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Patricia Givens Johnson Papers

Identifier: Ms-1988-007

Scope and Contents

The papers of Patricia Givens Johnson, New River Valley local historian, consist primarily of materials which arose from her research for--and publication of--books on local pioneers Andrew Lewis, Jacob Miller, James Patton, William Preston, and the early settlement of the New River Valley. The papers contain such materials as correspondence, subject files, printed materials and photographs used by Johnson during her research. Interspersed throughout the collection are a few materials which had belonged to Johnson's mother and fellow local historian, Lula Porterfield Givens, including subject files on Christiansburg and Montgomery County, a scrapbook, and photographs.


  • 1920 - 1986


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials. Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note

Patricia Miller Givens, teacher and local historian, was born in Newport, Virginia, on March 9, 1932. Known familiarly as "Patsy," Givens was the daughter of Hugh Peck and Lula Porterfield Givens. She graduated from Christiansburg High School in 1949, later obtaining her bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin (1956) and master's from the College of William and Mary (1963). In December 1953, she married Walter L. Johnson; the couple would have one son, Walter Peck Johnson. Patricia Johnson taught history and social studies in various schools as the family moved frequently--to Texas, Japan, England, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.--due to the demands of her husband's air force career. Around 1980, the Johnsons returned to the New River Valley area, where they bought and restored the former James Bain Price home in Prices Fork.

Like her mother, Johnson maintained a lifetime interest in the history of Southwest Virginia; she eventually published 15 books and numerous articles related to the subject and became one of the foremost authorities on local history. Johnson's interests were reflected by her memberships in the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She was also an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Johnson died on September 3, 1996; she is buried in the Price Cemetery, Prices Fork, Virginia.

Lula Porterfield, teacher, local historian, and mother of Patricia Givens Johnson, was born in Giles County, Virginia on September 18, 1906. The youngest child of Jehu and Josephine Williams Porterfield, she began teaching in Giles County in 1925. Porterfield married Hugh Peck Givens in Roanoke on December 20, 1930. The couple had two children (Patricia M. and Hugh P. Jr.) and separated in 1939. In the meantime, Lula Givens had moved to Christiansburg and begun a 35-year teaching career in the Montgomery County school system. After her retirement in 1972, Givens was able to devote time to an interest in local history; her research resulted in two books: Highlights in the Early History of Montgomery County, Virginia(1975) and Christiansburg, Montgomery County, Virginia: in the Heart of the Alleghenies(1981). Lula P. Givens died in Christiansburg, Virginia on February 23, 1987.


2 Cubic Feet (4 boxes)


This collection consists of papers of Patricia Givens Johnson, New River Valley local historian. It includes correspondence, subject files, printed materials and photographs. Also includes a scrapbook and a few other materials, scattered throughout the collection, which had belonged to Johnson's mother, Lula Porterfield Givens, also a local historian.

Description of Series

I. Correspondence. The correspondence series contains letters relating to the research, publication and sale of Johnson's various books. Many of the letters consist of little more than book orders, while others--particularly those of Lee Pendleton--contain information on the history of Montgomery County and surrounding areas. The series also contains a few pieces of correspondence which had been addressed to Lula Porterfield Givens and apparently shared with Johnson.

II. Subject Files. This series contains research notes and other materials compiled by Johnson in preparation for her books on Andrew Lewis, Jacob Miller, James Patton, William Preston, and the early settlement of the New River Valley. The James Patton file includes a typescript of the Augusta Parish Vestry Book and galley proofs for Johnson's James Patton and the Appalachian Colonists.The series also contains files which had been assembled by Lula Givens during research on her two books. Givens' Christiansburg file includes histories of Cambria and the Montgomery County Courthouse, while her Montgomery County folder includes writings by Lee Pendleton on various aspects of Elliston-area history.

III. Printed Materials. Included in this series are articles by Johnson and Porterfield; histories of the Cox, Givens and Harless families; and various pamphlets and newsclippings relating to genealogical resources and topics in local history.

IV. Scrapbooks. This series' single scrapbook, compiled by Lula Givens, contains mostly newsclippings relating to Southwest Virginia history. It also includes clippings and ephemera of personal interest, relating to acquaintances and national celebrities.

V. Photographs and Illustrations. Most of the images in this series were collected for use in Johnson and Givens' various books, though not all of the images were published. The photographs are from a number of sources, including local newspapers and personal collections. The series is of probably greatest interest for images of the Christiansburg High School, Montgomery County Courthouse, Virginia Tech classes and campus of the 1920s, and a 1954 Palace Theatre (Christiansburg) program calendar.

Source of Acquisition

The Patricia Givens Johnson Papers were donated to the Special Collections in 1988 and 1989.

Separated Material

Thirty-five books were transferred from the collection to the Special Collections' Rare Book Collection. A list of these books is available.

The following maps were transferred to the Digital Library and Archives' Historical Map Collection:

Missing Title

  1. Map of Kentucke.John Filson, 1784. [reproduction]
  2. Pearisburg Quadrangle.Virginia Geological Survey, 1932.
  3. Virginia Independence Bicentennial Commission American Revolutionary War Map, 1774-1783.Virginia Independence Bicentennial Commission, 1976.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the Patricia Givens Johnson Papers by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement and description of the Patricia Givens Johnson Papers commenced and was completed in June 2003.

Patricia Givens Johnson Papers 1954-1986
John M. Jackson
2003 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English

Revision Statements

  • 2020-08-20: Finding aid notes updated to new department standards. juliags

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US