Oral History Collection

Object Type: Folder
In root of archive


The Norfolk Women's Oral History Project, coordinated by Dr. Jean E. Friedman in the 1980s, is a series of 17 interviews focusing on sex roles of the 1930's, as influenced by the Depression. Interview 7 discusses the life experiences of a 62-year-old white Norfolk housewife. Includes work history, sexual history, and sexual attitudes, with a focus on sex roles of the 1930's. [Note: Audio is not available.]


Clifford Lowell Adams, Professor Emeritus of Old Dominion University, served from 1958-1979 as a Physics professor, department chair (1958-68), Executive Director of the Research Foundation, and Assistant Provost for Research and Sponsored Programs. He was born January 28, 1915 in Knox County, Indiana and died in 1999. The interview discusses the development of the Physics Department, the Research Foundation, "Kaufman Mall," and Adams's many local civic activities.


William Gerald Akers, Professor Emeritus at Old Dominion University, served from 1931-1972 as faculty and chair of the Foreign Language Department and also the head of the Division of Humanities. He was born June 25, 1906 in Mt. Vernon, Ohio and died February 14, 1993. Among several interview topics, the interview discusses Old Dominion University from its beginnings; the influence of William and Mary; faculty salaries and other issues; the Dean Hodges administration; and the American Association of University Professors.


Eleanor Joanne Bader was a business woman who also has been involved in many professional, civic, and cultural organizations. She was born in Wilmington, Delaware on March 15, 1922 and died October 12, 2013. This interview is in two parts. Part 1 covers her family life and educational background; her career in physical therapy and public service, including her tenure with the Social Security Association. Part 2 discusses her involvement with feminist organizations in the 1970s and continues discussion of her professional, civic and cultural involvements, including the Virginia Opera and Virginia Symphony. The interview took place at Westminster Canterbury in Virginia Beach, Virginia.


Virginia Speer Bagley, Professor Emeritus, served from 1945-1985 as a Biology professor. The interview discusses the growth and development of the Biology Department, lab facilities, field trips and programs with public school teachers, minority student participation, and the development of various health sciences programs. Interview recorded on two cassette tapes, three sides. Good audio quality. Approximately 7 minutes at end of audio is not transcribed.


Peter Stephen Barna, Professor Emeritus, served ODU from 1966-1977 as professor in the School of Engineering where he developed laboratories for the growing Engineering program, built the wind tunnel, and conducted research in aerodynamics and mechanical engineering. He was also a NASA consultant. Barna was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1912 and died April 14, 2006. The interview discusses Barna's involvement with the growing Engineering program and his life before ODU: in Hungary, his move to Australia, his service in World War II, his involvement in various projects (air conditioning, heat transfer, wind tunnels, aerodynamics) and inventions (bullet-proof radiator), his impressions of racial unrest in 1963 Alabama, and his impressions of American vs. Australian teaching methods. Interview recorded on two cassette tapes, three sides. Good audio quality.


Colonel William Dale Bassett, Jr. was a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and a decorated veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars. Colonel Bassett was born in Vallejo, California on January 14, 1927 and died April 26, 1997. His interview discusses his experiences in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, military careers and military families, selective service, communism, and other topics. Interview transcribed by Charlotte Smith in 2002. Interview recorded on one cassette tape, two sides. Good audio quality.


Walter Herman Bell, professor emeritus, served at ODU from 1957-1970 as Counselor, Director, and Professor of Counseling and as Professor of French. He was born in Berryville, Virginia on July 9, 1900. In the interview, Bell discusses his past positions as professor at Hampden-Sydney, as Red Cross Field Director during WWII, and as Director of Guidance in Portsmouth School System in addition to his experiences at ODU in the Counseling Office.


Dr. John A. W. Bennett, originally from Canada, was a faculty member in the International Studies Department at Old Dominion University from 1968-1977. He was born in Ottawa, Canada in 1911 and died August 11, 2000. This interview is in two parts. It covers his military education, his experiences with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, and World War II. The discussion about ODU focuses on International Studies, the Norfolk Forum, and the University Senate.


Frank Billmyer, Jr., Professor Emeritus of Old Dominion University, taught Chemistry, Biology, and Physics from 1950-1985. He was born in 1919 in Victoria, Virginia. The interviewee discusses the history of the university from the 50s and 60s and how it has changed, focusing on the students. Billmyer also discusses his varied interests and volunteer work.


Bruce Bishop was a student at ODU from 1969-1973. He served as Student Body President his senior year and served on the Board of Visitors for 11 years, both as a student representative and regular member. He was born in Hartford, Connecticut. Among the topics discussed are his days as a student, the University under Drs. Bugg and Rollins, racial tensions, the role of ODU in the community. [Note: Audio portion of this interview was not deposited with the University Archives.]


Dr. Thomas Blossom was an emeritus professor of the History Department from 1964-1977. Blossom was born in 1912 in Dedham, Massachusetts and died in 1992. His interview discusses his background, his studies with Robert Frost and Alan Nevins, his early teaching experiences, his Navy experience, and his research on Antonio Narino. About ODU, he discusses his experiences building the Latin American Studies program, developments in the History Department, and his impressions of three ODU Presidents.


Dr. Wayne Bowman, an Emeritus professor, served as a faculty member in the English Department from 1955-1980, and was a student of the Norfolk Division from 1934-1935. In the interview, he discusses his days as a student at the Norfolk Division and changes between that time and when he started teaching in the 1950s. He discusses developments in the courses and faculty of the English Department, among other things.


