Special Collections of the ODU Libraries

Michael J. Stolee Papers, 1964-2009 | Special Collections and University Archives

By Mel Frizzell

Collection Overview

Title: Michael J. Stolee Papers, 1964-2009

ID: 00/MG 102

Primary Creator: Stolee, Michael J. (1930-2007)

Extent: 9.9 Linear Feet. More info below.


Series I: Historical and Biographical information.  This series is broken into six sub-series.

Sub-series A: Dr. Michael J. Stolee Biographical Materials. This sub-series contains biographical information about Stolee’s career. Some of these materials were compiled for the purpose of writing his memoir describing his motivation for involvement in education, as well as reflections on his career. Included are personal recollections of his experiences with desegregation; correspondence; Dr. Stolee’s curriculum vita; case histories; awards; appointments and resignations; letters of appreciation and recommendation; Stolee’s memoir drafts; and a compilation of biographical materials put together by Dr. Stolee’s wife, Marilyn. Material is dates from 1968 to 2009 and is arranged alphabetically.

Sub-series B: Tennessee Attorney Biographical Materials. This sub-series contains biographical materials for attorney’s involved in the Tennessee case, specifically Richard H. Dinkins and Avon Nyanza Williams, Jr. Material is arranged alphabetically by attorney’s last name. All materials are from 2003.

Sub-series C: Historical Accounts. This sub-series contains Dr. Stolee’s historical accounts of desegregation cases in California, Michigan, and Virginia. Materials are arranged alphabetically. All materials in this sub-series were written by Dr. Stolee on September 5, 2005.

Sub-series D: Lectures. This sub-series contains lecture materials related to school desegregation. Materials are arranged alphabetically and date from 1967 to 1992.

Sub-series E: News Clippings. This sub-series contains news clippings on topics related to desegregation, busing, and magnet schools. Materials are arranged alphabetically and date from 1966 to 1999.

Sub-series F:  Other Published Materials. This sub-series contains abstracts, book reviews, and other published materials related to school desegregation and some of the cases Dr. Stolee worked on. Material is arranged alphabetically and dates from 1976 and 1992-1995.

Series II: Miami School Desegregation Center.This series documents the establishment of the University of Miami School of Education Florida School Desegregation Center. Included are correspondence, reports, budgets, proposals, newsletters, newspaper clippings, photos, and conference information. Material dates from 1964 to 1976 and is arranged chronologically.

Series III: School Desegregation Cases. This series includes court documents, correspondence, invoices, minutes, photographs, notes and newspaper clippings from school desegregation cases in twenty-five states. The largest bulk of material is related to the Michigan court case Barbara Jean Berry, et al., Plaintiffs vs. School District of the City of Benton Harbor, et al., Defendant. In this case, Stolee served as Special Master for nearly two decades beginning with his appointment to this position in 1981. This case centered on desegregation and busing efforts in the Benton Harbor, Coloma, and Eau Claire school districts.

This series is further broken into sub-series by state.

Sub-series A: Alabama. This sub-series includes Mobile from 1983-1990 and Tuscaloosa from 1993 to 1995.

Sub-series B: Arkansas. This sub-series includes Little Rock from 1987 to 1989.

Sub-series C: California. This sub-series includes Los Angeles from 1977 to 1982.

Sub-series D: Colorado. This sub-series includes Denver from 1973 to 1985.

Sub-series E: Florida. This sub-series includes Collier County from 1968-1971; Dade County from 1967-1975; Palm Beach County from 1988-89; Polk County from 1987 to 1993; St. Petersburg from 1992 and 1996; Tampa from 1995 to 1996; and Volusia County in 1970.

Sub-series F: Georgia. This sub-series includes Atlanta from 1972-1973; DeKalb County from 1983-1984; and Savannah from 1986 to 1999.

Sub-series G: Illinois. This sub-series includes Chicago from 1994-1995; Champaign from 1980-1981; Rockford from 1990-1996; and Springfield from 1976 and 1988.

Sub-series H: Indiana. This sub-series includes Indianapolis in 1981.

Sub-series I: Kansas. This sub-series includes Topeka in 1994.

Sub-series J: Kentucky. This sub-series includes Louisville from 1975; 1980; and 1998 to 1999.

Sub-series K: Maryland. This sub-series includes Prince George County from 1972; and 1984 to 1985.

Sub-series L: Massachusetts. This sub-series includes Boston from 1972; 1975; 1987; 1998 to 1999; and 2005.

Sub-series M: Michigan. This sub-series includes Benton Harbor, Eau Claire, Coloma, and Detroit from 1974 to 1999.

Sub-series N: Minnesota. This sub-series includes Minneapolis from 1972 and 1982.

Sub-series O: Mississippi. This sub-series includes Cleveland in 1989; Lawrence County from 1985 and 1987; and Natchez from 1988 to 1989.

Sub-series P: Missouri. This sub-series includes Kansas City from 1976 and 1996 to 1998; and St. Louis from 1977, 1982, and 1984.

Sub-series Q: North Carolina. This sub-series includes Charlotte from 1992-1999; Raleigh from 1976 to 1979; and Rocky Mount from 1990 to 1991.

