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#ChronAmParty: Nurses

Posted by Jessica McMillen.
July 6th, 2020

Blog post by Rachael Nicholas, WVRHC.

Earlier this year, May 6-12, we celebrated #NationalNursesWeek. To further that celebration, we examined the pages of historic West Virginia newspapers in Chronicling America, the historic newspaper project, #ChronAm, for nursing stories.

The American Civil War marked a period of significant strife for nurses. The unprecedented times facilitated the enlistment of female nurses, both Union and Confederate, to care for the sick and wounded. They oversaw diets and food distribution, managed supplies provided by the United States Sanitary and Christian Commissions, and offered emotional and spiritual care.[1] Nurses regularly encountered sick men within the ranks. Soldiers suffered from acute diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery, small pox, measles, and scarlet fever.[2] Two out of three soldiers died from disease instead of wounds. Nurses and surgeons treated 400,000 wounds in comparison to 6,000,000 cases of sickness.[3]

Nurses put themselves at risk whenever they helped an ailing soldier or civilian. They lived in a time and place that did not recognize germ theory; doctors preferred “humoral theory,” cutting into infected areas to let “tainted blood” flow out.[4] A poor understanding of germs and disease rendered nurses vulnerable but not defenseless. Nurses who recognized the link between “malarial miasmas” and sickness pursued an assiduous sanitation policy to restrict the spread of disease.[5] Cornelia Hancock, a nurse present at Gettysburg, labored tirelessly to keep her ward clean—so much so that she was accused of secreting additional supplies. “There is one woman here who has the clothes department. They call her ‘General Duncan;’ she is the terror of the whole camp,” Hancock wrote. “She came and blew me up sky high for having my ward so clean, said I must get more than my share of clothes. I answered her very politely and held my tongue. I can get along with her if anyone can.”[6] Hancock did not allow petty disputes to interfere with her diligence. The battles nurses waged against disease could become literal. After the First Battle of Winchester, a Confederate victory, Union nurses succumbed to a human enemy—not germs. One Daniel J. Martin, writing from New Creek, [West] Virginia, informed the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer that Dr. Peale, the head surgeon at Winchester’s Union hospital, “and five nurses belonging to the same establishment were made prisoners at the recent defeat of Banks.” Even “the humane old [hospital] steward Dideren was shot dead.” Martin felt melancholy at the news, which “causes many of us great inquietude,” but he continued his work. His hospital in New

Creek was expecting “three hundred sick and wounded, this day, from Petersburg.” Martin and his men had to “do their utmost endeavors to take care of them kindly and properly.”[7] The Civil War permitted little rest for those who healed the living and buried the dead.

Tents in rows with town in background
Camp of the 22nd Pennsylvania Cavalry, Union Army, in New Creek (Keyser), West Virginia, circa 1865. You can see the town in the background. Daniel Martin wrote of his travails from New Creek’s hospital in 1862. Image courtesy of West Virginia History OnView, West Virginia & Regional History Center, Morgantown, West Virginia.

     [1] Daniel John Hoisington, introduction to Our Army Nurses: Stories from Women in the Civil War, by Mary Gardner Holland (Roseville: Edinborough Press, 1998), v.

     [2] Gordon Dammann, Pictorial Encyclopedia of Civil War Medical Instruments and Equipment (Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, 1983), 44.

     [3] George Worthington Adams, Doctors in Blue: The Medical History of the Union Army in the Civil War (Dayton, Ohio: Press of Morningside, 1985), 194.

     [4] Dammann, Pictorial Encyclopedia of Civil War Medical Instruments and Equipment, 35.

     [5] Ibid., 197.

     [6] Cornelia Hancock, South after Gettysburg: Letters of Cornelia Hancock, 1863-1868, ed. Henrietta Stratton Jaquette (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1937), 23-24.

  [7] Daniel J. Martin, “From New Creek,” The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer, Wheeling, [West] Virginia, June 5, 1862, p. 3.

WVU Libraries Offer Anti-racism Collection in Overdrive

Posted by Jessica McMillen.
June 29th, 2020

By Lynne Stahl, PhD
Humanities Librarian

In light of the recent murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd as well as the clear need to take sustained, wide-ranging action against racism at an institutional level, the WVU Libraries Collections Advisory Committee has added a curated Anti-Racism Readings collection on Overdrive that includes both ebooks and audiobooks.

The Collections Advisory Committee’s charge includes “ensuring that selections for specific subject areas are adequate.” In line with this charge and the Core Values of the American Library Association, we believe that the particular histories of anti-Black oppression and underrepresentation that have marked this country since its beginnings need immediate and sustained attention. As Dean Karen Diaz points out in her recent blog post, “Now is when we must ask WHAT and WHOSE cultural record we are creating, amplifying and preserving.” Libraries are not neutral. Collection development and the decisions we make about what resources to add are always political, even when they’re not explicitly framed as such.

Change needs to happen at every level of the university to be truly systemic, and what we can do is help make sure the WVU community has access to relevant information by adding these resources. Change doesn’t happen through reading alone, but self-education and engagement with anti-racist ideas are crucial parts of the process.

