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Walker papers return home

Jeremy Lazarus | 3/10/2017, 9:05 a.m.
The Maggie Walker papers have been returned to the Stallings family, ending their seven-year sojourn at the College of William ...

The Maggie Walker papers have been returned to the Stallings family, ending their seven-year sojourn at the College of William & Mary and forestalling a potential conflict.

Ron Stallings, a Jackson Ward developer, told the Free Press this week that he picked up the papers from the school in Williamsburg on Tuesday and brought them back to the Richmond home of his mother, Margaret T. Stallings, who had requested their return.

Wanda D. Stallings, sister of Mr. Stallings and a co-owner of the papers with her mother, said the plan is to donate the more than 30 boxes filled with documents to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

For years, the papers were stored in the attic of the vacant St. Luke Building in Gilpin Court. Ms. Stallings and her mother also co-own the building, the former headquarters of the mutual aid society that the late Maggie L. Walker once led and through which she founded and operated a bank, insurance firm and a newspaper.

In 2009, students of William & Mary adjunct history professor Heather Huyck were exploring the St. Luke Building and found the stored papers. With Mr. Stallings’ permission, the papers were taken to the college, where Dr. Huyck launched a preservation effort. The documents offer fresh insight into the crusading Mrs. Walker and the work of the long-defunct Independent Order of St. Luke.

In the years since, a team of volunteers and students has spent untold hours cataloging, digitizing and placing each of the more than 15,000 documents in acid-free holders and then into acid-free boxes.

This week, Dr. Huyck will join the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites to celebrate the completion of the preservation project and the people who participated in making it possible.

The invitation-only event is set for 10 a.m. Friday, March 10, at the Hippodrome Theater, which the Stallings family also owns.

“I’m very happy the papers were returned,” Ms. Stallings said.