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Archives Collections

Explore the collections of the Harrison B. Wilson Archives

Manuscript Collections

In 1989, Virginia Beach Police officers in riot gear clashed with young Blacks attending that year's Greekfest. National Guardsmen were soon called in to aid in restoring order, a decision later regretted by the then-mayor of Virginia Beach. This collection documents the 1989 Greekfest disturbances and efforts to avert future clashes. These records include letters to the editor, letters to the Laborfest committee, and correspondence from committee members to heads of city agencies, state officials, and national celebrities.


The Bells were a prominent African-American family in Norfolk during the first half of the 20th century, headed by Charles E. Bell, Sr. and Lucy Barnes Bell attended Norfolk Mission College. Included in this collection are photographs, news articles, publications, awards, correspondence, and obituaries of their descendants:

  • Maude M. Bell, school teacher, guidance counselor, writer, and social leader
  • Charles E. Bell, Jr., former Assistant Director of the New York City Housing Authority
  • Randolph Bell, electrician, and musician
  • Lucy Bell Powell, Assistant in Housing, New York City Housing Authority
  • Mattie Bernice Bell, teacher
  • James M. Bell, M.D., psychiatrist and Colonel in the U.S. Army;
  • June Melba Bell, Social Worker

Donated by the Norfolk YWCA

The Berry Family Collection documents the personal and professional careers of Rev. Llewellyn L. Berry, and his son, Dr. Leonidas L. Berry.

Rev. L.L. Berry served as a local minister in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church for many years. He pastored at Emanuel AME Church in Portsmouth in 1926, St. John AME Church on Bute Street in Norfolk from 1926 to 1932, and Bethel AME in Hampton from 1932 onward. By the date of his death, Rev (Dr.) Berry was regarded as one of the greatest Secretaries of Missions in the history of  the Church.

Dr. Leonidas L. Berry was born in Woodsdale, North Carolina on July 20, 1902,  the son of Rev. Llewellyn L. and Beulah A. Harris Berry. Leonidas Berry attended Abraham Lincoln and Booker T. Washington public schools in Norfolk, Virginia. Leonidas attended college at Wilberforce University and medical school at the University of Chicago. He had a distinguished medical career in Chicago becoming the first black specialist in the treatment of gastro-intestinal diseases. In 1982, he published I Wouldn't Take Nothin For My Journey: Two Centuries of an Afro-American Minister's Family (1816-1981).

Highlights of the collection include medical articles published by Dr. Leonidas L. Berry, a biographical sketch of Rev. Llewellyn L. Berry, obituaries, photographs, a daily log, Dr. Leonidas Berry's speech at St. John AME Church, Norfolk, correspondence, curriculum vitae, newspaper articles, and citations.

Donated by Dr. Leonidas L. Berry

Seven letters totaling 25 pages written by a Confederate family in Portsmouth describe the demoralized state of Southerners on the home front and the war front. They reveal hardships and suffering in occupied Portsmouth, and the whites' unrepentant hostility to local blacks, especially black soldiers.

Herbert Martell Collins was a member of the Norfolk City Council, a third-generation grocer, and a plaintiff in a successful lawsuit that ended at-large districting in Norfolk.


The Herbert M. Collins Collection includes Oral history transcripts dated November 7, 1990; letter to Bishop L.E. Willis (5-15-95) from Collins clarifying concerns Willis had about activities of the Task Force on Public Housing; copy of resolution establishing a Task Force of the City Council for the purpose of analyzing all publicly assisted housing in Norfolk; notes on meetings with NAACP and National Maritime Center regarding hiring practices; letter to Richard A. Goldbach from Paul Riddick (9-4-92) regarding black community representation in the administrative hierarchy of Nauticus; letters from William E. Swindell, Jr. to the Norfolk City Council regarding race relations, statement to the City Council (7-27-93) from Swindell letters to James Oliver from Collins (5-23-96) concerning the handling of allegations of racial insensitivity case; Stanley Stein, Director of Parks and Recreation, copies of letters addressing the necessity for an African American in the front office of the Norfolk Tides organization; newspaper articles describing his civic activities, campaign and political contributions; also pictures, awards, citations, and campaign literature.