We hope you will read and consider these texts in their wholeness and individuality, not simply as educational tools to check off on a prescribed list, and we hope that they become a springboard to introspection, conversation, and action here at WVU and beyond.

Black Lives Matter.

Explore the Collection

Henry Clay Furnace at Coopers Rock

Posted by Jessica McMillen.
June 29th, 2020

Blog post by Lee Maddex, Archives Processing Assistant, WVRHC.

The Henry Clay Furnace hike is one of the most popular hikes taken on Coopers Rock State Forest. It is a relatively short hike, about one mile to the furnace and it is rated as a moderate hike, not too easy, not too difficult. On any given day, numerous hikers can be found along the trail or at the furnace. I have made the hike to Henry Clay Furnace perhaps thirty-five or forty times since the late 1980s and have explored forest adjacent to the trail and furnace many times, as well. During these adventures, I have found the numerous remains of the iron industry. This blog post provides a hiking guide to the vestiges or remnants of the iron industry to see along the trail to the furnace. First a brief history of the Henry Clay Furnace.

Henry Clay Iron Furnace hiking trail sign

Brief History

Leonard Lamb constructed the Henry Clay Iron Furnace in 1834 for the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania firm of Tassey, Morrison and Semple. Lamb presumably named the furnace Henry Clay after the Kentucky senator Henry Clay, who was a great proponent of the American iron industry. Interestingly, Lamb also named his third son Henry Clay, as well (born December 22, 1834). The Henry Clay Furnace was the first steampowered iron furnace in Western Virginia and operated until 1848. It was abandoned after its iron ore supply was depleted.

The Henry Clay Furnace was part of a larger ironworks complex. At its height in the late 1840s, this industrial complex (known as the Monongalia Iron Works), included not only the Henry Clay Furnace, but two additional iron furnaces, the Woodgrove and Anna furnaces; and a cut nail factory, a stove works, a rolling mill, puddling furnaces, sawmill, and grist mill located at Ices Ferry; plus some 14,000 acres of timber and iron ore lands in Monongalia and Preston counties. Interestingly, the footprint of Coopers Rock State Forest sits virtually on top of the footprint of this historic ironmaking tract.

hikers at furnace
Henry Clay Furnace was a popular destination for hikers well before the creation of Coopers Rock State Forest in 1936. Shown here are hikers at the furnace in 1890.

Remnants of the Iron Industry

The Henry Clay Furnace is the most recognizable remnant of the ironmaking industry that once flourished on the present-day Coopers Rock State Forest. What follows is a guide to the less oblivious remains of this iron industry and takes the form of a travel log starting at the Henry Clay Furnace parking lot.

The road to the Henry Clay Furnace (aka Clay Furnace Trail) is a less than oblivious vestige of the iron industry. Today this road is just one of many forest trails, connecting with several other forest trails, but it predates the building of the Henry Clay Furnace. The road’s construction dates to the early nineteenth century, and historically it led east to the crossroads at Hopewell Church and west to a point on the early road across Chestnut Ridge. Like real estate, where location is key, iron furnaces needed to be near its raw materials (iron ore, timber for charcoal and limestone), making its location crucial. Leonard Lamb chose a site that was ideal for an iron furnace. Not only was the furnace site near its raw materials, but the road facilitated the construction of the Henry Clay Furnace. It permitted relatively easy access for the stone masons to quarry and transport stone to the site, and after its completion, transporting of the product of the furnace, pig iron, to Ices Ferry. Just imagine hauling a huge steam engine to the furnace site over this road!

As you leave the Henry Clay Furnace parking lot on the way to the furnace, the road will initially be rocky and rough. After about 0.25 miles, the road will start to level out. Look to the right and you will notice a trace of trail running diagonally down into the woods. This is not a trail, but the remnant of a tramroad. This tramroad was a horse drawn railroad, that was used to haul iron ore to the furnace from the nearby iron ore mines.

tramroad
Several additional miles of tramroads were built on the forest in the 1840s and 50s. The tramroad shown here dates to the 1850s. Note the use of wooden rails.

Continue down the road. After a short distance, about 150 feet, look to the right and you will notice several deep holes below the road. These are iron ore mines, where iron ore for the Henry Clay Furnace was mined. Iron ore was mined by excavating the soil and rock layer above the iron ore. Once uncovered the iron ore was broken up with sledgehammers and hauled to the furnace on the adjacent tramroad. These mines take the form of pits and trenches and are extensive on this side of the road. These “ore banks,” as they were known in the nineteenth century, are the earliest iron mines associated with the Henry Clay Furnace.

iron ore pit
Iron Ore Pit

Continue down the road, perhaps another 0.10 miles. On left above the road are more iron ore mines. These are trenches (once the iron ore was located, it was mined by following the contours of the land). You will have to scramble up the bank to see these trenches (just be careful climbing up and down the bank; it can be a little treacherous). If you check around the base of trees near these trenches, you will see “spoils,” bits of shale excavated in the mining process, and generally you see fragments of iron ore as well. The iron ore is dense and heavy for its size and will be red and/or red and black. It will vary in size from fragments to sometimes large pieces. Historically, the miners called these ores, the “Red Belt Ores,” and are same ores mined on the other side of the road. These are also the earliest mines associated with the Henry Clay Furnace.

