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) 683-4483
fax (757) 683-5954


Local History - Introduction

This guide describes the collections relating to local history housed in the Special Collections of the Old Dominion University Library. These collections include the papers of two prominent Norfolk families, the records of a now defunct local amusement park, the records of a civic organization, the personal papers of two Old Dominion University professors, and three photograph collections. These collections contain correspondence, diaries, genealogical material, reports, minutes, proceedings, newspaper clippings, postcards, and photographs.

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 46 The Cook Family Papers, 1872-1976. 6 Hollinger Boxes and 1 Documents Case.

These papers primarily document the lives of the children of Arthur Clarico and Emma Blow Freeman, and later generations, and include correspondence, diaries, minutes and proceedings, photographs, scrapbooks, charts, diagrams, lists, real estate plats, and maps. Most of the collection centers on the personal and business papers of Allen Merriam Cook. The collection documents a prominent Norfolk family, the development of subdivisions in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, and the career of a Naval Officer from 1889-1919. Of special note is the minutes and proceedings of the Princess Anne and Norfolk Mutual Building and Loan Association and real estate plats for the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area.

MG 31 The Papers of Dr. Dudley Cooper and Ocean View Amusement Park, 1941-1978. 12 Hollinger Document Cases and 5 Oversized Boxes.

This collection includes correspondence, legal documents, financial papers, printed material, scrapbooks, and photographs, primarily relating to the operation of Ocean View Amusement Park.

MG 38 Lawrence M. Cox, 1941-1989. 59 Hollinger Boxes.

Served twenty-eight years as the Executive Director of the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NHRA) and, thereafter, as Assistant Secretary for Renewal and Housing Assistance in the Department of Housing and Urban Development during Nixon‘ s administration. From 1971, he served as consultant to urban development, planning, and housing bodies at the international, national, state, and local levels. Consists of the records accumulated during his service as Executive Director of the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Includes correspondence, speeches, press releases, reports, legislation, mailing lists, photographs, newspapers, newspaper clippings and magazines. Documents Norfolk‘s urban redevelopment and contains information on housing in Norfolk during World War II. Of note are the files on the Joint Congressional Committee Investigating Housing and the Committee for Slum Clearance.

MG 45 William Frederick Duckworth, 1899-1972.  2 Hollinger Boxes and 9 Oversize Boxes.

Mayor of Norfolk 1950-1962. Father of the Douglas MacArthur Memorial in downtown Norfolk. Founder and President of the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation. Collection consists of artifacts, newspaper clippings and scrapbooks documenting his activities in politics and as a businessman, and civic leader. See guide to political papers for more detail.

RG 95 The Personal Papers of Elizabeth Calvert Page Dabney, 1812-1943. 1 Hollinger Box and 1 Document Case.

This collection contains diaries, personal accounts, certificates, proceedings, receipts, literary magazines, and newspapers documenting the family history of Ms. Dabney. Notable are the diaries of Agnes Knox Gordon recounting her journey from England to Virginia and Camilla Frances Loyall describing the occupation of Norfolk during the Civil War, and the wartime accounts of Captain William C. Whittle, first with the U.S. Navy and then on the Confederate steamers, the "Shenandoah" and the "Nashville."

MG 50 The Papers of Finlay Forbes Ferguson, 1803-1975. 1 Oversized Box.

Collection primarily consists of genealogical material relating to Ferguson's numerous descendants. Also, contains material relating to the restoration of the Willoughby-Baylor House, the Moses Myers House, and the Adam Thoroughgood House. Of special interest is correspondence concerning New York Life Insurance Company's payment of insurance claims after intercourse between the United States and Confederate States was declared unlawful in 1861.

RG 17-2B1  The Personal Papers of Alice R. Jaffe. 2 Hollinger Documents Cases.

This collection contains assorted reports, pamphlets, magazines, newspaper articles, etc. relating to Hampton Roads history and the early history of Old Dominion University. Material of importance is a compilation of articles, speeches, and editorials of Louis Jaffe, Alice's husband, correspondence and legal documents of Captain Samuel Davis from the early 1800's, and material relating to the construction of a house in Virginia Beach, built in 1936 for Colonel Henry L. Rice, Alice's father.

