I remember about a decade ago watching commercials on television featuring live lions and always wondering whether I was seeing a commercial for ODU commercial or one for Food Lion. It’s not surprising given that both ODU and Food Lion have a lion as a mascot, and both used lions in their commercials at the time. So, I wasn’t entirely surprised a while back when I stumbled upon a 1986 article in the Mace and Crown that expressed concern and controversy over ODU’s then new logo and comparing it to Food Lion.
Back in 1986, ODU’s University Relations department figured it was time for a new University logo. With a new ODU President, Joseph Marchello, and ideas of a new era at ODU, a professional corporate design firm was sought out to create a “regal” logo for the University. ODU’s previous logo, sometimes known as the “racetrack” logo had been created in 1973 by Robert McCullough who was chairman of the ODU Art Department at the time. The 1986 logo was created by Glenn Monigle and Associates. The 1986 logo featured an Old English style lion like the kind you see on crests and shields. It was supposed to evoke a feeling of our connection with the College of William and Mary and “Old England.” New ODU colors were also instituted – a dark royal slate blue and silver. Before that time, ODU used a Columbia blue that wasn’t necessarily consistent across groups and departments on campus.
The new logo was voted in on October 16, 1986, by the ODU Board of Visitors. All was well and fine with the new logo except for one thing – neither the student body nor the faculty had been consulted about their opinions of the logo. Supposedly a few “respected” students and staff had been given the opportunity to share their opinions of the logo, but no one really seemed to know who they were or what made them more “respected” than everyone else. The Mace and Crown conducted an informal poll of readers that suggested the majority of students hated the new logo. The Faculty Senate unanimously voted that ODU’s Board of Visitors should reconsider their decision and include faculty and students in the process.
Criticisms of the new logo were many. Some thought the new logo looked just a little too much like the Food Lion logo. Others called it the “screaming chicken” logo. Many thought the logo should have been designed in house by the Art Department or by art students. Most felt that students, faculty, and staff had been left out of the decision-making process.
Despite objections, the new logo was here to stay. It remained ODU’s official logo until 2001 around the time when Roseann Runte became ODU’s seventh University President.
by Madeline Dietrich, Music Special Collections and Research Specialist
ODU Special Collections and University Archives is currently processing a collection of musical compositions from the mid-20th century known as the Archive of Virginia Composers. Back in 1975 a project was undertaken to collect the musical works of Virginia composers into a single repository for the purpose of promoting the work and preserving it. The idea was the brainchild of former ODU music major Fred Strong. He had been recording interviews with local composers to air on the radio and decided to donate these recordings to the Norfolk Public Library, where he met Audrey Hays, head of the Feldman Fine Arts and Audio-Visual Department. Between the two of them the idea of creating an archive of Virginia composers developed, and in 1976 funds were secured and the project proceeded.
According to an official statement, “The Archive of Virginia Composers was begun by a matching grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and Humanities and the Norfolk Public Library System for the purpose of accumulating biographical, historical, and musical information on all serious Virginia composers (living and deceased), so that we may act as a reference source to the public at large. By doing this, we hope to spur an abundance of interest toward their music which could result in more performances, commissions, etc., thereby making their livelihood more rewarding, and their value more substantial.” Strong adds, “The criteria used for selecting composers for inclusion in the archive is basically very simple. He or she must be a noted composer of serious music and must reside within the state.”
Undaunted by the prospect of collecting written and recorded music from every person in Virginia who considered themselves a composer of “serious” music, Strong and Hays began by compiling a list of composers gathered from colleges and universities, church ministries, and word of mouth. They then sent a questionnaire asking for information about where a person studied composition, who they studied with, where their music had been performed, and what their current occupations were. Out of over 100 questionnaires sent out, they received around 50 responses, though not all were accepted. One person wrote in saying, “I have composed a good many songs (words and music) …” to which Strong replied “The archive is open to include composers who write music of a serious caliber (symphonies, opera, concertos, etc.). I sensed from your letter, however, that your music may be in a somewhat different class.”
From those composers who passed muster Strong and Hays requested a list of items including biographical data, a recent photograph, and a list of compositions. They also requested copies of scores (sheet music) and recordings. The idea was to collect two of everything, one copy to secure in the archive and the other to circulate among library patrons wishing to check the materials out.
