Richmond County Public Library at the Rappahannock Community College (RCC) Warsaw campus has announced the online publication of “Close Ties” magazine, written by Richmond County Intermediate School students and their advisors, which published seven issues from 1990-1997. Six of those issues have now been posted on the Internet Archive, and the seventh will be added soon. All issues are free for the community to download and search. Links to each issue are found under the “Local History” tab on the Richmond County Public Library web site at https://rcplva.org .

Close Ties gave students an opportunity to learn about, and report on, their community’s history. For each year’s issue, students interviewed family and community members and gathered photographs, under the guidance of their teacher/advisors. Themes included: various topics (1991); military veterans (1992); local agriculture (1993); local baseball history (1994 and 1995); and various topics (1997). An earlier 1990 issue on local watermen, not held by the library, will be added to the others online when found.  

Cindy Bronner Packett, one of the faculty advisors for Close Ties, recalls the origins of the idea: “Our family vacationed in Hatteras North Carolina for some years and we ran across a publication by students attending Cape Hatteras School called the Sea Chest. I brought a copy back to Cindy Bowen Packett and Martha Fidler and we decided it was something we would like to try. Mrs. Fidler and I, as  yearbook sponsors, had a little darkroom and layout  experience.  Mrs. Packett was the English teacher and together we started Close Ties as a gifted and talented project for our 8th graders.

“The project would never have gotten off the ground without the support of James Stover, our Superintendent at the time. He was the original ‘technology guy’ and with his help and encouragement, we printed the first volume in- house. Each year we chose a staff and theme. We spent the year interviewing, photographing, transcribing interviews, writing, working on layouts, and publishing in the spring,” Packett recalls. 

Cynthia Bowen Packett, who also served as a Close Ties faculty advisor, now remembers:  “This was a monumental project, but worth every hour spent organizing students, interviewing locals, and compiling the magazines. We used what is now considered ancient computer technology. Photos were even developed in the school photography lab, prior to the days of digital photography. As sponsors, we spent many late night and weekend hours typing and editing articles working to meet deadlines. Too often, we wish after we’ve lost someone in our family or community that we should have asked more questions and listened to more stories. Close Ties was an attempt to record stories and histories for future generations.”

Richard Gouldin III, who now lives in North Carolina, worked on the student staff of 1997 edition and contributed an article on the Northern Neck tradition of hog processing. He remembers, “The Northern Neck and surrounding region have a wealth of history and traditions that span generations. I have fond memories of working with the RCI faculty advisors and fellow students on the Close Ties project. I feel very fortunate to have played a small role in recording the local and regional traditions for posterity.”   

Dan Ream, librarian for the joint use Rappahannock Community College/Richmond County Public Library, thanks Susan Gouldin, retired Richmond County Schools teacher, and current member of the Richmond County Public Library Board of Trustees, for bringing the value of Close Ties to the library’s attention. The cost for digitizing Close Ties was funded by community donations to the library.