jr., born in Norfolk in January 1903. Nottingham died June 8, 1953 at the home of his son in Arlington, Virginia. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Norfolk.

Physical Location

Manuscripts Stacks

Repository Details

Part of the Virginia Military Institute Archives Repository

VMI Archives
Preston Library
Lexington VA 24450