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Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives: Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia

Hampton University: William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library / Hampton University Museum and Archives

Introductory Information

William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library External

Address: 129 William R. Harvey Way Hampton, VA 23668

Telephone number: 757-727-5371

Contact information: Tina Rollins, Library Director

Hampton University Museum and Archives External

Address: 14 Frissell Avenue, Hampton, VA; 23668

Telephone number: 757-727-5374

Contact information: Vanessa Thaxton-Ward, Ph. D., Director, Charles Allen, Archives Assistant

Online catalog External

Digital Collections link External

Subject Liaison: Danita White
Telephone number: 757-727-5179
Email: [email protected]

Access Policies

Library Hours of service: Mon- Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 1:00 am., Saturday 9:00a.m. - 5:00pm, Sunday 2:00 p.m.- 1:00 a.m.
Hours of operation change during, Summer Session and University breaks

Open to the public:

Interlibrary loan:

Reference policy:
Library: Reference requests are accepted by: Ask-a-Librarian form, chat, telephone, email, in-person

Background note:
General Samuel Chapman Armstrong established the first Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute library collection in the Mansion House. The Library collection filled the reading rooms of Virginia Hall by the end of the 19th century. In 1903, Collis P. Huntington Library was constructed to hold the expanding library collection. Designed by W.F. Brooks, Huntington Library featured craftsmanship of Hampton Institute Trade School students. Renovations and additions in 1920 and 1968 supported transition from vocational school to liberal arts college curriculum. Hampton Institute became Hampton University in 1984. By the 1980’s, the Huntington building proved inadequate to meet the needs of a modern university. A new, state-of-the-art building was constructed to support comprehensive university collection. The new building was named for Hampton University’s twelfth president, William R. Harvey, and his wife, Norma B. Harvey. The building was designed by architects Hubert Taylor and William Mulligan of Livas Associates. Dedicated on January 26, 1992, the William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library became the main academic library for Hampton University. Satellite libraries in the departments of Architecture and Music provide additional information resources for the university community.

Special Collections
The William R. and Norma B. Harvey Library is home to the George Foster Peabody Special Collections. The Peabody Collection is one of the oldest African American library collections in the country. In 1905, George Foster Peabody obtained 1,400 books and pamphlets on the Negro and slavery from bibliophile Tucker A. Malone and lent them to the Collis P. Huntington Memorial Library, the former main university library. In 1908, this loan was converted into a gift. Six years later, the library of Dr. Phil Broome Brooks, a black physician in Washington, D. C., was purchased. In subsequent years, other collections were added, including materials on Native American culture.

The Peabody collection is a distinctive collection of books and other materials in all subject areas by and about African Americans and other people of African descent throughout the world. Special emphases are placed on African American history, civil rights movements in the United States, literature by African American authors and pamphlets by authors on slavery, emancipation and the African American experience in the United States. The collection contains more than 30,000 items by and about African Americans. This includes about 21,300 monographs, 1,200 anti-slavery pamphlets, vertical file materials, and other documents on slavery and the Reconstruction period in the United States. This collection also includes rare books and Hampton University Memorabilia.

Museum and Archives Hours of service: Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The University Archives is open to the public by appointment.

Open to the public:
Museum and Archives: Yes, by appointment

Interlibrary loan:
Museum and Archives:

Reference policy:
Museum and Archives: Reference requests are accepted by: chat, telephone, email, in-person by appointment

Background note:
The University was founded in 1868 by General Samuel Chapman Armstrong, with the assistance of the American Missionary Association, as Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute. The institution was established in part as a response to the educational and spiritual needs of former slaves in Virginia, and has had strong religious ties since its foundation. The Memorial Church at Hampton Institute (known from 1886 to 1960 as the Church of Christ at Hampton Institute) is the focus of religious life at the University and also serves the wider Hampton community. Its’ pastor is the university chaplain, and students and staff of all denominations can become "watch care" members of the Church while associated with the College.



Books and monographs
The collection includes relevant resources within the subject area of religion as well as basic texts. Religious tradition and global study of religion are also represented. The collection maintains materials representing diversity in theological and religion research. Additionally, a number of multidisciplinary materials are collected regarding this subject area. The library also has significant holdings in the area of African-American History and religion due to the unique history of the university.

Periodicals and newspapers
The library collection includes both print and electronic journal holdings regarding the subject area of religion. This includes historical periodicals, print periodicals as well as electronic resources offered within numerous databases and e-journal specific to this subject area.

