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ODU Libraries Online Exhibitions


Collections of the ODU Libraries relating to Massive Resistance and school desegregation in Norfolk, Virginia

Materials from several of the collections listed here make up the digital collection School Desegregation in Norfolk, Virginia. While the majority of the collections concern the events of the school closings in Norfolk, many also contain information on Virginia's reaction to the Supreme Court's decision as a whole. Included in these collections are correspondence, reports, legal papers, petitions, press releases, financial records, publications, newspaper clippings, photographs, and oral histories.

It is important to note that these collections primarily represent the reactions of the white community in Norfolk. More primary research materials need to be made available to represent all viewpoints. Interviews with the Norfolk 17 students as part of the 50th anniversary 2008-09 and since then are a positive step in this direction.

Archie L. Boswell Papers, 1958-1960.

Norfolk attorney who represented the plaintiffs in two important cases: the James v. Duckworth case was initiated to prevent the closing of all schools above 6th grade, which included black secondary schools; James v. Almond was initiated to reopen the Norfolk schools. Includes correspondence, briefs, trial proceedings, court papers, background material, and newspaper clippings. [Finding Aid MG-59]

Henry E. Howell, Jr. Papers, 1948-1977.

Ran for the House of Delegates in 1959, an election in which the issue of Massive Resistance played a key role. Includes material relating to the campaign. Also contains material relating to the resister ticket of McKendree-Bonney-Sutton. [Finding Aid MG-1]

Norfolk Public Schools Desegregation Papers, 1922-2006

This collection, which is a stand-alone digital collection and not searchable through the School Desegregation collection, includes correspondence, school board resolutions, inter-district memoranda, press releases, district maps, and school calendars from the late 1950s covering school closings, busing in the 1970s, and the end of busing in the mid-1980s. Digital copies of items from the first three series relating to 1958 school closings, integration progress in the 1960s, busing in the 1970s, and the end of busing in the mid-1980s. [Finding Aid MG-92]

Oral History Collection

A standalone digital collection (not searchable through the School Desegregation collection) includes many interviews dealing with massive resistance and school desegregation, including interviews with: Vivian Carter-Mason, the founder and active member of the Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation; Ruth James, the mother of the lead litigant in the court cases initiated to reopen Norfolk's closed schools; and, Edith White, a member of the Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation and wife of Forrest P. White, a president of the Committee for Public Schools; A. Rufus Tonelson, principal of Maury High School during the crisis; Mark Schweitzer, the son of Paul T. Schweitzer.

Paul T. Schweitzer Papers, 1957-1976.

A member of the Norfolk School Board (1952-1960) during the desegregation crisis and the Norfolk City Council (1960-1968). 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. [Finding Aid MG-16]

A.E.S. Stephens Papers, 1949-1961.

Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth (1952-1961) during the Supreme Court's decision and the passing of the Massive Resistance legislation. Collection contains correspondence files dating to 1955 that document his attitude and the attitudes of Virginians across the commonwealth on the subject of segregated schools. [Finding Aid MG-19]

Forrest P. White Papers, 1952-1963.

President and active member of the Norfolk Committee for Public Schools, organized to preserve the public school system of Norfolk and reopen the closed schools. Material includes both personal papers and the institutional records of the committee, including financial and legal records, correspondence, speeches, statements of purpose, position reports, letters to the editor, articles and newspaper clippings. Notable is a 25-page report, Organizing to Save Public Schools, documenting the attempt by the Virginia Commission for Pupil Schools to keep public schools in Virginia open during the school integration crisis. [Finding Aid MG-5]

Margaret White Papers, 1953-1976.

A teacher in the Norfolk school system during the desegregation crisis who was active in the effort to reopen the schools. Collection primarily relates 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. Includes correspondence, newspapers clippings, and magazine articles. [Finding Aid MG-20]

Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation, 1945-1960.

Founded in 1945 as an interracial organization designed to address concerns with education, health, and housing among the Afro-American community. Includes correspondence, the organization's constitution, annual reports, minutes, speeches, programs, membership lists, pamphlets and booklets, magazine articles, newspaper clippings and photographs. 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 (print)." [Finding Aid MG-54]

WTAR/WTKR Hampton Roads, Va., Historic News Film Collection

Collection of over 6,000 reels of predominantly acetate 16mm film dated 1940s - 1980s. 12% of these reels (2,000+ files) have been digitized and cover a broad spectrum of topics, including school desegregation.

Other Relevant ODU Collections

DOVE: Desegregation of Virginia Education

The DOVE project was created to identify, locate, catalog and encourage the preservation of records that document Virginia’s school desegregation process of schools, grades K-12 and higher education institutions from the 1940s to 1980s. The digital collection consists in large part of over 100 oral histories conducted throughout the state in 2012-2013 as part of a traveling exhibit entitled "School Desegregation: Learn, Preserve and Empower." [Finding Aid DOVE]

Allan G. Donn Papers, 1961-1970
Contains court documents and a research paper related to school desegregation in Prince Edward County, Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia and North Carolina. The court documents relate to Cocheyse J. Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County and Swan v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg. [Finding Aid MG 106]

W. Fred Duckworth Papers, circa 1940-1970

Mayor of Norfolk, 1950-1962. Collection consists of memorabilia, photographs, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, and artifacts relating to his political, business and civic activities. [Finding Aid MG 45]

Massive Resistance Printed Materials, 1958-1960

Consists of 20 folders of regional and national newspaper clippings covering the Massive Resistance movement and public reaction to the desegregation 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 of Norfolk schools that enrolled African-American students, and Mayor William Fred Duckworth, who opposed desegregating 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." [Finding Aid MG-98]

Michael J. Stolee Papers, 1964-2009

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. [Finding Aid MG 102]

Related Collections

The Virginia Heritage Project (VHP) of the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) has identified materials in Virginia university collections related to the political aspects of massive resistance and/or massive resistance as it relates to other counties in Virginia, primarily Prince Edward County whose schools were closed for five years. The Virginia Historical Society and other agencies have made materials available digitally, many commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. The materials in our collection enhance existing digital collections, creating a broader view of Virginia’s school desegregation process because many of our collections introduce a more personal and subjective focus.