Not every composer was eager to participate. One such individual wrote, “From my vantage point…there is no desire to be ‘encased’ in the Norfolk Library System – if my compositional efforts are worthy, I have little doubt that it will be necessary to expend other energies to make them available to future generations – if they are not worthy, then they should be allowed their natural demise.” Regardless, most composers contacted willingly submitted materials.
Fred Strong’s interest in interviewing composers continued. Between 1976 and 1978 he drove across the state visiting composers and recording one to two hour interviews on cassette tape. Back at the library over 500 scores were collected and processed by Audrey Hays and her staff, along with more than 75 audio recordings. The effort culminated in a grand opening on Saturday, May 13, 1978, at the Kirn Memorial Library and a public concert performance of select compositions was held the next day at Norfolk’s Center Theater. In recognition of the event, Governor John Dalton declared the week of May 8-14 as Virginia Composers’ Week.
Following these events collecting efforts virtually ceased with no new material being added to the archive after 1979, though a backlog of previously collected materials continued to be processed into the early 1980s. Years later the archive was taken out of active circulation and placed in storage, where it remained until ODU SCUA agreed to take it in 2019.
In receiving the Archive of Virginia Composers from the Norfolk Public Library, SCUA inherited a musical time capsule from the 1970s. The archive as received was in unusable condition and needed to be rearranged and processed for use by today’s researchers. The work involves moving each item into a new storage container and recording the details into a database which will serve as the foundation for a searchable finding aid to be made available to users online.
While there is no doubt of the enthusiasm behind the original project and the tremendous amount of work that went into it, the archive ultimately fell short of the stated goal of collecting compositions and materials from “all serious Virginia composers (living and deceased).” In fact, the archive is limited to just 34 composers, though there is an extensive amount of material included for those represented, including of biographical information, taped interviews, audio recordings on vinyl discs, open reel and cassette tapes, copies of published works, original and photocopies of manuscripts (including sheet music), photographs, programs, newspapers, and magazine articles. Additionally the collection includes extensive correspondence relating to the history and development of the archive.
Most of the composers represented were unknown to the average Virginian in the late 1970s and remain so today except perhaps to those engaged in the narrow field of mid-20th century music composition. Nevertheless a few names stand out, including Tom Rice, F. Ludwig Diehn, Walter Ross, and Johan Franco.
The music itself consists of chamber works, major works for large ensembles, and sacred works (typically single-movement pieces intended for a church choir). Of these, the majority are representative of conventional styles, with some dating back to the 1930s. Perhaps of more interest to the scholar are the many examples of works featuring exploratory compositional techniques of the 1970s. By preserving this music, at this time, is to take a collection of genuinely obscure music from the mid-20th century and bring it to the attention of current researchers.
But what would it take for this music to be heard again? To perform it live, a person organizing the concert would need to secure performance rights from the publisher (or the entity who holds the rights to a given work). Then they’d need to arrange for a venue and hire the necessary musicians. Only the conductor’s score is available for most of the works in the collection so if individual parts are needed, they would have to be acquired elsewhere. If live performance is not feasible, there are recordings in the collection representing ten to fifteen percent of the works in the archive, but for widespread listening to be possible steps to preserve the audio recordings would need to be taken which involve digitizing the recorded content and making those audio files available online. The decision to take such steps would be based on projected demand for the content, something that ultimately will require demonstrated interest on the part of the public and of researchers. Suffice to say that for this music to be heard again a considerable expenditure of time and funds will be required. For now, our job in SCUA is to store the materials in a safe environment and make their existence known to the public. From there it is up to interested parties to make the music come alive once more.
by Lara Canner, Allan Blank Curator of Music Special Collections
To celebrate the accomplishments and contributions made by Black composers to classical music, we are focusing on the artists that fill our collections. Today’s focus is on Dr. Harvey J. Stokes: Composer, musician, professor, and author.
As a composer, Dr. Stokes is classified as neoclassical or polyphony (from Greek, meaning “many sounds”). His compositions are layered, lines of different melodies played concurrently creating a musical storytelling affect. To date, Dr. Stokes has written roughly seventy pieces including symphonies, ensemble works, and piano sonatas. Which have played nationally and internationally, most recently at the Virginia Beach Museum of Contemporary Art performed by Symphonicity Orchestra.
