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Ocean View, Seaside, and Seaview Amusement Parks Collection

Collection ID: MG 31

Scope and Contents

The collection primarily concerns the operation of Ocean View Amusement Park in Norfolk, Virginia, as well as Seaside and Seaview amusement parks in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The parks were owned and operated by Dudley Cooper from the 1940s to the 1970s. The collection contains correspondence, legal documents, financial records, photographs, scrapbooks, and architectural drawings of the park. Of particular note is a scrapbook of news clippings from Seaview Amusement Park, an African American amusement park in Virginia Beach operated during segregation in Virginia. While the bulk of the collection pertains to the amusement parks, there are a few personal items related to Dudley Cooper, including certificates and a Maury High School yearbook.


  • circa 1919-1991, undated
  • Other: Date acquired: 08/24/1978
  • Majority of material found within 1940-1979



31.00 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

Dudley Cooper was born in Tarboro, North Carolina in 1899. His family then moved to the Norfolk area in 1900. While a student at Maury High School, Dudley enlisted in the army when the United States entered World War I. He was trained in the Students Army Training Corps at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. At the end of the war, Dudley was discharged with the rank of sergeant and returned to complete his high school education in 1919. Dudley then attended the American Institute of Optometry, which later became an extension of Columbia University. He earned an optometry degree and returned to Norfolk. Though he was the first college-trained optometrist to practice in Norfolk, Dudley Cooper became well known in this city chiefly through his ownership and operation of Ocean View Amusement Park. This came about in 1944 when he purchased land along the beach of Chesapeake Bay in the area now known as Ocean View. During World War II, Dudley set aside part of the land for the U.S. Army Coastal Installation, the Navy Relief Fund Raising, Naval Reserve Recruiting and various civic affair groups. While still setting up Ocean View Park, Dudley Cooper was approached by three Black professional men: a dentist, a lawyer, and a high school principal. They wanted his help in establishing a special amusement park for the Black community. Dudley helped these men establish Seaview Beach Amusement Park, also on the Chesapeake Bay, which operated until 1966. Dudley Cooper was active in civic and service organizations on both a local and national level. He was instrumental in bringing the 1937 National Conference of Christians and Jews to Norfolk, a meeting that led to the establishment of the annual Brotherhood Week. He was selected by the Armed Services Committee to serve as chairman of the Jewish USO in Norfolk and continued thus for the duration of the War. After the war, Dudley served as chairman of the Norfolk United Jewish Appeal, and in 1947 was responsible for doubling the previous highest contribution ever received. Dudley and his wife, Mary, were also among the many American Jews who aided the European Jewish refugees of the steamboat Exodus by signing affidavits that allowed their entry into this country. Other activities include a local campaign begun by Dudley in the late forties known as "Cooper's Crusade" which eventually replaced Norfolk's antiquated street car system with a publicly-owned bus system. He also aided the journalistic education of young newspaper reporters with the foundation of the Norfolk Newspaper Guild Scholarship Fund. Dudley's civic and charitable activities continued throughout his life. At the same time he operated an optometrist's practice and successful amusement parks. In 1975 Dudley received the Distinguished Service Award from the Arnold Basmey Lodge No. 1195 of B'nai B'rith in recognition for his past leadership in Norfolk business and community affairs. Dudley Cooper passed away on July 15, 1996.

Note written by Jay Gaidmore

Language of Materials



Includes correspondence, photographs, legal documents, financial material, brochures, advertisements, news release, and newspaper clippings primarily relating to Ocean View, Seaside, and Seaview amusement parks.

Arrangement Note

The collection is organized into nine series: Series I: Correspondence; Series II: Legal Documents; Series III: Financial Papers; Series IV: Printed Materials; Series V: Photographs; Series VI: Miscellaneous; Series VII: Scrapbooks; Series VIII: Oversize Awards, Certificates, and Plaques; and Series IX: Maps and Architectural Drawings.

Source of Acquisition

Dr. Dudley Cooper; Minette Cooper

Method of Acquisition

Gift. Accession #78-57

Accruals and Additions

An additional accession was made in November 2005

A Guide to the Ocean View, Seaside, and Seaview Amusement Parks Collection
Jay Gaidmore and Joseph Legaspi; 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 Community Collections Repository

3000 Perry Library
4427 Hampton Blvd.
Norfolk VA 23529 US