A Guide to the Papers of Benjamin A. Banks 1900-1974 Banks, Benjamin MG 6

A Guide to the Papers of Benjamin A. Banks 1900-1974

A Collection in
Special Collections and University Archives
Collection Number MG 6


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Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Old Dominion University

Special Collections
Perry Library
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
USA
Phone: (757) 683-4483
Fax: (757) 683-5954
Email: libspecialcollections@odu.edu
URL: http://www.lib.odu.edu/special/

© 2001 By Rector and Board of Visitors of Old Dominion University.

Funding: Web version of the finding aid funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Processed by: Special Collections and University Archives Staff

Repository
Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Old Dominion University
Collection number
MG 6
Title
Papers of Benjamin A. Banks 1900-1974
Physical Characteristics
18 Hollinger Document Cases and 1 Drop-front Print Box; 8 linear feet
Language
English

Administrative Information

Access

Open to researchers without restrictions. Questions on literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.

Use Restrictions

No restrictions.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Box [insert number], Folder [insert number and title], Papers of Benjamin A. Banks, Special Collections and University Archives, Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library, Old Dominion University Libraries, Norfolk, VA 23529.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Helen G. Banks, May 18, 1976
Accession Number: A76-15


Biographical/Historical Information

Benjamin A. Banks (original family name Bonk) was born, according to his own testimony, on May 18, 1884, in Baltimore, Maryland. Soon after his father's death his family moved to Norfolk, Virginia, where they had relatives living. Banks received his only formal education in Norfolk's public schools. He then studied law on his own and was admitted to the Virginia Bar in November 1909. He continued to practice law until his death on April 27, 1974.

From 1908 through 1913, Banks served as editor and publisher of The Galaxy, a literary magazine which he hoped would enjoy critical and financial success not only in Norfolk but throughout the South. His colleague in this unsuccessful effort was local poet George Viett, who remained Banks' close friend until his death in 1943. Banks' first forays into the political arena in Norfolk were quite successful. He served on the Norfolk Board of Alderman from 1908 to 1911 at which point he resigned to take up the seat he had recently won in the Virginia House of Delegates. Banks did not run for reelection however, and all his subsequent attempts to return to public office: Virginia State Senate (1923); Commonwealth's Attorney for Norfolk (1925); House of Delegates (1933, 1937) ended in defeat. Nonetheless, he played an active role in Norfolk's Democratic politics from the 1900's through the 1940's. He participated in most local election campaigns and was frequently called on to make radio speeches on behalf of the candidates. For example, he successfully supported Norman Hamilton against Colgate Darden for Congress in 1936 and then aided Darden to defeat Hamilton in 1938. Banks was elected Norfolk chairman of the Virginia Liberal League in 1918 and, in 1937, he helped found the Citizen's Democratic League, a group that supported candidates against the dominant local Democratic organization, with only limited success, until its demise in the early 1940's. Banks was also an active campaigner for Democratic presidential candidates from Woodrow Wilson to George McGovern. He was particularly active in the Roosevelt clubs that developed in the 1930's.

Banks was a prominent member of the Norfolk Jewish community and was especially interested in promoting better understanding among Christians and Jews. He worked toward this goal in many letters written to local newspapers, especially in his annual Christmas "epistles." His numerous letters to the editors of the leading Norfolk and Richmond newspapers dealt with many topics, more often with political issues - local, state, and national. Their range-from Prohibition and the Ku Klux Klan to Vietnam and Watergate - symbolize the length of his concerns with political issues. Bank's letters also won him plaudits from many members of the Tidewater community and from political figures throughout the entire Commonwealth of Virginia.

Scope and Content Information

The papers of Benjamin A. Banks span the years of 1900-1974. Personal papers include letters to the editor, speeches, and literary materials. Political papers span Banks' political career (1908-1913) and his continuing involvement in political issues through the 1940's. Also included in the collection are scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, photographs, memorabilia, and Manuals of the Senate and House of Delegates of Virginia for the years 1908, 1912, 1926, 1934.

Arrangement

Organization

The collection is organized into six series:
Series I: Personal Papers. Includes personal correspondence; "Letters to the Editor" (1910-1972); miscellaneous material re. Judaism, Christianity, and their relationship; speeches and material for speeches; Literary materials for and copies of The Galaxy; papers relating to George Viett, Norfolk poet-author. Oversized memorabilia are stored in the dropfront box.