Stokes himself notes that composers need to understand how all the pieces of the orchestra work together and sound individually. He is a talented oboist, having played with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, Norfolk Chamber Consort, the Tidewater Winds, and the Symphonicity Orchestra.
Dr. Stokes has been a faculty member at Hampton University since 1990, he is the founder of their Computer Music Laboratory and has received the Edward L. Hamm Sr. Distinguished Teaching Award in 2017. His lessons and musical influence is felt throughout the Hampton Roads music scene.
Building on his teaching calling, Dr. Stokes has written A Selected Annotated Bibliography on Italian Serial Composers and Compositional Language in the Oratorio the Second Act: The Composer as Analyst. He also a member of the Educational Policy Improvement Center for Hampton University’s Music program and is on the National Council of the Society of Composers. Dr. Stokes former appointments as President of the Southeastern Composers League and consulted for the North Carolina Arts Council.
Interested in learning more about Dr. Harvey J. Stokes? Watch this episode (hyperlink: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbIIr5jkhQE) of WHRO’s Curate 757. His work can be purchased through Ars Nova Music Press, Centaur Records, Albany Records, and Harkie Music.
While filling out a recent research request in the archives, I noticed a box in the stacks that read “ODU Time Capsule.” Being an inquisitive (“nosy”) archivist, I decided to take a look and see what was inside. Up to this point, I hadn’t heard of any active time capsules on campus. The box was a part of a recent transfer from the office of the Vice President for Administration and Finance, which oversees the grounds and landscaping on campus. In the box were a few early histories of the William & Mary Norfolk Division, the predecessor to Old Dominion University (ODU), and a copper tube with one of the ends open.
Inside the tube were old publications, news clippings, artifacts, and other material related to the Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers, which operated in Norfolk from the 1890s to the 1970s. The home was last located in the Larchmont area of Norfolk overlooking the Lafayette River. The home’s mission was to aid unmarried women during their pregnancies. One might ask “How did a time capsule with material from the Florence Crittenton Home come to ODU?” It may be a surprise to some people, but ODU and the Florence Crittenton Home have had a relationship going back 45 years. In 1977, the house and the records of the Florence Crittenton Home were given to ODU, with the records being house in Special Collections and University Archives. From the 1970s to the early 2000s, the Florence Crittenton Home was the location for ODU’s Center for Coastal Oceanography (CCPO) before the facility was torn down to make room for new housing. One would suspect that the time capsule was found during the demolition of the building and given to the Vice President for Administration and Finance office.
As to the time capsule itself, it appears to have been placed during the cornerstone laying ceremony on October 15, 1949. Included in the time capsule are a copy of the cornerstone laying program and the charter of Florence Crittenton Home; clippings from local newspapers about the groundbreaking ceremony and the new facility; manuals from the local Masonic Lodge; a brief history of the home; a travel edition of the New Testament Psalms and Proverbs; samples of dirt from the area; and two coins, one a quarter from 1948, and the other is a half dollar commemorating the 250th anniversary of Norfolk from 1936. Since the time capsule is important to the history of the Florence Crittenton Home, it will fit better to be a part of the home’s records.
Perusing through October and November issues of the Mace and Crown, I found the usual stories about Halloween parties and dances, reviews of horror movies released around Halloween, articles highlighting the “in” Halloween costumes for the year, promotions for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, an occasional article on the supernatural, and a few articles about the annual ODU pumpkin drop. Among those were a trio of truly suspenseful Halloween headlines about harrowing happenings at ODU.
On Halloween day in 1994, an ODU student tackled “an alleged larcenist” outside the ODU Library. Apparently, Norfolk police were attempting to apprehend the larcenist outside of the Mills Godwin Building when the suspect fled. An ODU student named Snapper Arnquist, who was sitting in front of the library when things went down, saw the suspect running. Arnquist quickly threw down his bookbag, dived over a small outdoor wall, and wrestled the suspect to the ground. The police were then able to arrest the suspect.
