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Archival Adventures | True Crime: The 1917 trial of Charles Vawter, Jr.

Archival Adventures | True Crime: The 1917 trial of Charles Vawter, Jr.

It's time for an adventure! This we’re exploring some true crime at Virginia Tech with a look at the 1917 trial of professor Charles Erastus Vawter, Jr.

Vawter’s father, Captain Charles E. Vawter, Sr. (for whom Vawter Hall is named), was the rector of the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College (VAMC, now Virginia Tech) from 1886 to 1900. Vawter, Jr. was a professor of math and physics and then chair of the physics department at VAMC. He resigned in 1917 while he was being put on trial for the murder of Stockton Heth, Jr., scion of a prominent local family, and nephew of former Virginia Governor J. Hoge Tyler (Heth Hall on campus and the Hethwood Community housing development) are both named for the family). The trial was sensational news in Virginia at the time due to the families involved, an association with alcohol, reports of an illicit love affair, and the possibility that the defense would use a strategy based on the “Unwritten Law”: that if a husband found his wife in the arms of another man and killed that man on the spot, he would not be found guilty of murder. We’ll look at news articles and primary sources from the period to see what we can learn of this true piece of history.

Join our community collections archivist, Anthony Wright de Hernandez, for a livestream on Twitch! Every week we explore and discuss materials from Special Collections and University Archives covering topics including university history, NASA pioneers, architecture, science fiction, cooking, LGBTQ+ history, Black history, urban legends, and more. Recordings of previous streams are available on the Libaries' Youtube page.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please email library-event-accessibility-g@vt.edu at least 10 business days prior to the event.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024 Show more dates
2:30pm - 4:30pm
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