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Paul T. Schweitzer Papers

Collection ID: MG 16

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence, legal documents, publications, photographs, and other material created and collected by Paul T. Schweitzer, a Norfolk, Virginia businessman, school board and city council member. The bulk of the collection consists of material related to Norfolk during massive resistance, when public schools were closed to prevent the admission of African Americans. Of particular note are letters written to Schweitzer both in favor of and against admission of African American students to the public schools.


  • circa 1952-1976, undated
  • Other: Date acquired: 04/01/1977



3.80 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

Paul T. Schweitzer was born on August 1, 1903, on a farm near Malta, Illinois. Three years later the family moved to Arizona where his father became manager of a cattle ranch outside of Tucson. Several years later the elder Mr. Schweitzer moved into Tucson where he founded the Schweitzer Machine Company which specialized in water pumps. The family moved to Los Angeles in 1918 where the younger Mr. Schweitzer completed high school and went to work for a mortgage and loan company. He remained with the firm until its dissolution in 1935. He then traveled to Washington, D.C. where he opened a branch of Layne-Atlantic Company, a firm that develops and engineers large-scale water distribution systems. Joining company headquarters in Norfolk in 1939, he was made vice president and ultimately chairman of the board. Mr. Schweitzer's contributions as a businessman and civic leader to the recent history of Norfolk were most distinguished. He was appointed to the Norfolk School Board in 1952, elected chairman in 1955 and served in this capacity until he was appointed to the Norfolk City Council in March 1960. During his years as chairman of the school board, Norfolk experienced the massive resistance crisis. From September 1958 until January 1959 three white high schools and three white junior high schools in the city were closed under Virginia law by order of Governor J. Lindsay Almond, Jr. because the schools were under court order to integrate. Schweitzer was in the forefront of those who worked to have the schools reopened. Mr. Schweitzer was re-elected as chairman of the reorganized Norfolk School Board in July 1959. In the following year he was appointed to the Norfolk City Council to replace George R. Abbott who resigned. Schweitzer was elected in 1960 and re-elected in 1964. He was defeated for re-election in 1968. Mr. Schweitzer's civic activities were numerous. He served on the board of trustees of Lynchburg College from 1957 until May 1976. As chairman of the board he was involved in launching the college's Partnership for Progress development program in 1966. According to Dr. Carey Brewer, president of Lynchburg College, the Partnership of Progress program which raised more than $10 million was "perhaps the major advancement in the total history of the College." Mr. Schweitzer was also a member of the board of directors and the president of the Norfolk Central YMCA, a member of the National Council of the YMCA and chairman of the recreation and education division of the United Communities Council of Social Agencies. He was also vice president of the Tidewater Virginia Development Council, Norfolk region, a member of the board of directors of the Norfolk General Hospital and vice chairman of the board of trustees of Virginia Wesleyan College. He was also chairman of the board of deacons and elder emeritus of First Christian Church. Mr. Schweitzer attained a respected position in the business community. In addition to his position at Layne Atlantic Company, Mr. Schweitzer was director of the Lakewood Water Company in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and of the Belvedere Water Company in Glen Burnie, Maryland. He was the author of several technical papers on ground water which were published in the Journal of the American Water Works Association. He was a member of the Society of American Military Engineers. Mr. Schweitzer was married in 1940 to the former Edna Ilene Stillman of Alexandria, Virginia. They had three children, Mark, Betty Mae and Kay Marie. Mr. Schweitzer passed away in 1976.

Note written by James Sweeney

Language of Materials



Norfolk businessman and member of the Norfolk School Board (1952-1960) and City Council (1960-1968) during the Massive Resistance crisis. Includes correspondence, legal documents, newspapers clippings, scrapbooks and photographs that primarily document his activities during Norfolk’s desegregation crisis.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged into six series: Series I: Correspondence; Series II: Legal Documents; Series III: Publications; Series IV: Photographs, Series V: Miscellaneous, and Series VI: Oversized Materials.

Source of Acquisition

Mrs. Edna S. Schweitzer

Method of Acquisition

Gift. Accession #A77-23

A Guide to the Paul T. Schweitzer Papers
Dr. James R. Sweeney; Revised by 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