In 1995, three ODU fraternities where caught – apparently “orange-handed” – “committing a pumpkin heist.” Members of Delta Sigma Phi, Lambda Chi Alpha, and Pi Kappa Alpha were caught stealing pumpkins and Halloween decorations from the Larchmont neighborhood adjoining campus. As punishment, the guilty members had to do 230 hours of community service, pay for the stolen items, apologize to the children in the neighborhood, and most punishing of all — throw them a party.
The last story is less of a crime and more about crushed dreams. The October 29, 2003, article titled “’Great Pumpkin’ goes bye-bye” relates the story of two ODU students with hopes of adventures on a 26-foot sailboat called “The Great Pumpkin.” The students, Matt Cornelison and Robert Munson, acquired the 40-year-old boat for free through a newspaper ad. They had the boat transported from the previous owner’s back yard to a boat storage facility where they could fix it up. A few weeks later, they discovered a small crack in the hull. As time went on, the crack got larger and larger until they could see into the cabin from outside the boat. Unable to afford to fix boat, Cornelison did what he “had to do.” He had the boat demolished with a bulldozer “until there was nothing left of it.” Such is the tragic demise of “The Great Pumpkin” and the sailing dreams of two ODU students.
by Lara Canner, Allan Blank Curator of Music Special Collections
Composer Allan Blank wrote the moving work entitled “Poems From the Holocaust” based upon children’s poetry found at the concentration camp of Terezin after itshttps://flic.kr/p/2mAdcdz liberation in 1945. The composition for mezzo-soprano, double bass, and piano features five pieces that were written to evoke an emotional response from the audience.
During World War II, the Third Reich turned the Terezin fortress located in the modern Czech Republic, into a concentration camp for Jewish writers, artists, and scholars. More comparable to a prison than an extermination camp, such as the Auschwitz concentration camp, the Nazis falsely presented the camp to the rest of the world as a “spa town” when pressed for details by the Red Cross. The reality was that Terezin acted as a collection point for transferring people to ghettos or death camps. Art classes were forbidden, but artist and educator Friedl Dicker-Brandeis brought the children together in secret, where they could create, learn, express their emotions, and hopefully regain a bit of their lost childhood. After the war, many of the writings, artwork and poems were collected by Hana Volavková, who was an art historian and Holocaust survivor.
Allan Blank included the first lines of one of the poems in his composition At Terezin, which reads: “When a new child comes everything seems strange to him. What on this ground I have to lie? Eat black potatoes? No! Not I! I’ve got to stay?” The last lines of At Terezin read: “Here in Terezin, life is hell. And when I’ll go home again I can’t yet tell.” Sadly it is possible that the young writer of this poem most likely never made it back home, of the 15,000 children imprisoned at Terezin, only 150 survived.
On October 20th at 7pm Old Dominion Libraries will host a performance of Allan Blank’s work “Poems From the Holocaust” followed by a panel discussion. The event support’s ODU’s Fall 2021 Themester’s Art and Social Justice theme by prompting listeners to never forget the tragedy of the Holocaust’s youngest victims through music.
From summer 2017 to December 2019, I worked on the digitized news reel collection from local television station WTAR (now WTKR). During this time, I viewed and edited footage, as well as entering metadata to describe these digitized news reels and clips dating from the 1940s-1980s. A good portion of these digitized reels had no audio to accompany them. In order to create a more detailed narrative for these silent stories, I had to find the “who, what, and where” regarding them. In order to do this, I entered or “Googled” street names, names of places, and even names of people if featured. I even looked in the city directories located in the third-floor stacks, to find information. In some cases, I came up empty handed. In others, I found a trove of information, some it very interesting and fascinating. I have one example of a silent digitized clip in which I did some sleuthing and entered, or should I say “Googled” a name found on a residential mailbox and was very surprised to find who this person was.
