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Monday - Friday:
9 am - 4:30 pm

Other times by appointment

Location

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

 

WOMEN'S COUNCIL FOR INTERRACIAL COOPERATION

History

On April 17, 1945, eight black and eleven white women met in the vestry room of Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk. Mrs. W.T. Mason had invited these women in order to consider forming an interracial committee. All the women present were active in civic organizations, and came from different religious backgrounds. At that first meeting it was decided that such an interracial group could indeed be beneficial to Norfolk. Furthermore, they decided that their organization should be autonomous - not affiliated with any other organization, but working in cooperation with them. Mrs. Mason was appointed temporary chairman and the group held meetings in May, June, and September. The first two meetings were devoted to establishing a constitution and coming up with a name. By December, there were 86 members. Early in 1946, the WCIC was becoming active in the public school system, and worked with the public libraries and the Boy Scouts to notify the public of their humanitarian goals. These goals were:

  • .... to improve city facilities for education, recreation, employment, and health
  • .... to improve inter-racial attitudes
  • .... to seek equality of opportunity for everyone
  • .... to work towards full citizenship privileges for all

The WCIC implemented these goals by calling attention to the need for more blacks in civic occupations; worked with health organizations in providing testing for diseases and public health information; held public meetings and other activities with nationally known speakers to advance the ideas of integration; and met with city officials concerning proper housing for the poor. For the first two years the group met in different churches and kept their files and printed materials in the homes of its officers and chairmen. Finally the WCIC was able to get space for an office and meetings at the YWCA. This lasted for several years. As stress in Norfolk over the desegregation of public schools reached a climax, the WCIC found itself pitted against many opponents of desegregation. It became more difficult to find meeting places open to such a group. Also, when they did find a place, they often could not advertise their meeting because of criticism and possible censure it would draw towards those who allowed such a meeting to take place at their establishment. Consequently, for a period of time, the WCIC worked more "behind the scenes" than in the public eye. However the effectiveness of the group endured and through their studies and reports of other cities with integrated school systems, the group helped Norfolk overcome the crisis in 1958 when the public high schools were shut down.

Scope and Contents

The Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation (WCIC) was an organization of white and black women devoted to fostering racial harmony. The papers, dated 1959 to 1961, include the organization's constitution, minutes of meetings, correspondence, speeches, annual reports, member lists, booklets, pamphlets, programs, invitations, newspaper clippings and published articles. Of interest is a transcribed panel report titled, "How Norfolk Opened Her Schools," dated February 2, 1959 and Susan Slaughter's personal account of the "First Fifteen Years of WCIC." Also of note is the material relating to the inception and early history of the Human Relations Council, which superseded the WCIC.

Provenance

Donated to Old Dominion University in 1982 by Mrs. Hyman M. Silverman, the President of the Organization from 1955 to 1957.

Access

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

Size

One Hollinger Documents Case

Collection Number

MG 54

Container Listing

Folder 1 Annual Reports, Constitution, Rules, Origins, etc.
Folder 2 Annual Report - Commission on Community Relations
Folder 3 Board Members and Other Lists
Folder 4 Board Minutes - September 14, 1960 to April 18, 1961
Folder 5 Booklets and Pamphlets
Folder 6 Correspondence & Clippings - General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Folder 7 Correspondence - Senator Hubert Humphrey
Folder 8 Correspondence Concerning Printed Materials
Folder 9 Correspondence - Potential Speakers 1951-52 Season
Folder 10 Correspondence - Potential Speakers 1952 - 1955
Folder 11 Correspondence - Miscellaneous and Undated
Folder 12 Invitations
Folder 13 Magazine Articles
Folder 14 Newspaper Articles December 1957 - November 1958
Folder 15 Newspaper Articles January 1, 1959 - January 20, 1959
Folder 16 Newspaper Articles January 21 - January 30, 1959
Folder 17 Newspaper Articles January 31 - February 21, 1959 and October 15, 1963 - August 14, 1964
Folder 18 Newspaper Articles - Undated (circa 1959)
Folder 19 Norfolk Human Relations Council
Folder 20 Norfolk Story - "How Norfolk Opened Her Schools" 2/2/59
Folder 21 Photograph - Ruth Danenhower Wilson
Folder 22 Programs - Miscellaneous Events
Folder 23 Red Cross Certificate
Folder 24 Speeches
Folder 25 YWCA Material

Revised 6/5/08