Iron Ore Trench
Iron Ore Trench

Not everything to see on your hike to the furnace relates to the iron industry. There are natural features too. As you near the furnace, the trail becomes a little rougher again. The bank is steep on the left and the hillside drops away on the right. Look to the right for a boulder, a piece of Connoquenessing sandstone. From up the trail it looks like another rock, in a landscape full of rocks and boulders, but continue down the road another ten feet or so, past the boulder and look back up at it. It may take a moment or two to find the right perspective, but you will see a boulder that has the distinct shape of a fish. You can make out the mouth, the eye, a fin, and the tail. The tail makes a fine seat too if you need to take a break.

fish-shaped boulder
Fish-Shaped Boulder

When you arrive at the junction of the Henry Clay Furnace road and the Advanced Ski Trail, take a moment to stop and look at the back of the furnace. This level ground was where the furnace was charged with its blend of iron ore, limestone, and charcoal used in the smelting process (no longer extant, but there was a bridge that connected this area with the furnace). Notice the ground is black from the charcoal. Also note how the bank behind the furnace has been eroded by mountain bikers riding down the hillside. This is a fun ride I am sure, but this activity is extremely bad for the furnace remains.

As you resume your hike toward the furnace, the road bends to the right and it becomes rather rough again. This part of the road was paved using slag. Slag is the glassy byproduct of iron smelting process. Slag is ubiquitous around the furnace with “slag heaps,” or piles of slag everywhere within a quarter mile of the furnace. There is even a slag island in Clay Run.

Henry Clay Iron Furnace
The Henry Clay Furnace in the fall of 2019. The steam engine sat to the right of the furnace and the molten iron was run out into a sand bed in front of the furnace. The dendritic pattern formed by the iron being cast resembled piglets suckling at the mother sow, thus the name “pig iron.”

When you arrive at the furnace, take some time to closely look at it. The furnace is in remarkable condition for a structure that is nearly two hundred years old. Look at the stonework. Each stone was hand cut and placed without the use of power tools or other modern construction equipment. Also notice the care taken to add texture or rustication to each stone block.

close-up of stonework
Close up of the stonework

This concludes your tour to the Henry Clay Furnace. From here you can return the way you came or venture on one of the forest trails that connect at the furnace. Most of all enjoy your time at Coopers Rock State Forest!

The Grateful Dead in Morgantown in 1983

Posted by Jessica McMillen.
June 22nd, 2020

Blog post by Lee Maddex, Archives Processing Assistant, WVRHC.

On April 10, 1983, the legendary San Francisco rock group, the Grateful Dead, played the West Virginia University Coliseum to much ado. Formed in 1965, the Dead forged their own musical path over the next thirty years, playing well over 2,300 concerts. Often perceived as a 1960s psychedelic throw-back band, the Grateful Dead had their roots in folk and jug band music and jazz and played a sophisticated blend of rock and roll, jazz, country and blues (now is known as roots music or Americana). The group disbanded in 1995 following the death of lead guitarist Jerry Garcia. This blog post touches briefly on the actual concert, but mostly examines the local and student reaction to the Grateful Dead and their followers coming to Morgantown.

Now nearly four decades later, it is easy to forget how popular the Grateful Dead once were, but in the early 1980s, the Grateful Dead were extremely popular with college students on campuses across the United States. WVU was no exception and our campus had a couple hundred ardent Dead fans known as Dead Heads. Not an overwhelming number but we had our fair share. In fact, when the local Grateful Dead cover band Nexus played downtown at the Underground Railroad (now 123 Pleasant Street), it was always packed with students and locals alike, dancing to the songs of the Dead until closing time. So, when the WVU Pop Arts Committee announced that the Grateful Dead were to play the WVU Coliseum on April 10 there was excitement both on campus and around the state. Tickets went on sale at the Coliseum on Sunday March 13 at 1:00pm. A sizeable crowd of students and fans camped out inline starting late Saturday night to get the best tickets when the box office opened the next day.

Invitation to Grateful Dead concert
The Go Go’s, Flock of Seagulls, Pat Benatar, Kenny Rogers, and the Oak Ridge Boys all played the WVU Coliseum during the 1982-83 academic year.

However, this excitement for the Grateful Dead concert was not shared by the local law enforcement. Morgantown Chief of Police John Cease was not very sanguine about the Grateful Dead coming to campus and was clearly in near panic over the concert. In a Dominion Post article dated Friday April 8, 1983, Cease said that the Grateful Dead were “notorious for its almost “cult-like followers” and that “we are anticipating we will probably have some motorcycle guys in here Sunday.” Cease went on to say “come Sunday, there will be an influx of persons into Morgantown [and] typically, Grateful Dead followers camp out rather than lodge in hotels…and that there have been “situations where people camp out on public grounds, private buildings and vacant buildings without much regard to those whose property they were on.” He concluded “It is the group activities before and after the concert that have presented the most direct threat to communities.” Fortunately, not all the local officials were in a state of panic. Cease acknowledged that the “university officials” stated that they are “well attuned to planning for the concert.” Cease’s near hysteria was remarkable considering on any given home football weekend, Morgantown experienced a huge influx of sports fans, many rowdy and law enforcement had no trouble handling the football crowd.

