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James R. Sweeney Papers

Collection ID: RG 10-4B1

Scope and Contents

This collection includes material related to Old Dominion University and Hampton Roads history collected by Dr. James R. Sweeney, associate professor of history and former university archivist. Included are correspondence, photos, news clippings, and oral history materials, as well as Sweeney's notes and drafts for the book Old Dominion University: A Half Century of Service.


  • circa 1905-2018, undated
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1970-1980
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/1981



2.80 Linear Feet

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Biographical or Historical Information

Dr. James Sweeney began teaching at Old Dominion University in 1970. It wasn't until later that year that he received his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame upon completing his thesis on the Harry F. Byrd political organization in Virginia. Dr. Sweeney has taught courses on Virginia history, American Civilization, and a course on United States history since 1945. He has published articles for historical journals such as the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, the Virginia Quarterly Review, and the Presidential Studies Quarterly. Additionally, he has written two books: Old Dominion University: A Half Century of Service in 1980, and Race, reason, and massive resistance: the diary of David J. Mays, 1954-1959 which was published in 2008. Sweeney was the first official archivist for ODU starting in 1974, though at the time this position was only part time. Sweeney carried a 6 hour class load in addition to his archivist duties. He began working as archivist when President Bugg created the position and remained in the position until 1981. Sweeney was instrumental in establishing the University Archives and Special Collections in the ODU library in 1976. He oversaw the transition of the University Archives from scattered offices in BAL into the new Library. Before that time, University materials were unofficially collected on campus by Dr. Benjamin Clymer and Dr. Robert McClelland. Dr. Sweeney started an oral history program in the Archives which interviewed present and former professors, staff, and students about their experiences at the college. Additionally, prominent Hampton Roads citizens were interviewed about life and organizations in the local community. This oral history program still continues in the ODU Library. Additionally, Dr. Sweeney serves as the chapter advisor to Phi Alpha Theta, the history honor society, which publishes The Old Dominion University Historical Review. He has served as a national officer of this society.

Note written by Mel Frizzell

Language of Materials



This collection includes material related to Old Dominion University and Hampton Roads history collected by Dr. James R. Sweeney, associate professor of history and former University Archivist.

Arrangement Note

The collection is organized into five series: Series I: ODU Library and University Archives; Series II: ODU History; Series III: Local History; Series IV: Florence "Fay" Zetlin; and Series V: Photographs.

Source of Acquisition

Dr. James R. Sweeney

Method of Acquisition


Processing Information

The collection was processed and finding aid created by Mel Frizzell, Special Collections Assistant, in 2008.

A Guide to the James R. Sweeney Papers
Mel Frizzell
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the ODU University Archives Repository

3000 Perry Library
4427 Hampton Blvd.
Norfolk VA 23529 US