Special Collections of the ODU Libraries

Thomas Joseph Reilly Papers, 1924-1976, undated | Special Collections and University Archives

By James F. Walsh

Collection Overview

Title: Thomas Joseph Reilly Papers, 1924-1976, undated

ID: 00/MG 8

Primary Creator: Reilly, Thomas Joseph (1915-1976)

Extent: 2.0 Linear Feet. More info below.

Date Acquired: 05/27/1976

Subjects: Journalists--United States, Ledger-star, Norfolk (Va.)--Politics and government--20th century, Virginia--Politics and government, Virginia--Politics and government--1865-1950, Virginia. General Assembly

Languages: English


Political correspondent for the Norfolk Ledger-Star and Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch for 26 years. Primarily newspaper columns from the Ledger-Star and background material used to research articles.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Reilly's papers, dating from 1925-1976, include newspaper columns from the Ledger-Star (Norfolk, Va.) dealing with state and local politics, especially the sessions of the Virginia General Assembly. The collection also contains some clippings of columns from other newspapers regarding General Assembly sessions and small amounts of background material used in preparing certain of these columns. State Publications contained in the collection include: Election Results (1924-1973); Manuals of the Senate and the House of Delegates (1950-1974); Miscellaneous publications re: General Assembly (1942-1976).

Collection Historical Note

Thomas Joseph (Tom) Reilly (1915-1976) was a political reporter for the Ledger-Star (Norfolk, Va.) and the Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch for twenty-six years. He graduated in 1933 from Maury High School in Norfolk and became a part-time copy boy on the Ledger-Dispatch a year later. In 1935 he began to work full-time for the newspaper and the following year he was assigned to cover the police and fire departments. He also wrote on sports and he was subsequently assigned to courts. In 1939 he was assigned to cover the military and waterfront beat. Soon after reporting the departure of the first contingent of draftees sent to Army camps from the Norfolk Union Station, Reilly joined the military himself. His first assignment was to start a public information office with the Army Air Corps at Goodfellow Field, Texas. He received his commission in 1942 and was sent to Casablanca during the North African invasion to assist in building an airfield for the 52nd Fighter Group. He remained with this outfit for thirty-two months through the campaigns of North Africa, Sicily, Corsica, and Italy.

Reilly left the service with the rank of captain. He returned to the Ledger-Dispatch as a general assignment reporter and was soon appointed assistant city editor, a position that he held for four years. He began to cover the General Assembly in 1948 on a part-time basis and two years later he covered the entire session. His reporting of the General Assembly and state and local politics over the next generation was distinguished for its accuracy, clarity, and balance. He expressed his philosophy of political reporting in the following words:"It takes time to get to know them [public figures] and they're understandably very sensitive. If they feel they're getting a fair shake, that's really all they expect and want . . . I don't concern myself if a story is going to be favorable or unfavorable to any particular candidate. It's going to be written on the basis of fact, not opinion . . . "

Subject/Index Terms

Journalists--United States
Norfolk (Va.)--Politics and government--20th century
Virginia--Politics and government
Virginia--Politics and government--1865-1950
Virginia. General Assembly

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections and University Archives

Alternate Extent Statement: 5 Hollinger document cases

Access Restrictions: Open to researchers without restrictions.

Use Restrictions: Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Acquisition Source: Mary McPhillips Reilly

Acquisition Method: Gift. Accession #76-22

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Box [insert number], Folder [insert number and title], Thomas Joseph Reilly Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Old Dominion University Libraries.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Miscellaneous and Correspondence, 1961-1975],
[Series II: Newspaper Columns (Clippings), 1966-1976],
[Series III: State publications, 1924-1976, undated],

Series I: Miscellaneous and Correspondence, 1961-1975
Box 1
Folder 1: General Correspondence, 1974
Folder 2: Newspaper Clippings about Reilly, 1961-1975
Folder 3: Memorabilia: Telephone Directory, 1968 Republican Convention, 1968
Folder 4: Pictorial Records: Miscellaneous Photographs, undated

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Miscellaneous and Correspondence, 1961-1975],
[Series II: Newspaper Columns (Clippings), 1966-1976],
[Series III: State publications, 1924-1976, undated],

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