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Special Notice- Change in Building Access

The building's inside door is now locked for security purposes. Please ring the bell to gain access.

VSU HistoryPin is Here!

4 April, 2012

The high volume of Freshmen Studies users gave me a bee in my bonnet about giving wider access to large groups of people. Being an archives, sometimes we do not have enough of the resource to go around at the exact moment someone needs it. With only one or two copies of some things, including print materials, I thought about ways to share information students are looking for.

HistoryPin seemed to be a good answer. It’s a website that allows you to upload photographs (that you have in your copyright. And lets you retain your copyright.) and “pin” them to a Google Map. You are also able to write a story blurb about the photograph. Also exciting is that it allows people who view the photographs to add their own stories.

Since all our freshmen visitors were searching for buildings on campus, I decided to take historic photographs of campus and campus buildings and pin them. Each has basic information– when was the building erected? What was it originally used for? Who was it named for?– the most basic information that the students are looking at.  At the very least, if the blurb doesn’t cover everything a student is looking for, it will provide the basic information for them to begin a more in-depth search.

With the building photographs, I created two “Collections”– one is of the historical buildings on campus, the second one is “Yesterday and Today” which will show buildings as they appeared through time- from the earliest photograph we have up to their current appearance.

Up next? The possibilities are endless. I plan on highlighting student activities, campus activities. There will be a “campus tour” using the buildings. It may take a little bit of time with everything else we have to do, but I hope it will become a useful tool for our students to learn about campus life at VSU in years past.

VSU Special Collections and University Archives | Historypin.


VSU Building Information

23 March, 2012

Eggleston Hall, 1927

Good afternoon Trojans!

We’ve had quite the stream of Freshmen Studies researchers in our reading room lately, looking up information on buildings around campus and learning about the history of VSU.

We love meeting you and helping you all learn more about our great university. A few things to help the Special Collections staff —

Most detailed information you will be looking for is not online, so you will probably have to come in to Special Collections. It will be helpful if you first search the internet for some key data that is available for many buildings on campus, such as date constructed, and the full name of the person it’s named for. When you come in already having this information, the staff is better able to help you get the right information quickly.

Helpful Links for You:

Davis Hall:

Residence Halls:

Sports Facilities:

When searching for your building of choice, it is helpful to search the terms “(Building you want), VSU” ex: Gandy Hall, VSU. It won’t always turn up results, but it filters out other Gandy Halls. Also remember that the most helpful website is not always the first one on the Google list. You may have to look at a few websites in the search results before finding what you’re looking for.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for online, try looking at the building itself. Most of the buildings on campus have a plaque or cornerstone with the date erected on it. With that little bit of information, we’ll be able to narrow down the documents you’ll need instantly.

Thanks for helping us out! We can’t wait to meet more of you!


21 February, 2012

Snow at VSC ca. 1930

It seems the groundhog was not wrong about 6 more weeks of winter. Just as hope had been given up for having a real winter, we got our first real snowfall of the season, with around 2-5 inches sticking to the ground. Alas, just a day later most of it is gone, except where piled high by plows and hidden from the sun by shadows.

Students play in the snow

Also unfortunate was that it wasn’t enough sticking to the ground to merit class cancellation, but it did create a delayed opening. Too bad there wasn’t enough to sled on or have snowball fights, with either.

Despite the disappointments the lack of heavy snow must have brought to many students, the soft white blanket that enveloped campus early Monday morning always brings an ethereal calm, and a smile to this intrepid archivist’s face.

Hayden Drive towards Trinkle Hall

Happy Winter to everyone!

Red Tails from VSU

1 February, 2012

Colonel Baugh with his plane

Have you been to see the movie Red Tails about the Tuskegee Airmen? Did you know that 5 of the pilots were graduates of Virginia State University, including Colonel Howard Baugh,  Captain Melvin Jackson, and Flight Officer Harry Winston?

Harry Winston in his flight uniform

We have books on and photographs of the Tuskegee Airmen here in Special Collections for you to use in your research for school or your own personal knowledge. Come by and see us soon!

Passing of a Great Voice

31 January, 2012
Camilla Williams Program

Program from Ms. Williams's performance at VSU

We remember VSU alumna Camilla Williams (1941), who passed away January 29 2012, as a great voice as well as a pioneer in the world of opera.

Ms. Williams was born into a musically-inclined family in Danville, Virginia in 1919, and came to Virginia State University (then College) to study. After teaching school for a few years after graduation, she earned a scholarship to study voice.  She was recognized for her talent by others in the opera world, and was the first African-American offered a contract with a major American opera company– the New York City Opera in 1946. Ms. Williams was also the first black person to sing with the Vienna State Opera, which she did in 1954.

Ms. Williams became known for her interpretations of Mahler and Puccini, particularly her turns in the role of Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly. She was also well known for her recording of the Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess in which she sang the role of Bess. It was the first full recording of the opera, and is still considered one of the best available. In addition to her great opera roles, Ms. Williams was an in-demand concert soloist, and performed with renowned orchestras around the world. Ms. Williams never forgot her Alma Mater, and despite her busy schedule, still found time to perform concerts at VSU’s Anderson-Turner Auditorium.

Camilla Williams's Senior Recital at VSU

Camilla Williams's Senior Recital at VSU

Aside from her career in opera, Ms. Williams was known for her dedication to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. She sang The Star Spangled Banner immediately before Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his I Have a Dream speech in Washington D.C., and she also gave concerts to raise money for jailed civil rights protesters in her hometown of Danville.

Camilla Williams retired from opera in the early 1970’s and became a voice teacher. She was the first African-American Professor of Voice at Indiana  University, and the first African-American instructor at Beijing’s Central Conservatory of Music. Ms. Williams was honored with many awards over her career, including the National Opera Association’s inaugural Lift Every Voice Award, and was profiled on PBS’s Great Performances   Aida’s Brothers and Sisters: Black Voices in Opera. VSU’s Williams Hall in the former Village was named in honor of Ms. Williams.

Ms. Williams’s dedication to her craft, her care for others, and her clear, soaring soprano voice will be remembered with affection at VSU, and around the world, for many years to come.

A change is a comin’

26 January, 2012

Some changes are coming to Special Collections and Archives at VSU. Starting in the near future, we will be locking the front door for security reasons. All visitors will be required to either call one of the staff members in the department (to be replaced by a buzzer hopefully) or to make an appointment beforehand to do research.

We realize this will be a bit of a departure from how things have operated in the past, but the change in access to the building will help to ensure the safety of the materials and the employees in the building.

Watch This Space…

4 January, 2012

Good News! But we can’t quite share it yet. We want to be absolutely sure of the wheels recently set in motion, and wait until it’s sitting safely on our shelves lest we jinx ourselves. But I will venture to say, an amazing opportunity is soon to come to VSU!