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Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-5350
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The Papers of A. Rufus Tonelson


Biographical Sketch

Dr. A. Rufus Tonelson was born in New York City on November 17, 1911, After his family moved to Norfolk, he attended that city's public schools through graduation from Maury High School in 1929. After completing his undergraduate work in 1933 and. after two years in the Army during World War II, he married Sara Gladys Hamburg and they had two children - Louis, who was born on May 1, 1947 and Stephen Willis, who was born on April 3, 1950.

Dr. Tonelson began his college education as one of the first students of the newly formed Norfolk Division of William and Mary in 1930. During his three years as a Norfolk Division student, he was quite active in school athletics, particularly as a varsity baseball and basketball player, and literary activities, especially as a reporter for the campus paper High Hat. In addition, he also taught various lab science courses during his senior year when he was employed as a student lab instructor. After three years of attending classes at both the Norfolk and Williamsburg campuses, he received a Bachelor of Science Degree from William and Mary in 1933.

Shortly after his graduation, Dr. Tonelson continued to teach biology and lab sciences at the Norfolk campus as he had done in his senior year. Then, in 1936, he left the Norfolk Division to teach general science at Ruffner Junior High School. After three years at Ruffner, he transferred to Maury High School where he taught biology, history, and government in addition to coaching varsity basketball.

After serving in the United States Army from 1943 to 1945, Dr. Tonelson returned to Norfolk where he was employed as the Director of Veterans training for that city. A few years later, he left that position and re-entered a teaching career which was eventually to involve him in a very difficult challenge. After teaching for a short while at a local elementary school, he was, in 1950, appointed Assistant Principal and Varsity Basketball Coach at Maury High School. For a number of years, he also served as the Principal of the Maury High Night School. During this period, and mostly because of his graduate work in education, Dr. Tonelson was named a visiting Associate Professor of education at the Williamsburg campus of William and Mary. In 1953, Dr. Tonelson received a Masters in education from that same school. His Master's thesis was entitled "A Study of a High School Guidance Program".

In 1957, Dr. Tonelson was appointed principal of Maury High School. Even though he held that position for almost a decade, his most significant contribution came during massive resistance when Maury, along with a number of other schools, was closed by opponents of integration. Viewing such closings as an unfortunate neglect of the needs and potentials of students, Dr. Tonelson worked diligently to have the schools re-open as quickly as possible..

During his career as Principal of Maury High School, Dr. Tonelson continued his Academic study. In 1963, he received a doctorate in Administration and Supervision from Michigan State University upon completion of his dissertation entitled "A Study of the Principalship in Larger High Schools in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools".

In 1966, Dr. Tonelson joined the faculty of Old Dominion College first as a Lecturer and then, in the same year, as a full Professor and Chairman of the Secondary Education Department, In September 1969, he was named Dean of the Darden School of Education of Old Dominion University. After two years in that capacity, he was, in 1971, named by President Bugg as the Assistant to the President for School and Community Relations. Then, in 1973, he was named to serve as the Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity Officer for Old Dominion University. Subsequently, after a long and meritorious career, Dr. Tonelson retired on July 1, 1976.

Scope and Contents

The majority of this collection consists of papers representing teaching aids and materials collected by Dr. Tonelson during his four decades of teaching at Old Dominion University, formerly Old Dominion College and the Norfolk Division of William and Mary. While some of the material reflects his initial teaching experience at the Norfolk Division of William and Mary, most of the papers in this collection are from the later phases of his teaching experience at Old Dominion College and University's School of Education.

Series Descriptions

This collection is broken down into the following series: I: Personal Papers; II: Lectures and Tests; III: Publications; and IV: Memorabilia.

Series I: Personal Papers. This series consists mainly of course material related to elementary and high school guidance counselors; counseling techniques and methods; educational administration and supervision; school curriculum; as well as personality and career assessments for high school students. Also included are syllabi, exams, and answer keys for Tonelson's Education classes, and 1972 correspondence with Manpower Training Skills Center. Most of the dated material in this series is from the 1950's and 1960's.

Series II: Lectures and Tests. Material dates from 1958 to 1967. Lecture topics relate mainly to elementary and high school guidance and counseling, and tests are from biology and education classes.

Series III: Publications. Publications date from 1967 to 1975. They include: The Urban Policy Conference Programs for 1967 and 1968; The Norfolk InterInstitutional Seminars for Prospective Teachers (1970); Ward's Corner Transformation (1972); the ODU Academic Planning Committee Report (1973); Curriculum Guide for Elementary Level, Visually Impaired, Mentally Retarded Children (1969); and the Assembly on the Dimensions of Hunger report (1975).

Series IV: Memorabilia. This series contains: Biology songs from the Jones Biology Club of William and Mary; a 1922 program for the Laying of the Corner Stone of the William H. Ruffner Junior High School in Norfolk, VA; 1963 lecture booklet The Whole Jackson (about Stonewall Jackson); 1926 Inaugural Program for Harry Byrd as Governor of Virginia and address by Byrd; and The Cauldron, published by Sigma Epsilon Pi in 1936.


Gift of Dr. A. Rufus Tonelson, June 25, 1976
Accession No. A76-33


Collection is open to researchers without restrictions Questions on literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.


Six Hollinger Document cases; 3 linear feet.

Contents Listing

Series I: Personal Papers

Box 1

Folder 1 Correspondence
Folder 2 Counseling Techniques
Fo1der 3 Counselor
Folder 4 Educational Administration
Folder 5 The Elementary Principalship
Folder 6 Examinations
Folder 7 Group Processes in Guidance
Folder 8 Guidance General
Folder 9 Guidance in the Elementary School

Box 2

Folder 1 Guidance Programs: Organization and Administration
Folder 2 Individual Appraisal
Folder 3 Personnel Administration
Folder 4 Practicum in Counseling
Folder 5 Secondary School Curriculum
Folder 6 Supervision
Folder 7 Syllabi

Box 3

Folder 1 Tests and Measurements
Polder 2 Testing and Individual Appraisal
Folder 3 Vocational and Occupational Guidance

Series II: Lectures and Tests

Folder 4 Lecture: Individual Appraisal Guidance

Box 4

Folder 1 Lecture: The Interview
Folder 2 Lecture: Counseling
Folder 3 Lecture: Guidance in the Elementary School
Folder 4 Lecture: A New Dimension in Vocational Education
Folder 5 Lecture: Guidance Services in the Modern School
Folder 6 Lecture: Training of Guidance Workers
Folder 7 Lecture: The Nature of Personnel and Guidance Services
Folder 8 Lecture: Guidance and Counseling
Folder 9 Tests: Biological Sciences
Folder 10 Tests: Guidance and Counseling

Box 5

Series III: Publications
Folder 1 Publications
Folder 2 Publications

Box 6

Folder 1 Publications
Series IV: Memorabilia
Folder 2 Memorabilia

Revised 5/19/08