Here is the back story-somewhere in 2018, I first viewed a brief 45 second clip that was filmed in December of 1960, in which I saw a group of men paying a visit to a suburban ranch house where the family of P. A. Jensen, Jr. resided (the family’s name is on a mailbox). Opening the door, is presumably Mrs. P. A. Jensen, Jr., who is all smiles. The visitors come with a holiday present for Mrs. Jensen, she even poses for a picture with the visitors whose identities are unknown. I needed a better description than “footage of Mrs. P. A. Jensen, Jr. receiving a holiday gift from unidentified visitors,” so I decided to do some sleuthing. At first, I went out in the third-floor stacks area to look at the Hampton Roads city directories, to find out the full name of P. A. Jensen, Jr. and possibly his wife, as well as where he lived. From looking at the 1959 and 1960 Norfolk city directories, I found the full name for P. A. Jensen, Jr., which was Pierce A. Jensen, Jr., who lived in the Princess Anne County area, now Virginia Beach, Virginia. Next, I returned to my workstation and typed in (Googled) “Mrs. Pierce A. Jensen, Jr.” and I was very surprised to find the results-very surprised. It turns out that Mrs. Pierce A. Jensen, Jr. was Patricia Priest Jensen, who is a very famous and well-known person. She was the daughter of Ivy Baker Priest who was Treasurer of the United States from 1953-1961. Patricia was the first International Azalea Festival Queen (crowned in 1954), but she was better known for her role as Marilyn Munster on the cult comedy television show “The Munsters.”
In 1955, Patricia Priest married Naval officer Mr. Pierce A. Jensen, Jr. and resided in the Bayside area of Princess Anne County, until 1962 when her husband was transferred to California. It was there that she gave acting a try, using the name of Pat Priest. After several small roles on television and a few commercials, she got the part of Marilyn Munster, the teenage niece in a family of monsters. She was the second actress to play Marilyn, replacing Beverly Owen, and starred on the series from 1964-1966. After the “The Munsters,” Priest continued to appear on television and film into the late 1960s and 1970s, including “Easy Come, Easy Go” with Elvis Presley, but she retired from acting in the 1980s and currently resides in Idaho.
One of the most memorable collections I’ve worked on since I’ve worked in ODU Special Collections has to be the George Conoly Phillips Papers. It was one of my early collections and may have even been the very first archival collection I ever organized.
Conoly Phillips was extremely active in politics, religion, and civic organizations in Norfolk, the Tidewater region, and Virginia, but in my opinion, those aren’t the most interesting parts of his collection. To me the most interesting parts of his collection relate to Conoly Phillips’ car dealership.
In 1956, Conoly and his brother Tench opened the Phillips Brothers Automoville used car dealership in Norfolk. The following year they entered into an agreement with Ford Motor Company to sell imported Ford vehicles. By 1960, the brothers had also acquired a franchise with Rambler and formed “Phillips Brothers Rambler.” After much business success, Tench negotiated with the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors to open an Oldsmobile franchise in Norfolk. The franchise was awarded under the condition that Tench divest of his interests in Phillips Brothers Rambler, and his separate Oldsmobile franchise was begun in early 1965. For his part, Conoly moved on from the Rambler business and became an authorized dealer for Ford Lincoln’s and Mercury’s in 1967. The dealership initially held the name “Tench Brother’s Lincoln-Mercury.” By the 1970s, the business became known as “Conoly Phillips Lincoln-Mercury.” Conoly retired from the daily management of the business in 1999. At that time, his company merged with Freedom Automotive, and Conoly Phillips remained a partner in the company.
The materials in Conoly Phillips papers relating to the car dealership include contracts, financial statements, correspondence, board minutes, policy and procedure manuals, and a host of other business materials. They also contain advertising and marketing materials, artifacts, and scrapbooks from the dealership.
Among the marketing and advertising materials are newspaper advertisements; yellow pages ads; press releases; and scripts for radio and television commercials. Phillips also took part in promotional events such as the 1972 Mid-Atlantic Auto Show at the Norfolk Scope. The collection contains information on several models of cars including the Rambler, Capri, Cougar, Fiat, Daimler, Lincoln, and Mercury. There’s even a children’s coloring book with pictures of 1969 Ford car models to color in.
Artifacts include Phillips Brothers emblems and stickers, some promotional pens for the business, an auto show emblem, aerial photos of the Lincoln-Mercury dealership, a license plate, and a set of Phillips-Lincoln Mercury keys.
Scrapbooks feature newspaper clippings about the dealership, advertisements, an overview of the business for the 1964 Rambler Retailer of the Year contest, and a plan for a Women’s Automotive Resource Center.