Sub-series R: Ohio. This sub-series includes Columbus from 1977 to 1975.

Sub-series S: Pennsylvania. This sub-series includes Philadelphia from 1972 to 1975.

Sub-series T: South Carolina. This sub-series includes Florence for 1994.

Sub-series U: Tennessee. This sub-series includes Chattanooga for 1973; Jackson from 1988-1990 and 1998-2001; Knoxville from 1972 and 1991; and Nashville from 1996 to 1998.

Sub-series V: Texas. This sub-series includes Austin from 1989 to 1990; Beaumont for 1981; and Dallas from 1978 to 1981.

Sub-series W: Virginia. This sub-series includes Lynchburg for 1970; Newport News for 1994; Norfolk from 1969-1971; Richmond from 1970 to 1972; and Roanoke for 1970.

Sub-series X: Washington. This sub-series includes Seattle for 1979 and 1989.

Sub-series Y: Wisconsin. This sub-series includes Burlington for 1985; Florence from 1995-1996; Green Bay for 1994; and Milwaukee from 1975 to 1988 and 1996.

Series IV: Other Media. This series is broken into three sub-series.

Sub-series A: Floppy Disks. This series contains eight floppy discs related to cases that Dr. Stolee worked with. Materials are arranged alphabetically and are not dated.

Sub-series B: Court Sketches. This series contains three court artist sketches of Dr. Stolee testifying in an undisclosed court.

Sub-series C: Posters. This series contains a poster for the School Master’s Kiwanis Luncheon in Atlantic City, New Jersey from February 25, 1974.

Date Acquired: 10/09/2008

Subjects: Busing for school integration--United States, Busing for school integration--Virginia--Norfolk, Norfolk School Board (Norfolk, Va.), Public schools--Virginia--Norfolk, Race relations--History--20th century, School integration--Law and legislation--United States--Cases, School integration--United States, Segregation in education--Virginia--Norfolk, Stolee, Michael J., 1930-2007, University of Miami School of Education Florida School Desegregation Center

Languages: English


Contains material related to Stolee’s work as an expert witness in 68 school desegregation cases in the US including Norfolk. Stolle helped to design Norfolk 1971 school busing plan.The material includes the court proceedings, testimony, newspaper clippings, photographs, invoices and correspondence as well as his narrative of some of the cases.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The collection documents Stolee's work as a court and school system-appointed advisor in school desegregation cases in 68 school districts. The most extensively documented work is the protracted legal battle centering on Benton Harbor, Michigan, and efforts to integrate its school systems. The collection also includes biographical material on Stolee, historical material on school desegregation and material about the establishment and operation of the Florida Desegregation Center at the University of Miami.

Other professionals documented in this collection are Dr. Janice Sodos, a Milwaukee superintendent and consultant and Herbert Norder.

Dr. Stolee's papers range in date from 1964 to 2009, with the bulk being from the late 1970s to 1999. Materials in the collection include newspaper clippings, lecture transparencies, court orders and depositions, work schedules, school desegregation plans, Congressional records, term papers, notepads, maps, photographs, drawings, handwritten notes, brochures, computer disks, bound notebooks, speeches and a memoir.

Collection Historical Note

Dr. Michael J. Stolee was a Norwegian Lutheran native of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in Minnesota, born on August 22, 1930. He attended the city's public schools - Jenny Lind Elementary School and Henry Junior-Senior High School. Later, he enrolled at St. Olaf College where he earned his bachelor's degree with teaching majors in history and speech. Stolee first taught history and speech in rural Minnesota public schools before enrolling in graduate study at the University of Minnesota in late 1952. There he completed his master's degree and his doctorate in Educational Administration with an emphasis on school leadership in the legal context. Stolee completed his Ph.D. in 1963. Following his administrative experience in Minnesota schools, Stolee served as a faculty member at the University of Miami, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, teaching the legal aspects of school administration. At the latter, he served as Dean of the School of Education for nine years. In addition to his regular faculty appointments, Dr. Stolee was a visiting professor at Appalachian State University and was an external examiner for the faculties of education at the University of Guyana and the University of the West Indies. At the University of Miami, he was co-director of an institute on desegregation for school board members and superintendents in Florida and South Georgia. This was the first institute funded under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Dr. Stolee's education and personal experience prepared him to address the issues created by the Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954. Stolee cited his experience with black students at the University of Minnesota during graduate school as one of the first that indicated to him the future need for addressing racial cooperation in the education world. His first experience with overt racial segregation came during his spring break in 1963 when he and his wife stopped at a Dairy Queen near Ocala, Florida. The sign in the window said "White Only." They thought it had to do with the availability of only vanilla ice cream.

In 1965, Dr. Stolee and a colleague, Dr. Robert Wey of the University Of Miami School Of Education, suggested that a consultation center be established at Miami for the purpose of helping to put the law into practice regarding Brown v. Board. The Florida School Desegregation Consulting Center at the University of Miami was subsequently born and ran from July 1, 1965 until 1981. The center served as an advisory entity to school systems across the nation. While acting as Director of the Center and later after he had been promoted as Dean of Education at Miami, Dr. Stolee participated in the desegregation proceedings of many school systems across the United States. The city of Norfolk, Virginia is one of over 350 school jurisdictions where Dr. Stolee advised on school desegregation methods and busing plans.