The Pop Arts Committee was the student-elected group tasked with bringing concerts to campus. Starting in the mid-1970s, they brought many big-name musical acts to the Coliseum, such as Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel, America, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, the Doobie Brothers, Boston, and many others. However, by 1980 the Pop Arts Committee struggled to bring in national touring bands because of the restriction prohibiting hanging equipment from the Coliseum’s dome. It was believed that the weight of this equipment would structurally compromise the Coliseum. Eventually it was determined that it was safe to hang lights and speakers from the dome. The Grateful Dead were one of the first bands permitted to hang their equipment hung from the dome.

The rumor on campus after the show, was that the Grateful Dead caught wind of this story (likely from the student stagehands, who worked the show) and that the Dead, ever the pranksters, wanted to test the structural soundness of the Coliseum. To that end, they opened the show with Samson and Delilah, a loud, rocking song that had the chorus “If I had my way, I would tear this old building down.” The Dead tried their best to tear down the Coliseum, but they, thankfully, failed.

Bob Weir
Rhythm Guitarist Bob Weir. Weir is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is still on the road performing Grateful Dead music

The Dead, however, did succeed in getting the audience up and dancing for the entire show! And by the end of the concert, the Coliseum crowd had enjoyed a typical early 1980s Grateful Dead concert. From the Samson and Delilah opener to the U.S. Blues encore, the setlist included songs ranging from their earliest days with Me and My Uncle to the 1970s with Uncle John’s Band and Sugar Magnolia to newer songs like Althea and My Brother Esau to the future top twenty hit Touch of Grey, that opened the second set. The concert was fair to middling musically, nothing too stellar, just some well-played “good old Grateful Dead.” However, without a doubt, everyone left the Coliseum with a smile on their face.

Local and student reaction to the concert was a mixed depending on who was commenting. The Dominion Post reporter, who clearly did not attend the show reported the next day “An influx of dead heads into Morgantown during the weekend to attend a rock concert turned a lot of heads, but for the most part passed without incident.” The reporter went on to say that only one concert goer had been arrested by the end of the show “for public indecency and intoxication.” (Oddly enough, this arrest occurred right in front of this author.) Police Chief John Cease, whose dire predictions did not come to pass, noted “Sunday…night passed without incident.”

The Daily Athenaeum sent student reporter Rich Gaw to the concert. His “jottings of a roving eye reporter” as he called them were published in the DA on Monday. It was clear that he did not get the Dead or the Dead Heads. Although the concert was a novel experience for Gaw (Dead Heads would disagree and say each show was a unique experience, a compelling reason to see more shows), he unwittingly captured the essence of the Grateful Dead concert experience. Gaw writes: “Outside the Coliseum, hordes of flowery vans flanked by gypsies are lined up in the parking lot. Lots of babies…Middle-aged women with long skirts parade in the blue entrance gate selling buttons, t-shirts, and tie-dye shirts.” He goes on “Concert starts. Coliseum transformed into traveling road show. Jerry’s harem weaving fluidly in the aisles, silhouetted against the exit gates. Going to Dead show is more a novelty than anything else. Like saying you’ve been to World Series…I watch some young man run up the aisles without clothing…I concluded that acid at a Dead Show is like hotdogs at a Yankee game…”

Jerry Garcia
Lead Guitarist Jerry Garcia. The song writing duo of Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter produced a canon of music that was superb with its beautiful melodies and timeless lyrics.

Laura Chiodo a contributor to the 1983 Monticola (WVU yearbook) had, for the most part, a better understanding of the Grateful Dead and their fans. She noted in the Monticola: “April 10, a rock and roll institution stopped in Morgantown. The Grateful Dead, followed by Dead Heads from across the nation, took concert attenders back to the days of peace, love and understanding. On the seats, in the aisles and with each other, Dead Heads danced throughout the two and a half-hour show. Guitarist extraordinaire, Jerry Garcia, laid down licks which proved why the Dead is such a mainstay in rock and roll history. Although many students did not attend, faithful Dead followers kept ticket sales from suffering…”

When it was all said and done, Morgantown survived the Grateful Dead and the Dead Heads. While there was one arrest, the Dead Heads did not run wild through the streets of Morgantown, destroying public property and the bikers never descended on the University City. The band and touring fans had the next day off, but they did not linger. Everyone moved on, heading to the next show in Binghamton, New York. And while Morgantown looked a little different in the Monday morning light, ultimately, the Grateful Dead left behind only memories and a few dozen of Grateful Dead related stickers on signs all around town.

Please note the Dominion Post and Daily Athenaeum newspapers and the Monticola yearbooks are available for use at the West Virginia Regional History Center.

There were multiple live recordings of the April 10, 1983 WVU Coliseum show available for your listening pleasure at archive.org.

Black Lives Matter in Libraries

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
June 15th, 2020

By Karen Diaz, Dean of WVU Libraries

The outrage, anger, and sadness of George Floyd’s murder is palpable in our community, nation and world.  I share those sentiments and like many think “these killings have got to stop”.  We know systemic racism and violence against Black people are not new problems, but we have reached a new crescendo.

