Old Dominion University Libraries

Special Collections & University Archives

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Monday - Friday:
9 am - 4:30 pm

Other times by appointment


The Special Collections is located on the east side of the Library at the front of the 3rd floor.

Contact Information

Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-5350
fax (757) 683-5954


Virginiana and Tidewater History
Collection Development Policy

Books and Manuscripts


The library's special collections in Virginia history consist of manuscripts, books, and other materials related to the nineteenth and twentieth century history of Norfolk and the Tidewater (Hampton Roads) area. The major components of the collection are manuscripts and papers of twentieth century Tidewater figures, a small oral history collection, and both current and retrospective books concerning Tidewater history.
These published and archival collections are intended to preserve and make available to researchers components of the historical record of Tidewater Virginia. Within these limits, additions to the archives are made as opportunities to acquire appropriate collections occur, and books are acquired as published or on the out of print market as appropriate.
Other more diverse elements of the existing manuscript collection serve Old Dominion University’s undergraduate history department, the Master of Arts program in history,    School of Education, undergraduate students in political science and urban studies,  Master’s and PhD. program in English, other university personnel and the general public. As such, they constitute a laboratory collection for instruction of advanced classes in Virginia history and local history.

General Collecting Guidelines

Languages: English language materials predominate. Other languages may be collected on a selective basis.  
Chronological periods covered: While printed material of all periods of Tidewater history is collected, the current collection of manuscripts and historical records primarily documents nineteenth and twentieth century history. The collection strength lies in the Civil War, Military history, Norfolk politics and economic development, and Virginia politics of the post-World War II period.
Geographical areas covered: The entire Tidewater area is within the scope of contents of both printed and manuscript collections; however, Norfolk history is of special interest. There are no geographical limits to publication sources.
Formats collected:

  • Books are collected as they become available, either on the used book market or as new publications. Limited or local editions, such as historical society publications, may be included. Books from the general collection in need of protection or special handling may be placed in Special Collections at the discretion of the Special Collections Librarian. Rare materials that are valuable for their illustrations, bindings, limited print run, or autographs may also be collected on a limited basis.

    Videotapes, such as television documentaries, newspapers, and theses from other institutions will be considered, as will other formats on an individual basis. These may be housed in Special Collections or the general collection. Microforms of newspapers or relevant collections of primary sources will not be part of Special Collections but housed instead with other microform library resources.  Electronic databases or digital collections of primary sources will be accessible through the same portals as similar Old Dominion University resources.
  • Other formats, such as personal papers, manuscripts, oral histories, and photographs are acquired where they complement or supplement existing collections, or support local history. Where possible, donors are asked to provide support for their processing.

Date of publication: Both out-of-print and currently published material on local history are collected. Newly published books on the history of Norfolk and the Tidewater are acquired for the circulating collection as they are published. Due to space limitations, a second copy will be obtained for Special Collections only for books that Special Collection patrons or staff is likely to use frequently, such as reference books.
Reference collection: Materials are acquired to support the provision of reference service to library patrons and to answer outside inquiries related to the scope of the collections. Reference materials include but are not limited to bibliographies, local histories, and guides to archival and special collections at other locations.
Other considerations: Special Collections in the Perry Library contribute to the collective resources of the libraries of Hampton Roads. Relevant collecting emphases of the major public libraries and the other university libraries in Hampton Roads are summarized below:

  • Chesapeake Public Library: Records of the Norfolk County Historical Society of Chesapeake.
  • College of William and Mary: Office files of Virginia's political leaders of the twentieth century, representing a wide spectrum of political thought.
  • Hampton University: Black literature and history, significant pamphlets, clippings, and photographs of African-American life, archives of the Hampton Institute.
  • Norfolk Public Library: Private papers and family histories, county histories, court, church, and marriage records, ship passenger lists, and a picture file of nineteenth and twentieth century subjects. Local newspapers, some from 1736.
  • Norfolk State University: Desegregation in higher education, papers of the Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation (1945-1960)
  • Portsmouth Public Library: City history from 1752, early materials on Norfolk County.
  • Virginia Beach Public Library: Princess Anne County history.

Municipal documents of the city of Norfolk are collected selectively and maintained in the library's circulating collection.

Subject Division

Collecting Level

World War II Military Operations
The war effort in Norfolk (D769.85.V81N6)
Virginia History
Civil War (E456-E655)
emphasis on Virginia
emphasis on Tidewater
emphasis on Hampton Roads (E473.2)

Societies, museums, gazetteers, guidebooks
pamphlets, historical monuments,
illustrative material (F221-227)
1775-1865 (F230)
1865-1950, Reconstruction (F231)
1951- (F231.2)


Virginia Local History  
Norfolk County (F232.N8)
Princess Anne County (F232.P87)
Norfolk (F234.N8)  
Chesapeake (F234.C43), Portsmouth (F234.P8),
Virginia Beach (F234.V8)
Norfolk Economic History and Conditions
Tidewater cultural and social life
(assorted LC codes)
Norfolk Social History and Conditions
Includes social problems and social reform

History of Education in Norfolk
Norfolk School desegregation
Southern School integration and desegregation
LC214.22 and LC214.23
Old Dominion University

June 16, 2008

Bibliographer:Sonia Yaco (syaco@odu.edu)