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Religion Collections in Libraries and Archives:
A Guide to Resources in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia

Table of Contents - Preface/Acknowledgements - Abbreviations
Lists of Entries: District of Columbia - Maryland - Virginia

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

Address: Hampton, VA 23668
Telephone Number: (804) 727-5374
Contact Persons: Jeanne Zeidler, Director of Museum and Archives; Donzella Maupin, Archives Assistant

Access Policies

Hours of Service:
Monday--Friday 8:00 a.m.--5:00 p.m.
Open to the public: Yes, appointment strongly encouraged
Photocopying:: Yes, with restrictions
Interlibrary loan: No

The materials are to be used primarily for non-profit scholarly research. All requests for use of materials must be submitted in writing for approval. Scholars and researchers who use manuscripts must present appropriate identification, and complete and sign an application for use of the collection. Photocopies and photographic reproductions of archival materials are provided for research needs only; these are done for a fee by University staff, at the discretion of the Museum and Archives Director.

A summary of access policies with a list of fees for photoduplication, entitled Regulations on the Use of Archival and Museum Holdings, is available. Prospective researchers are urged to contact the Archives for a copy of this publication and the necessary forms for use of the collection.

Reference Policy:
The Museum and Archives answers local, national, and international queries via mail, telephone, and on site. However, site visits are recommended for questions that require extensive research.
Borrowing Privileges:
Not a lending institution.
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 College chaplain, and students and staff of all denominations can become "watch care" members of the Church while associated with the College.
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Description of Collections

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, correspondence, and 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.

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.

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

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


Hampton Institute, Hampton, VA. Collis. P. Huntington Library. Dictionary Catalog of the George Foster Peabody Collection of Negro Literature and History. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Company, 1972.

Howe, Mentor A., and Roscoe E. Lewis, comp. Classified Catalog of the Negro Collection in the Collis P. Huntington Library of Hampton Institute. Hampton, VA: Hampton Institute, 1940.

Malval, Fritz. A Guide to the Archives of Hampton Institute. Bibliographies and Indexes in Afro-American and African Studies, No. 5. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1985.

Writers' Program of the Works Progress Administration in Virginia. The Negro in Virginia, Sponsored by the Hampton Institute. New York: Hastings House, 1940.

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  June 22, 2017
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