I have struggled personally with how to respond from the WVU Libraries. I have been leery of creating yet one more statement in a sea of statements.  It’s too easy to say something – but so hard to create meaningful change. At the same time, I recognize that there is a need to verbalize intention if we want to move our organization in a new direction. I was pleased that our university president has led with such a statement and has challenged me, as a part of the WVU community to act.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Labor Movement and The Wheeling Majority Newspaper

Posted by Jessica McMillen.
June 15th, 2020

By Nathan Kosmicki, WVRHC Graduate Assistant

Wheeling, West Virginia was a bustling town by the beginning of the Twentieth Century. It was the largest city in West Virginia and home to many industries including; steel, glass, pottery, breweries, and tobacco works. The period (roughly) between 1890 and 1920 has been called the Progressive Era for a number of reasons; the activism of several social movements, governmental intervention in public health and industrial matters, and societal shifts in the name of “progress”. Some of these were the famous trust busting of Theodore Roosevelt, the establishment of the Food and Drug Administration, the Temperance Movement, and the Labor Movement.

The Labor Movement was a social movement to address the vast gaps in economic equality which plagued the working classes of the United States. This labor movement was present in Wheeling, and in fact was very active during the first decades of the Twentieth Century. The Wheeling Majority was a socialist newspaper which circulated on a weekly basis in the city. Beneath the banner read the words “For those who plod with plow, pick, or pen”, suggesting that this publication was for all members of the working class.The Wheeling Majority featured articles and columns from noted labor leaders such as Eugene V. Debs and Mother Jones. Mother Jones was famous for her efforts with the United Mine Workers of America to unionize the coal miners in West Virginia. In addition to this, articles regarding women’s suffrage and boycotts of certain businesses would be posted. Wheeling was a hotbed of socialist activism for the state due to the aforementioned industrial presence but also because of the Ohio Valley Trades and Labor Assembly. This organization made the dissemination of materials easier and brought together more than forty individual unions in the Ohio Valley area.

Mother Jones
A photograph of Mother (Mary) Jones, a prominent advocate for both labor and women’s rights in the Progressive Era.

Online West Virginia Day program to spotlight state’s contribution to Suffrage

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
June 12th, 2020
Group picture of Women's Suffrage League
Women’s Suffrage League, WVU, ca 1920

One hundred years ago, West Virginia legislators met at the State Capitol in Charleston to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which extended voting rights to women. West Virginia University Libraries and the West Virginia and Regional History Center will mark the milestone with an online West Virginia Day program on Saturday, June 20, at 10 a.m.

A link to the webinar is available at wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu/news-events/west-virginia-day?35.

Read the rest of this entry »

Coopers Rock in Historic Photographs

Posted by Jessica McMillen.
June 8th, 2020

By McKayla Herron, WVRHC Graduate Assistant

Being originally from Utah, distinctive rocks and mountains feel like home to me, so I’ve enjoyed visiting Coopers Rock during my time as a student in Morgantown. Following one of my visits, I was interested to see how many photographs the WVRHC has of Coopers Rock. My search on West Virginia History OnView did not disappoint! Below is a sampling of historic photographs of this local landmark, spanning about 70 years. The view hasn’t changed much, but fashion definitely has!

Visitors at Cooper's Rock
Visitors at Cooper’s Rock, circa 1890 (https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/017112)
Group at Cooper's Rocks
Group at Cooper’s Rock, 1905 (https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/045035)
Friends Take in the View at Coopers Rock
Friends Take in the View at Coopers Rock, circa 1910 (https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/048309)
Two Girls on Graffiti Covered Rock
Two Girls on Graffiti Covered Rock, Coopers Rock State Forest, circa 1920 (https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/047784)
Civilian Conservation Corps Member John Cortez
Civilian Conservation Corps Member John Cortez at Cooper’s Rock, circa 1940 (https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/012490)
Family at Coopers Rock
Family at Coopers Rock, 1941 (https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/045134)
Young Couple Enjoying the View from the Overlook
Young Couple Enjoying the View from the Overlook at Cooper’s Rock State Park, circa 1950 (https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/016840)

Enjoying the View at Coopers Rock, 1951 (https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/01624)
Tourists at Cooper's Rock,
Tourists at Cooper’s Rock, 1961 (https://wvhistoryonview.org/catalog/016223)

Sampling a New Collection: More Historical Postcards from the Edward Utz Collection

Posted by Jessica McMillen.
June 1st, 2020

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

In a previous blog regarding the Utz postcard collection I brought attention to historical images of railroad depots in the state of West Virginia.  For my History Center blog this month I will continue to survey this collection on a new topic, the town of Petersburg, West Virginia in Grant County.  Founded in 1745 by Jacob Peterson, Petersburg lies in a valley on the South Branch of the Potomac River with a present day population of about 2600 citizens

Hermitage Inn, Petersburg, West Virginia
Hermitage Inn, Petersburg, West Virginia; ca. 1910-1920.
(from the Edward Utz collection, A&M 4458,
West Virginia and Regional History Center)

Two of the postcards document historic landmarks that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  One them is of the Hermitage Inn.  Built in 1840 along the main local highway, it was converted into a hotel in 1881 and it’s been in operation ever since.  According to the National Register nomination form, which includes historical narrative, we are informed that the building was erected with bricks by local slaves who fired them on the site, and that during the Civil War Union troops lodged here during campaigns in the valley.

