A documentation case study: the Desegregation of Virginia Education (DOVE) project
chapterposted on 02.02.2016, 00:00 by Sonia Yaco, Beatriz Hardy
Fifty years ago, the state of Virginia, in the southeastern US, embarked on a strategy called "Massive Resistance" to prevent "racial mixing" in public schools. Massive Resistance legislation resulted in over 14,000 students being locked out of their schools to avert integration for periods ranging from five months to five years. Although the federal and state courts eventually struck down the laws that prescribed these school closings, Virginia continued to find ways to circumvent desegregation. At the same time, African American and white citizen groups pressed for integration. The events of this turbulent time had far reaching effects on society yet little documentation of school desegregation in Virginia is currently available publicly. Reasons for this void in the historic record range from apathy to shame. A new curation initiative, the Desegregation of Virginia Education (DOVE) project, seeks to create a broad base of support for documenting these events and in so doing to raise an awareness of the importance of archives and research institutions. DOVE’s purpose is to identify, locate, catalog and preserve records that document school desegregation. Led by Old Dominion University Libraries Special Collections, DOVE includes historians, archivists, librarians and public officials from about eighteen Southern repositories. DOVE identifies record holders, such as school districts, historical societies, civil rights organizations, libraries and archives and inventories their records. DOVE’s experience dealing with issues such as leadership, naming, organization, institutional competition, survey methodology, funding, and outreach are discussed with specific recommendations for other documentation projects. The methodology developed as part of this project will serve as a model for other states to use in documenting school desegregation as well as for other politically sensitive topics such as the internment of Japanese Americans.