Special Collections of the ODU Libraries

Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation Records


Scope and Contents

Adminstrative Information

Detailed Description

Box 1

Box 2

Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation Records, 1945-1964 | Special Collections and University Archives

By Jan Halecki

Collection Overview

Title: Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation Records, 1945-1964

ID: 00/MG 54

Primary Creator: Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation (1945-)

Extent: 0.6 Linear Feet. More info below.

Date Acquired: 07/19/1982

Subjects: African Americans--Civil rights, Human Relations Council (Norfolk, Va.), Mason, Vivian Carter, Norfolk (Va.)--History--20th century, Norfolk (Va.)--Politics and government--20th century, Race relations--History--20th century, Racism--Prevention, School integration--Massive resistance movement, School integration--Virginia--Norfolk--History--20th century, Virginia--Politics and Goverment--1865-1950, Virginia--Politics and government--1951-, Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation (Norfolk, Va.), Women--Virginia--Social conditions

Languages: English


Founded in 1945 as an interracial organization designed to address concerns with education, health, and housing among the Afro-American community in Norfolk. Predecessor to the Norfolk Human Relations Council. Includes correspondence, newspapers clippings, minutes, reports, pamphlets, and membership lists. Bulk of the organization’s records are in the archives at Norfolk State University.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation (WCIC) was an organization of white and black women devoted to fostering racial harmony. The papers, dated 1951 to 1964, include the organization's constitution, minutes of meetings, correspondence, speeches, annual reports, member lists, booklets, pamphlets, programs, invitations, newspaper clippings and published articles. Of interest is a transcribed panel report titled, "How Norfolk Opened Her Schools," dated February 2, 1959 and Susan Slaughter's personal account of the "First Fifteen Years of WCIC." In addition, there is material relating to the inception and early history of the Human Relations Council, which superseded the WCIC.

Portions of the Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation Papers have been digitized and are available in the School Desegregation in Norfolk, Virginiacollection of the Old Dominion University Libraries Digital Collections.

Collection Historical Note

On April 17, 1945, eight black and eleven white women met in the vestry room of Ohef Sholom Temple in Norfolk. Mrs. W.T. Mason had invited these women in order to consider forming an interracial committee. All the women present were active in civic organizations, and came from different religious backgrounds.

At that first meeting it was decided that such an interracial group could indeed be beneficial to Norfolk. Furthermore, they decided that their organization should be autonomous - not affiliated with any other organization, but working in cooperation with them.

Mrs. Mason was appointed temporary chairman and the group held meetings in May, June, and September. The first two meetings were devoted to establishing a constitution and coming up with a name. By December, there were 86 members.

Early in 1946, the WCIC was becoming active in the public school system, and worked with the public libraries and the Boy Scouts to notify the public of their humanitarian goals. These goals were: to improve city facilities for education, recreation, employment, and health; improve interracial attitudes; to seek equality of opportunity for everyone; and to work towards full citizenship privileges for all

The WCIC implemented these goals by calling attention to the need for more blacks in civic occupations; worked with health organizations in providing testing for diseases and public health information; held public meetings and other activities with nationally known speakers to advance the ideas of integration; and met with city officials concerning proper housing for the poor. For the first two years the group met in different churches and kept their files and printed materials in the homes of its officers and chairmen. Finally the WCIC was able to get space for an office and meetings at the YWCA. This lasted for several years.

As stress in Norfolk over the desegregation of public schools reached a climax, the WCIC found itself pitted against many opponents of desegregation. It became more difficult to find meeting places open to such a group. Also, when they did find a place, they often could not advertise their meeting because of criticism and possible censure it would draw towards those who allowed such a meeting to take place at their establishment. Consequently, for a period of time, the WCIC worked more "behind the scenes" than in the public eye. However the effectiveness of the group endured and through their studies and reports of other cities with integrated school systems, the group helped Norfolk overcome the crisis in 1958 when the public high schools were shut down.

Subject/Index Terms

African Americans--Civil rights
Human Relations Council (Norfolk, Va.)
Mason, Vivian Carter
Norfolk (Va.)--History--20th century
Norfolk (Va.)--Politics and government--20th century
Race relations--History--20th century
School integration--Massive resistance movement
School integration--Virginia--Norfolk--History--20th century
Virginia--Politics and Goverment--1865-1950
Virginia--Politics and government--1951-
Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation (Norfolk, Va.)
Women--Virginia--Social conditions

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections and University Archives

Alternate Extent Statement: 1 Hollinger documents case

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: Mrs. H. M. Silverman, the President of the Organization from 1955 to 1957

Acquisition Method: Gift. Accession #A82-13

Related Materials:

Vivian Carter Mason Interviews (MG 53)

Edith R. White Papers (MG 109)

Preferred Citation: [Identification of item], Box [insert number], Folder [insert number and title], Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation Records, 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 Box:

[Box 1],
[Box 2],

Box 2
Folder 1: Newspaper Clippings, 1959 January 30-1959 February 21
Folder 2: Newspaper Clippings, undated
Folder 3: Norfolk Human Relations Council, 1964 September
Folder 4: Norfolk Story "How Norfolk Opened Her Schools,", 1954 February 2
Folder 5: Photographs, undated
Folder 6: Programs and Miscellaneous Events, undated
Folder 7: American Red Cross Certificate, 1939 March
Folder 8: Speeches, undated
Folder 9: YWCA Material, 1961 July 7

Browse by Box:

[Box 1],
[Box 2],

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