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Norfolk Public Schools Desegregation Papers

Norfolk City Schools


Norfolk, Virginia has twice found itself at the center of a storm of attention related to the racial desegregation of its schools. The first was in the late 1950s during a state-wide, governor-led resistance to the integration mandated by the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, KS ruling. Governor J. Lindsay Almond, Jr. closed the schools scheduled to be integrated for five months until the courts intervened.


The second was in 1986 when Norfolk became the first school district in the country to have a federal judicial ruling allowing them to end busing for the purpose of achieving racial balance in schools.


This collection, dating from 1922-2006, contains correspondence, memoranda, depositions, court orders, recollections, statistical testing data, printed material, artifacts, and maps primarily relating to school desegregation. Subjects covered are the 1958 school closing to prevent integration, integration progress in the 1960s, busing to achieve integration in the 1970s and the end of busing in the mid-1980s.


Series I: Closing of the Norfolk City Schools, 1954-1960: all materials are digitized. They are also linked to the themed collection: School Desegregation in Norfolk, Virginia.

Contains documents related to the years immediately following the Brown decision through the closing of some of Norfolk's schools. Of special note is the letter from Governor Almond closing the school and materials about the tutoring groups around Norfolk. There are also letters included which may help the researcher understand the climate of the community both in Norfolk and elsewhere during this time.

Series II: The Path to a Unitary School District, 1960-1983: all materials are digitized. They are also linked to the themed collection: School Desegregation in Norfolk, Virginia.

Contains a multitude of information regarding Norfolk schools during the 1960s and 1970s. It includes court required reports, internal memoranda, court documents including depositions, and test scores. There are studies and statistics maintained regarding the representation of African Americans both in the staffs of schools and in administrative positions. The city was required to present data regarding both enrollment and test scores by race. Additionally, there was significant community involvement through both litigation and public efforts to push each person's own agenda. Requests by teachers not to be moved to schools predominantly composed of another race are also included. Finally, there is information regarding the tuition grant program and its implementation.

Series III: Norfolk as a Unitary School District and the End of Busing, 1976-1991: all materials are digitized.

This series contains information regarding the era after busing ended in Norfolk. A major component of this series includes the papers of Attorney Jack Greer, school board attorney as well as the plans for rezoning into neighborhood schools. Additionally, the Community Oversight Committee reports are included which provide information regarding equity of facilities and resources following the elimination of cross-town busing.

Series IV: Directories and Calendars, 1922-2006: available in print only.

This series contains calendars and directories for Norfolk schools to include years from 1922-2008. Not all years are included. The directories and calendars provide a mechanism for examining the way in which language changed over time. Beginning in the early years when calendar events were segregated and referred to by black school vs. white school to the time when the calendars became integrated. This also lists all major officials in the school board and administration during the years included.

Series V: Oversized Documents: available in print only.

The final series includes oversized documents. Of special interest are maps of the school zoning in Norfolk and computer printouts of test scores by school broken down by race.

See Finding Aid for more details.


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