Conoly Phillips graduated Maury High School in Norfolk with honors in 1949 and received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Georgia in 1953. He also served for two years as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. Later, Phillips earned his MBA from Old Dominion University in 1976. Conoly married Charlotte Baird Ferebee and the two had three children together.
Conoly was involved in a number of civic and community organizations for business, personal, religious, and philanthropic reasons. These included the Better Business Bureau, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, the Norfolk Symphony, the Norfolk Rotary Club, the United Community Fund, the Union Mission, the United Drug Abuse Council, and many others.
Phillips was a religious person belonging to First Presbyterian Churches in Norfolk. Phillips served on the Norfolk City Council from 1976 to 1980 and was reelected to the Norfolk City Council in 1986. In 1978, he ran unsuccessfully for a U.S. Senate seat.
George Conoly Phillips passed away, April 22, 2020, at the age of 88.
Collection Guide for the George Conoly Phillips Papers: https://archivesguides.lib.odu.edu/repositories/5/resources/307.
Phillips Brothers Automoville, 1st Military Highway location at corner of Johnston Road, 1961 (MG 15, Box 33, Folder 8)
1971 Billboard. “A very simple business” was the dealership’s advertising slogan in the early 1970s. (MG 15, Box 1, Folder 4)
Phillip Bros Cougar Girl Coloring Book from the early 1970s. (MG 15, Box 1, Folder 1)
By Lara Canner, Curator of Music Special Collections
As Taylor Swift once sang “I think he did it but I just can’t prove it…”, true crime and music go hand in hand. There are hundreds of ballads based off horrific crimes: Nirvana’s “Polly”, the Smiths “Suffer Little Children” and Sarah McLachlan’s “Possession”, to name a few. Music invites passion, heartbreak, darkness, and yearning. It is no wonder that musicians have found a font of inspiration from terrible crimes and their instigators. Yet, not only has music immortalized tales of the horrific, but musicians are also the victims of true crime stories and the initiators.
True crime storytelling is having a cultural moment, but where do you think the researchers for the multitude of podcasts, books, and documentaries have gotten their information? Enter archives: the keepers of knowledge. Special Collections and archives are responsible for preserving and making accessible historic record, ranging from newspapers, court documents, organizational records, oral histories, and even films from television stations. Without an archive there would not be documentation for amateur investigators to pour over, map and theorize. There are so many in fact that archivists from the University of North Texas created an entire series called “True Crime in the Archives.”
If you are searching for your music true crime fix (featuring archives!), here is a list of podcasts, books, and documentaries to checkout.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning by Jonathan Mahler
BMF: The Rise and Fall of Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family by Mara Shalhoup
Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Søderlind
Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business by Fredric Dannen
Notorious C.O.P.: The Inside Story of the Tupac, Biggie, and Jam Master Jay Investigations from NYPD’s First ‘Hip-Hop Cop’ by Derrick Parker and Matt Diehl
CrimeSong: True Crime Stories From Southern Murder Ballads by Richard H. Underwood
Unprepared To Die: America’s Greatest Murder Ballads And The True Crime Stories That Inspired Them by Paul Slade
Party Monster: A Fabulous But True Tale of Murder in Clubland by James St. James
Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
The Axeman of New Orleans: The True Story by Miriam C. Davis
The New York Times Presents: Framing Britney Spears on Hulu
FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened on Netflix
I Called Him Morgan on Netflix
Surviving R. Kelly on Netflix
ReMastered: The Two Killings of Sam Cooke on Netflix
Music can inspire intense feelings causing us to cry, sigh, and dance for joy. Intense feelings can inspire music creating songs of sadness, love, and hope. Archives that specialize in music are filled with songs of terrible heartache and stories yet unsung. Even Old Dominion University Special Collections holds secrets too if you are willing to look.
In December 1977, the Norfolk Unitarian-Universalist Gay Caucus (UUGC) undertook what may have been the first survey of the LGBT community in Hampton Roads. The survey was not intended to be a complete profile of the local gay community as those surveyed tended to be either bar goers or those active in the local Gay and Lesbian community. Questions pertaining to the local Trans community were virtually non-existent. Surveys were distributed in local gay bars including the Cue, the Nickelodeon, the Late Show, the Ritz, and at UUGC meetings. The results of the survey were released in the January, February, March, and April 1978 issues of Our Own Community Press. The January issue gave an overview of results. The February issue featured the results as they pertained to women / Lesbians who took the survey. The March issue shared results pertaining to gay and bisexual men. The April issue highlighted comments made by survey respondents.