Dining room of the Hermitage Inn, Petersburg, West Virginia
Dining room of the Hermitage Inn, Petersburg, West Virginia; ca. 1940-1950.
(from the Edward Utz collection, A&M 4458, WVRHC)
Grant County Court House
Grant County Court House, Petersburg, West Virginia; ca. 1905-1908.
(from the Edward Utz collection, A&M 4458, WVRHC)

Like the Hermitage Inn, the County Court House has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Built in 1878-1879, it was later expanded in 1909.  This view of the building shows how it looked about 10 years before its 1909 expansion.

Sawmill
Sawmill, Petersburg, West Virginia; undated.
(from the Edward Utz collection, A&M 4458, WVRHC)

According to the West Virginia Encyclopedia, early settlers in the region used man-powered whip-saws and water-powered sawmills, so this postcard of an early sawmill,  photographed some time in the early 20th century, documents a significant historical landmark from the frontier past.

First Train to Petersburg on the Hampshire Southern Railroad
First Train to Petersburg on the Hampshire Southern Railroad,
Petersburg, West Virginia; 1910.
(from the Edward Utz collection, A&M 4458, WVRHC)

When one learns about the history of efforts to build a railroad line into the valley of the South Branch of the Potomac River, linking southward from Green Spring, West Virginia to Petersburg, a distance of nearly 60 miles, then the significance and sense of occasion manifest in this photograph comes into focus.  It had taken 35 years, and several railroad companies, before the line was completed, from the initial investment of Kanawha County businessmen in 1875, until the final success in 1910 by the Hampshire Southern Railroad Company.  Petersburg had been waiting years for the completion of a rail link to their town, so it seems fitting that a photographer was there to document the arrival of the first train.  The crowd we can see in the resulting photograph have come out to witness the first train’s appearance, likely in the expectation of better days to come through the economic opportunities and convenience it would afford them.

"Horse and Buggy Days, Petersburg Gap"
“Horse and Buggy Days, Petersburg Gap”; 1902
(from the Edward Utz collection, A&M 4458, WVRHC)

The “Horse and Buggy Days” postcard, likely published sometime in the period 1915-1920, shows a scene of local residents gathering at Petersburg Gap, a favorite recreational retreat for locals situated about two and one-half miles from the town of Petersburg on the South Branch of the Potomac River.  The cliff in the background rises to a height of 800 feet and is known as “Picture Rock” since the outlines of a fox and ox can apparently be seen in the rock formations.  This site is still popular, and is now managed by Grant County as “Welton Park.”

offline sources consulted:

digitized postcards from the Edward Utz collection, A&M 4458 (WVU Libraries, West Virginia and Regional History Center)

online sources consulted:

“Historic Properties Inventory Form, Hermitage Inn”

(http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/grant/86000776.pdf)

“National Register of Historic Places, Inventory-Nomination Form, Grant County Court House” (http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/nr/pdf/grant/86000776.pdf)

“Sawmills” (https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/185)

“Grant County, Parks and Recreation” (http://www.grantcountywv.org/agencies/parks-recreation.php)

wikipedia:

“Petersburg, West Virginia”

“Hermitage Motor Inn”

“Grant County Court House (West Virginia)”

“South Branch Valley Railroad”

For other recent History Center blog posts related to new acquisitions, see:

Collection Highlight: A Souvenir of the 1893 World’s Columbian ExpositionSampling a New Collection: Historical Postcards of Railroad Depots

Reflections on Processing Governor Arch Moore’s Papers

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 25th, 2020

Blog post by Abbi Smithmyer, Graduate Student Assistant, WVRHC.

My name is Abbi Smithmyer and this May I will graduate with a master’s degree in Nineteenth Century United States History with a minor field in Public History from West Virginia University. This past year, while pursuing my degree, I had the privilege to work as a Graduate Assistant at the West Virginia and Regional History Center Archives. As a historian in training, working at an archive has been an interesting and rewarding experience. Throughout my assistantship, I worked on the congressional archives of former United States Congressman and West Virginia Governor, Arch A. Moore Jr.

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WVU Libraries names three Munn Scholars

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 20th, 2020

West Virginia University Libraries’ Teaching and Learning Committee has selected three Honors College students as 2020 Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library Scholars.

“All of us at WVU Libraries are pleased to name Iain MacKay, Jordan Nistendirk and Jack Steketee as Munn Scholars,” Dean of Libraries Karen Diaz said. “Despite all of the challenges surrounding COVID-19, such as a closed campus, they exceeded expectations in the research they conducted and the impressive works of scholarship they produced.”

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Reflections on Processing the Senator John D. Rockefeller IV Collection

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 18th, 2020

Blog post by Maggie Beck, Graduate Student Assistant, WVRHC.

Hello! My name is Maggie Beck and I am a graduate assistant working on processing the massive Senator John D. Rockefeller IV collection. As a dual-degree student working on a Master’s in Social Work and Public Administration, Senator Rockefeller’s work is particularly interesting for me as he worked on many pieces of healthcare legislation.

