Dorothy Zenobia Lias

From Cvillepedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Portrait photograph of Dorothy Zenobia Lias, taken by Rufus W. Holsinger in 1912. Reproduced from the Holsinger Studio Portrait Project.

Dorothy Zenobia Lias (June 18, 1896-January 16, 1923), was a Black citizen of Charlottesville in the early twentieth century whose portrait photograph forms a part of the Holsinger Studio Collection.


Lias was born on June 18, 1896. She had five siblings, with her father Joseph Lias (who was a pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church on West Main Street in Vinegar Hill) dying early on in her life. Lias attended school from a young age and was able to read and write. During this time, the family lived in the Starr Hill neighborhood.[1]

On August 12, 1912, Lias and or her family commissioned her portrait photograph to be taken by Rufus W. Holsinger in celebration of her graduation from Jefferson Graded School. This photograph later formed a part of the Holsinger Studio Collection and was prominently featured in the “Visions of Progress: Portraits of Dignity, Style and Racial Uplift” exhibit of Holsinger's photographs that was on display at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library from 2022-2023. According to Mason, it is possible that Lias' mother Fannie (who was a seamstress) made the white dress she wore in this picture.

On June 24, 1913, Lias married Tyree Arthur Barbour in Charlottesville, with the couple making their home in the Rose Hill neighborhood. In 1920, Lias' mother Fannie became one of the first women in Charlottesville to register to vote following the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment that same year.

Lias died in Albemarle County on January 16, 1923.[2]


  1. Web. Picture Me As I Am: Mirror and Memory in the Age of Black Resistance, The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
  2. Web. Dorothy Zenobia Lias, Holsinger Studio Portrait Project