Skip to Main Content

Virginia State University Special Collections and Archives: Manuscript Collections

Helpful Info

All collections have a Finding Aid (guide) available for use. If a collection says "guide available," click on the link to be brought to the online finding aid. If there is no "guide available," please come to Lindsay-Montague Hall to use the paper copy of the finding aid for the collection you want. You may also email the staff members and they can send you an electronic copy of the finding aid you need.

Did You Know?

You can find special collection and archival materials not in the VSU collection by searching Virginia Heritage, a union database of finding aids to archival and manuscripts collections in twenty-seven Virginia repositories. Please note, however, that not all collections at an institution is represented in the database.

Manuscript Collections

Manuscripts Groups

The Virginia Association of chapters of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, 1 item, 1982
One plaque presented to Virginia State University on its Centennial Acc.# 1982-43 Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive

The Cleopatra White Armstrong 50 items, Papers 1926, 1970
Mostly printed material and some books showing some of Mrs. White’s interest. Acc. #1996-74 Guide Available Online  

Helen Estes Baker, 200 items, Papers 1950-1967
The personal and business correspondence of Helen Estes Baker reflects her long career as a social activist committed to the betterment of human kind.  She was a graduate of Virginia State University and was born in Suffolk, Virginia. Acc. #1982-19 Guide Available Online  

John F. Banks, 76 items, Papers 1910-1959
The Banks Papers consist of photographs and artifacts from the Christianburg Institute. Acc. #1985-34 Guide Available Online

John R. Beverly Jr., 3 items, Papers 1922-1979
Photo, funeral program and a history of The Oxford Mount Zion Baptist Church.  Father and Son are graduates of Virginia State University. Acc. #1982-58 Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive 

Black News Paper Collection, 1882-1913
Original copies of some of the black owned newspapers, which existed in and around the Southside Virginia Area beginning in 1882.  Not a complete run of any papers. Acc #1976-55d Guide Available Online

James A. Brewer, 24 items, Papers 1792-1835
James Brewer, a graduate of Virginia State University was later a member of the faculty teaching in the Department of History.  While a member of the faculty, Professor Brewer collected a number of papers regarding man-missions of blacks in several counties in North Carolina.  Included is a petition for the self-hire of slaves in Wilmington, North Carolina. Acc #1978-25 Guide Available Online

Carrie Bragg Campbell, 11 items, Papers N.D. A hand written history of the Saint Stephens Episcopal Church in Petersburg, Virginia.  Carrie Campbell who is considered the mother of the church wrote the paper. Acc. #1988-62 Guide Available Online

Christiansburg Industrial Institute Alumni Association, 30 items, Papers 1913, 1966 The Christianburg Industrial Alumni Association donated a collection of correspondence, photographs and artifacts.  Included is an advanced English grammar textbook, which has a copyright date of 1913. Acc #1988-62 Guide Available Online

The Rev. Mr. Robert Clayton, 20 items, Papers 1960, 1968 A collection of books concerns the black experience in America.  A list of books is available. Acc. #1995-72. Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive 

Bulletins of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association Collection, 1929-
Collection of bulletins of the C.I.A.A. Football, Basketball, Track, etc. Acc. #
1976-55eGuide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive

Colson-Hill Family, ca 100,000 items, Papers 1833-1984 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 concerning activities of the Underground Railroad in Petersburg, Virginia.  The house of Roberts, Colson, and The John A. Dix Industrial School and social and political matters in Petersburg. Acc. #1965-13 Guide Available Online

Alice Atwell Jackson and Henry Colson Jackson, 50 items, Papers 1835-1972
Correspondence, photographs and memorabilia, most of which is directly related to the business activities of the Colson family during the antebellum.  Included is an 1835 letter from Joseph Jenkins Roberts who later became the first President of Liberia. Acc. #1977-13a Guide Available Online

James Major Colson IV, 65 items, Papers 1835-1915
Correspondence, financial, printed and other items from the Colson-Hill family. Acc. #1988-13b Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive

Daryl Dance,
An alumna of Virginia State University receiving both her Bachelor’s and Master’s in English, Daryl Dance, is an outstanding graduate of Virginia State.  To further her education she continued at the University of Virginia and Columbia University in New York ultimately receiving her Ph D in English from the University of Virginia.  Dr. Dance has taught in the Richmond City Public Schools, Virginia Commonwealth University, University of California at Santa Barbara, and Virginia State University.  Currently she is the Jessie Ball Dupont Visiting Scholar at the University of Richmond, where she is a Professor of English.
As gifts to the Archives, Ms. Dance gave the original manuscript her following works: Shuckin’ and Jivin’: Folklore from Contemporary Black Americans, folklore from Contemporary Jamaicans, Long Gone: The Mecklenburg Six and the Theme of Escape in black Folklore, and New World Adams: Conversations with Contemporary West Indian Writers.
Acc. #1991-69 Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive

Robert Prentiss Daniel, ca 2,000 items, Papers 1886, 1920-1966
Personal and business correspondence of the fifth President of Virginia State University.  Robert P. Daniel was one of the movers in establishing what is now Norfolk State University.  He was also very involved in efforts to integrate the institutions of higher learning in Virginia. Acc. #1976-16 Guide Available Online

E.F.S. Davies Papers 1962-1965
Business and personal correspondence, writings, speeches, pamphlets, and news clipping.  Dr. Davies was Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Virginia State University. Acc. #1986-42 S.B.
Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive

Russell Debose, 9 items, Papers 1940’s-1960’s Group of photographs.  Most of which are about homecoming activities at Virginia State University. Acc. #1985-54Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive  

E.S. Decosta, 2 items, Papers 1921
Photographs of “The First Colored Women Voters Club of Ettrick.” Acc. #1985-26 Guide Available Online

Amanda E. DeHart, 40 items, Papers 1920, 1989
The Amanda E. DeHart Papers contain correspondence, photographs, tapes, and artifacts.  Much of the material relates to Christianburg Industrial Institute.  There is also a self-portrait of J. Rupert Picott. Acc #1988-61 Guide Available Online

James A. Estes Jr., 1 item, Papers 1901
Commencement invitation for 1901. Acc. #1980-57 S.B. Guide Available Online

Helen W. Evans, 11 items, Papers 1920’s
Photos of past years at Virginia State University. Acc #1984-46 Guide Available Online

Luther Hilton Foster, 200 items, Papers 1928
Some personal correspondence of the fourth President of Virginia State University. Acc #1976-56 Guide Available Online

Donald Frazier, 1 item, Papers 1922 
One item: a letter written by his aunt who was a member of the faculty at Virginia State University.  The letter dated December 8, 1922 is full of information about working and some sports activities. Acc. #1991-63 Guide Available Online

Funeral Services Programs Collection, 24 items, Papers 1947
Funeral Services programs of people connected with Virginia State University. Acc.#1976-55c 

John Manuel Gandy, Sr., ca 2,000 items, Papers 1914-1950
Personal, business, and academic papers of the third President of Virginia State University.  Included are an unpublished biography and a history of Virginia State University.  A considerable amount of material concerning a student strike in 1934 can be found herein. Acc. #1967-2 Guide Available Online

F. Nathaniel Gatlin (1913-1989), ca 40,000 items, Papers 1929, 1989
The F. Nathaniel Gatlin papers document his long and successful career at Virginia State University in Music.  Dr. Gatlin served as chair of the department and was the founder of the Intercollegiate Music Association (see Accession No. 1982-45) and the Petersburg Symphony. Acc. #1995-71 Guide Available Online 

Hamlin/Mitchell Family, 200 items, Papers 1885-1960
Personal and business correspondence and memorabilia of a black family from Petersburg, Virginia. Acc. #1979-11 Guide Available Online

The Honorable Alfred W. Harris, 1 piece, Papers 1879
Law Degree of the founder of Virginia State University. Mr. Harris, Esquire, was also a member of the General Assembly of Virginia. Acc. #1981-17 O.S Guide Available Online

John Harris, 8 items, Papers N.D.
A collection of phonographic records used by the United States Information Service.  The eight “Record Disk” set includes materials used in Turkey, France, South Africa, Australia and Israel.  A list available. Acc. #1991-65 Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive 

Mabel Harris, 200 items, Papers 1888-1945
Business, personal, and legal correspondence of this 1889 Normal Graduate of Virginia State University.  Miss Harris taught in the public schools in Petersburg until her retirement. Acc. #1945-5 Guide Available Online  

William E. Hayes, 1 item, Papers N.D.
One Jacket from “The Prince Edward Academy.” Acc. #1988-52 Guide Availabe Online

Col. Robert Hendricks Jr., 2 items, Papers 1940-1960
The Hendricks papers consist of two items.  There is a photo scrapbook showing all of the houses and buildings owned by Virginia State University from ca. 1940-1960.  The other item is a copy of his Masters Thesis entitled “The Status and Treatment of Children During Slavery.” Acc. #1985-31 Guide Available Online