Databases and/or electronic resources
World Religions Research guide External
Relevant databases External

Digital collections External

Other holdings not listed above
The Peabody Collection also collects various resources about the Hampton University Ministers Conference (HUMC) and Choir Directors’ & Organists’ Guild Workshop. The HUMC began in 1914 and sought to address the growing concerns of the African-American church and its relationship to the community. Resources regarding HUMC include audiovisual materials and other ephemera.

Another unique collection within Peabody is the Anti-Slavery Pamphlet Collection. This unsurpassed collection of slave literature from 1705 to the late 1880s, includes campaign literature, abolitionist literature, slave narratives, children’s literature, congressional speeches, sermons, letters, organizational proceedings, tracts, and previously published materials from journals and magazines. Authors of note include Wendell Phillips, W.E. B. Dubois, Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, John Jam, and Andrew Johnson.

Museum and Archives

Books and monographs
A small monograph collection, with imprints from 1868 to the present, focuses on black religious folk music and the history of Hampton Institute. See also vertical file section below.

Periodicals and newspapers
The Archives has 68 volumes (1872-1939) of the Southern Workman, established by Samuel Armstrong to acquaint the public with the aims, purposes, and methods of education adopted by Hampton Institute. It contains direct reports from the heart of black and Indian populations with pictures of reservation, cabin, and plantation life; local sketches; a running account of the Hampton School; and studies in black and Indian folklore and history.
There are also 37 volumes of Conferences of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (1875-1952).

A subject index to religious articles (1872-1936) from the Southern Workman has entries under "Negro Churches," "Negro Ministers," "Religion," "Religion in Education," "Hampton Institute Religious Life," "Missions," "Religious Work," "Religion--The Negro's Attitude toward Christianity," and "Negro Religion."

Archives, manuscripts, correspondences, and/or oral histories
16 linear feet of records on religious work at Hampton Institute from 1868 to 1970 include correspondence, reports, printed materials, newsletters, newspaper clippings, materials related to the American Missionary Association and the Hampton Institute Missionary Department, and other items.

The papers of author, composer, performer, and choral director Robert Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) contain collections of Negro spirituals and folk songs, programs and program notes written by Dett for concert performances from 1928 to 1931, and a collection of Dett's original compositions and arrangements of Negro spirituals. Information about Negro spirituals and folk music, and religious music at Hampton Institute, can be found in the Ruben Tholakele Caluza Collection (African ethnomusicologist and composer, 1910-1937), the Charles H. Flax Papers (choir director and chaplain, 1963-1978), the Roland Marvin Carter Collection (choir director and Music Department chairman, 1963-1986), the Jon Michael Spencer Papers (composer and music educator, 1978-1986), and other collections.

Videos and sound recordings
The Archives has a wax cylinder recording of spirituals sung at Hampton in the 1880s, believed to be the oldest music recording in the country. A taped reproduction of this recording can be made available to researchers. There is also a 78 rpm three record set entitled Negro Spirituals: Dorothy Maynor, Soprano, with Unaccompanied Male Choir.

Vertical files
There are 11,500 monographs and more than 1,700 pamphlets and recorded documents on local churches, seminars, boards, agencies, and benevolent organizations. Materials are dated from 1880 to the present.
The Peabody Room Vertical Clippings File has materials related to spirituals and gospel music. The spirituals are primarily clipped from the Southern Workman.

Photographs, lantern slides, slides, negatives, glass negatives, and blueprints of events, people, and churches from 1868 to the present, numbering about 40,000 items.

Databases and/or electronic resources External

Digital collections External

Other holdings not listed above
The Black Sacred Music Archive (originally founded in 1984 by Jon Michael Spencer as the Black Music Archive) has been created for the use of faculty, students, and visiting researchers studying black music. Among the approximately 650 items in this growing collection are spirituals, hymnals, gospel songs, civil rights songs, anthems, cantatas, oratorios, examples of abolitionist song and hymnody, and black denominational hymnals.

Subject Headings

Holdings are cataloged using Library of Congress Subject Headings (LC).  Subject areas within the collection for religion correspond to LC Class B which index areas of Psychology, Philosophy and Religion.

African American church music; African Americans--Religion; African Methodist Episcopal Church; American Missionary Association; Gospel music; Spirituals