The Resource Delphine Hurst Parsons papers

Delphine Hurst Parsons papers

Delphine Hurst Parsons papers, 1923-1976 (bulk 1923-1931)
Delphine Hurst Parsons papers
Inclusive dates
1923-1976 (bulk 1923-1931)
Title variation
Parsons, Delphine Hurst papers
Materials include correspondence, paper ephemera, scrapbooks, yearbooks, and memorabilia of Delphine Hurst Parsons from her time as a student at Maury High School in Norfolk, Virginia and at the State Teachers College (STC) at Harrisonburg, with one vinyl record of the Madison College Choir Concert of 1966, and a single photograph from the 1976 reunion of STC students. This collection also contains three yearbooks owned by Nellie Cowan Williams, a close friend and STC classmate of Delphine Parsons, and four yearbooks belonging to Hurst
Member of
Biographical or historical data
Delphine Hurst Parsons was born Ida Delphine Hurst on February 21, 1910 to Bayard T. and Ida. L. Hurst of Norfolk, Virginia. Delphine attended Maury High School in Norfolk, graduating in 1928. In the same year, Hurst enrolled at the State Teachers College (later James Madison University) in Harrisonburg, Virginia. In addition to studying elementary education, Hurst participated in numerous extracurricular activities such as the university Bluestone Cotillion Club, Glee Club, Student Government, Lee Literary Society, and Debate Club. The financial constraints brought about by the Great Depression forced Hurst to return to Norfolk during what would have been her junior year at STC. Having already earned her two-year "normal degree," Hurst spent the year in Norfolk teaching fourth grade, taking courses through the College of William & Mary's extension program in Norfolk, and attending summer school at STC. By 1930, Hurst had earned enough money to return to STC and complete her bachelor's degree on time in the spring of 1931. Hurst was elected to serve as president of her sophomore class and, in spite of her absence, was reelected to the presidency of the senior class in 1931. The 1931 STC yearbook, Schoolma'am, lists Hurst as one of the "Most Intellectual" students of her graduating class. Upon completing her degree in 1931, Hurst returned to Norfolk where she worked as an itinerant music teacher, traveling by streetcar between city schools. She married James Edward Parsons (January 16, 1912 - December 10, 1986), also of Norfolk, in April of 1941. Following the birth of their daughter in 1949, Delphine temporarily left teaching, but she made a return in 1958 as a teacher of history and English at Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia. Hurst continued working at Hargrave until her retirement in 1975. Just as it had been at STC, Delphine's spare time was filled with music. She directed the Hargrave glee club, several church choirs, and she often played as a piano accompanist in Chatham. Delphine passed away on December 14, 2001 and was buried alongside her husband in Hillcrest Memorial Park in Chatham, Virginia. She is remembered by her daughter Elizabeth Harper as a lover of music as well as travel and history. Nellie Morgan Cowan Williams was the closest, lifelong friend of Delphine Hurst Parsons. Nellie was born in Norfolk, Virginia on November 2, 1908 to William J. and Mattie M. Cowan. Cowan and Hurst attended Maury High School and, later, the State Teachers College in Harrisonburg together, both completing their degrees in 1931. The two women shared a love of music, and Nellie in particular was known for her extraordinary singing voice. While enrolled at STC, Cowan was a member of music organizations such as the Aeolian Club, Choral Club, Glee Club, as well as the Y.W.C.A, Lee Literary Society and Cotillion Club. Nellie returned to Norfolk, and later Virginia Beach, where she taught upper elementary school. Nellie wed Frank Taylor Williams in the 1960s. At the wedding, Delphine stood as Nellie's maid of honor just as Nellie had done for her so many years before. The marriage was cut short by the untimely death of Frank Williams in June 1966. Nellie passed away on April 10, 1998 and is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Norfolk.
Cataloging source
Series statement
JMU Alum papers
Delphine Hurst Parsons papers
Carrier category
Carrier category code
Carrier MARC source
Content category
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Content type MARC source
Control code
2 Hollinger boxes, 1 half-size Hollinger box, 3 oversize boxes; 2.47 cubic feet.
Governing access note
Collection is open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection
Immediate source of acquisition
Elizabeth Harper, Parsons' daughter, donated this collection to the James Madison University Special Collections Library in May 2013.
Media category
Media MARC source
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Organization method
This collection contains one legal size half-Hollinger box containing folders which are arranged topically. Items within each folder are arranged chronologically when possible. Oversize items, such as newspapers and the phonograph record, are housed in a separate oversize flat box. The collection is arranged in four series: Series 1: Letters and Memorabilia, 1927-1976, undated; Series 2: Scrapbooks, 1923-1931; Series 3: Yearbooks, 1925, 1931; Series 4: Ephemera, 1931-1966.

Library Locations

    • Special Collections Research CenterBorrow it
      Carrier Library Second Floor Room 203, MSC 1704, 880 Madison Drive, Harrisonburg, VA, 22807, US
      38.438299 -78.8741916
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