MG 68 1907 Jamestown Exposition Photographs. 1 Hollinger Document Case.

Consists of 21 photographs (14 mounted for exhibit purposes) that depict the Jamestown Exposition of 1907, the tercentennial of the settlement at Jamestown in 1607.  The tercentennial was held in Norfolk, Virginia on land that is now part of the Norfolk Naval Base.

MG 89 1907 Jamestown Exposition, St. Paul's Episcopal Church. 1 Hollinger Document Case.

Consists of material related to the first Episcopal Church in North America, which was exhibited in the 1907 Exposition.

MG 73 Zelda J. Miller. 3 Hollinger Document Cases.

Zelda J. Miller was a teacher at Robert E. Lee School in Norfolk, Virginia during the 1950's and 1960's. The material consists entirely of historical and civic information about the Hampton Roads area, historical figures, and local industries. A particular emphasis is on the Virginia colonies and early settlers.

MG 66 Norfolk Museum of Natural History Collection. 1 Drop Front Document Case.

Includes 144 photographs that depict the museum's exhibits, staff, special functions, and activities.

MG 69 Norfolk Nineteen Nineteen, 1919. 1 Clamshell Box.

A portfolio of 46 prints that depict small shop owners and employees of businesses in Norfolk, Virginia in 1919. Also, includes a study written by Dr. Peter Stewart, an Old Dominion University History Professor and local historian, that examines what Norfolk was like in 1919. This study is located in the collection's control folder.

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.

MG 30 Eloise Word Skewis Collection 1777-1914. 1 Hollinger Document Case, 1 Oversize Box, 1 tubular poster container.

This collection includes correspondence, newspaper clippings, receipts, statement of accounts, currency, bonds, and indentures. Of note is genealogical material that relate to the Claiborne and Kilby families of Virginia.

MG 44 Bertha Fanning Taylor (1883-1980). 3 Hollinger Documents Cases.

Came to Norfolk in 1945 as Curator of the Sloane Collection at the Heritage Foundation Museum. Taught art courses at the Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary until 1951. Includes literary productions, printed materials, correspondence, photographs, memorabilia, scrapbooks, and charts. A wealth of information in art and art forms is available in the collection. In addition to the artistic significance of the papers, the collection documents the history of Norfolk, especially in the arts.

MG 75 Calvert Walke Tazewell (1917-2002). 12 Document cases.

Retired USAF Lt. Col., author, publisher, local historian. The collection includes papers from Tazewell's years as President of the Norfolk Historical Society and Virginia History Federation. Also included is information on the Boush-Tazewell-Waller House and papers of Philip Brower, former archivist of the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk. Brower's papers include research on General Douglas MacArthur, personal papers and papers regarding the MacArthur Memorial Archives.

MG 91 Printed Materials of the Tidewater History Collection, 1795-1982. 3 Hollinger Document Cases and 2 Oversize Boxes.

Consists of newspaper clippings, whole newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets related to Hampton Roads facts, history, events, government, culture and the military, with emphasis on the city of Norfolk.

MG 36 United Community Fund, 1923-1953. 2 Hollinger Boxes and 4 Oversized Boxes.

Also known as the Norfolk Community Fund, Norfolk United Fund, United War Fund, and United Way Campaign. Includes bound volumes and scrapbooks. The five bound volumes contain minutes, proceedings, and correspondence relating to the civic organization's activities. A detailed index of these volumes is available in the repository.

RG 2-1B1 Webb Family Papers (1790-1975). 11 Hollinger document cases.

Donated by Lewis W. Webb, Jr., the collection contains documents from the early records of the Borough of Norfolk (1790-1823), the Gosport Navy Yard (1829-1870), the Webb Family (1831-1883), 19th century commercial ventures, and the Electricity Cost Commission (1975).

Other Local History sites

Revised: 1/19/2010