Maggie Beck
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O’Brien, former dean of libraries, passes away

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 13th, 2020
Frances OBrien

Frances O’Brien, former Dean of West Virginia University Libraries, passed away Friday, May 8, at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Her daughter, EJ Painter, was with her.

O’Brien served as dean of Libraries from June 1999 until her retirement in December 2011. During her tenure, she oversaw the construction of the Downtown Campus Library and the Library’s state-of-the-art Book Depository as well as renovations to the Wise Library and Evansdale Library. In addition, she worked to implement multiple technological enhancements.

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How to Tell the Age of a Book

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 11th, 2020

Blog post by Jessica Kambara, LTAII/Rare Book Room assistant, WVRHC.

Historical events are not only recorded in the content of books. All parts of a book contain information, from the cover design to the paper to the damage sustained over time.  Book characteristics vary widely depending on the region and time period they were produced; things like war, national affluence, religious movements, and literacy rates all affect book making. Bibliography or bibliology is the study of books and a wide field of study, as such, it cannot be mastered in one day. However, this guide will break down some simple ways to tell the age of a book and serve as a basic introduction to the history of books.

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Libraries to debut “Undefeated” exhibit online

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 8th, 2020

West Virginia University Libraries will debut its exhibit “Undefeated: Canvas(s)ing the Politics of Voter Suppression Since Women’s Suffrage” as an online exhibition in August 2020, followed by a print installation in spring of 2021 at the Downtown Campus Library. 

“Undefeated,” the Libraries’ third large collaborative exhibition, brings together several on and off campus partners. The exhibit includes educational content curated by a committee of regional experts, and visual art and designs submitted by nationally known artists.

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The Bloch Family

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 4th, 2020

By Nathan Kosmicki, WVRHC Graduate Assistant

The Bloch family are some of the most influential and noteworthy members of the Wheeling community. Bloch Brothers Tobacco Company was one of the largest employers in the city and produced one of the most widely used brands of chewing tobacco: Mail Pouch. Samuel and Aaron Bloch founded the company in 1880 and came to employ over 500 people by 1900. Samuel and Aaron were both noted philanthropists in the Wheeling area, contributing to charities and donating land for the creation of public parks. Samuel Bloch also served on the board of Ohio Valley General Hospital and contributed greatly to their pediatric department. Jesse Bloch, Samuel’s son, became a state senator and cast the deciding vote for West Virginia’s ratification of the 19th Amendment. Elmhurst, the former home of Samuel, his wife Bertha and their children, now functions as Elmhurst: The House of Friendship. Donated in 1940 by Samuel and Bertha’s children, Mr. Jesse A. Bloch, Mr. Harold S. Bloch, Mrs. Edouard Ziegler, and Mrs. Steven Hirsch, it was donated in memory of Bertha Bloch who served on the board of the House of Friendship when it was titled “The Home for Aged Women.” In addition to this, Samuel and Bertha’s children erected a nurses home for Ohio Valley General Hospital and named it after Samuel S. Bloch.

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Our buildings may be closed, but the Libraries are open

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 29th, 2020

If you need help with final projects and papers, there is live chat until midnight during the week. Our extensive online collections are available 24/7, offering millions of academic journal articles, available through databases and ejournals The Libraries’ book collections include nearly a million ebooks available through the library catalogFor articles and chapters not immediately accessible in our online collections, request what you need through ILLiad, and a scanned copy will be delivered to you as soon as possible.

Wishing you all a successful end to this extraordinary semester,

WVU Libraries librarians and staff

Reflections of a Graduate Assistant for Congressional Papers

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 27th, 2020

By Lydia Strickling, WVRHC Graduate Assistant

Portrait of Lydia Strickling

My name is Lydia Strickling and I am a second year student in WVU’s Public History program. I’ve been a graduate assistant with the West Virginia and Regional History Center for the entirety of my time at WVU. During my assistantship, I’ve worked with the papers of former West Virginia Congressman and Governor, Arch A. Moore, Jr., whose political career spanned from the mid 1950s to 1989. My work with the Moore Papers has included processing collections related to both Moore’s Congressional and Gubernatorial service. This involves making sure the collection is stored in appropriate folders and boxes and that it is well-organized to aid future researchers. Other tasks I’ve completed include digitizing documents in the Moore Papers and writing scope and content notes to describe subsections of this collection. I’ve also written text for an upcoming exhibit that will be in the Downtown Library.

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Celebrating Shakespeare and the First Folio

Posted by Jessica McMillen.
April 23rd, 2020

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian

O, how this spring of love resembleth
The uncertain glory of an April day,
Which now shows all the beauty of the sun,
And by and by a cloud takes all away.

This quote from Shakespeare’s play “The Two Gentlemen of Verona,” (Act I, Scene 3, lines 85-88), describes just what the poet T.S. Eliot was thinking when he described April as “the cruelest month.”  That may be true, but for lovers of Shakespeare, April is the month of his birth, and also his death.  Though the dates of Shakespeare’s birth and death cannot be established with any certainty, April 23 is considered the likely date for both events.  The only extant record that comes close to recording his birth date is a baptismal notice for April 26, 1564.  His passing is believed to have taken place on April 23, 1616.  It is entirely possible that the same date applies to both life events.

