Virtual  Library of Virginia

About VIVA Special Collections and the Virginia Heritage Task Force

The goal of this unit of the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) is to support and enhance the efforts of each acadmic library in the Commonwealth and the state library to make their unique Virginia resources available online. Originally named the Special Collections Committee, it was recently renamed the Virginia Heritage Project Task Force with the awarding of an NEH grant in 2000. With the completion of the grant-funded project, these minutes now reflect the work of the Virginia Heritage Task Force.

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Virginia Heritage Task Force
of the Virtual Library of Virginia




The Library of Virginia has an exhibit showing from December 2003 to June 2004.


We have gone through Congressman Watkins Abbitt's personal papers and found the following items that might be of interest to the 50th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education. The list of items from the collection are shown below. Thank you, Jim Gwin

UR Libraries- Archived Government Papers
Brown vs. Board of Education Related Materials (1954-55)

Segregation Box 1

Miscellaneous Folder

  • 1954- Annual Report
  • November 27, 1954- Editorial from Northern Virginia Daily
  • May 26, 1955- Article by Phil Joiner (Alabama)
  • December 18, 1955- Statement from Senator Byrd
  • March 30, 1955- Remarks from W.M. Abbitt (from Congressional Record)

Congressional Record Speeches Folder

  • June 9, 1955- Remarks from W.M. Abbitt
  • July 19, 1954- Remarks from W.M. Abbitt
  • July 15, 1954- Remarks from W.M. Abbitt

Schools: Segregation Folder

  • July 15, 1954- Marshall School Plan
  • July 4, 1954- Statement from Lacy Jeffreys
  • June 18, 1954- Letter from W.M. Abbitt to Mrs. Wilson
  • June 30, 1954- Letter from W.M. Abbitt to J. Almond, Jr.
  • August 20, 1954- Letter from W.M. Abbitt to James Tilman
  • September 7, 1954- Letter from Dowell Howard to W.M. Abbitt
  • August 7, 1954- Letter from Armistead Boothe to Governor Stanley
  • August 5, 1954- Letter from W.M. Abbitt to Richmond Dugger
  • June 26, 1954- Letter from Ms. Dorothy Beale to W.M. Abbitt
  • July 29, 1954- Letter from Vaughan Waters to W.M. Abbitt
  • July 21, 1954- Petition from Halifax County
  • July 27, 1954- Editorial from the News Leader
  • July 18, 1954- Newspaper article- editorial on segregation
  • July 20, 1954- Letter from W.M. Abbitt to William Cocke

Schools Segregation (Miscellaneous Matters) Folder

  • June 22, 1954- Letter from W.M. Abbitt to Governor Stanley
  • September 14, 1954- Letter from W.M. Abbit to Dowell Howard

Appomattox County Folder

  • July 7, 1955- Letter from W.W. Booker

Brunswick County Folder

  • June 30, 1955- Letter from J.R. Orgin to W.M. Abbitt

Box 2

Lunenburg County Folder

  • March 30, 1955- Letter from Isham Wilkinson to James Almond

Southampton County Folder

  • November 29, 1955- Letter from Mr. Vinson to W.M. Abbitt

Virginia (Folder 1) Folder

  • Letter from A.R. Tussey to W.M. Abbitt


Here are a few manuscripts collections that pertain to Brown v Board:

Papers of William A. (Bill) Elwood (RG-21/99.911)
The collection consists of 284 videotapes shot for the Civil Rights Lawyers Project. The tapes were used in the award winning documentary film "The Road to Brown : the untold story of 'the man who killed Jim Crow', " about the life of Charles Hamilton Houston's crusade for civil rights and the events that led to "Brown vs. the Board of Education," and the 1954 Supreme Court decision that declared the 'separate but equal' doctrine illegal.

Papers of Armistead Lloyd Boothe. (MSS 8319)
(Virginia state senator)
Boothe's papers are almost entirely political. The majority deal with 1950s Virginia school desegregation, and contain correspondence, official reports, publications, questionnaires, legislative bills, petitions, and Boothe's memos on Brown vs. the Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas, massive resistance, interposition, the Stanley plan, the Gray report, the Boothe-Dalton plan, and the Perrow report.

Papers of Walter Wyatt (MSS 10278, 10278-c)
(General Counsel of the Federal Reserve Board, 1922-1946, and Recorder of Decisions for the U.S. Supreme Court, 1946-1963)
Wyatt's diaries and Supreme Court papers contain information on court operations, judges' personalities, and important decisions such as John L. Lewis vs. the U.S., Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka, and Rosenberg vs. the U.S., as well as comments on the Washington, D.C. social scene.

