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The University of Virginia Collection on the Events in Charlottesville, VA, August 11-13, 2017

Identifier: MSS 16386

Scope and Contents

This collection contains offensive and harmful language and imagery including racist and violent references and imagery. The purpose of this note is to give users the opportunity to decide whether they need or want to view these materials, or at least, to mentally or emotionally prepare themselves to view the materials. 

This collection documents the events of August 11 and 12, 2017 that occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the circumstances surrounding them. It also documents the responses to those events from communities in and outside the city of Charlottesville. The contents of this collection include analog and born-digital materials. Some materials were donated, and physically collected by library staff and Charlottesville residents. A significant portion of the physical materials were created by individuals and communities outside of Charlottesville, which were then sent to Charlottesville City Hall, which donated them to the University of Virginia. Library staff also collected born digital materials by means of web crawling and harvesting Twitter data, and by means of participatory archival efforts with the Charlottesville community, and from communities outside Charlottesville.

Several community identities can be identified throughout the collection, most notably residents of Charlottesville and its surrounding areas, many of whom were creators of first-hand documentaion donated to the archive and represented in the collection records. This particular community also includes University of Virginia students, faculty, and staff. Other community identities include those of the ralliers, the counter protesters, people expressing solidarity with and support for Charlotteville residents and the victims of the August 11 and 12 rallies, and people expressing support for the "Unite the Right" ralliers. In addition to the physical materials and the photo and video documentaion, evidence of these different communities can also be found in the collections of archived webpages and tweets, which lend themselves to the participatory aspect of the collection.

The Physical (Analog) series follows a chronological organization beginning with the Materials leading up to August 11 and 12, 2017 and the "Unite the Right" rally subseries. The collection begins with materials from the July 8, 2017 KKK rally and documents regarding that rally and its aftermath, and some printed email correspondence from police and Charlottesville City Council. These materials document some of the context and backdrop of the “Unite the Right” rally.

In the Materials from August 11 and 12, 2017 and the "Unite the Right" rally subseries, there is documentation of the events that took place on those days and some of the circumstances surrounding those events. Printed email correspondence disclose some of the activities of the Charlottesville Police Department and of city council members during and after the demonstrations. Artifacts from the August 11, 2017 torch-lit rally, and from the August 12 “Unite the Right” rally provide evidence of the activities during those events. Printed ephemera, like pamphlets, zines, and flyers reveal some of the activities of Charlottesville’s residents and their expressions in anticipation of, and in response to the day’s events.

The Materials following August 11 and 12, 2017 and the "Unite the Right" rally subseries contains materials relating to the “Unite the Right” rally from after August 12, 2017. The majority of the correspondents in this subseries are condolence materials. Condolence letters and letters of support include those sent or addressed to Mayor Michael Signer, Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy, members of the Charlottesville City Council, Charlottesville City Hall, the city of Charlottesville, and Heather Heyer. Condolence letters and letters of support were sent from public offices and municipalities, religious organizations, educational and professional institutions, businesses, non-profit organizations, political organizations, and from individuals and communities from around the world. Many of the condolence letters and letters of support that were sent from public offices and municipalities include motions reached at town meetings, proclamations, and resolutions in support of Charlottesville’s citizens denouncing white supremacy, white nationalism, and groups demonstrating hate and bigotry. Pledges of solidarity with the city of Charlottesville signed by the citizens were also sent to city hall. Condolence artifacts of various formats were also sent to Charlottesville City Hall and document the varied kinds of expressions of support and solidarity. The artifacts in this subseries also includes the broken nose of the "Faith" statue, which is the front of the Stonewall Jackson statute's granite pedestal in Court Square Park.

The other types of correspondence in this subseries include letters, and one restricted typed narrative that presents one person's assessment of the events of August 12, 2017. Some of the letters are addressed to members of Charlottesville City Hall and City Council that express severe criticism of the manner in which the mayor and members of city council, and the Charlottesville Police Department handled the events of August 12, 2017. Other letters also express dissatisfaction of Charlottesville City Council’s decision to remove the Lee and Jackson statues, while also attempting to convey a particular narrative of southern history. Some correspondence also express severely racist comments towards black people and people of color, in general.

Also in this subseries are materials that demonstrate Charlottesville community plans and responses for the anniversaries of the "Unite the Right" Rally. These include flyers for protests one year after the event, fliers and brochures handed out during the "Reclaim the Park" anniversary event in 2020, a press conference announcement, zines, and a listing of anti-racist events with a collection of comments from Charlottesville anti-racist activists.

