In libraries, attics and basements across the commonwealth, report cards, high school newspapers, yearbooks and other material from Virginia’s desegregation era lie forgotten.
The DOVE project wants them.
DOVE (Desegregation of Virginia Education) is a growing network of about 40 libraries, museums, universities, historical societies and others trying to preserve and catalogue records related to school desegregation in Virginia from the 1940s to 1980.
Co-chaired by Virginia Commonwealth University history professor Brian Daugherity, and volunteer Ann Jimerson, the project has divided Virginia into eight regions and created task forces within each to find and inventory records.
“If we can locate new records, it allows us to tell the story that much better,” Daugherity says.
Old Dominion University in Norfolk hosts the DOVE website and a growing digital collection of material, including oral histories. Started about eight years ago, the project is seeking out more oral histories of those who experienced Virginia’s transition from segregation to desegregation, and is figuring out how to teach this history more effectively in grades K-12.
“It’s a tragic history, but it’s one that we can learn from,” Daugherity says.
Jimerson says those involved in the project are thrilled that DOVE content is finding its way into the larger world, noting that author Patricia Dunn-Fierstein used the ODU collection to research her 2015 novel, “Finding Grace.”
More information at odu.edu/library/special-collections/dove.