Papers of John Segar Gravatt. (MSS 11584)
Gravatt's papers consist primarily of material focusing on the struggle over the desegregation of Virginia schools, 1959-1962, and his role as counsel for the Board of Supervisors of Prince Edward County, Va., when the decision was made to close the county's schools.

Papers of Sarah-Patton Boyle. (MSS 8003)
Boyle's book "The desegregated heart," integration, the South, Southern liberalism, the civil rights movement, race relations, religion, leaders and organizations particularly Martin Luther King, Jr., the Southern Regional Council, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Papers of Harry Flood Byrd. (MSS 9700)


There are several collections that pertain to Brown vs. Board of Education housed in Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, VCU Libraries. Most of these collections focus on the Prince Edward County, Virginia portion of the case or on issues of racial desegregation in Virginia. They include:

Samuel Wilbert Tucker Collection, 1939-1994, M 56 -- Samuel Wilbert Tucker (1913-1990), a Richmond civil-rights lawyer active in desegregation efforts in Virginia in the 1950s and 1960s, was the senior member of the firm of Hill, Tucker and Marsh and a cooperating attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Throughout his career, Tucker was active in efforts to end segregation, principally in Virginia's public school systems. The collection contains photocopies of newspaper articles on desegregation efforts in Virginia (including Prince Edward County where he was a lawyer for students trying to end segregation), primarily from 1960-1964, though other years and other civil rights issues are represented. Photocopies of some correspondence and other materials are also included in the collection.

Helen Baker Papers, 1950-1967, M 182 -- Helen Baker (1906-1966) was a Virginia educator and social activist. Her work with the Prince Edward County Free-School Association is documented in the collection.

"Black Richmonders' Experience with School Segregation and Desegregation: An Oral History of Education Project at Virginia Commonwealth University" -- Transcripts of fourteen oral history interviews with Richmond area African American residents discussing their experiences with educational segregation and integration in the 1960s and 1970s. Participants included college professors, former teachers and students. Interviews were conducted in 1992 by VCU students.

Edward H. Peeples, Jr. Papers, n.d., 1946-1999, M 68 -- This collection consists primarily of materials on race relations in Virginia and the United States collected by Dr. Edward H. Peeples, Jr., Emeritus professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. A large focus of the collection is on the Prince Edward County, Virginia school desegregation battles of the late 1950s/early 1960s. The collection includes research materials ranging from primary documents and published writings to nearly 200 photographs taken by Peeples in 1963 documenting the disparity between black and white county schools. The collection includes numerous published articles, correspondence, reports and other materials focusing on Virginia race relations and other topics of social concern spanning four decades.

Richmond Crusade for Voters Collection, n.d., 1953-1995, M 306 -- Founded in 1956, the Richmond Crusade for Voters have sought for nearly 50 years to increase the influence of African Americans in the political process in Richmond, Virginia. Its goals have included increased voter registration among blacks, endorsement of candidates favoring programs of benefit to the African American community, and to increase voter turnout. The collection was begun in 1995 by William Armstead Thorton, historian for the Crusade. It includes photocopies of minutes, correspondence, historian's reports, newsletters, newspaper clippings (dating from the 1950s until 1995), campaign flyers for various candidates, financial reports and other materials.

Heslip M. "Happy" Lee Papers, n.d., 1950s-1990s -- Heslip M. "Happy" Lee served from 1961 through 1964 as the Executive Director of the Virginia Council on Human Relations which organized in 1955 as a voluntary non-profit, non-political organization associated with the Southern Regional Council. The purpose of the VCHR was to seek improved human relations by working to secure equal opportunity for all people. Lee took an active role in helping to desegregate restaurants, theatres, hotels and other places of public accommodation in Richmond and throughout Virginia. He also worked with individuals associated with efforts to resolve issues arising from the closing of public schools in Prince Edward County.

Virginia Civil Rights Movement Video Initiative: Virginia Black History Archives, Special Collections and Archives, James Branch Cabell Library, VCU Libraries


Brown v. Board of Education

1. Thesis:

Ford, Nancy M. "The Peaceful Resolution of Norfolk's Integration Crisis of 1958-1959" (M.A. thesis, Old Dominion University), 1989.

2. Oral History Interview:

W. Gerald Akers, July 10, 1974, The Oral Histories Collection, Special Collections, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, Virginia. Includes his assessment of educational experience of African American students in Norfolk during the late 1950s.

