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School Desegregation in Norfolk, Virginia -- Digital Collection of the Old Dominion University Libraries

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The subject of massive resistance has been of great interest to scholars and the general public.  The 50th anniversary of the Brown v. Board decision in 2004 generated even more national and local attention.  Materials from other areas in Virginia where the schools were closed are already available digitally.  The story of Norfolk is unique in that it displaced the largest number of students.  A CBS documentary (“The Lost Class of ‘59”) by Edward R. Murrow brought Norfolk to national attention before segregation ended here.  While secondary source material is available, the primary sources are necessary for further research. 


In 2004, the Digital Initiatives Team at Old Dominion University Libraries began the project to digitize high-use materials relating to massive resistance and Norfolk’s school desegregation from various collections in our Special Collections. The outcome was a digital archive and web site used locally and nationally by scholars, researchers, K-12 social studies students, and the general public who are able to review crucial evidence from valuable primary resources about this important time in U.S. history. Having our unique and historically-significant materials easily accessible to scholars, researchers, and school children is crucial to telling the whole story of Virginia’s desegregation. In 2013, all items from the website and newly-scanned items were converted to the CONTENTdm system, with the benefit that these items can be discovered with other collections about school desegregation.


Technical Information:

The majority of materials are textual and were digitized using a flatbed scanner (Epson 8600XL) with PaintShop Pro at 300 dpi, 24-bit color.  Archival master copies are tiff and are stored on library servers. Access copies are readily available through the database. Textual items over 10 pages were scanned using Adobe Acrobat Professional; pdf is the archival copy.  Standard library practices for digitizing were followed.


Metadata were recorded for each digital item using Dublin Core. Catalogers assigned LC subject headings and descriptions to each item, while the formatting metadata was applied by staff digitizers.



This project was a library-wide undertaking with contributions of staff from all areas.


  • The Digital Initiatives Team, where the project originated, was led by Virginia O'Herron. Initial members were Glenn Bunton, Susan Catlett, Tonia Graves, and Karen Vaughan, with Dustin Larmore and Sonia Yaco joining later.
  • Special Collections staff were responsible for material selection and descriptive metadata: Susan Catlett, Glen Brown.
  • Cataloging staff provided subject metadata: Cathy Jones, Dustin Larmore, Sharon Felton, Helen Ho, Nakheia McFarland, and Kathleen Smith. Tonia Graves developed the Dublin Core framework.
  • Systems Department's Glenn Bunton provided technical and server support, while Pete Bruce created and developed an in-house database for input, search and retrieval.
  • Digital Services staff (which includes staff from all areas) digitized all materials, assigned technical metadata, and assisted with subject metadata: Teresa Statler-Keener (Reference Dept), Mel Frizzel (Special Collections), Lynn Litherland (Systems), and Debra Bell (Bibliographic Services). Teresa provided the vast majority of digitizing and subject metadata work and also contributed to material selection for the Boswell and Schweitzer collections. David Corona (Interlibrary Loan) worked on oral histories relating to massive resistance.
  • Karen Vaughan, in addition to serving as project leader, was responsible for research and design of the Web site.

Special thanks go to Dr. Meghan Manfra, professor of Education, for her support of the project, to her intern Denise Trombino who developed the teacher portion of the Web site, and to Dr. James R. Sweeney of the History Department who offered his subject expertise in reviewing the Web site.


rev. 11/15/2013

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