The periodical issues with articles about the events of August 11 and 12 portray the mainstream local and national reactions. The physical (analog) materials and ephemera collected after August 12, the copy of a legal complaint filed against Jason Kessler and other parties, the official report released by lawyers in Charlottesville, and the audio-cassette recording of songs by local musicians all document some of the responses of Charlottesville’s communities and residents.

The Born-Digital materials series consists of digital photo and video documentation, text files, archived email files, archived websites and Twitter data, and Audio files (songs on audio-cassette). Some documentation was contributed by a number of Charlottesville community members, city residents, students, and university staff alike via the University of Virginia Collection on the Events in Charlottesville, VA, August 11-13, 2017 digital collection website created by the University of Virginia Library. While some digital photographs were taken at the July 8 KKK rally, the majority were taken during and after the August 12 “Unite the Right” rally. The photographs and videos of protesters and anti-protesters, of police, of symbols and messages, and of people and artwork away from the activities demonstrate the circumstances of the events, and of the community response to the violence and turmoil that unfolded. The written narratives provide documentation of the events and of the community response, as well, but also provide evidence of the emotional responses.

The growing collection of archived web pages provides a different kind of record of how the August 12 “Unite the Right” rally was perceived and documented. The collection of news and opinion articles from local, regional, and national sources, along with blogs, reddit threads, and a YouTube music video provides a small representation of responses to August 11 and 12, 2017 on the internet. The archived tweets and Twitter data-sets exhibit other forms of communication, like hashtags and emojis that can be included in the larger community of people responding to the events of August 12, 2017.


  • Creation: 2015-01-13 - 2020
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 2017-01-03 - 2020

Conditions Governing Access

The majority of the collection is open for research use.

The story donated by Michael McGee is restricted and requires permission from the donor prior to use. Consult repository for details.

The original audio-cassette format of the music album, "Together" cannot be handled directly by patrons. The digital files for each song are included and can be accessed in the second series, 'Born-Digital materials'.

Conditions Governing Use

Because of the assembled nature of this collection, copyright status varies across the collection. Copyright is assumed to be held by the original creator.

Historical Note

On the night of Friday August 11, 2017, the “Unite the Right” organizers held an unpermitted torchlit march at the University of Virginia. A group of several hundred men and women, identified by many sources as Alt-right members and white nationalists, gathered on UVA’s “nameless” field with lit torches in hand. They then marched on the main quadrangle of the University of Virginia’s grounds while chanting “You will not replace us” and “Jews will not replace us”. They continued to walk around the Rotunda, then to the statue of Thomas Jefferson. At the base of the statue, the mob of white nationalists surrounded a small group of counter protesters before attacking them and injuring some.

According to news sources, University officials were informed of the planned march hours before it began. However, no action was taken to prevent the mob's tresspass onto University grounds, despite their violation of University policy. Nor was there any attempt made to prevent possible violence. Reports state that University officials and University Police were unprepared for the event, and University Police only dispersed the crowd after aid was provided by the Charlottesville Police Department.

On August 12, 2017, right-wing and white-nationalist groups gathered in Charlottesville to oppose a plan to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park. This same plan also prompted a similar protest in May, 2017, led by white nationalist Richard Spencer, and a Ku Klux Klan rally on July 8, 2017. Jason Kessler had obtained a permit prior to August 12 to convene a rally at the Lee Statue, an event that was called “Unite the Right”. The rally was much larger than the July KKK rally that took place in Charlottesville, and was a more significant public safety challenge for officials and authorities, despite the attempt by city council to move the event’s location to McIntire Park.

Violence broke out ahead of the rally’s scheduled noon start, after which Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe, declared a state of emergency. The Charlottesville Police Department and the Virginia State Police’s failure to coordinate in a unified command, in combination with general planning and coordination breakdowns, resulted in their inability to intervene in violent altercations, and to protect public safety. When unlawful assembly was declared, law enforcement officers pushed Alt-Right protesters in Emancipation Park back towards counter-protesters with whom they had been in conflict, generating even more violence.