Roy Hines, 30 items, Papers 1972-1974
Mr. Hines is the youngest person in history to have served on the Petersburg City Council.  These papers address the issue of the United Virginia Bank making loans to the Government of South Africa. Correspondence. Acc. #1985-49 Guide Available Online  

M.E.V. Hunter, 12 items, Papers 1931-1963
Writing, reports and a Biography of Mrs. M.E.V. Hunter, the founder of school of Home Economics at Virginia State University.  Acc.#1962-44 Guide Available Online

Inauguration Programs of the Historical Black Colleges Collection, 24 items, Papers 1924-
Programs found in area or simply sent to Archives. Acc #1976-55Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive

Lorenzo Ivy, 1 item, Papers 1893
Teaching Certificate for Danville, Virginia. Acc. #1893-22 S.B.Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive

May Howard Jackson, 4 items, Papers 1918-1930
Four statues done by this artist who lived and worked during the Harlem Renaissance. Acc. #1980-53Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive 

Luther Porter Jackson Family, ca. 20,000 items, 1772-1960  
Personal, business, and academic papers of the noted Afro-American historian and professor of history at Virginia State University.  Included among the correspondents are John Hope Franklin, W.E.B. Dubois, Hugh Smythe, Helen Edmonds, P. Bernard young, E. Franklin Frazier, Charles S. Johnson, Rayford Logan, Alrutheus A. Taylor, Lorenzo Green, and Carter G. Woodson.  The collection incorporates papers of black families collected by Jackson for his work, e.g., those of Butler, Layton, a Woodridge.  Among the personal papers collected is a handwritten diary belonging to Samuel T. Miller, a missionary in South Africa 1881-1882. Acc. #1952-1 Guide Available Online

The Jackson and Walker, 2 items, Papers 1900
One letter from two black businessmen from Covington, Virginia to Booker T. Washington. Acc. #1976-59 Guide Available Online  

Joseph Jenkins, ca. 4,000 items, Papes 1934, 1980
Mr. Joseph Jenkins, a former member of the department of English and an avid book collector.  There are about one hundred books many rare and records of his involvement with establishing a marker in Petersburg to Joseph Jenkins Roberts, the first President of Liberia. Acc #1997-76   Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive

Altona Johns, 50 items, Papers 1906-1969
Correspondence of one of them embers of the music department at Virginia State University.  Mrs. Johns wrote, Play songs of the Deep South, which was illustrated by James A. Porter. Acc. #1979-8 Guide Available at Special Collections and Archive  

William Henry Johnson, ca. 2,000 items, Papes 1884-1935
Personal, business, and military papers of one of two highest-ranking black officers in the Virginia Militia.  Included are a substantial number of manuscripts, which reflect that thinking of era’s black elite.  This group includes hundreds of photographs of black citizens of Petersburg, many dating from the 19th century. Acc. #1957-3 Guide Available Online  

James Hugo Johnston Sr., 200 items, Papers 1865-1914
The James Hugo Johnston, Sr. papers do not contain any correspondence of a personal nature.  Although the correspondence is missing, in the papers are several notebooks maintained by Mr. Johnston pertaining to his household expenses.  One of the books contains the early proceedings of the Peabody Reading Circle and some early notes on the formation of the Virginia Teachers Association.  James Hugo Johnston, Sr. was the second president of Virginia State University from 1887-1914.  There are also a number of speeches. Acc #1963-9 Guide Available Online

James Hugo Johnston Jr., ca. 2,000 items, Papers 1876-1962
Personal, business and academic correspondence of the son of the second President of Virginia State University.  James Hugo Johnston, Jr. served as professor of history, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and Vice President of Virginia State University.  He authored many articles on history and wrote Race Relations in Virginia and Miscegenation in the South. Acc.#1963-10 Guide Available Online

Robert Jones, 3 items, Papers 1897-1899
Monthly teaching reports for one of the black schools in Sussex County, Virginia. Acc. #1987-48 Guide Available Online

Maurice Lawrence, 600 items, Papers N.D.
The Lawrence Collections is made up of about six hundred 78-rpm recordings of jazz bands.  Included in this collection are recordings of: Count Bassie, Duke Ellington, and many others.  A list is available. Acc. #1967-70Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive  

Anna Laura Lindsay, 100 items, Papers 1898-1937
Some personal and business correspondence of the founder of the Department of Music at Virginia State University.  There are also a large number of photographs. Acc. #1959-7 Guide Available Online