Dr. Floyd W. Crawford was a longtime history professor and Head of the History Department at Norfolk State University. Included in his collection are: resumes, campus correspondence, news articles, a list of faculty members, faculty senate minutes, history curriculums, National Teacher Examination data, Omega Psi Phi papers and booklets, and copies of his research papers.
Colgate W. Darden served as U.S. Congressman 1933-1941; Governor of Virginia 1942-1946, and President of the University of Virginia 1947-1959. In the collection are correspondence, reports, articles, census data and papers related to public school transportation, school bonds and health issues. In additio,n there are papers related to the Prince Edward County Free School, where Darden served as chairman of the trustee board.
Dr. Ruth Diggs was the Head of the Special Education Department at Norfolk State University and a national leader in her specialty. Papers detailing her major grants and activities include: The Early Childhood Education Project, NSC Faculty Conference brochure, Childhood Conference brochure, EPDA workshop material, notes and program with Dr. Kenneth Clark as featured speaker, photographs of notable persons, and her visit to the White House.

Correspondence between Zachary Fields, a member of a segregated Army battalion, and his wife Nettie, during the Spanish-American War. These 27 letters highlight the unique challenges faced by Black soldiers prior to the integration of the armed forces, as well as their personal lives. Six of these letters were written in 1930-31.


Donated by Ronald Carrier.


Compiled by University Archivist Emeritus Tommy Bogger, these papers contain extensive data on free blacks in Norfolk and the surrounding counties from the 1770s to 1860. Most of this collection is comprised of handwritten notes and photocopies of documents. The information was gleaned from Census data, city directories, tax lists, deed and will books, maps, free black registers, naturalization records, letters, marriage bonds, church records, apprenticeship lists, medical reports, civil suits, sailor reports, news articles, and birth and death records.


Donated by Dr. Tommy Bogger.


James "Duke" Fulcher was a prominent businessman in the Norfolk area. Mr. Fulcher maintained a prosperous packaging business from the late 1930s to late 1950s. This collection consists of:


  • business stationary
  • sales ledgers
  • purchase receipts from various vendors
  • business contracts with the Naval Supply Center Scrap Yard
  • business license applications
  • photographs
  • church recording booklets

Donated by Mses. Jean and Ruth Fulcher.


James F. Gay was a successful lawyer and political activist most notable for his crusade against at-large districting of the Norfolk City Council (see Collins, Herbert M. for more information). The collection contains judicial decisions, appeals, exhibits, newspaper articles, notes, correspondence, interrogatories, testimonies, and a scrapbook containing newspaper articles detailing Gay's achievements and activities from 1958 to 1994.


Donated by James F. Gay

Jocelyn Goss was a professor in the English Department at Norfolk State University and author of two books. Papers in the collection include twelve (12) copies of letters from Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Publishing Company concerning and additions to her manuscripts in 1964-1965, contract agreement for manuscript, copy of short story, and original copy of a manuscript, letters of interest, preparation and promotion of manuscripts.
Francesco "Frank" Guida was a Sicilian-American record producer and songwriter most known for discovering artists such as Gary U.S. Bonds, Jimmy Soul and Tommy Facenda. This collection includes correspondence, news clippings, tapes, albumsa large display case, copies of the Norfolk Echo, photographs of Frank Guida, Gary U.S. Bonds, Jimmy Soul, Gene Barge, Tommy Facenda Lenis Guess, Dick Clark, Jack Holmes, and other WRAP disc jockeys; four framed platinum hits: "New Orleans", "School is Out", "Dear Lady Twist", and "TWIST, TWIST, Senora," two framed gold hits: "Quarter to Three" and "If You Wanna Be Happy," a Cashbox Top 100 bestselling tunes (July 1961) plaque and two Billboards Hot 100 plaques.
A total of 107 sketches depicting scenes in Virginia from the 1850s to the 1880s.

Cal Jacox, a Norfolk native and former athlete at Lincoln University in Missouri, served as a sports reporter and columnist at the Norfolk/New Journal and Guide for 25 years. Mr. Jacox was the only reporter in the area who covered black athletics before integration. In 1973 he was named the Sports Information Director at Norfolk State University.