Dr. Stolee had an impact on the Hampton Roads area as an expert witness on the 1971 Norfolk Public Schools busing desegregation plan. Stolee testified on several occasions between May 7, 1969 and April 1971. During his initial court depositions, he stated that Norfolk Public Schools should discontinue its 'freedom of choice' policy of pupil assignment that allowed schools to remain segregated. Dr. Stolee presented findings indicating that there would be no educational decline for black or white students, should they be bussed together to larger, integrated schools. After his earlier testimony, Stolee presented a plan to U.S. District Judge Walter Hoffman in May of 1969 proposing to do away with the 'freedom of choice' system for Norfolk students and increasing desegregation by busing. Stolee's proposed feeder system for Norfolk assigned schools to groups (two white schools, one black school) so that elementary schools had a well-integrated student population. There was a prolonged court battle to get Norfolk Public Schools to adopt the Stolee plan, but by April of 1971, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling was in place ordering the schools to use Dr. Stolee's plan in the creation of a desegregated school system.

Following his career at Miami, Stolee returned to his native Wisconsin and joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, while continuing his school system desegregation planning as a consultant. Between 1981 and 1995, Stolee and several educational scholar colleagues were involved in developing busing and schooling plans to smoothly integrate Benton Harbor Area Schools with nearby Coloma Community Schools and Eau Claire Public Schools in southwestern Michigan. The Benton Harbor situation began with a 1981 court ruling that ordered the community to work with neighboring school districts to integrate schools and provide busing solutions for the Benton Harbor, Coloma, and Eau Claire areas. Dr. Michael J. Stolee was appointed Special Master as part of a case remedy by Judge Douglass W. Hillman, of the U. S. District Courts of Michigan. Stolee's job in this role was to serve as an advisor and liaison between the Court and the Benton Harbor communities involved in the case and its remedial processes.

Dr. Michael J. Stolee passed away in March 29, 2007 at the age of 76.

Subject/Index Terms

Busing for school integration--United States
Busing for school integration--Virginia--Norfolk
Norfolk School Board (Norfolk, Va.)
Public schools--Virginia--Norfolk
Race relations--History--20th century
School integration--Law and legislation--United States--Cases
School integration--United States
Segregation in education--Virginia--Norfolk
Stolee, Michael J., 1930-2007
University of Miami School of Education Florida School Desegregation Center

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections and University Archives

Alternate Extent Statement: 21 Hollinger document cases, 1 half document case, 1 oversize box, and 1 multimedia box

Access Restrictions: Open to researchers without restrictions.

Use Restrictions: 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.

Acquisition Source: Marilyn Stolee

Acquisition Method: Gift. Accession #A2008-24

Related Materials:

Further Reference:

Seeds of Crisis Public Schooling in Milwaukee Since 1920, edited by John L. Rury (see Chapter 7, pages 229-268)

Dismantling Desegregation: The Quiet Reversal of Brown v Board of Education, by Gary Orfield and Susan Eaton (Chapter 7 covers the Charlotte, North Carolina case and mentions Dr. Stolee’s contribution as “principal architect of the new magnet plan” for Charlotte in 1992)

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Box [insert number], Folder [insert number and title], Michael J. Stolee Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Historical and Biographical information],
[Series II: Miami School Desegregation Center, 1964 to 1976],
[Series III: School Desegregation Cases],
[Series IV: Other Media, undated],

Series II: Miami School Desegregation Center, 1964 to 1976
This series documents the establishment of the University of Miami School of Education Florida School Desegregation Center. Included are correspondence, reports, budgets, proposals, newsletters, newspaper clippings, photos, and conference information.
Arrangement: chronological
Box 1
Folder 26: Correspondence, 1964-69
Folder 27: Florida and South Georgia Institute for Superintendents and Board Members on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, February 24-26, 1965
Folder 28: Proposal for Establishing a Consultative Center for the Solving of Problems Caused by School Desegregation, 1965
Folder 29: Memo Reports of Center Activities, 1966
Folder 30: Newsletter – The Consultant South Florida School Desegregation Consulting Center, 1966-67
Folder 31: “School Management – How to Play the Game”, February 16-17, 1967
Folder 32: News Clippings, 1967-1974
Folder 33: Proposed Budgets for South Florida School Desegregation Consulting Center, 1967-69
Folder 34: Florida Governor’s Commission on Urban Development, 1968
Folder 35: Inquiry: The Quarterly Magazine of the University of Miami, Winter, 1968
Folder 36: University of Miami Conference, March 26, 1971
Folder 37: Miscellaneous, 1972-76
Folder 38: Photos, undated

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Historical and Biographical information],
[Series II: Miami School Desegregation Center, 1964 to 1976],
[Series III: School Desegregation Cases],
[Series IV: Other Media, undated],

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