Virginia Room Digital Collection


The Virginia Room Digital Collection includes photographs, oral histories, books, pamphlets and finding aids to items in the Virginia Room. Continue to check back for new additions.

GB24 Virginia Y. Lee


GB024 Virginia Y. Lee - Copy.jpg

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GB24 Virginia Y. Lee


Virginia Y. Lee was the Gainsboro Library's fourth librarian (1928 – 1971). She was born on November 22, 1906 in McComas, West Virginia and raised in Roanoke, Virginia. She graduated Valedictorian from Lucy Addison High School in 1924 and earned her degree from Hampton Institute's School of Library Science. Lee is credited with acquiring funds from the City of Roanoke for a new library to be built in Roanoke's Gainsboro Neighborhood after the existing library outgrew its location in the basement of the William A. Hunton YMCA. However, the city only allotted enough money for Lee to build the library, not purchase land. Lee then enlisted the help of Father Thomas of St. Andrews Catholic Church to write Pope Pious XII to ask if the Catholic Church would allow the city to lease property for the new library. The church generously donated a site previously occupied by the Shank Foundry to the city for 99 years. The new library was dedicated on May 10, 1942 at 15 Patton Avenue NW. Lee is also recognized for compiling a literary and historical African American collection that drew opposition from Roanoke City Council. When asked to remove the collection from the library, Lee hid the collection in the basement and continued collecting materials. Today the Gainsboro Library’s Virginia Y. Lee Collection is named in her honor. Virginia Y. Lee passed away January 11, 1992.


Roanoke Public Libraries




Gainsboro Branch of Roanoke Public Libraries


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“GB24 Virginia Y. Lee,” Virginia Room Digital Collection, accessed August 12, 2022,