Special Collections contains more than fifty manuscript collections that include correspondence, diaries, legislative and mayoral files, campaign files, family papers, scrapbooks, photographs, business papers, and legal files. Strengths of the collections include materials related to African-American history, The Civil War, local history, Norfolk school desegregation, politics, military history, and Women’s history.
Use the tabs above for an alphabetical arrangement of manuscript collections by topic. The descriptions following each collection include brief biographical information of the persons or families represented, types of material included in the collections, and what information the material contains. The dates in parentheses indicate collection spans. Click on the highlighted collections for a more detailed biography and a finding aid.
Contact Special Collections and University Archives if you're not finding what you need: libspecialcollections [at] odu.edu or (757) 683-4483.
How are Special Collections and University Archives organized?
In addition to books, Special Collections and University Archives contain manuscript collections, material donated by one person or group. Papers within each collection are organized into subjects or series and then arranged chronologically or alphabetically. Finding aids, available on our website or in the Special Collections Reading Room, explain how each collection is organized.
What is a primary source?
A primary source is a document or physical object that was written or created during the time under study. Oral histories and autobiographies of people that were present during an experience or time period are also considered primary sources. Some types of primary sources include:
- Original documents (excerpts, translations, photocopies acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, scientific data, official records
- Creative works: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art
- Relics or artifacts: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings
Special Collections and Archives are excellent places to find primary sources.
What is a secondary source?
A secondary source interprets, analyzes and/or summarizes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them. Secondary sources include publications such as magazine articles, histories, criticisms, commentaries and encyclopedias.