Samuel A. Mann, 200 items, Papers 1863-1914
Personal, business and agricultural records of a white farmer from Matoaca in Chesterfield County, Virginia.  Included are a number of thorough diaries detailing his daily activities. Acc. #1957-6 Guide Available Online

Amaza Lee Meredith (1895-1983) ca 5,000 items, Papers 191 1930-1983
The Amaza Lee Meredith papers contain personal and business documents generated by Ms. Meredith, which reflect the activities of her lifetime.  Included are materials related to her career at Virginia State University, her participation in the VSU Alumni Association, the official records of the Azurest North Syndicate, and personal correspondence with several prominent black women of the period.  Additionally, this collection contains voluminous blueprints, line drawings, and sketches of Ms. Meredith’s designs, which demonstrate her pursuits in architecture.   These papers were given to the VSU Special Collections/Archives Department by decree of Ms. Meredith’s Last Will and Testament.  They are to be preserved, administered, and used by the VSU Special Collections/Archives under the customary practices and guidelines of general archival administration.  Copyrights were transferred to VSU by Deed of gift in March 1982. Acc. #1982-2 Guide Available Online  

The Ettrick Mill Cemetery, 4 items, Papers 1951
Plot maps and a short history of this cemetery established by one of the cotton mills, which operated, in Ettrick during the antebellum.  Forty-seven soldiers are buried there, forty-six which are confederate. Acc. #1982-47 Guide Available Online

The Honorable Arthur W. Mitchell, ca 15,000 items, Papers 1910-1950
Copies of the family, personal, business and political correspondence of the first black Democratic Congressman in the United States House of Representatives from 1934-1942.  The originals are housed at the Chicago Historical Society. Acc. #1968-15 Guide Available Onlqine

J. Harold Montague, 200 items, Papers 1950-1966
J. Harold Montague was professor of music at Virginia State University.  This group consists of photographs, artifacts and a few news clippings. Acc. #1986-40 Guide Available Online

The Intercollegiate Music Association, ca 2,000 items, Papers 1962
Minutes, reports and correspondence of this group which was established in 1962 in order to expand more and improve all aspects of music in the schools which belonged to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.  Acc.#1982-45 Guide Available Online  

The James and Goldie Nicholas, 20 items, Papers 1926, 197
The Nicholas papers consist of some photographs, several books, and awards.  Dr. James Nicholas was a former rector of the Board of Visitors at Virginia State University. Acc. #1995-73 Guide Available Online  

George Washington Owens, 2 items, Papers 1944
Biography and letter book of the founder of the agricultural department and the agricultural extension department at Virginia State University.  Washington Owens was also one of the founders of the “New Farmers of America.”  Acc. #1944-12  Guide Available Online

Thomas Patterson, 4 items, Papers 1888-1913
Thomas B. Patterson was a student at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute in 1888.  among his papers is a charter of a proposed normal school in Bullock County, in the State of Alabama.  One member of the Board was Booker T. Washington.  There is an interesting letter from T. Thomas Fortune. Acc. #1913-23 S.B Guide Available Online

E.H. Payne, 3 items, Papers 1907
Photographs of Dr. E.H. Payne’s parents who were students at Virginia State University in 1907. Acc. #1984-28  Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive

Thomas D. Pawley, 50 items, Papers 1912-1962
The Pawley papers consist of some business correspondence and other Memorabilia.  Mr. Pawley was a member of the faculty at Virginia State University. Acc. #1985-35 Guide Available Online

Paul Pollard, 1 item, Papers 1902
Commencement Speech by the top 1902 Normal Graduate at Virginia State University. Acc. #1983-29Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive  

Ruby Price, 1 item, N.D.
A photograph of Mrs. Price and her class from the Dinwiddie Normal and Industrial Institute in Dinwiddie, Virginia.  The Dix school for many years served as a high school for Americans in the county. Acc. #1991-68 Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive 

Prince Edward County (Free School), ca 50,000 items, Papers 1962-1964
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 Edward’s schools to reopen.  Because the black children in 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  

Archie Gibbs Richardson, ca 30,000 items, Papers 1919, 1970
In 1935, 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 and other schools in use in Virginia in the 1930’s Acc. #1997-77 Guide Available Online

Harry Walter Roberts, ca 100,000 items, Papers 1916-1968
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 Guide Available Online 

William A. Rodgers, 15 items, Papers 1912-1940
The Rodgers papers consist of a number of bulletins of “The Colored Intercollegiate Athletic Association.”  Mr. Rodgers was the secretary of this group for a number of years. Acc. #1984-33 Guide Available Online

