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Chronicling Desegregation Before Primary Sources Disappear

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DOVE Archives/Old Dominion
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Virginia historians want your relics -- photos, letters, newspapers, yearbooks -- all in an effort to chronicle desegregation in the state.

For more than 8 years, a database of primary sources related to the Commonwealth’s struggle to integrate its schools has quietly been growing at Old Dominion University. 

The project, called Desegregation of Virginia Education, or DOVE, isn’t new. But co-chair Brian Daugherity is feeling the time crunch. 

“There is a sense of urgency,” Daugherity says. “We do a lot of interviews, oral history recordings, with individuals that had some ties to this process in Virginia in order to make sure that their memories and their insights are properly recorded before they pass away.”

Daugherity is a professor and historian at VCU. He says, initially after integration scholarship was controlled by the racial imbalances that still existed. Now, with time and effort, the picture has become more nuanced.

“Because of the history of race relations in Virginia, of course people that owned records related to school desegregation were sometimes hesitant to share those or to donate those,” Daugherity says. “And so it’s really important for us in DOVE to build trust and show our sincerity when we ask people for these records, when we work with them to make sure they’re donated properly and processed and preserved for the future.”

Daugherity says those resources are invaluable to creating a complete picture of Virginia’s history, and they’ve been used by historians and scholars.

Daugherity is currently wrapping up his own book using source materials from DOVE. It’s called “Keep on Keeping On” and will be published this summer.

If you have resources of your own to share, you can submit your information to DOVE using their online form.

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