The collection prominently showcases Mr. Jacox's work in the world of sports. Records in the collection pertain to the Virginia Interscholastic Association (VIA) and Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA). This includes the Master Eligibility List for boys' basketball, 1957-1964; VIA Master Eligibility List for football, 1964; VIA football schedules, 1968-1969, CIAA records from 1951 to 1961, CIAA football schedules from 1963 to 1969, CIAA non-conference records, and official reports of championship baseball games.

Louis Jaffe was a Pulitzer prize-winning editor of the Virginian Pilot. Jaffe served on the Board of Visitors to what became Norfolk State University. In this role, Jaffe was instrumental in acquiring St. Vincent Hospital as a home for the growing institution.


He corresponded with St. Vincent de Paul officials, Governor Colgate Darden, Dr. Foster of Virginia State College, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Norfolk's City Manager, the Commandant of the Naval Base, and officials at the Norfolk Division of Virginia State College. Reports from engineers, architects, inspectors, and surveyors are also found in the collection.


These papers are photocopies of the originals. Copyright permission must be obtained from the University of Virginia.


Helen Hampton Jones was a librarian, a faculty senate leader at Norfolk State University, and a local activist. In 1982, she was elected Chairman of the Portsmouth Public School Board. The collection consists of newspaper articles, A.M.E.Z. church papers, speeches, correspondences, Bide-A-Wee Golf Course papers, correspondence from 1982-1985, I.C. Norcom Alumni Association papers, Portsmouth School Board policies, building plans, and Portsmouth School Board minutes, 1976-1986.
Elgin M. Lowe, Sr., a Suffolk native, was an educator and administrator in the Isle of Wight and Suffolk Public School systems. A former member of the Board of Visitors at Virginia State College and Norfolk State College, he was a major voice in shaping higher educational policy in the state. This 205-piece collection includes correspondences, news articles, books, programs, and pictures collected and written during his career and retirement.
This collection of news articles, photographs, and programs not only documents the civic and social life of one of Norfolk's leading citizens during the fifties and sixties, Dr. Herbert A. Marshall; it also offers a panoramic view of social and civic activities in the Black middle-class community, as well as reveals new insights on Norfolk State University's early history.
The Association's annual meeting brings together church leaders from throughout Northern Virginia who have an interest in a wide range of community-based projects. This collection includes annual budgets, receipts, disbursements, membership rosters, and reports from 1921-1971 (41 booklets).
William Morris was a trail-blazing real estate developer and contractor. From the beginning of his career as the first Black real estate agent in South Bend, Indiana, Mr. Morris broke down barriers that impeded equal access to housing for African Americans. This collection showcases fifty-plus years of Mr. Morris' work across real estate.
In this group there are short histories of the school, newspaper articles, diplomas, student banners, obituaries, catalogs, photographs, commencement programs, curriculums, enrollment lists, course offerings, and the program and correspondence of the Norfolk Mission College Alumni Association.
Dr. Charles Quarles collection includes: Dr. Quarles' patient account books, thesis and research paper of Catherine Quarles Allen (sister), Master of Science degree in education from Virginia State College belonging to Catherine Q. Allen.
Robert D. Robertson was born in San Francisco, California in 1898. He worked as a labor organizer. In 1943 he and his wife, Norfolk native, Roberta E. Johnson moved to Norfolk. He was a member of the local branch of the NAACP for 15 years, and for a while served as President of the Virginia State Conference of NAACP branches. He was also the Vice-Chairman of the STOP anti-poverty program, and was Huntersville's representative on the Model City Program. The collection include newspaper articles, correspondence, an obituary, 8" x 10" photographs, and certificates.

Dr. William P. Robinson Sr. served as a professor and administrator at several colleges before returning to Norfolk to establish and head the Department of Political Science at the Norfolk Division of Virginia State College in 1962. In 1969, he was elected to the House of Delegates and eventually became one of its most influential legislators. He chaired the powerful Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee of the House of Delegates, the Joint Subcommittee Studying Highway Maintenance Allocations, the Conference of Black Elected Officials of Virginia, and the Steering Committee of the Concerned Citizens of Norfolk.

The collection contains extensive correspondence ranging from 1971 to 1975, proposed bills, resolutions, Education Subcommittee papers, Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions papers, House and Senate Documents, highways and transportation papers, newspaper articles, and speeches.