According to the February 1978 issue of Our Own, “The typical woman who filled out one of the UUGC questionnaires… is between 18 and 24 years old, lives in Norfolk, is registered to vote, Protestant, makes between $5-10,000, rents, has some college education, considers herself exclusively gay, attends a gay bar once a week, and always feels good about her sexuality.” A total of 86 women responded to the survey.
Older women were not well represented in the survey. 69% of the women surveyed were under the age of 24, and an additional 29% were between the ages of 25 and 34. Only 2% of the women were over the age of 34. Half of these respondents were from Norfolk, and the rest were from other cities in Hampton Roads with ten respondents from outside the area. Two thirds of these women were registered to vote. Political affiliation was not reported, but religious affiliation was. Nearly half of the respondents identified as Protestant. Nearly a third were Catholic. A smaller number identified as Jewish, not religious, or other (including two who identified as witches). 48% of respondents had an annual income between $5,000-10,000, 29% had an income less than $5,000 a year. Very few respondents made over $15,000 a year. Only 14% of these women owned their own home; 68% rented, and 18% lived with parents, with a lover, or had other living arrangements. Only 14% of these women had college degrees, 43% had completed some college, 35% had only graduated high school. A very few women had advanced degrees or had not completed high school at all. The highest number of these women (20%) worked in service and blue-collar industries. 17.5% of respondents were students and another 17.5% worked in government jobs. Other jobs included healthcare, education, management, clerical jobs, merchandising, and artists. Very few women surveyed were lawyers, journalists, engineers, or housewives. 8% of those women surveyed were unemployed.
Of the women surveyed, 8% claimed to be exclusively heterosexual, 44% considered themselves exclusively homosexual, and others claimed varying degrees of bisexuality. Most of these women (84%) always or usually felt good about their sexuality. 14% had mixed feelings about their sexuality, and only one woman usually felt bad about her sexuality. No one claimed to always feel bad about their sexuality. 36% of the women surveyed went to gay bars once a week, 28% went to bars only once a month, and 25% went to gay bars more than once week. Only 22% of these women belonged to gay organizations, while 28% belonged to social groups; 20% to professional groups; 15% to political groups; 38% to special interest groups; and 13% to religious groups. 26% of the women surveyed did not belong to any organization at all.
Popular LGBT publications among women were Our Own Community Press, The Advocate, Gay Blade, and Gay Community News. Only a small number read Lesbian publications such as Lesbian Connection or Lesbian Tide.
A total of 440 men answered the survey. This was over five times the response rate for women. The typical profile for men answering the survey was very similar to that of the women. The typical man answering the survey lived in Norfolk, was between the ages of 18 and 24, was registered to vote, rented their housing, had some college education, was Protestant, had an annual income of $5,000-10,000, considered themselves exclusively gay, and always felt good about their sexuality.
While the “typical” snapshot of respondents was similar, actual percentages varied and there were some differences between the men and women surveyed. The typical male (49.2%) went to gay bars more than once a week whereas the largest number of women (36%) only went to bars once a week. There was a larger number of men than women over the age of 24 who responded to the survey. There were more men over the age of 35 and even some over the age of 50. Men were less likely to have a religious affiliation at all, or if they did – to have a non-Christian affiliation (Jewish, Humanist, Buddhist, Moslem, B’ai H’ai, etc.). Twice as many men than women had completed college, and men generally had higher incomes. Women were slightly more likely be registered voters. Men were more likely to consider themselves “exclusively” homosexual than women, but women tended to overall to feel better about their sexuality. Men were more likely to belong to a gay organization or conversely to no organization at all than were women.
