Special Collections of the ODU Libraries

W.B. Shafer, Jr. Papers, 1939-1981 | Special Collections and University Archives

By Special Collections Staff

Collection Overview

Title: W.B. Shafer, Jr. Papers, 1939-1981

ID: 00/MG 52

Primary Creator: Shafer, W. Bruce, Jr. (1894-1990)

Extent: 6.25 Linear Feet. More info below.


This collection is broken down into the following series: I. Projects, Issues, and Causes; II. Philanthropy and Religious Charities; III. Correspondence; IV. Books, Essays, and Other Publications; V. Miscellaneous; and VI. Artifacts.

Series I. Projects, Issues, and Causes. This series is divided into four subseries. Subseries A: Norfolk Boom and Boosting; Subseries B: Real Estate and Investing; Subseries C: Political Issues; and Subseries D: Politics.

Subseries A: Norfolk Boom and Boosting. This subseries contains information about the Norfolk and Southern Economic Booms of the 1950s and 1960s. Information included are Norfolk Boom and Investment maps, flyers, and postcards; correspondence, news, and articles on the Norfolk, Dallas, and Southern Booms; information on the Norfolk, Virginia and Carolina Booster Club; and material on Military Circle, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, the Virginia Highway System, and the Dismal Swamp Canal as related to bringing business into the Hampton Roads area.

Subseries B: Real Estate and Investing. This subseries contains information about the real estate and investing ventures of Shafer. Included are property deeds, contracts, and survey maps; correspondence and promotional material related to real estate; information on the Greater Norfolk Investors and other investment companies; investing information on railroads, steel plants, and shopping centers; and real estate and industrial directories.

Subseries C: Political Issues. This subseries contains information on local and national political issues and projects advanced by Shafer. Topics include potato and produce overheads and exports, the Shafer Peace Plan, the Shafer Prosperity Plan, the Peace Temple at Cape Henry, Religious Reformation of America, Employment for War Veterans, gasoline prices, abortion, race relations, the poll tax, unions, the American monetary system, Vietnam, communism, bond issues, the Norfolk news monopoly, Norfolk Gardens, and an art museum at Military Highway. This subseries also includes newspaper clippings and letters to newspaper editors on these and other issues.

Subseries D: Politics. This subseries contains information on local and national politics, as well as correspondence between Shafer and various political figures including City Councilmen, Congressmen, Senators, Governors, and Presidents. Content of these letters includes the Norfolk and Southern booms, real estate and investing, communism, letters of support, and other subjects of concern to Shafer. Additional topics include corruption in the Norfolk City Council, Shafer's bid for Norfolk City Council, Mafia involvement in the government, Watergate, the 1976 Presidential election, the Republican party, and congressional reform. Of particular note in this subseries is a signed Christmas card from President Jimmy Carter, as well as letters written to several presidents and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

Series II. Philanthropy and Religious Charities. This series includes information about various charities and religious organizations that Shafer supported. Included are entries and information on the W.B. Shafer Award Competition Contest for high school students; Jerry Falwell's Old Time Gospel Hour, Liberty Baptist College, and Mercy Ship; other schools, churches, and religious organizations; and Cal Farley's Boys Ranch.

Series III. Correspondence. Although there is a great deal of correspondence scattered throughout this collection, this series contains both personal correspondence and correspondence that does not readily fit into the other series. This series includes correspondence between Shafer and banks, corporations, and attorneys on various issues; invitations, cards, and letters regarding Shafer's health. This series also consists of blank greeting cards, blank Western Union and Postal forms, blank holiday cards from charitable organizations, and Shafer's stationary and mailing labels.

Series IV. Books, Essays, and Other Publications. This series is divided into four subseries. Subseries A: Essays/Newsletters; Subseries B: Shafer's Books; Subseries C: Newspapers and Magazines; and Subseries D: Advertising.

Subseries A: Essays/Newsletters. This subseries includes essays and newsletters written by Shafer. Topics include real estate and investing; political corruption; drugs and hippy communism; the Norfolk News monopoly; the Peace Prayer Temple at Cape Henry; Shafer's contributions; Religious Reformation; and other issues of concern to Shafer.