3. Collections

MG-59 Archie L. Boswell Papers, 1958-1960. 2 Hollinger Documents Cases.

Norfolk attorney who represented the plaintiffs in the two cases initiated to reopen the Norfolk schools closed to avoid integration, James v. Duckworth and James v. Almond. Includes correspondence, briefs, trial proceedings, court papers, background material, and newspaper clippings.

MG-53 Vivian Carter-Mason, Interviews.

Interviews of the founder and active member of the Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation. Includes audio cassettes and transcripts that document her family history, civil rights in Norfolk, establishment of the Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation, the desegregation crisis in Norfolk, and the experiences of Afro-Americans in Norfolk.

MG-1 Henry E. Howell, Jr. Papers, 1948-1977. 266 Hollinger Documents Cases and 35 Hollinger Boxes.

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.

Norfolk Women's History, 8 Interviews.

Includes interviews with Ruth James, lead litigant in the court cases initiated to reopen Norfolk's closed schools, and Edith White, the wife of Forrest P. White Recounts the experiences and prejudices encountered during the efforts to reopen the schools.

Oral History Collection, 140+ interviews.

Includes interviews with A. Rufus Tonelson, principal of Maury High School during the crisis, and Mark Schweitzer, the son of Paul Schweitzer, that describe the events of the school closings in 1958-1959.

MG-16 Paul T. Schweitzer Papers, 1957-1976. 3 Hollinger Documents Cases.

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.

MG-19 A.E.S. Stephens Papers, 1949-1961. 6 Hollinger Documents Cases.

Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth (1952-1961) during the Supreme Court's decision and the passing of the Massive Resistance legislation. Collection primarily relates to his campaign for the Democratic party's nomination for Governor in the 1961 Democratic primary, but contains correspondence files dating to 1955 that document his attitude and the attitudes of Virginians across the commonwealth on the subject of segregated schools. Of interest is the text of a speech Stephen's delivered in Alexandria, Virginia in 1955, in which he advocated a rational approach to the Supreme Court decision and letters reflecting Virginia's reaction to this speech, which prompted many people to accuse him of being an integrationist.

MG-5 Forrest P. White Papers, 1952-1963. 3 Hollinger Documents Cases.

President and active member of the Norfolk Committee for Public Schools. Actively involved in efforts 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. Collection primarily relates to his activities on the Norfolk Committee for Public Schools and the efforts of this committee during Norfolk's desegregation crisis. Includes correspondence, speeches, statements of purpose, position reports, background material, pamphlets, booklets, form letters, membership lists, letters to the editor, articles and newspaper clippings. Noteworthy is material relating to the Gray Commission and the Perrow Commission, state government commissions organized to formulate plans to implement court ordered integration.

MG-20 Margaret White Papers, 1953-1976. 1 Hollinger Documents Case.

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. Noteworthy is a flyer titled, Vote For Public Schools, Vote For Petitioning the Governor, notifying the citizens of a drive to petition the Governor to reopen the closed schools.

MG-54 Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation, 1945-1960. 1 Hollinger Documents Cases.

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."

Susan M. Catlett
Special Collections Coordinator
Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University
Norfolk, VA 23529
757-683-4483 (office)
757-683-5767 (fax)


Here are some of our resources which are housed at VSU pertaining to Brown v. The Board of Ed.:

Helen Estes Baker Papers: The personal and business correspondence of Helen Estes Baker reflects her long career as a social activist committed to the bettermen of human kind. She was a graduate of Virginia State University and was born in Suffolk, Virginia. Acc# 1982-19

The Colson-Hill Family Papers: The Colson-Hill Family Papers consist of: family, personal, business, and academic correspondence of this antebellum free black and slave family from Petersburg, Virginia. Included are letters activities of the underground railroad in Petersburg, VA. The house of Roberst,Colson, and John A. Industrial School. Acc# 1965-13

The William E. Hayes Papers : One jacket from "The Prince Edward Academy" Acc# 1988-52

The Honorable Arthur W. Mitchell Papers: Copies of the family, personal, business and political correspondence of the first black Democratic Congressmanin the United States. Mr. Mitchell represented Chicago in the United States House of Representatives from 1934-1942. The originals are housed at the Chicago Historical Society. Acc# 1968-15