These lines are from his most famous work, the collected plays, titled Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, published seven years after his death in 1623.  Known colloquially as the first folio, it is considered to be the most important work ever published in the English language.

Preface and title page image of the first folio: British Library

The first two pages of the folio contain a preface, on the left, and the title page with a portrait of Shakespeare, on the right.  The placement of these items is important, not just because they fulfil the placement of preface and title page that is standard in books, but because they connect so importantly to each other.

The preface, “To the Reader,” appears in the format of a poem written by Ben Jonson, a colleague of Shakespeare, and a well-known playwright, whose plays were the first to be printed “in folio.”  What does printing “in folio” actually mean?  The word “folio” simply refers to the size of the paper used.  A folio is printed on a large size paper.  This was very uncommon for the publication of plays, which were usually printed in a smaller size, called a quarto.  Jonson’s collected plays were the first to be printed “in folio,” and this had a huge influence on the publication of Shakespeare’s plays in the same size.

Ben Jonson’s preface “To the Reader”

                             To the Reader

This figure, that thou here sees put,
It was for gentle Shakespeare cut;
Wherein the graver had a strife
With nature, to outdo the life:
O, could he have but drawn his wit
As well in brass, as he has hit
His face, the print would then surpass
All, that was ever written in brass.
But, since he cannot, Reader look
Not on his picture, but his book.

We can see that the text of this preface, above, looks very different than today’s English.  The English language is in transition at this time.  Spelling and letterforms have yet to be standardized.  We see things here that we don’t recognize, such the “long s,” which looks like an “f” without the crossbar, the interchangeable use of letters “u” and “v,” and the ligature of the letters “ct,” to reinforce the sound they make when spoken.  These lines, the modern translation is on the right, have an important purpose, they describe the portrait of Shakespeare on the title page.  It is considered to be the only portrait of Shakespeare created during his lifetime.  It is an engraving by the artist, Martin Droeshout, who was known as a “graver,” taken from the word “engraver.”  The engraving is cut onto brass which was used for printing.  Since Shakespeare had been dead seven years, and many people did not know him, Jonson’s message and the portrait is important.  Yes, the portrait is good, but it can’t capture his wit, move on, read the book!

Shakespeare wrote his plays specifically for the King’s Men, a group of actors who performed exclusively at the Globe Theater.  Not only did he write the plays they performed but he acted in them as well.  It was this group of actors that brought the collected plays to the printers, William Jaggard and his son Isaac, to be published.  Without them, we would not know eighteen of Shakespeare’s plays, including my favorite, Macbeth. The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, and Julius Caesar, among others, would be lost.  All of these plays would remain unknown to us without this book.

Names of the Principal Actors Catalogue image: British Library

The names of all the actors that appeared in the King’s Men is printed on the page on the left.  Shakespeare himself gets top billing.  John Hemmings and Henry Condell are the actors who led the charge to publish Shakespeare’s collected plays.  They are also responsible for organizing the plays under the categories of histories, comedies, and tragedies, as shown on the catalogue or contents page on the right.

In this blog post we’ve talked about Shakespeare, his actors, and his plays. We’ve talked about Ben Jonson and we’ve talked about the publication of the first folio – but we haven’t talked about why it’s called the “first” folio.  It is the first folio because it is the first publication of Shakespeare’s collected plays.  Interest in Shakespeare’s works continued long after the first collection sold out, leading to the publication of additional editions.  In all, there were four folios:  the first, published in 1623, the second, published in 1632, the third, published in 1664, and the fourth and final folio, published in 1685.  Of course, Shakespeare’s works continues to be published to this day. But the folios are the most important editions of his dramatic works.

This is the book that made Shakespeare what he is to us today.  West Virginia University’s West Virginia and Regional History Center rare books collections owns all four of Shakespeare’s folios, thanks the generous gift of Arthur Dayton’s Shakespeare collection, given by his wife, Ruth, in 1951.  Dayton, a WVU alumnus, was a passionate collector whose goal was to acquire all four of Shakespeare’s folios. These books are among the most prized in the rare books collection.  The folios are regularly made available to students and faculty for use in classes in the rare book room and these are some of the facts I share with students when they visit the rare book room.  Thanks to Mr. Dayton’s gift, Shakespeare’s folios have educated generations of students at WVU and will continue to do so for future generations.

Making of Shakespeare’s First Folio by Emma Smith

If you’d like to learn more about Shakespeare and the first folio, I highly recommend The Making of Shakespeare’s First Folio, by Emma Smith.  Smith’s book is written in a manner that informs scholars and interested readers alike.

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare!

Resources:

Researching Historic Buildings at the WVRHC: The Pietro Brothers of Morgantown, West Virginia

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 20th, 2020

By McKayla Herron, WVRHC Graduate Assistant

For one of my classes this semester I have been working on a large project to survey ten buildings in Morgantown’s Greenmont neighborhood. This project entails describing these buildings’ architectural characteristics, researching their previous owners, and writing a history of this section of the neighborhood, which will eventually be submitted to the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office. 

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