Subseries B: Shafer's Books. This subseries includes book publicity; requests for his books and thank you letters for their receipt; requests for essays to be included in future books; information on book publishers; rough drafts for the book "How to Make a Fortune Quickly and Honestly"; and final copies of Shafer's books "How to Make a Fortune Quickly and Honestly," "Investment Success and Happiness," "3 Books that Made the South and 1000 Millionaires and 10 Billionaires," "Go South Young Man, Go South Where God Still Lives."

Subseries C: Newspapers and Magazines. This subseries contains copies of newspapers and magazines related to politics, religion, veterans, and real estate and investing.

Subseries D: Advertising. This subseries contains receipts for the printing of some of Shafer's promotional material; advertising rates and information for "The Spotlight"; other newspapers and magazines; television and radio station advertising policies; and receipts for air time. This subseries also includes a few copies of classified ads that were placed by Shafer on the Norfolk Boom, gasoline prices, and religious reformation.

Series V. Miscellaneous. This series contains material that does not necessarily fit into any of the other series of this collection. The most notable items in this series are the photographs, including photos of Shafer's tombstone, and a rough draft of his last will and testament. This series also includes information on Shafer's trip to Hot Springs; various receipts, warranties, and instruction manuals; information on psychics; miscellaneous notes, lists, articles, and booklets; and other miscellaneous material.

Series VI. Artifacts. This series contains artifacts that are a part of this collection. Included are a ministry audiocassette by Jerry Falwell; a refill for a Pallotine Pen by Pallotine Missionaries; a box of Buss Auto Fuses; and "Easy Do" remote switch; and a "Wm. Crooks-Minnesota Pioneer" limited run lithograph.

Date Acquired: 01/22/1982

Subjects: Businessmen--Virginia--Norfolk, Norfolk (Va.)--History--20th century, Norfolk (Va.)--Politics and government--20th century, Philanthropists--Virginia--Norfolk, Shafer, W. B.

Languages: English


Long time Norfolk native. Made his fortune in real estate and spent his life promoting humanitarian and idealistic causes. Ran unsuccessfully for Norfolk City Council in 1928 and 1966 and lost a bid for the House of Representatives in 1944. Honorary member of the Veterans of Foreign Affairs in recognition for his successful push to have bonuses paid to World War I veterans. Author of 3 Books That Made the South And 1000 Millionaires and 10 Billionaires, Go South Young Man, and Go South Where God Still Lives. Bought newspaper space to promote his projects and ideas. Includes correspondence, copies of The Spotlight, newspaper clippings, rough drafts of his writings, and photographs.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection contains information about the Norfolk and Southern economic booms of the 1950s and 1960s, Shafer's real estate and investing ventures during that same time period, the political issues and causes that he advanced, his charitable donations, books and newsletters that he wrote, and various correspondence. Except for correspondence, much of the material in this collection is undated. The majority of this collection spans the mid-1950s through the end of the 1970s. A small amount of material is dated in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1980s.

Collection Historical Note

W. Bruce Shafer was an idealist and a philanthropist. He was an industrious promoter and "booster" of ideas, projects, Norfolk, and even himself. To some he was an eccentric, while others considered him a genius. Shafer was a Methodist and a Mason. He was religious and conservative. He did not necessarily ally himself with either political party. Shafer was more about morals and issues than party.

Shafer was born in 1894 in Norfolk County. His father was a produce broker, and the family business went broke the year Shafer graduated from Norfolk Academy (1912). W.B. Shafer, Jr. went to work shipping produce. A few years later, he and his father jointly founded a firm that became one of Norfolk's most successful produce brokers. In his youth, Shafer served on several bank boards, financed farmers, and wrote books about finance and honesty. Although Shafer himself did not fight in World War I, he still did his part. He originated and financed "The Potato Publicity and Wheat League" which helped farmers and prevented a food shortage. After the war, Shafer originated the World War I Soldier Bonus and contributed $50,000 to the campaign between 1918 and 1936.

Shafer ran for Norfolk City Council in 1928, and claims the election was stolen from him. The experience disenchanted him from local politics. He ran for Congress in 1944 as an independent. He tried again for Norfolk City Council in 1966. Despite his disenfranchisement with politics, he was advisor to two presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge, as well as friend and supporter of many Congressmen.

