Old Dominion University Libraries

Special Collections & University Archives

Events & Exhibits

Search Special Collections

Hours

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

 

The Papers of Joseph Downing Wood

Biography

Joseph Downing Wood was born on February 22, 1867, on a farm in Washington Co., North Carolina. He was the first of nine children born to Samuel and Pattie Downing Wood. He left the family farm in 1886 to seek his fortune in Norfolk, Virginia. Here he found work as an apprentice seaman, largely on coastal ships. By the age of 21, he was a licensed seaman and at 23, a master seaman on a tugboat. By 1900 Wood had risen to the position of Yard Pilot for the Norfolk Navy Yard in Portsmouth. During World War I he was commissioned as a Lt. Commander in the Navy Reserve and served as director of tugs and all floating equipment in the Fifth Naval District.

After the war Wood founded his towing company, beginning with one tug and one barge, neither of which was paid for. By the time he sold his Wood Towing Corporation for $1,500,000 in 1951, the company controlled a whole fleet of tugs. Wood had sold his business rather than agree to the demands of his employees for unionization.

Wood was almost 60 when he first entered the political arena and was elected to the Norfolk City Council in 1926. He was reelected to the council in 1934, 1938, and 1942. He became ex-officio mayor of Norfolk when he was elected president of the council in September, 1940. Wood served as mayor, until his retirement from politics in 1944, during an extremely busy period for a defense oriented city like Norfolk. Economy was Wood's watchword as a politician. Being a staunch conservative, he firmly believed in the "pay as you go" philosophy, which dominated Virginia politics during the period in which he was active.

Joseph Downing Wood married Ada Estelle Burnell on June 2, 1896. They had one child, Margaret (Mrs. Burton DeBerry Melchor). Wood died on April 16, 1959.

Scope and Contents

Captain Wood was president of Wood Towing Corporation (Tugboats), a member of the Norfolk City Council (1926-1930, 1934-1944), and mayor of Norfolk (1940-1944). He also served on a number of public boards, most notably the Elizabeth River Tunnel Commission. His papers, dating from 1920 to 1951, are divided into six sub-groups: personal, public service (non-political), business, mayoral files, City of Norfolk data, and political documents.

The personal papers contain some family genealogy, correspondence, his autobiography, and a variety of financial records. The public service papers deal mainly with his service on the Elizabeth River Tunnel Commission. The business papers consist of correspondence, tug repair estimates and labor relations files. The bulk of the mayoral files are correspondence, while the City of Norfolk material focuses on financial data and is not duplicated by material found at Norfolk City Hall. The Political papers consist of materials ranging from his campaign to his speeches. Where possible Captain Wood's own filing system was followed.

Provenance

Gift of Burton deBerry Melchor III, in honor of his mother Margaret Wood, daughter of Captain Wood March 1, 1976

Access

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

Size

18 Hollinger Document Cases

Collection Number

MG 3

Container Listing

Box 1

Series I: Personal Papers

Sub Series A: Financial Papers

Folder 1 Annual Reports: Westinghouse (1931); West Penn Electric (1946); American Waterworks & Electric Co.
(1946)
Folder 2 Brokers' Statements and Receipts--Livingston and Co.; Post and Flagg, 1933
Folder 3 Brokers' Receipts--Post and Flagg, 1936
Folder 4 Brokers' Statements and Receipts--Post and Flagg; Dyer, Hudson & Co., 1937
Folder 5 Brokers' Statements and Receipts--Thomson & McKennon; Dyer, Hudson & Co.; Post & Flagg, 1938
Folder 6 Brokers' Statements and Receipts--Thomson & McKennon, 1939
Folder 7 Brokers' Statements and Receipts--Thomson & McKennon; Abbott, Proctor & Paine, 1940
Folder 8 Brokers' Statements and Receipts--Thomson & McKennon; Abbott, Proctor & Paine, 1941

Box 2

Folder 1 Brokers' Statements and Receipts--Abbott, Proctor & Paine, 1942, 1944, 1945, 1947-49
Folder 2 Brokers' Statements and Receipts--Abbott, Proctor & Paine, 1950
Folders 3-7 Cancelled Checks

Box 3

Folders 1-4 Cancelled Checks, 1946-1949
Folder 5 Cancelled Checks, 1950-51

Box 4

Sub Series B: Correspondence: 1935-1950 Folder 1 November, 1935-December, 1939

Folder 2 1941-1944
Folder 3 1945-1946
Folder 4 1947
Folder 5 January, 1948-December, 1948
Folder 6 1949
Folder 7 1950
Folder 8 Birthday Cards, 1950

