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Margaret White Papers

Collection ID: MG 20

Scope and Contents

The collection includes correspondence, lists, and printed materials collected by Margaret White, a Norfolk, Virginia public school teacher involved with the reopening of the public schools after they were closed in 1958. The bulk of the collection relates directly to a television documentary produced by CBS. The program, "The Lost Class of '59," deals with the problem of integration and the closing of public schools in Norfolk, Virginia.


  • 1952-1976, undated
  • Other: Date acquired: 07/13/1977



0.20 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

Margaret E. White was born in Norfolk, Virginia on February 22, 1908. She graduated from Hollins College in 1930 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. After graduation, Miss White was employed by the Norfolk School System, teaching history at Blair Junior High from 1930 to 1934. After leaving that position for the commercial world for a couple of years, Miss White resumed her position at Blair Junior High School from 1936 to 1945. From 1945 through 1946, Miss White became Program Director of the American Red Cross in South Korea, where she supervised the recreational activities for the United States Army. In 1947, she returned to a career in education at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, D.C., teaching science and math. After only one year in Washington, Miss White returned to Norfolk in 1948. She again was employed by the Norfolk School System, teaching history at Granby High School from 1948-1965. It was during this period that Miss White became involved in the struggle to reopen the public schools of Norfolk, during the integration crisis of 1958-1960. Miss White's efforts to reopen the schools in Norfolk, were recorded on a CBS television documentary, "The Lost Class of '59." There is substantial evidence in her papers of the support of many people throughout the nation in her valiant struggle to maintain educational standards for all students of all races. In 1965, Miss White became Director of Public Relations for "Operation Headstart" while working for the Southeast Tidewater Opportunity Program. This was a federally funded program to assist in the education and employment of the poor minorities of the United States. In 1971, she worked for the Goodwill Industries. During 1976, Miss White worked with the Bicentennial Committee. Margaret White retired to a home for Senior Citizens in Richmond, Virginia. Miss White's philosophy in regard to public education and her humanitarian activities can be summarized by her own comments: "World history must not be neglected: without a world view how can we comprehend the nationalism of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa? Everywhere the oppressed people are rising up and making their declarations of independence. Students need to be taught a respect for the accomplishments of other races, cultures and civilizations before the United States can truly lead the world -- a world which has no hope unless it finds peace among dissimilarities. There are values besides facts that concern teachers who deserve the title: the value of respect for law and order, the respect for the dignity of mankind, the appreciation of individual differences and the realization that hate reaps evil. No, it is not riches, nor is it prestige which makes us teach. It is the conviction that in men there is a potential which can, through education, tolerance, and understanding, build a better world. The hope of this teacher is that a strong voice of moderation will speak out to open our public schools, so we may -- each in his own way, TEACH."

Note written by William B. Taylor, Jr.

Language of Materials



Margaret White taught in the Norfolk school system off and on since 1930. Involved in struggle to reopen the public schools during the integration crisis. CBS television documentary, "The Lost Class of ’59" recorded her efforts. Correspondence and printed material, the bulk of which dates from 1959-1964, chiefly relates to the CBS documentary. Member of the Norfolk Committee for Public Schools.

Arrangement Note

This collection is divided into three series: Series I: Correspondence; Series II: Lists; and Series III: Printed Materials.

Source of Acquisition

Margaret E. White

Method of Acquisition

Gift. Accession #A77-53

Related Materials

The lost class of '59 [videorecording] : a study of Virginia's massive resistance: segregation and the Norfolk Public Schools / a presentation of CBS News; CBS Television Network; edited and produced by Edward R. Murrow, Fred W. Friendly; reporter director, Arthur D. Morse. Call #: LC2803.N6 L67 1959

A Guide to the Margaret White Papers
William B. Taylor, Jr.
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