Series II: Political Papers. Includes material regarding Banks' own short political career (1908-1913), his involvement in Norfolk politics from the 1900's through the 1940's, and his participation in presidential campaigns in Virginia (especially in Norfolk) throughout this same period. Also contains correspondence relating to his largely unsuccessful efforts to obtain patronage jobs from both the Wilson and Roosevelt Administrations.

Series III: Scrapbooks. Contain newspaper clippings and some correspondence regarding his political activities; clippings of letters to the editors; some items relating to Judaism.

Series IV: Pictorial Records. Includes a small number of miscellaneous photographs; oversized photographs are kept in the drop-front box. A large framed photograph of the "Bench and Bar of Norfolk, Va. 1922" is stored separately.

Series V: Books. Three Books from Banks' personal library; Manuals of the Senate and House of Delegates of Virginia for the years 1908, 1912, 1926, 1934.

Series VI: Memorabilia. Includes Law License, Certificates, Photographs.

Arrangement

Materials are arranged chronologically within series.

Contents List

Series I: Personal Papers
  • Sub Series A: Correspondence
    • Box 1, Folder 1
      General 1910-1973
    • Box 1, Folder 2
      Polan Banks 1943-1974
    • Box 1, Folder 3
      Annie 1914
    • Box 1, Folder 4
      Caroline 1912
    • Box 1, Folder 5
      Ernestine 1921
    • Box 1, Folder 6
      Hortense 1919
    • Box 1, Folder 7
      Hortense 1919-1921
    • Box 1, Folder 8
      Correspondence re: Education League Scholarship 1906
  • Sub Series B: Letters to the Editor
    • Box 2, Folder 1
      Letters re. Press
    • Box 2, Folder 2
      Correspondence with Editors of Virginian-Pilot 1924-1972
    • Box 2, Folder 3
      Correspondence with Editors of Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch, Richmond Times-Dispatch 1944-1971
    • Box 2, Folder 4
      Virginian-Pilot 1924-1963
    • Box 2, Folder 5
      Virginian-Pilot 1964-1972
    • Box 2, Folder 6
      Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch 1916-1959
    • Box 2, Folder 7
      Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch 1960-1972
    • Box 2, Folder 8
      Richmond News-Leader; Richmond Times-Dispatch 1942-1973
    • Box 2, Folder 9
      Miscellaneous Papers 1940-1968
    • Box 2, Folder 10
      Unknown Papers 1907-1956
    • Box 2, Folder 11
      Tributes to Others 1943-1973
    • Box 2, Folder 12
      "Fan Letters": General 1948-1973
    • Box 2, Folder 13
      "Fan Letters": Irving Kline 1958-1974
    • Box 2, Folder 14
      "Fan Letters": Miscellaneous Political Figures 1940-1974
    • Box 2, Folder 15
      "Fan Letters": Colgate Darden; Floyd Kellam; Richard Kellam; Sydney Kellam 1953-1973
    • Box 3, Folder 1
      Clippings 1920-1929
    • Box 3, Folder 2
      Clippings 1930-1939
    • Box 3, Folder 3
      Clippings 1940-1949
    • Box 3, Folder 4
      Clippings 1950-1959
    • Box 3, Folder 5
      Clippings 1960-1969
    • Box 3, Folder 6
      Clippings 1970-1974
    • Box 3, Folder 7
      Clippings Dates Unknown
    • Box 3, Folder 8
      Material re: Press Handling of Letters to the Editor
    • Box 3, Folder 9
      Newspaper Clippings re: Banks
  • Sub Series C: Knights of Pythias
    • Box 3, Folder 10
      Banks' Speeches before Group 1940-1970
    • Box 3, Folder 11
      Material re: Banks' Involvement, 1944-1946, 1948
    • Box 3, Folder 12
      Material re: Lodge #10 (Norfolk) 1943-1967
    • Box 3, Folder 13
      Material re: National Organization
  • Sub Series D: Sons of Italy
    • Box 3, Folder 14
      Correspondence; Misc. material re. relationship with Banks 1912-1972
  • Sub Series E: Legal Practice
    • Box 3, Folder 15
      Documents; Newspaper Clippings 1920-1974
    • Box 3, Folder 16
      Miscellaneous Items
  • Sub Series F: Literary Material: The Galaxy
    • Box 4, Folder 1
      Index to Scrapbooks; The Galaxy; Letters
    • Box 4, Folder 2
      Misc. Material re: The Galaxy 1907-1913
    • Box 4, Folder 3
      The Galaxy: Woodrow Wilson Inauguration Issue, March, 1913. Bound Volumes The Galaxy: Vols. I &II, September 1907-August 1909; Vols. III &IV, September 1909 - October 1913 1907-1913
    • Box 5, Folder 1
      Aphorisms; Quotations
    • Box 5, Folder 2
      Bibliographies
    • Box 5, Folder 3
      Clippings; Articles; Poems
    • Box 5, Folder 4
      Miscellaneous
  • Sub Series G: Speeches
    • Box 5, Folder 5
      Speeches on Miscellaneous Topics
    • Box 5, Folder 6
      Material for Speeches
    • Box 5, Folder 7
      Speeches Given by others (perhaps Written by Banks)
    • Box 5, Folder 8
      Speeches to others; Speeches; Written pieces
  • Sub Series H: George Viett Material
    • Box 6, Folder 1
      Published Works; Memorabilia 1910-1930
    • Box 6, Folder 2
      Miscellaneous Unpublished Writings 1900-1943
    • Box 6, Folder 3
      Letters to the Editor 1903-1941
    • Box 6, Folder 4
      Miscellaneous Correspondence 1918-1941
    • Box 6, Folder 5
      Clippings of letters to the Editor 1910-1919
    • Box 6, Folder 6
      Clippings of Letters to the Editor 1920-1929
    • Box 6, Folder 7
      Clippings of Letters to the Editor 1930-1939
    • Box 6, Folder 8
      Clippings of letters to the Editor 1940-1943
    • Box 6, Folder 9
      Clippings of letters to the Editor Dates Unknown
    • Box 6, Folder 10
      Letters, Columns Written under Gifo G. Everett Pen Name 1920-1929
    • Box 6, Folder 11
      Correspondence re: Viett-Banks Dispute May 1919
    • Box 6, Folder 12
      Viett's Death 1943
    • Box 6, Folder 13
      Misc. Items about Viett 1900-1943
    • Box 6, Folder 14
      Disposition of Viett's Personal Papers 1943
  • Sub Series I: Religion; Christianity
    • Box 7, Folder 1
      General Material on Religion
    • Box 7, Folder 2
      General: Versions of speech on "Law and Religion"
    • Box 7, Folder 3
      General: Liberty, A Magazine of Religious Freedom, (Misc. Copies) 1946, 1963
    • Box 7, Folder 4
      Misc. Material
    • Box 7, Folder 5
      Misc. Articles 1820-1966
    • Box 7, Folder 6
      Misc. Newspaper clippings 1900-1970
    • Box 7, Folder 7
      Publications of the American Board of Missions to the Jews 1950-1960
    • Box 7, Folder 8
      Christmas Letters to Editors (Largely to Norfolk Press) 1947-1968
    • Box 7, Folder 9
      Misc. Correspondence
  • Sub Series J: Judaism
    • Box 8, Folder 1
      Misc. Speeches and Written Pieces (Banks)
    • Box 8, Folder 2
      Misc. Material (Banks)
    • Box 8, Folder 3
      Letters to the Editor (Largely Norfolk Press) 1915-1972
    • Box 8, Folder 4
      Jefferson Society of Norfolk (Jewish Discussion Group) 1906-1911
    • Box 8, Folder 5
      Norfolk Jewish Community: Misc. Material 1948-1955
    • Box 8, Folder 6
      Correspondence with American Jewish Archives 1970-1973
    • Box 8, Folder 7
      List of Items Sent to American Jewish Archives 1970
    • Box 8, Folder 8
      Correspondence with Rabbi Harold D. Hahn 1964-1973
    • Box 8, Folder 9
      Correspondence with Rabbi Alan Steinbach; Misc. material re: Steinbach 1923-1972
    • Box 8, Folder 10
      Misc. Correspondence 1948-1972
    • Box 9, Folder 1
      Misc. Articles 1889-1965
    • Box 9, Folder 2
      Misc. Newspaper Clippings 1900-1967
    • Box 9, Folder 3
      Misc. Publications re: Judaism 1946-1960
    • Box 9, Folder 4
      American Judaism 1957-1965
    • Box 9, Folder 5
      Misc. Writings on Zionism (Banks) 1915-1969
    • Box 9, Folder 6
      Misc. Newspaper clippings re: Zionism 1915-1970
    • Box 9, Folder 7
      Misc. Non-Jewish Publications re: Zionism 1948, 1969
    • Box 9, Folder 8
      The New Palestine; Congress Weekly 1948-1950
    • Box 9, Folder 9
      B'nai B'rith Publications 1910-1913, 1960
    • Box 9, Folder 10
      Misc. B'nai B'rith Material (Banks)
Series II: Political Papers
  • Sub Series A: Norfolk Politics
    • Box 10, Folder 1
      Self-Summary of Banks' Political Career 1910-1960
    • Box 10, Folder 2
      Service on Norfolk Board of Aldermen 1908-1911
    • Box 10, Folder 3
      "Norfolk, Virginia": Booklet Prepared by Banks for Industrial Commission 1909
    • Box 10, Folder 4
      Controversy over Banks' Origins: General 1911-1912
    • Box 10, Folder 5
      Controversy over Banks' Origins: Dispute within B'nai B'rith Lodge 1912-1913
  • Sub Series B: Virginia House of Delegates Career
    • Box 10, Folder 6
      Misc. Material 1911-1913
    • Box 10, Folder 7
      Speeches in House 1912
    • Box 10, Folder 8
      Bills Introduced 1912
    • Box 10, Folder 9
      Campaign for State Senate 1923
    • Box 10, Folder 10
      Campaign for Commonwealth's Attorney 1925
    • Box 10, Folder 11
      Campaign for House of Delegates 1933
    • Box 10, Folder 12
      Hamilton-Darden Congressional Campaign 1936
  • Sub Series C: Citizens' Democratic League
    • Box 10, Folder 13
      Misc. Material re: Goals of Group 1937-1940
    • Box 10, Folder 14
      Misc. Campaign Material 1937-1940
    • Box 10, Folder 15
      Newspaper Clippings 1937
    • Box 10, Folder 16
      Hamilton-Darden Congressional Campaign: Banks' Speeches 1938
    • Box 10, Folder 17
      Hamilton-Darden campaign: Campaign Materials 1938
  • Sub Series D: Norfolk Politics
    • Box 11, Folder 1
      1940 City Council Election 1940
    • Box 11, Folder 2
      Special Election, 2nd Congressional District 1941
    • Box 11, Folder 3
      Citizens' Democratic League: Misc. Material 1940-1949
    • Box 11, Folder 4
      Misc. Material 1960-1969
    • Box 11, Folder 5
      E. Vincent Wyatt Campaign for City Treasurer 1965-1966
    • Box 11, Folder 6
      Misc. Banks' Speeches
  • Sub Series E: State Politics
    • Box 11, Folder 7
      A. Willis Robertson's U. S. Senate Campaign 1966
    • Box 11, Folder 8
      Henry Howell's Gubernatorial Campaign 1969
    • Box 11, Folder 9
      Misc. Banks' Speeches re: Statewide Elections 1910-1950
  • Sub Series F: Presidential Campaigns
    • Box 11, Folder 10
      Wilson Campaign and Administration 1912-1918
    • Box 11, Folder 11
      Al Smith Campaign: Banks' Speech 1928
    • Box 11, Folder 12
      Roosevelt Campaigns: Correspondence 1932-1944
    • Box 11, Folder 13
      Roosevelt Campaigns: Misc. Material, 1932-1936
    • Box 11, Folder 14
      Roosevelt Campaigns: Bank's Speeches 1932-1944
    • Box 11, Folder 15
      Roosevelt Administrations: Misc. Material 1933-1939
    • Box 11, Folder 16
      1952 Campaign: Misc. Material
    • Box 11, Folder 17
      1960 Campaign: Misc. Material
    • Box 11, Folder 18
      1968 Campaign: Letters to the Editor Sept.-Oct., 1968
  • Sub Series G: Political Correspondence
    • Box 12, Folder 1
      Miscellaneous 1907-1971
    • Box 12, Folder 2
      Norman Hamilton 1934-1936
    • Box 12, Folder 3
      Norman Hamilton (After election to Congress) 1936-1937
    • Box 12, Folder 4
      Colgate Darden: General 1935-1969
    • Box 12, Folder 5
      Correspondence with Wilson Administration re: Government Job 1912-1918
    • Box 12, Folder 6
      Correspondence with Virginia Politicians re: Support for Job in Wilson Administration 1913-1920
    • Box 12, Folder 7
      Correspondence with Simon Wolf re: Efforts to Obtain Government job 1914
    • Box 12, Folder 8
      Applications for Collectorship of Port of Norfolk 1914
    • Box 12, Folder 9
      Correspondence with Dept. of Justice re: Government Job, 1933-1934
    • Box 12, Folder 10
      Correspondence with Dept. of Justice re: Job Obtained in War Risk Insurance Office, 1934-1936
    • Box 12, Folder 11
      Misc. Correspondence re: Dept. of Justice Jobs 1933-1934, 1936
    • Box 12, Folder 12
      Correspondence with Harry Byrd, Sr. re: Dept. of Justice Job
    • Box 12, Folder 13
      Correspondence with Colgate Darden re: Dept. of Justice Job 1933-1934
    • Box 12, Folder 14
      Correspondence with Bernard Baruch re: Dept. of Justice Job 1934
    • Box 13, Folder 1
      Correspondence with Treasury Dept. re: Government Job 1934-1939
    • Box 13, Folder 2
      Misc. Correpondence re: Government Jobs (Largely with Colgate Darden) 1939-1942
    • Box 13, Folder 3
      Correspondence with Congressmen Winder Harris re: Government Job 1942
    • Box 13, Folder 4
      Material re: "Negro Problem" - Including Supreme Court's Role 1903-1958
    • Box 13, Folder 5
      "Legal Articles: (Considerable Material re: Supreme Court) 1920-1970
    • Box 13, Folder 6
      The Growler: Norfolk Political Weekly 1905
    • Box 13, Folder 7
      The Free-Lance: Norfolk Political Weekly 1905
    • Box 13, Folder 8
      The Free-Lance 1906
Series III: Scrapbooks
  • Box 14, Folder 1
    Index to Scrapbooks
  • Box 14, Folder 2
    Book #1: pp. 1-36 (Largely Political) 1906-1912
  • Box 14, Folder 3
    Book #1: pp. 37-71 (Largely Political) 1906-1912
  • Box 14, Folder 4
    Book #3: pp. 1-38 (Largely Political) 1924-1958
  • Box 14, Folder 5
    Book #3: pp. 38-78 (Largely Political) 1924-1958
  • Box 14, Folder 6
    Book #4 : pp. 38-78 (Largely Political) 1912-1924
  • Box 15
    Bound Volume Letters to Editors; Misc. Newspaper clippings 1906-1972
  • Box 16, Folder 1
    "Political and Campaign Scrapbook" (Presidential Campaigns 1912, 1932-1934
  • Box 16, Folder 2
    Untitled Scrapbook: Jewish Topics; Items from The Galaxy 1906-1913
Series IV: Pictorial Records
  • Box 17, Folder 2
    B.A. Banks in Law Office, ca. 1920
  • Box 17, Folder 3
    Bank's State Senate Campaign 1923
  • Box 17, Folder 4
    Misc. Photographs
  • Box 19 (Drop-front Print Box)
    Photograph of Norfolk Industrial Commission, ca. 1909
  • Box 19 (Drop-front Print Box)
    Photograph of 7th Annual Harbors and Rivers Congress, Washington, D.C, December 18, 1910
  • Box 19 (Drop-front Print Box)
    Group Portrait of 1912 Virginia House of Delegates
  • Large framed photograph of the Norfolk Bar Association (1922) is stored separately
    Physical Location: Storage Room Wall
Series V: Books
  • Box 18
    Flanders, Henry. The Lives and Times of the Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States. Vol. I: John Jay-John Rutledge. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo &Co., 1855
  • Box 18
    Harris, Joel Chandler. Life of Henry W. Grady. New York: Casssell 1890
  • Box 18
    U. S. House of Representatives. Henry D. Flood. Memorial Addresses Delivered in Congress. Washington, D.C.: Gov't. Printing Office 1922
  • Box 18
    Manual of the Senate and House of Delegates, Virginia. 1908, 1912, 1926, 1934
Series VI: Memorabilia
  • Box 19 (Drop-front Print Box)
    License to Practice Law in Virginia November 12, 1909
  • Box 19 (Drop-front Print Box)
    Certificate of Election to the House of Delegates November 27, 1911
  • Box 19 (Drop-front Print Box)
    Commendation from Italian Societies of Norfolk 1912
  • Box 19 (Drop-front Print Box)
    Authorization to Plead Cases before the U.S. Supreme Court January 21, 1929