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William L. Odom Collection: Home


William L. Odom Collection

Biographical Information
Dr. William L. Odom was born in December 1934 in Richmond, Virginia. He received his bachelor’s degree from Hampden-Sydney College before getting his master’s degree (1959) and Ph.D. (1961) from University of Virginia. From 1961 to 1965, Dr. Odom taught ancient Greek at Randolph-Macon College before joining the ancient languages faculty at Hampden-Sydney College. After leaving Hampden-Sydney College in 1969, Dr. Odom spent six years at Keuka College in Keuka Park, New York, serving first as vice president, then dean, and finally acting president. In 1975, he was inaugurated at the 29th president of Bethel College in Tennessee. Dr. Odom retired from that position in 1991, then served as vice president of development of Habitat for Humanity International form 1991 to 1994, and then as Salvation Army director of development from 1994 to 2000.

During his time at Hampden-Sydney College, Dr. Odom and his wife, Carol, were involved in the civil rights movement in Prince Edward County. Specifically, when Hampden-Sydney College graduate, T. Burwell Robinson, Jr., was fired from his teaching position at Robert Russa Moton High School in Farmville, Virginia under questionable circumstances, Dr. Odom and others in the community rallied support for his cause. Accused of provoking unrest among his black students, Robinson’s firing precipitated a second student strike at the school, including a sit-in in the school’s auditorium, a march through downtown Farmville, and an occupation of the principal’s office.

This collection of materials, originally compiled by Dr. William and Carol Odom, came to the Greenwood Library Archives, via Susan Bagby, in summer 2000.

Scope and Content
Included in this collection, which dates from 1967 to 1969, is correspondence, documents, newspaper and magazine clippings, and photographs. The vast majority of these materials relate to the firing of Robert Russa Moton High School teacher T. Burwell Robinson but also include information regarding the Odom’s involvement in the Community Action Group Preschool Program and the Prince Edward School Advisory Committee.



There are no restrictions to access or use for research purposes.

Contents of the Collection

   Box 1 of 1: Correspondence & Newspaper Clippings

Hampden-Sydney Tiger, editorial by T. Burwell Robinson, February 10, 1967

correspondence: Dr. William L. Odom to Dr. Doswell, February 21, 1968

                       W. Lester Banks to Dr. William L. Odom, September 4, 1968

                       W. Lester Banks to W.T. Reveley, September 4, 1968 (Dr. Odom cc’d)

correspondence between T. Burwell Robinson and Superintendent Bryant H. Harper

                       April 15, 1969

                       May 5, 1969

                       May 14, 1969

                       May 16, 1969

                       May 17, 1969

                       May 24, 1969

correspondence, T. Burwell Robinson to Boyd Bosma, National Education Association, Coordinator for Civil Liberties, May 6, 1969

correspondence, Carol Odom from C.G. Gordon Moss, May 19, 1969

correspondence: Rev. L. Francis Griffin to Ray A. Moore, January 31, 1969 (Dr. Odom cc’d)

                  William L. Odom to Prince Edward School Advisory Committee, March 7, 1969

                  Rev. L. Francis Griffin to William L. Odom, March 9, 1969

                  Rev. L. Francis Griffin to William L. Odom, March 25, 1969

                  William L. Odom to School Patrons, Hampden District, Mercy Seat Church, March 27, 1969

Letters to the Editor of the Hampden-Sydney Tiger, April 23 and May 7, 1969

Prince Edward County School Advisory Committee, newsletter, October 12, 1968

Petitions to School Board, 1968

Response to Prince Edward County School Board, “Toward a Balanced Viewpoint” statement, undated

Re: Community Action Group Preschool Program, undated

Re: School Board and Electoral Board letter writing campaign, undated

Article, Look Magazine, “The Lost Years… ,” November 29, 1966

newspaper clippings, 1968:

            Washington Post, POTOMAC, “Back Where They Started.” March 24, 1968

            Farmville Herald, “School Board Starts Actions on Alternate School Building Plan.” July, 17, 1968

            Richmond News Leader, “NAACP Seeks to Register 100,000 Negro Voters.” September 3, 1968

            Farmville Herald, “School Patrons Select Education Advisory Group.” September 27, 1968

            Farmville Herald, “Presidential Candidates.” October 18, 1968

newspaper clippings, 1969:

            Richmond Times Dispatch, “Tuition-Aid Case Heard By U.S. Court.” January 24, 1969

            Farmville Herald, “Tuition Grant Case Under Review By Three Judge Court.” January 24, 1969

            unknown, “At Hearing – Poverty Agency Endorsed.” January 31, 1969

            unknown, “Segregation Assailed – Mississippi Grants to Schools Barred,” January 31, 1969

            Richmond Times Dispatch, “Darden Urges Virginia Plan for Funding Private Schools.” February 22, 1969

            unknown, “Virginia’s Public Schools.” February 26, 1969

            Farmville Herald, “Freedom and Quality.” February 28, 1969

            Farmville Herald, “Another Union Election.” March 14, 1969

            The Afro-American, “10 Years Later – No Catching Up…” March 22, 1969

            Richmond Times Dispatch, “Board Fires Teacher at Moton.” April 23, 1969

            The Tiger (Hampden-Sydney), “Profs Support Robinson” and “Dr. Moss Comments.” April 25, 1969

            The Virginian-Pilot, “Light in the Dark – Farmville’s Two Colleges.” April 28, 1969

            The Farmville Herald, “State to Name New Head.” May 2, 1969

            The Farmville Herald, “Reply to School Board Statement.” May 14, 1969

            The Virginian-Pilot, “Rehire Mr. Robinson – A Fresh Start in Farmville.” May 15, 1969.

            The Virginian-Pilot, “Heart - - and Horse Sense.” May 22, 1969

            Roanoke Times, “Dismissed Teach Called Scapegoat of Racial Problems in Prince Edward.” May 22, 1969

newspaper clipping, Farmville Herald, “States Rights Group Organize 4th District for Thurmond-Wright.” October 7, 1998 (reprint of October 8, 1948 article)

newspaper clippings, undated:

            unknown, “The Great Society.” undated

            unknown, “Classes for 5-Year Olds – Community Action Group Seeks Preschool Program Volunteers.” undated

            Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Prince Edward Declines to Reappoint School Chief.” undated


Located in Binder 15:

162.001 – photograph, 5”x3.5”, b&w, 1967, unidentified African-American school children doing biology project.

162.002 – photograph, 5”x3.5”, b&w, 1967, unidentified African-American school children and teachers at dinner table.

162.003 – photograph, 5”x3.5”, b&w, 1967, Mrs. Graves Thompson, music teacher.

162.004 – photograph, 3.5”x3.5”, color, 1967, unidentified African-American child painting.

162.005 – photograph, 3.5”x3.5”, color, 1967, unidentified African-American child painting.

162.006 – photograph, 3.5”x3.5”, color, 1967, Group of unidentified school children seated around table.

162.007 – photograph, 3.5”x3.5”, color, 1967, School children and teachers seated on floor.

162.008 – photograph, 7”x5”, b&w, undated, Group of unidentified school children.

162.009 – photograph, 7”x5”, b&w, undated, Group of unidentified school children.

162.010 – photograph, 4.75”x7”, b&w, undated, Teacher and school children crouching on floor.

162.011 – photograph, 5”x7”, b&w, undated, Teachers and school children playing.

162.012 – photograph, 5”x7”, b&w, undated, Teachers and schools children dancing.

162.013 – photograph, 5”x7”, b&w, undated, school children painting.

162.014 – photograph, 5”x7”, b&w, undated, school children playing dress-up.

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