Old Dominion University Libraries

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Monday - Friday:
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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) 683-4483
fax (757) 683-5954


African-American History - Introduction

This guide describes the collections relating to African-American History housed in the Special Collections of the Old Dominion University Library. While most of these collections have not been generated by African-Americans, they do relate to the African-American experience in Hampton Roads and Virginia and at Old Dominion University.

The collections, briefly described below, include documentation of Virginia's bout with Massive Resistance, race relations during the antebellum era, the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Great Depression, and post-World War II Virginia, civil rights during the 1950's and 1960's, and the integration of Old Dominion University.

The entries are arranged alphabetically, including the collection number, the inclusive dates of the collection and the collection's size. Please note the collection number because it acts as the location code. Electronic finding aids are available where highlighted. All other finding aids are available in the repository.


MG 59 Archie L. Boswell Papers, 1958-1960. 2 Hollinger Document Cases.

Contains material relating to the two court cases initiated to reopen Norfolk's closed public schools during the school desegregation crisis of 1958-1959.

MG 58 Hugh Lee Butler Papers, 1899-1940. 1 Hollinger Box.

Served on the Norfolk City Council from 1902 to 1938. Contains material relating to race relations in Norfolk during the 1930's.

MG 53 Vivian Carter-Mason Interview.

Includes audio cassettes and transcripts that document her family history, civil rights in Norfolk, establishment of the Women’s Council for Interracial Cooperation, the desegregation crisis in Norfolk, and the experiences of African-Americans in Norfolk.

MG 38 Lawrence M. Cox, 1941-1969. 59 Hollinger Boxes.

Material relating to Norfolk's urban redevelopment including the revitalization of African-American neighborhoods.

MG 67 Michael D'Orso 1993-1995. 13 Hollinger document cases, 2 cassette boxes.

Writer for the Virginia Pilot Newspaper, author of 13 nonfiction books. This collection contains D'Orso's notes and research material collected while writing Like Judgment Day: The Ruin and Redemption of a Town Called Rosewood. The collection includes interview tapes and transcripts, photographs, newspaper clippings, and other research materials.

MG 26 Edward F. Hewins Papers, 1856-1957. 1 Hollinger Document Case.

Includes the letters of Charles Hewins, a Union captain during the Civil War and a businessman in Hampton, Virginia during Reconstruction. The letters provide a Northerner's perspective on secessionist activities and social attitudes toward Black "freedman" during this time period.

MG 49 Hodges Family Papers, 1754-1979. 1 Hollinger Document Case; 1 Oversized Box.

Residents of Portsmouth, Virginia.  Includes correspondence relating to the family's experiences during the Civil War, and business and legal papers including a bill of sale for slaves.

MG 1 Henry E. Howell, Jr., 1948-1977. 266 Hollinger Document Cases and 35 Hollinger Boxes.

Contains material relating to civil rights in Virginia and the efforts to remove the poll tax.

MG 7 Robert Morton Hughes Papers, 1767-1959. 39 Hollinger Flat Boxes; 5 Hollinger Oversized Boxes and Additional Bound Volumes.

Contains papers of Governor John Floyd (1830-1834), Governor John B. Floyd (1849-1852), General Joseph E. Johnston, and Judge Robert W. Hughes that relate to antebellum Virginia, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. See Guide to Civil War Collections for more detail.

MG 98 The Massive Resistance Printed Materials, 1958-1960. 2 Hollinger Document Cases.

Consists of regional and national newspaper clippings covering the “Massive Resistance” movement and public reaction to the de-segregation and subsequent closing of some of Norfolk’s public schools. Also discussed are state and local politicians such as Governor Lindsay Almond, Jr., who ordered the closing the Norfolk schools that enrolled African American students, and Mayor William Fred Duckworth, who opposed de-segregating the public schools. Some of the clippings discuss the fate of those students whose graduation was put in jeopardy by the school closing, known as "The Lost Class of '59."

MG 92 Norfolk Public Schools Desegregation Papers, 1922-2006. 34 Hollinger Document Cases and 2 Hollinger Oversized Boxes.