Box 5

Sub Series C: Family

Folder 1 Family Genealogy
Folder 2 Federal Tax Records, 1920-1929
Folder 3 Federal Tax Records, 1931-1935
Folder 4 Federal Tax Records, 1936-1939
Folder 5 Federal Tax Records, 1940-1941
Folder 6 Masonic Lodge Material: Correspondence; 1924 Directory; Membership Certificate (1925)
Folder 7 Miscellaneous Personal Papers Box 6

Sub Series D: Norfolk--Proposed Federal Taxation of State Bonds

Folder 1 Norfolk City Tax Returns, 1937-1940
Folder 2 Norfolk Auto License, 1929, 1931, 1934-1935, 1937-1940, 1942, 1944, 1950
Folder 3 Norfolk City Real Estate Tax Receipts, 1928-1935, 1938-1940
Folder 4 Norfolk City and Virginia State Personal Property and Poll Tax Receipts, 1927-1934, 1938, 1940-1946, 1950
Folder 5 Personal Receipts, 1923, 1931, 1936, 1937
Folders 6-10 Personal Receipts, 1938-1942
Folder 11 Personal Receipts, 1943-1944
Folder 12 Personal Receipts, 1945-1946
Folder 13 Personal Receipts, 1947-1951
Folder 14 Photograph: Memorial to War Dead of Norfolk County, 1929
Folder 15 Photograph: J. D. Wood on Right (n.d.)
Folder 16 Princess Anne County Real Estate Tax Receipts, 1928-1930
Folder 17 Proposed Federal Taxation of State and Municipal Bonds--Speech by Solicitor General Henry Epstein, 1939

Box 7

Sub Series E: Taxation--Virginia

Folder 1 Taxation Publications
Folder 2 Tecumseh Beach Property Condemnation, 1941-1947
Folder 3 Virginia State Income Tax Records, 1922-1929
Folder 4 Virginia State Income Tax Records, 1930, 1932-1943, 1945, 1946, 1950

Series II: Public Service

Box 8

Folder 1 American Christian Palestine Committee, 1946-1949
Folder 2 Berkley Bridge Purchase Correspondence, 1932-1933
Folder 3 Bill Creating the Elizabeth River Tunnel District
Folder 4 Bills Before Delaware General Assembly in re: Delaware
Folder 5 Bonney Home for Girls Correspondence, 1949-1950
Folder 6 Bridge/Tunnel Newspaper Clippings, 1941-42, 1944
Folder 7 Brooklyn Battery Crossing Report, 1939
Folder 8 Child Welfare League, 1946

Folders 9-16 Elizabeth River Tunnel: Correspondence

Folder 9 1926-1933
Folder 10 September-December, 1941
Folders 11-14 1942-1945
Folder 15 1946-1949
Folder 16 1950

Box 9

Folder 1 Elizabeth River Tunnel Revenue Bond Act, 1942
Folder 2 Elizabeth River Tunnel Traffic Survey and Estimated Revenues, 1947
Folder 3 Elizabeth River Tunnel--Engineers Report (Abbott, Merkt & Co.), 1941
Folder 4 Elizabeth River Tunnel: Engineers Reports on Various Highway Projects
Folder 5 Elizabeth River Tunnel: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hearing, 1945
Folder 6 Elizabeth River: Engineers Reports on Various Tunnels, 1940
Folder 7 Elizabeth River Tunnel: Mobile, Ala. Tunnel Clippings, 1940-1941
Folder 8 Elizabeth River Tunnel: New York City Narrows Tunnel Report, 1945
Folder 9 Elizabeth River Tunnel: Sketches of Bridge Tunnel Complex and Bridge
Folder 10 Elizabeth River Tunnel Commission: Engineers' Report, 1947
Folder 11 Elizabeth River Tunnel Commission: Progress Reports, May, July, 1950
Folder 12 Florence Crittenden Home, 1944-1950
Folder 13 Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1931-1935
Folder 14 Temporary Wartime Resources Committee, 1941
Folder 15 Travelers Aid, 1941-1943
Folder 16 United Seaman's Service Inc., 1943

Series III: Business Papers

Box 10

Folder 1 Army Base Soundings, 1943
Folder 2 Blocking Measurements on Wood Towing Co. Equipment
Folder 3 Business Publications and Memoranda
Folder 4 Coast Guard Distress Regulations and Area Map, 1933
Folder 5 Copper Recovery Corporation (War Production Board), 1942-1943
Folder 6 Correspondence, General, 1923-1946
Folder 7 Correspondence, Shipyard Wage Rates January, 1944 Folder 8 Crandell Dry Dock Engineers, 1941
Folder 9 Fairbanks, Morse & Co. Proposal, 1941
Folder 10 Hampton Roads Maritime Exchange, 1933-1935
Folder 11 Harbor at Assateague, 1922-1924
Folder 12 Opinions, Laws, Legal Briefs re: Towing Rules, Boats, Labor, 1927, 1932, 1946
Folder 13 Repair Estimate: M. S. Brilliant, 1931