Shafer was a big "booster" of the Norfolk and Southern economic booms. He spent over $100,000 in ads boosting the South. He also wrote books, booklets, flyers, and newsletters promoting Norfolk, Dallas, and the South to realtors, investors, governors, congressmen, and others. He advocated for the local bridge-tunnels, better highways, and the Dismal Swamp Canal to make Hampton Roads more accessible to businesses. His hard work and foresight brought businesses into Ward's Corner and Military Circle. He was also involved with the development of Fox Hall and Norview.

Shafer's other projects included a world peace plan to put a chaplain in each embassy to cultivate friendship, a prosperity plan to bring advertising money to the South, and a "religious reformation" movement. He directed his energy to oppose corruption in government and the Norfolk City Council, the Norfolk news monopoly, "hippy communism," and other things he thought were wrecking America.

Shafer was a prolific writer about his ideas. Besides newsletters, flyers, and correspondence, he wrote several books and booklets including: "How to Make a Fortune Honestly and Quickly," "Go South Young Man, Go South Where God Still Lives," "Success and Happiness," "3 Books that Made the South and 1000 Millionaires and 10 Billionaires," and "Washington and the New Economic South."

Despite frequent complaints about his health and age, Shafer lived to the ripe old age of 95. He passed away in 1990. True to his life, his tombstone promotes the ideals and causes he lived for.

Subject/Index Terms

Norfolk (Va.)--History--20th century
Norfolk (Va.)--Politics and government--20th century
Shafer, W. B.

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections and University Archives

Alternate Extent Statement: 9 Hollinger document cases and 1 oversize 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: W.B. Shafer

Acquisition Method: Gift. Accession #A82-1

Related Materials:

Oral Histories in the Perry Library: W. Bruce Shafer, Part 1

Oral Histories in the Perry Library: W. Bruce Shafer, Part 2

Related Publications:

3 books under one cover : second Yankee invasion of the South ...

Call #:  F209 .S532 1982

Investment success & happiness

Call #: F209.5.S53.G6

Go south, young man, go south where God still lives, and five other books : true economic history of the South from 1865-1999 A.D. (tells when the communistic-hippie movement will stop and the nation return to sanity)

Call #: F209.5 .S53

How to make a fortune quickly and honestly

Call #: HF5386 .S4185

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Box [insert number], Folder [insert number and title], W.B. Shafer, Jr. 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: Projects, Issues, and Causes],
[Series II: Philanthropy and Religious Charities],
[Series III: Correspondence],
[Series IV: Books, Essays, and Other Publications],
[Series V: Miscellaneous],
[Series VI: Artifacts],