This collection primarily contains material related to the integration of the Norfolk public schools.  The papers include correspondence, court cases, school board resolutions, inter-district memorandum, press releases, reports, news clippings and district maps. Subjects covered are the 1958 school closing to prevent integration, integration progress in the 1960s, busing to achieve integration in the 1970s and the end of busing in the mid-1980s. Among the most important historical materials is correspondence between Governor Lindsay Almond and the School Administration, beginning with the letter ordering the closing of six Norfolk schools in as mandated by the "Massive Resistance" law.  Other letters during this time period discuss allowing groups to meet in those schools as long as the schools would not be used for educational purposes.  The donated material also includes school directories from 1922 -1990 and school calendars from 1952 - 2006.

Norfolk Women's Oral History Project, 2 Bound Volumes with transcripts for 17 interviews.

Contains interviews that focus on sex roles of the 1930's, as influenced by the Great Depression. Subjects covered include African-Americans. Of note is an interview with a 62 year old black women who worked as a domestic. See Guide to Women's History for more detail.

RG 2 Office of the President

This record group contains the office files of the university's former Presidents, Lewis W. Webb, Jr. (1946-1969), James L. Bugg, Jr. (1969-1976), and Alfred B. Rollins, Jr. (1976-1985). Includes material relating to the segregation and desegregation of the university during the 1950's and 1960's, the university's efforts to comply with demands from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare regarding affirmative action, and collaborative education efforts with Norfolk State University.

Oral History Collection, 140+ interviews.

Oral histories with Old Dominion University administrators, professors, Board Of Visitors, and leaders of the community. Includes information on the segregation and integration of the Norfolk Division and later Old Dominion College, Norfolk's desegregation crisis of 1958-1959, and Seaview Amusement Park, the black amusement park in Norfolk.  Of note is an interview with then President of Norfolk State, Harrison B. Wilson.

MG 23 Robert W. Rose Papers, 1809-1947. 1 Hollinger Document Case.

Contains a petition to the Provisional Confederate Congress seeking financial compensation for six runaway slaves. Dated May 14, 1863, the petition was written on behalf of Dr. Robert W. Rose of Norfolk.

MG 16 Paul T. Schweitzer Papers, 1957-1976. 3 Hollinger Document Cases.

Collection includes correspondence and publications documenting the attitudes of Norfolk and the activities of the School Board during the school closings of 1958. Of note are the files of correspondence from people throughout the United States either supporting or criticizing his efforts to reopen the schools.

MG 30 Eloise Word Skewis Collection, 1777-1914. 115 Items.

Contains records documenting economic transactions in antebellum Virginia including the buying, selling, and hiring out of slaves.

MG 19 A.E.S Stephens Papers, 1949-1961. 6 Hollinger Document Cases.

Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth (1952-1961) during the Supreme Court’s decision and the passing of the Massive Resistance legislation. Contains correspondence that document racial attitudes during this time period.

MG 102 Michael J. Stolee, (ca 1952 - 1993). 8 Cartons.

Contains material related to Stolee’s work as an expert witness in 68 school desegregation cases in the US including Norfolk. Stolee helped to design Norfolk 1971 school busing plan. The material includes the court proceedings, testimony, newspaper clippings, photographs, invoices and correspondence as well as his narrative of some of the cases.

MG 5 Forrest P. White Papers, 1952-1963. 3 Hollinger Document Cases.

President of the Norfolk Committee for Public Schools, a committee established to preserve the public school system of Norfolk and reopen the closed schools. Collection includes both personal papers and the institutional records of the committee, including financial and legal records. Primarily relates to his activities on the Norfolk Committee for Public Schools and the efforts of this committee during Norfolk’s desegregation crisis. Noteworthy is material relating to the Gray Commission and the Perrow Commission, state government commissions organized to formulate plans to implement court ordered integration.

MG 20 Margaret White Papers, 1954-1964. 1 Hollinger Document Case.

Norfolk school teacher during the Norfolk desegregation crisis. Includes material relating to the CBS documentary, "The Lost Class of '59," of which Norfolk was the focus, and the follow-up documentary by CBS, "The Other Face of Dixie," a report on the situation of newly integrated schools.

MG 54 Women’s Council for Interracial Cooperation, 1945-1960. 1 Hollinger Document Case.

Contains records of an interracial organization, founded in 1945, designed to address concerns with education, health, and housing among the African-American community. Of note is a transcribed panel report titled, "How Norfolk’s Closed Schools Were Reopened" and Susan Slaughter’s personal account of, "The First Fifteen Years of the WCIC."

Revised: 2/5/2010