The Richard Schwartz, 5 items, Papers 1970
A number of original compositions by the members of the Virginia State University Faculty. Acc. #1991-67 Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive 

Paul Seldon, 350 items, Papers 1889, 1977
Paul Seldon, a graduate of Virginia State University, donated his extensive collection of musical scores to the University.  Included in the collection are compositions by Irving Berlin, Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, and W.C Handy.  An inventory is available. Acc. #1989-60 Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive 

James E. Smith, Jr., 100 items, Papers 1978-1980
Copies of periodical published by a member of the Virginia State University Faculty. Acc. #1982-30  Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive

The Honorable Hugh Smyth, 1 item, Papers- unknown
African mask collected by Smyth. Acc. #1984-27  Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive

Tracy Thrift, 1 item, Papers 1903 One item, a degree from the Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute (now Virginia State University) 1903.  The degree was granted to Miss Thrift’s grandmother. Acc. #1996-75 Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive 

Thomas Verdell, 50 items, Papers 1940’s-1960’s
Photographs collected by this former head coach and athletic director at Virginia State University. Acc. #1985-50  Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive

The Virginia Intercollegiate Association, ca 100,000 items, 1951-1969
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 artifact.  The VIA was headquartered at Virginia State University from 1954-1969. Acc. #1969-37 Guide Available Online  

Special Celebrations and Events at VSU Collection, 20 items, 1926-
Programs held at VSU and printed items relating to VSU.  Acc. #1976-55aGuide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive  

The Virginia Teachers Association, ca 100,000 items, Papers 1929-1965
The Virginia Teachers Association was formed in 1887 by African American educators to support the official organ and to pressure groups dedicated to improving all aspects of black education in the state.  From 1887 through 1965 this association functioned as the major “political pressure group,” as well as an administrative agent lobbying for equal salaries and better facilities.  Additionally, these groups documented both state public policies on education.  Though it’s annual meeting, workshops, bulletin, and newsletter the later methods were discussed and debated. Acc. #1969-14Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive  

Charles White, 50 items, Papers 1785, 1956
Materials collected by Mr. Charles White while he was engaged in writing a History of Blacks in Buckingham County, Virginia.  There are copies of wills, letters, and news clippings.  Also included are original copies of the official journal of the Virginia Baptist Convention:  The Expected. Acc. #1983-41 Guide Available Online  

Lena and Asa Whitt Papers, 4 items, Papers 1880’s
Four Lithographs showing scenes of Afro-American Life. Acc.#1979-32Guide Availabe at Special Collections and Archive  

Daniel Barclay William (1862-1895), 30 items, Papers 1883, 1895
Daniel Barclay Williams was the first instructor of Greek and Latin at the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute from 1884-1895.  Mr. Williams prior to coming to Virginia State University has studied at Brown University and had taught in the public school system in Richmond, Virginia.  His papers consists of his library, photographs and copies of the “Annual Reports, Superintendent, Public, City of Richmond” for 1879-1880, 1880-81, and 1881-82.  Included in this are a number of books written by Mr. Williams. Acc.#1997-78 Guide Available Online

The Reverend Mr. Henry Williams, 50 items, Papers 1856-1901
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 Petersburg during Reconstruction.  Furthermore, he was one of the leading advocates of black teachers for black students.  Acc.#1945-4 Guide Available Online

Inez Worsham, 4 items, Papers 1928-1931
Personal correspondence of Inez Worsham of Ettrick, Virginia. Acc.#1931-24 S.B. Guide Available Online

Marion Gandy Wyatt, 50 items, Papers 1919-
Photographs of Virginia State University buildings and students.  Marion Wyatt is the daughter of John Gandy, then President of Virginia State University. Acc.#1982-21 Guide Available Online  

The Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church, 200 items, Papers 1876-1974
Minutes, annual conference reports programs and a short unpublished history of this conference.  The Reformed Zion Union Apostolic Church Conference was established in Mecklenburg, Virginia in 1869. Acc.#1980-36 Guide Available Online  

Reverend George Freeman Bragg, 1882-1925. Acc #1942-18
Correspondence, writings, and photographs of Rev. George Bragg. Includes newspaper articles detailing the development of the Black Episcopal Church in America. Acc #1942-18. Guide Available Online

U.S. Colored Troops Muster Rolls, 1864, The 30th and 43rd Regiments.
Names, where the soldier enlisted, and service records for the period of June- August 1864 are documented. Acc #1976-55i. Guide Available Online