A Guide to the Charles Scott Venable Papers, 1851-1913
Born on his father Nathaniel Venable’s estate in Prince Edward County, Virginia, Charles Scott Venable (1827-1900) attended Hampden-Sydney College and the University of Virginia before becoming a mathematics professor at Hampden-Sydney. In 1856, he married Margaret Cantey McDowell, daughter of Governor James McDowell, and the couple eventually had five children. That same year, Venable joined the University of Georgia’s faculty and, in 1857, moved again to South Carolina College. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the Confederate Army. In 1862, General Robert E. Lee chose Venable as one of his aides, and the two men remained close throughout the war. Following Lee’s surrender in 1865, Venable returned to the University of Virginia as a lieutenant colonel. He spent the next 31 years on the university’s mathematics faculty, serving as its chair from 1870 to 1873 and 1886 to 1888. Furthermore, Venable wrote textbooks for the university when they were unavailable during Reconstruction, helped establish its observatory, and was instrumental in procuring funds for seven new science departments. After Margaret’s death in 1874, he married Mary Southall Brown, widow of Colonel J. Thompson Brown, with whom he had a son.
“Charles Scott Venable.” Leander McCormick Observatory Museum. University of Virginia Department of Astronomy. Accessed March 10, 2011.
A photograph and original and photocopied letters, special orders, legal documents, and clippings compose the Charles Scott Venable Papers, 1851-1913, documenting Venable’s service in the Confederate Army and his academic career as well as the Civil War and Reconstruction in Virginia. Special orders, legal documents, and letters concern Venable’s activities in the Confederate Army, such as his enlistment in South Carolina, acquisition of supplies, and his work and relationship with General Robert E. Lee, including a special order handwritten by Robert E. Lee announcing the death of General “Stonewall” Jackson. Letters also relate to Venable’s wife Mary Southall, the Venable and Southall families, and the social effects of the war in Charlottesville, Virginia. Additionally, the correspondence chronicles Venable’s professorship at the University of Virginia and work at and offers from other institutions, such as the University of Texas, the regents of which asked Venable to join its faculty in 1882. The photograph, bound with the photostats, is an undated portrait of Venable.
This collection is open for research use.
Charles Scott Venable Papers, 1851-1913, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s “History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light project,” 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers