Ruth and Lowell Toliver Collection of Newman Family Papers Open for Research

Posted on: November 18, 2021

James Madison University Special Collections is pleased to announce that the Ruth and Lowell Toliver Collection of Newman Family Papers is now fully processed and available for research. The Newman Family Papers document George Ambrose Newman (1855-1944), Black educator and trailblazing member of Harrisonburg’s early African American community, as well as his immediate and extended family. More generally, the collection documents the larger significance of Harrisonburg’s historic African American neighborhood (Newtown and the Northeast Neighborhood), its community members, schools, and churches.

“The Newman Ladies, circa 1925”

The collection comprises writings by George A. Newman including a 480-page unpublished manuscript entitled “A Miserable Revenge: A story of life in Virginia,” John Wesley United Methodist Church records, Lucy F. Simms School records, personal papers, correspondence, and dozens of facsimile photographs.

John Wesley Methodist Church records

The bulk of the papers were donated by the Tolivers in February 2021 with two smaller accruals added recently. Ruth Toliver is a retired English teacher, local and family historian, published author, and granddaughter of George A. Newman.

A more complete description of the collection and its contents is available at:

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