Dr. S. Eliot Breneiser, an Emeritus professor in the Music Department, was a part of the ODU faculty from 1951-1986. He was born around 1923 in Santa Monica, California and died February 11, 1988. The interview discusses Breneiser's background, the development of the Music Department and its students, Breneiser's role in the Faculty Senate and University Senate, his views on campus unrest in the 1960s, and his involvement in many of the activities of the Music Department, including Opera and Madrigals.


Robert E. Brown was the founding president of Norfolk's Virginia Stage Company. He served for more than 34 years on the theater company’s board of trustees, executive committees and as the Company’s legal counsel. He was born in North Carolina around 1938 and died May 19, 2017. The interview discusses Bob Brown's background, his interest in local theater, and the history of the Virginia Stage Company. The interview took place at Robert E. Brown's home in Norfolk, Virginia.


Dr. Charles O. Burgess came to the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary in 1955 as an Instructor in the English Department. In addition to becoming Full Professor in 1966, he also served as Director of Freshman English, Graduate Program Director, and was appointed the University's first Dean of Graduate Studies in 1970. By 1972, he became Vice President and Provost for Academic Affairs. In 1980, Dr. Burgess returned to the English Department to teach, and by 1985 he was again in an administrative role as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters. He retired from that position in 1995, but continues to teach part-time in the English Department. He was born in New York, New York on January 30, 1929 and died May 29, 2019. This interview is in three parts. Part 1 discusses his personal and educational background, his arrival at the Norfolk Division in 1955, his thoughts on Norfolk, the Norfolk Division, and the English Department, his role as Graduate Programs Director, and events and activism through the 1960s. Part 2 discusses his tenure as Provost, the growth and expansion of ODU, affirmative action, budgets and budget crises, and the development of international programs. Part 3 discusses his tenure as Dean of The College of Arts and Sciences, curriculum development in general education, women's studies, international studies, and African American studies; teaching, and the ODU Friends of the Library. The interview took place in Perry Library on the campus of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.


Joseph C. ("Scrap") Chandler, Professor Emeritus, served ODU from 1942-1971 as Athletic Director, Head of the Physical Education Program, and coach of track, swimming, baseball and basketball. Chandler was born in Caroline County, Virginia and died in 1980. The interview discusses Chandler's role in the early athletics and physical education programs, the hiring of coaches, the women's athletic program, local track and swimming programs for high schools and area youth, and development of the four-year degree program for health and physical education. Interview recorded on one cassette tape, two sides. Good audio quality.


Bessie Charity was a staff member at the University from 1934-1969. She was born on October 30, 1903 and died August 18, 1991. The interview discusses her work experiences in the cafeteria, her recollections of faculty and staff, changes in the students over the years, and expansion of the college. The interview took place in Norfolk, Virginia. 0:28:16


Benjamin F. Clymer, Professor Emeritus, served ODU from 1960-1981 as a Reference Librarian in the University Library. Clymer was born on October 3, 1915 and died March 6, 1990. The interview discusses Clymer's military background, his job as a reference librarian, his role in interlibrary loan and library instruction, and the library's move from Hughes Hall to a new building. [Note: Audio file is inaudible. The transcript was revised from a draft of the interview.]


Dr. Dudley Cooper was the first college-trained optometrist to practice in Norfolk and owner of the Ocean View Amusement Park from 1942-1978. He was born in North Carolina in 1899 and died in 1996. The interview discusses the history and development of Ocean View Amusement Park -- business aspects, technical aspects, specific attractions, military clientele, and aspects of racial integration.


Reuben Cooper taught classes in Speech, Drama, Child Studies and English from 1946 through the 1970s. He was born in Liverpool, England on July 31, 1910 and died October 7, 1998. The interview discusses Cooper's interests and the development of speech, drama and child studies at the Norfolk Division.


Mr. Francis N. Crenshaw, a Norfolk attorney, joined the ODU Board of Visitors in 1968 and served as Rector from 1970-1976. He also chaired the Presidential Search Committee which chose Dr. Rollins. He was born in Washington, D. C. on December 9, 1922 and died January 26, 2012. The interview discusses the activities of the Board of Rectors and University Administration from the late 60s through the 70s, student unrest, university expansion in Lambert's Point, the turnover of Dr. Bugg's administration and the hiring of Dr. Rollins, university relations with the state, city of Norfolk, and Norfolk State University (Va.), among other topics.


Richard B. Dahlseid was on the Presidential Search Committee that selected Dr. Rollins, 1975-1976. At that time, he was a junior Political Science major, after having served 20 years in the United States Army. In this interview, he discusses the search process, the people involved, the value of students serving on such committees, etc.


Colgate Whitehead Darden, Jr. began his law practice in Norfolk in 1922, was governor of Virginia from 1942-1946, president of University of Virginia, Charlottesville from 1947-1959, chairman of the Commission on Goals for Higher Education in the South in 1961. He was born on February 11, 1897 and died June 9, 1981. This interview is in two parts. The first interview done in 1975 discusses the early history of ODU -- the involvement of Darden and other individuals, community and state response to the college, financial support, former administrators, and transition from college to university status. The second interview in 1978 discusses Darden's background, his impressions of Norfolk throughout the years, his political career, Virginia politics, his thoughts on Billy Prieur and the Byrd political organization, many of the people he dealt with during his political career, and massive resistance.


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