Skip to main content

Edythe C. Harrison Papers

Collection ID: MG 60

Scope and Contents

This collection contains material concerning Edythe C. Harrison's activities as a delegate in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1979-1982, the Virginia Opera Association, the course she taught at Old Dominion University, Women in Leadership, and her campaign for United States Senator in 1984 against incumbent Republican Senator John Warner. Harrison was the first woman in Virginia nominated by the Democratic Party for statewide office. The bulk of the collection pertains to Harrison's participation in the 1984 United States Senate race. The material contains information on political action committees, fundraising, contributions and contributors, research on various issues, preparatory notes for debates against Warner, reports stating her stance on the issues, political contacts throughout the state and election results in Virginia's ten congressional districts for previous elections. The correspondence includes letters of support, requests for information, letters from her constituents and condolence letters on her defeat. Two letters of particular note are from Bill Clinton, then Governor of Arkansas. Her records also contain a considerable amount of material on her opponent, Senator John Warner. This material includes information on his Senate voting record, his personal life, his stances on the issues and contribution material from his campaign for United States Senate in 1978.


  • 1961-1994, undated
  • Other: Date acquired: 09/01/1994



33.00 Linear Feet

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is 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

Edythe C. Harrison was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1934. She has lived in Norfolk, Virginia since 1957. A professional volunteer, Edythe founded and served on numerous committees and councils. She is a founding member of the Virginia Opera Association. She also served on Old Dominion University's President's Advisory Council, the Board of Directors of the Greater Norfolk Corporation, the Advisory Committee of the Day Care and Child Development Center of Tidewater, Inc., and National Board of Governors of the National Conference of Soviet Jewry. In 1980 she was a founding member of Virginians Organized For Informed Community Expression (V.O.I.C.E.), an organization established to counter vocal right-wing attacks on such issues as abortion and medical research on human reproduction and fertility. Additionally in 1983 she chaired the 2nd District chapter of the National Women's Political Caucus. Her awards and honors include Outstanding Professional Woman of the Tidewater, and the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Edythe C. Harrison was first elected to political office in 1979 when she was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. The committees on which she served during her tenure in the House of Delegates, 1979- 1982, were Education, Labor and Commerce, Conservation and Natural Resources, and Chesapeake and its Tributaries. She also served as Chairperson of the Joint Legislative Subcommittee on Vocational-Technical and Career Education and represented Virginia at the National Conference of State Legislatures, Arts and the States Committee. President Jimmy Carter appointed Edythe Harrison to the Advisory Committee for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1979. In 1982 political redistricting in Norfolk created single member districts. She opposed incumbent Thomas Moss in the Democratic primary and lost. In 1984 Edythe Harrison became the first woman from Virginia nominated to seek state-wide office. She challenged Republican incumbent Senator John Warner in the 1984 United States Senate Race and was defeated. In 1994 the Harrison Opera House in Norfolk was named for her after she raised $10 million to have the 50-year old civic auditorium completely remodeled and expanded.

Note written by Special Collections Staff

Language of Materials



Member of the Virginia House of Delegates (1979-1982), founder and president of the Virginia Opera Association, and unsuccessful candidate for United States Senator in 1984 against incumbent Republican, Senator John Warner. The first woman in Virginia nominated by the Democratic Party for statewide office. Collection primarily relates to her activities in politics and the 1984 Senatorial campaign.

Arrangement Note

The collection is organized into five series: Series I: Legislative Files; Series II: Campaign Files; Series III: Virginia Opera Association; Series IV: General Papers; and Series V: Audio and Video Tapes.

Source of Acquisition

Edythe C. Harrison

Method of Acquisition

Gift. Accession #A94-1

Accruals and Additions

A second accession was received in 1998.

A Guide to the Edythe C. Harrison Papers
Charles Hillen, revised by Jan Halecki, Mel Frizzell and Special Collections Staff
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