Now for the first time, Petersburg's history is shown through the photographs of William E. Lum Jr.-the city's predominant photographer, c. 1925-1950. Lum's photography illustrates the social, business, and personal lives of Petersburg's citizens. His first published collection, these images hold crisp detail from the eras of the Great Depression and World War II, including Camp Lee, Virginia State College, the merchants on North Sycamore Street, carnivals, and football games-to name a few.
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The colorful history of Petersburg is a story rife with tragedy and perseverance. Petersburg, a city 25 miles south of Richmond, was devastated by the effects of the Civil War. By 1915, the city had rebuilt itself into a vital business center with 25,000 citizens-equally populated by whites and African Americans. The city had a military base, deep water port and shipyard, and was considered well equipped for competition in national agricultural and manufacturing markets. The numerous museums and historical sites in Petersburg continue to draw thousands of visitors annually.