As for men’s statistics, 51.5% of men lived in Norfolk. 34.5% lived in other Hampton Roads cities. The remainder came from other places in Virginia, Washington DC, or from out of state. 54% of men were aged 18-24; 34% were 25-34; 9% were 35-49; and 1.5% were over age 50. 45% of male respondents identified as Protestant; 25.5% as Catholic; 15.0% as none; 7.0% as other; and 4.5% as Jewish. The highest percentages of men worked in either government or service jobs (16.2% and 16.4% respectively). Other higher percentage occupations included students (9.7%); management (7.7%); healthcare (7.4%); merchandising (7.4%); and other professionals (7.0%). Only 4.9% of men surveyed were unemployed. 65% of male respondents were registered to vote. 37% of those men surveyed had annual incomes between $5,000-10,000; 23.3% had annual incomes of $10,000-15,000; 17% had incomes over $15,000; and 20% had incomes under $5,000. 29.8 percent of the men surveyed had college degrees; 35.6% had some college; 27.8% had only graduated high school; and 5.9% did not have a high school diploma. 52.5% of men rented their housing; 21.0% owned their own home; and 23.5% had other living arrangements.
Of the men surveyed, 43.6% identified exclusively homosexual; 1.6% claimed to be exclusively heterosexual; and the rest claimed varying degrees of bisexuality. 79.6% of the men always or usually felt good about their sexuality; 18.7% felt both good and bad about their sexuality; and only 1.1% usually or always felt bad about their sexuality. Nearly half the men surveyed (49.2%) visited gay bars more than once a week; 25.5% visited gay bars weekly; 18.2% visited gay bars once a month or less; and of these only .7% never visited gay bars. 26% of the men surveyed belonged to gay organizations; 37.3% belonged to no organizations at all. Men also took part in professional organizations (27.3%), social organizations (26.2%), political organizations (14.1%), religious organizations (18.0%), and special interest groups (24.4%).
Popular publications among men included Our Own Community Press, The Advocate, In Touch, Gay Blade, Blueboy, Cruise, Gay Community News, Christopher Street, Gay Times, Eagle, GPU News, Drummer, Mandate, Playgirl, and After Dark.
While the demographics created a snapshot of LGBT bar goers and those active in the local LGBT community in 1977, the most revealing and sometimes entertaining portion of the survey were open-ended responses to the questions “What do you see as the greatest need of the lesbian/gay community of Tidewater?” Overall themes to these questions included the need for unity and a sense of gay community; gay and straight education on gay issues; politics and legislation for gay rights; acceptance and understanding; more and better bars; and social outlets other than the bars.
Comments included practical suggestions for the community – a Lesbian bar, live gay/lesbian music events, a gay military organization, a gay bookstore, a gay business association, an organization for aging gay men, a gay community center, and a gay church. All of these things have come to pass in Hampton Roads (at least at some point) since the 1977 survey. Some comments were idealistic like this one. “For them to learn to live together. To be friends no matter what color the person’s skin might be or what sex the person might be. To be openminded with everything, because being gay is hard enough without fighting each other.” Other idealistic responses included developing a unified gay/lesbian political philosophy, or ending division and labels within the community. Some comments focused on educating the public on gay/lesbian issues, helping gay and lesbian folks to feel better about themselves, and helping folks come out of the closet. There were also a few colorful comments by folks who obviously weren’t comfortable with segments of the gay/lesbian community at the time. “The flaunting of homosexuality is the major problem. The super “fags’ and ‘butch’ are what gives the rest of us bad names.” Another respondent suggested, “More Gay Bars!… Make anyone over 40 stay out! And have a special bar just for trolls.”
Since 1977, hopefully at least some things have changed for the better in the Hampton Roads LGBT community. Gay bookstores have come and gone, as have Lesbian bars. LGBT military organizations have formed, especially at the height of the gay military ban and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” We have an organization for aging Gay men, an LGBT business organization, and an LGBT community center. There’s an LGBT church, and even room at the annual Pride month Interfaith event for non-Christians and LGBT folks involved in non-traditional religions such as Wicca and Paganism. We have an LGBT Pride organization, an annual Pridefest, a Pride Boat Parade, and even a whole month of local Pride events. While not well represented in the 1977 survey, we now have organizations and events for Trans folks in our community too.
While we may have lost some things this past year or more due to Covid, this Pride month consider all that we have gained and learned since the early days of the Hampton Roads LGBT community. What will the Hampton Roads LGBT community be like 44 years from now?