Box 11

Folder 1 Speeches (Business Related)
Folder 2 Standard Transportation Co. vs. Wood Towing Corp: Briefs Filed in U.S. District Court of Appeals, 1933
Folder 3 Steamboat Inspection Laws: Correspondence; Rules Book, 1922-1925
Folder 4 Steel Tug Specifications (85 Foot), 1943
Folder 5 "Women's Contributions in the Field of Invention"--U.S. Dept. of Labor, 1923

Box 12

Series IV: Mayoral Files

Sub Series A: Correspondence

Folder 1 Collection of Scrap Aluminum, June-July, 1941
Folder 2 Correspondence, 1940
Folder 3 Correspondence, January-March 1941
Folders 4-7 Correspondence, April-July, 1941
Folder 8 Correspondence, August-September, 1941
Folder 9 Correspondence, October, 1941
Folder 10 Correspondence November, 1941

Box 13

Folder 1 December, 1941
Folders 2-10 January, 1942-September, 1942

Box 14

Folders 1-3 October-December, 1942
Folder 4 January, 1943
Folder 5 February-March, 1943
Folder 6 April, 1943
Folder 7 May-June, 1943
Folder 8 July, 1943
Folder 9 August, 1943

Box 15

Folder 1 September, 1943
Folder 2 October, 1943
Folder 3 November-December, 1943
Folder 4 January, 1944
Folder 5 February-March, 1944
Folder 6 April-May, 1944
Folder 7 June-July, 1944

Box 16

Folder 1 Correspondence: August, 1944
Folder 2 Correspondence: September-October, 1944
Folder 3 Forms to Use in Calling Out Virginia Protective Force, 1941
Folder 4 Mayors of Norfolk from 1736 to 1918 and 1918 to 1940

Series V: City of Norfolk Material

Box 17

Folder 1 City Govt. Organization Chart, 1926
Folder 2 Consolidation Efforts of Area-Wide Cities (Undated)
Folder 3 Correspondence re: City Charter, 1930-1933; Copy of Charter
Folder 4 Financial Data re: City, 1934-1935, 1937-1939
Folder 5 Hampton Roads Sanitation District Report, 1936
Folder 6 Industrial Commission: Report on Fresh Water, 1926
Folder 7 Maps of Norfolk & Portsmouth Belt Line R.R., 1927
Folder 8 Memoranda re: City of Norfolk, 1944
Folder 9 Norfolk City Building Zone Map with Ordinance, 1924
Folder 10 Norfolk City Finances, Reports: Fiscal Year 1917
Folder 11 Norfolk City Finances, Reports: Fiscal Years 1921, 1922
Folder 12 Norfolk City Budget Estimates: Fiscal Year 1924
Folder 13 Norfolk City Budget Appropriations: Fiscal 1924
Folder 14 Norfolk City Budget Estimates: Fiscal Year 1925
Folder 15 Norfolk City Finances, Reports: Fiscal Year 1925

Box 18

Folder 1 Norfolk City Budget Appropriations: Fiscal Year 1926
Folder 2 Norfolk City Finances, Reports: Fiscal Year 1926
Folder 3 Norfolk City Finances, Reports: Fiscal Year 1928
Folder 4 Norfolk City Budget Estimate6: Fiscal Year 1929
Folder 5 Norfolk City Budget Estimates: Fiscal Year 1930
Folder 6 Norfolk City Budget: Fiscal Year 1931
Folder 7 Norfolk City Budget: Fiscal Year 1933
Folder 8 Norfolk City Budget Estimates: Fiscal Year 1934
Folder 9 Virginia Port Authority: Map of Hampton Roads, 1932

Series VI: Political

Box 19

Folder 1 Political: Campaign Expenses, 1924
Folder 2 Political: Campaign Materials, 1924
Folder 3 Political: Campaigns- Precinct Returns, 1924
Folder 4 Political: Clippings- Mainly 1924 Council Elections
Folder 5 Political: Correspondence, 1924, 1926, 1934
Folder 6 Political: Correspondence, 1945-1950
Folder 7 Political: Councilman Election, 1926
Folder 8 Political: Councilman Election, 1940
Folder 9 Political: Councilman Election, 1942
Folder 10 Political: Councilman Election, 1944
Folder 11 Political: New Deal, 1943
Folder 12 Political: List of Precincts/ Precinct Leaders, (n.d.)
Folder 13 Political: Publications, 1925, 1934
Folder 14 Political: Recall Action, 1928
Folder 15 Political: League of Virginia Municipalities Certificate
Folder 16 Political: Speeches (Folder #1), (n.d.)
Folder17 Political: Speeches (Folder #2), (n.d.)

Revised 12/4/07