Skip to main content

A.E.S. Stephens Papers

Collection ID: MG 19

Scope and Contents

The papers of A.E.S. Stephens center around his unsuccessful campaign for Governor of Virginia from December 1960, until his loss to Albertis Harrison in the Democratic Party primary in July 1961. The majority of the papers prior to the 1960-1961 primary race focus on the issue of Massive Resistance to racial integration in Virginia schools.


  • 1949-1961, undated
  • Other: Date acquired: 05/20/1977



2.40 Linear Feet

Conditions Governing Access

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

Allie Edward Stakes Stephens was born November 4, 1900, in Wicomico Church, Virginia. Stephens began practicing law in the Isle of Wight County, Virginia, on September 15, 1923. It was in Isle of Wight County in 1927 that Stephens experienced a violent initiation into politics. An incident occurred in which a fourteen year old white girl was allegedly brutally murdered by a black man. At a time in Virginia history when lynchings still occurred, a mob formed and demanded the death of the defendant. The Isle of Wight Commonwealth's Attorney, however, succeeded in transporting the black man safely to Petersburg. Stephens was asked by angry Isle of Wight residents to run for Commonwealth's Attorney as an independent candidate, but Stephens made it absolutely clear that he would neither run, nor accept the office if elected. Stephens, in fact, won the election, but as he had promised he refused to accept the office despite the attempted intimidation of the Ku Klux Klan. Stephens formally began his political career when he was elected as a Democrat to the House of Delegates in 1929. He served as a Delegate for twelve years. In 1941 Stephens was elected to the Virginia Senate where he served until 1952. After the death of Lieutenant Governor Lewis Preston Collins on September 20, 1952, Stephens announced his candidacy for the unexpired portion of Collins' term. His candidacy was successful and in November 1953, he was elected to a full four-year term. Stephens was re-elected Lieutenant Governor in 1957, and served in that capacity until his resignation after an unsuccessful candidacy for the Governorship in 1961.Throughout his political career, Stephens remained a member of the Democratic Party and until the late 1950s he aligned himself with the powerful Byrd Organization. Stephens split with the Byrd Machine in 1959 when he withdrew his support from the Organization's policy of Massive Resistance to public school desegregation. Stephens' private life was filled with important and varied positions and accomplishments. He married Anna Spratley Delk in 1928, and had three children, including the first girl in the Stephens family in four generations. Stephens was a founder and, at his death, President and a member of the Board of the Directors of Historic St. Luke's Restoration. He was a member of the Smithfield Ruritan Club, Virginia Bar Association and an honorary member of the Smithfield Rotary Club, which he twice served as president. He was Town Attorney for the Town of Smithfield for many years until his retirement on December 3, 1971. Stephens served as a member of the Board of Visitors of Old Dominion University from 1968 to 1972. He died, after a short illness, at Riverside Hospital, Newport News, Virginia on June 9, 1973.

Language of Materials



Served in both the House of Delegates (1929-1941) and the State Senate (1941-1952), and as Lieutenant Governor (1952-1961). Ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for Governor in 1961 against Albertis Harrison. Centers around this unsuccessful campaign and contains papers focusing on the issue of Massive Resistance to integration, dating to the early 1950s.

Arrangement Note

The papers are divided into eight series: Series I: Correspondence; Series II: Photographs; Series III: Biographical Data; Series IV: Newspaper Clippings; Series V: Campaign Records; Series VI: Speeches; Series VII: Statements; and Series VIII: Reference Material.

Source of Acquisition

Mrs. Anna Delk Stephens and Mr. Rodham T. Delk

Method of Acquisition

Gift. Accession #A77-36

A Guide to the A.E.S. Stephens Papers
Michael H. Brown
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