Series I: Projects, Issues, and Causes
Sub-Series A: Norfolk Boom and Boosting
Box 1
Folder 1: Norfolk Boom Maps
Folder 2: Norfolk Investments Maps
Folder 3: Boom Flyers and Postcards
Folder 4: More Boom Promotion
Folder 5: Letters Requesting Boom Maps, 1959-1965
Folder 6: Dallas Boom
Folder 7: Boosting the South-Other Cities
Folder 8: More Literature on the Economic Boom in the South
Folder 9: Letters, Articles on Economic Success of the South
Folder 10: More Articles and Letters about the South
Folder 11: Newspaper Clippings: Norfolk Boom
Folder 12: Norfolk Booster Club
Folder 13: Booster Club-Resolutions
Folder 14: Virginia and Carolina Booster Club Directors
Folder 15: Military Circle
Folder 16: Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: Promotional Material
Folder 17: Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: Tunnel Articles and Letters I
Folder 18: Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: Tunnel Articles and Letters II
Folder 19: Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: Boom Flyers/Maps
Folder 20: Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel: Newspaper Clippings
Folder 21: Virginia Highways
Folder 22: Dismal Swamp
Folder 23: Dismal Swamp Industrial Canal Committee, Inc. I
Folder 24: Dismal Swamp Industrial Canal Committee, Inc. II
Sub-Series B: Real Estate and Investing
Box 2
Folder 1: Real Estate
Folder 2: Real Estate-Promotional Material
Folder 3: Real Estate-Correspondence, 1956-1970
Folder 4: Letters from Huckins Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1969
Folder 5: Real Estate Deeds and Contracts, 1959-1960, 1965, 1976
Folder 6: Webb-Shafer Contract, 1962
Folder 7: W.B. Shafer Purchase of Matilda Bell, 1947-1948
Folder 8: Purchase of Council, 1947
Folder 9: Sale of Property to Andrew Holding Corporation, 1956
Folder 10: Real Estate-Survey Maps
Folder 11: Greater Norfolk Investors
Folder 12: Virginia and Carolina Investors Corporation
Folder 13: Investment Corporations, Realty, Sales Companies
Folder 14: Tidewater Association of Home Builders
Folder 15: Railroad Companies
Folder 16: Steel Plant
Folder 17: Big Town and Other Shopping Centers
Folder 18: Virginia Real Estate Directory-Bulletin, April 1939 Licensed
Folder 19: Industrial Directory-TVDC, 1960-1961
Sub-Series C: Political Issues
Box 3
Folder 1: Potatoes and Produce
Folder 2: Shafer Peace Plan
Folder 3: Shafer Prosperity Plan
Folder 4: Peace Temple at Cape Henry
Folder 5: Religious Reformation
Folder 6: Engrossed House Concurrent Resolution No. 1004
Folder 7: Vietnam
Folder 8: 50 Million Dollar Bond Issue
Folder 9: Employment for War Veterans
Folder 10: Loyalty Celebration for Veterans in Congress
Folder 11: Veterans Appeal Board
Folder 12: V.F.W.
Folder 13: Preliminary Non-Partisan Veterans Committee
Folder 14: Increase in Gasoline Price
Folder 15: Abortion
Folder 16: Race Relations
Folder 17: Sex, Drugs, Communism in Schools
Folder 18: Hippy Communism
Folder 19: AFL-CIO/Unions
Folder 20: Cooperators for Constitutional Money
Folder 21: Norfolk News Monopoly
Folder 22: Tennessee Firm to Stop P.M. Paper, February 25, 1970
Folder 23: Norfolk Gardens
Folder 24: Art Museum at Military Circle
Folder 25: Letters to Editors, 1976-1978
Folder 26: Poll Tax, Water Plant, News Clippings
Folder 27: Newspaper Clippings
Sub-Series D: Politics
Box 3
Folder 28: Shafer for Norfolk City Council, 1966
Folder 29: Shafer on Democratic Ticket, 1944
Folder 30: Norfolk City Council
Folder 31: Norfolk City Council-Corruption
Folder 32: Norfolk Counties and Cities-All Cities in Virginia, 1956-1962, 1970-1971
Folder 33: Cities, Administration Department Letters: Out of State Cities, States, 1956-1965
Folder 34: Letters from Virginia Governor's Office, 1956-1976
Folder 35: Virginia Legislative Directory, 1977-1981
Folder 36: Letters From State of North Carolina, 1956-1964, 1976
Box 4
Folder 1: Letters from Executive Department and Head Officers, 1939-1977
Folder 2: Watergate
Folder 3: Newspaper Clippings: Watergate Scandal
Folder 4: Watergate, Mafia Involvement in the Government
Folder 5: 1976 Election
Folder 6: Resolution: 1976 Convention Republican Party Heading for Deadlock
Folder 7: Billion Dollar Bi-Partisan Mafia, 1977
Folder 8: The Reform that Wasn't, February 14, 1977
Folder 9: Support for Candidates, 1944, 1956, 1974, 1977
Folder 10: President Lyndon B. Johnson
Folder 11: President Richard Nixon
Folder 12: President Gerald Ford
Folder 13: President Jimmy Carter
Folder 14: India Warmth for Carter Kin, February 14, 1977
Folder 15: Ronald Reagan, 1980
Folder 16: Press Conference with Ronald Reagan, November 20, 1975
Folder 17: Letters from Congress of the United States Part I: 1950s
Folder 18: Letters from Congress of the United States Part II: 1960s
Folder 19: Letters from Congress of the United States Part III: 1970s
Folder 20: Letters from United States Senate Part I: 1950s
Folder 21: Letters from United States Senate Part II: 1960s-1970s
Folder 22: Victor Wickersham, 1965-1969
Folder 23: Lloyd Bentsen, 1975-1976
Folder 24: Senator A.J. Gronna Funeral, 1966
Folder 25: Senate, House, Governor Listings
Folder 26: Miscellaneous Political

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Projects, Issues, and Causes],
[Series II: Philanthropy and Religious Charities],
[Series III: Correspondence],
[Series IV: Books, Essays, and Other Publications],
[Series V: Miscellaneous],
[Series VI: Artifacts],

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