The Prince Edward County (Free School) Papers: Between the years 1959 and 1963, there were no public schools in Prince Edward County, Virginia. After five long years the county and state allowed Prince Edwards Schools to reopen. Because the black children of the county had no school during this period of time (the white students attended an all white academy) it was thought best to organize a free school which would pave the way for hundreds of young children to return to school after a five year absence. The Prince Edward County, Virginia (free school) papers are the records of that effort. The papers contain correspondence, reports, photographs, and other items, which document this sad period in Virginia History. Acc # 1969-38

The Archie Gibbs Richards Papers: In 1935, Dr. Archie Richardson became the highest ranking African-American in State Government. In that year, he was appointed assistant to the assistant for Negro Education in Virginia. In 1969 he retired as Associate Director of the Division of Secondary Education in Virginia. His papers consist of correspondence, speeches, writings, and several hundred photographs of Rosenwald schools constructed in Virginia in the 1930's. Acc # 1997-77

The Harry Walter Roberts Papers: Harry W. Roberts was a professor of sociology at Virginia State University from 1935 until 1968. He was an authority on Rural Virginia black life and culture. His papers consist of correspondence, writings, and a few photographs. Acc # 1984-39

The Virginia Intercollegiate Association Papers: The records of the Association that governed all non-academic activities of the black high schools in Virginia. This manuscript group has correspondence, photographs, minutes, reports, films, tapes, news clippings, and artifacts. The VIA was headquartered at Virginia State University from 1954-1969. Acc # 1969-37

The Virginia Teachers Association: The Virginia Teachers Association was formed in 1887 by African American educators to support their efforts to established a school system for black students. and to serve as a pressure group dedicated to improving all aspects of black education in the state. From 1887 through 1965 this association functioned a major "political pressure group," as well as an administrative lobbying for equal salaries and better facilities.

The Reverand Henry Wiliams Papers: Business and personal correspondence of the first black minister (since 1831) of Gillfield Baptist Church. Mr. Williams was also a member of the City Council in Peterburg during Reconstruction. Furthermore, he was one of the leading advocates of black teachers for black students. Acc# 1945-4


Resources relating to the black history of Virginia Tech and Blacksburg may be explored through the Internet site, Black History at Virginia Tech

The Timeline of Black History of Virginia Tech/ has entries from 1890 to the present. The 1950s section of the Timeline includes an interview with Ellison Smyth about the desegregation of the Blacksburg Presbyterian Church as well as comments about Blacksburg and Brown v. Board of Education. The timeline also includes Peter Wallenstein's essay, "The First Black Students at Virginia Tech, 1953-1963."

Blacksburg High School was not desegregated until 1961 when Phillip Harmon Price and his sister Anna Price entered the school. An interview with Reverend Phillip Price about this desegregation is available in the 1960s section of the Timeline.

Oral history interviews with the first black student to graduate from Virginia Tech and other black pioneers at the university are available in the Black History Oral Histories site.

An oral history interview with Irving Linwood Peddrew, III, the first black student to enroll at Virginia Tech (1953) and the first black student in a four-year, public institution in any of the 11 states of the former Confederacy will also be available.

"Blacksburg Educates Its Children: Early Education in Blacksburg," by Clara B. Cox gives an overview of local education over the history of the community and the issues involved. This essay is chapter 6 of "A Special Place for 200 Years: A History of Blacksburg Virginia," edited by Clara Cox.

Tamara Kennelly, University Archivist Digital Library and Archives, University Libraries Virginia Tech


There are three manuscript collections at William and Mary that may pertain to Brown v. Board or at least should concern Virginia's reaction to it -- the papers of Congressman William M. Tuck, Senator A. Willis Robertson and Governor Mills Godwin (who would have been serving in the State Senate).
Many of the folders contain constituent mail.

For Tuck: Congressional Papers Series Legislation arranged by session - see esp. Judiciary Committee 1955-1958. Also Miscellaneous Papers arranged by subject: Segregation in Public Schools folders 5454-5472. For Godwin, Box I, folders 12-21 relating to the segregation-integration crisis in Virginia, 1954 and post.

For Robertson, Misc. Subjects, Drawer 139,folders 28-32, re: court decision-- segregation. There is a single manuscript sermon of Rev. Francis Craighill in the Bruton Parish Church papers immediately following the decision which is positive toward the decision.

Susan A. Riggs
Manuscripts and Rare Books Librarian
Swem Library, College of William and Mary
P. O. Box 8794
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8794
Phone 757-253-4863
Fax 757-566-3493


Hampton University Commemorative
Then and Now at Longwood University
Separate but Not Equal: Race, Education, and Prince Edward County, Virginia

VIVA Special Collections
updated: March 26, 2004 (GMc)