The violence spread beyond the park to Market Street, Justice Park, High Street, Water Street, and the Downtown Mall, culminating in the death of 32-year-old paralegal, Heather Heyer, who was killed when James Alex Fields, Jr. drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters at 4th and Water Streets. Nineteen people were injured when the car drove into the crowd, and at least 15 others were injured that day, including DeAndre Harris, a man beaten in an altercation with “Unite the Right” ralliers. Several hours after the incident that killed Heather Heyer, two Virginia state troopers, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Berke M. M. Bates, died in a helicopter accident while monitoring the demonstrations.


50 Cubic Feet

19.74 Gigabytes

Language of Materials



Arranged in two series: 1. Physical (Analog) Materials. 2. Born-Digital materials.

The University of Virginia Collection on the Events in Charlottesville, VA, August 11-13, 2017 is arranged in two series, each of which has been further arranged into subseries. Series 1, Pysical (Analog) Materials, is arranged into three subseries, and each subseries is arranged into files. Each subseries in Series 1 is arranged chronologically relative to August 11 and 12, 2017. The contents of each subseries in Series 1 are arranged by type or format. Series 2, Digital Materials, is arranged into 4 subseries. The contents of Series 2 are arranged in general type or format, and each subseries is arranged by format. The series, subseries, and files are as follows:

Series 1, Physal (Analog) Materials:

Subseries 1, Materials leading up to August 11 and 12, 2017 and the "Unite the Right" rally, 6/6/2017 - 8/10/2017:

File 1, Correnspondence materials. File 2, Announcements, flyers, pamphlets, publications. File 3, Posters. File 4, Artifacts.

Subseries 2, Materials from August 11 and 12, 2017, and the "Unite the Right" rally, 8/11/2017 - 8/12/2017:

File 1, Correnspondence materials. File 2, Announcements, flyers, pamphlets, publications. File 3, Posters and signs. File 4, Artifacts.

Subseries 3, Materials following August 11 and 12, 2017, and the "Unite the Right" rally, 8/13/2017 - 2020:

File 1, Correspondence materials: letters of support and other correspondence. File 2, Announcements, flyers, pamphlets, publications. File 3, Legal documents, official reports. File 4, Artifacts. File 5, Audio-visual materials.

Series 2, Born-Digital materials:

Subseries 1, Stories and audio-visual materials submitted via online collection site, 8/13/2017-2018.

Subseries 2, Archived web pages, 1/13/2015-2020:

File 1, Archive-It webpages. File 2, ReplayWeb/Webrecorder/Conifer webpages.

Subseries 3, Archived tweets and Twitter datasets, 8/11/17-2018.

Subseries 4, Audio files (songs on audio-cassette), 2/26/2018.

The collection of Twitter data is not yet open for research, and will be made available when it is processed.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Anonymous donors. University of Virginia Library staff. Charlottesville residents. Charlottesville City hall. Other, Individual donors, e.g: Michael McGee, Rosemary Balister, Derek Brown, Arlyn Newcomb, Tyler Magill, Sarah Brazelton.

Related Materials

Related materials documenting the July 8, 2017 KKK rally, and the events in Charlotteville, VA on August 11 and 12, 2017 can be found here:

Boggs, Jeremy, 2017, "Charlottesville KKK Tweet IDs",, University of Virginia Dataverse, V1. Deeyah Khan, 2017, "White Right - Meeting the Enemy",, University of Virginia Robertson Media Center Streaming Content. Paul Tait Roberts, 2018, "Charlottesville" (Unite the Right Rally),, University of Virginia Robertson Media Center Streaming Content.

Littman, Justin, 2018, "Charlottesville Tweet Ids",, Harvard Dataverse, V1.

Physical Access

For accessing rolled oversized materials (tubes 6-11):

These items are stored rolled around the exterior of the tube.

2 people are needed for rolling. Each item should remain face-up with the painted/drawn/sketched side visible.

Sandwich each item between the Hollytex, placed on top, and the sheet of Tyvek, placed underneath.

The sheet of Tyvek should remain on the underside/ unmarked backing of the item.

Once these protective coverings are in place, carefully roll up the item around the exterior of the tube (Hollytex side IN)

Now rolled, gently secure the item by using the 3 ties, one near each end and one in the center.

Processing Information

The original title of the University of Virginia Collection on the Events in Charlottesville, VA, August 11-13, 2017 was the "Unite the Right" Rally and Community Response collection. It was changed on August 3, 2022.

The University of Virginia Collection on the Events in Charlottesville, VA, August 11-13, 2017
Joseph Azizi
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States