Dr. Marvin Schlegel was a history professor at Norfolk State University famous for his publications and writing. Some of his numerous publications include "Cavalier Commonwealth", "Norfolk: Historic Southern Port" and "Conscripted City". His last major study was his unfinished work on Andrew Johnson. "It is a detailed study of Andrew Johnson and his relations with the people of the North through the first year and a half of his administration" The collection contains extensive notes from newspapers and private collections on Andrew Johnson and his times. The newspaper folders include: "Public Sentiment in the North, 1865-1866, "Public Sentiment in the South, 1865-1866, "Private Sentiment in the North", Reconstruction Debates", and Virginia Newspapers, 1865-1866". Also included are the historiography on Andrew Johnson, Schlegel's article, "The Dawes Plan: The Origin of The Joint Committee of Reconstruction", Frances J-Ann Cartwright's paper, "Andrew Johnson and the Failure of Moderate Reconstruction", and correspondence from historians and editors.

Ethelyn Ratcliff Strong, a graduate of Virginia Union University, received her M.S.W. from Columbia University and the Doctorate of Social Work from Catholic University of America. She was the Dean and founder of the Norfolk State University School of Social Work.


Dr. Strong, along with others, lobbied and testified before a special committee of the Virginia General Assembly, to push for the 1972 legislation which authorized graduate degree programs at Norfolk State University. She retired in 1983 and was awarded Emerita Status. Dr. Strong continued to be active as a speaker and guest lecturer until her untimely death on July 19, 1986.


The Strong Collection includes such documents as: The history, purpose and administrative organization of the new graduate degree program in Social Work at Norfolk State College, cover letters and surveys on the need for a School of Social Work, papers on a code of ethics, and proposed bylaws for the National Association of Social Workers, letters of endorsement for NSC School of Social Work from various area agencies, and many other valuable documents.


Hollis Sidney Tildon served as professor and department head of Foreign Languages and Chairman of the Division of Humanities and Communication at Norfolk State over a thirty-seven-year period until his retirement in 1975. Laura Tildon retired after serving many years in the Department of Home Economics. Their collection includes photographs (including a photo of the original five instructors), correspondences, programs, and certificates.

This collection reflects the history of a prominent African-American family from 1879 to 1996. Beginning with twelve letters that were written to Mary Lou Stith by John W. Tyler between 1879 and 1890, the papers also contain two long letters written by Father Ellis Christian to Mrs. Mary Lou Henderson. The letters are remarkable. Father Christian is a descendant of President John Tyler, and he acknowledges that Mrs. Henderson's father, John W. Tyler is his first cousin and a descendant of the President. There is also correspondence from the 1917 era showing loving relationships in a tight-knit family. Other significant items in the collection are an 1882 autograph book, a cradle roll, the family Bible with genealogical data, photograph albums, NSU programs and memorabilia, obituaries, legal certificates, Masonic memorabilia, and Langston Hughes October 22, 1960 letter to Winston Tyler.


Donated by Mrs. Mary Lou Tyler Henderson.


A collection of writings by a very prolific teacher and administrator who retired from the Norfolk Public School System. She later worked in Africa and also served as Director of Elementary Education at the Prince Edward Free School Association. The collection contains a copy of the manuscript Norfolk and the Negro, flyers advertising her four booklets, news articles, and correspondences.

On Friday, April 27, 1945, an interracial group of women met at Ohef Sholem Temple, upon the suggestion of Mrs. William T. Mason that an interracial women's group be established to work for better race relations. Having in its membership some of the most prominent white and African-American women in the city, the organization had a remarkably progressive agenda for its time. Their activities included: a campaign for the hiring of blacks as policemen, introducing bedside instruction for sick black children, lobbying for an anti-segregation bill, calling for removal of a mammy figure, holding interracial Christmas parties, lobbying for the appointment of a black on the school board, sponsoring an interracial nursery school, surveying slum housing, and working for the improvement of children's health. Minutes, correspondence, newspaper articles, maps, and booklets are included in this collection.


Donated by Dr. Marian Palmer Capps


Formerly known as the Tidewater Women's Network, the WNHR collection consists of bylaws, minutes, reports, correspondences, newsletters, bank statements, expense logs, receipts, membership directories, photographs, and slides generated from the organization which focused on women's issues.