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West Virginia and the Vietnam War

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
December 12th, 2017

Blog Post by Catherine Rakowski, Administrative Associate at the WVRHC

The United States’ involvement in Vietnam (also known as French Indochina) began as early as 1950 in an effort to contain the spread of communism.  Throughout the next 25 years, the American support for the anti-communist government of South Vietnam escalated from supplying funding, military advisors and equipment to a full-scale involvement of U.S. forces fighting the war.

By the end of America’s most controversial war in 1975, more than 3 million Americans had served and 58,220 had died.  The state of West Virginia sent 36,578 troops of which 1,182 died. West Virginia suffered the highest casualty rate in the nation.

The West Virginia and Regional History Center is now displaying through December 2017, in the Rockefeller Gallery (2nd floor of the Wise Library) the exhibit, “West Virginia and the Vietnam War.” It includes political papers, maps, photographs, correspondence, artifacts, ephemera and the stories of individuals involved in the war on the front lines and at home. The photographs in this blog are from that exhibit.  Read the rest of this entry »

Women Speak at West Virginia University

Posted by jetapia@wvu-ad.wvu.edu.
December 8th, 2017

Event by Women of Appalachia Project

WVU Libraries was pleased to host Women of Appalachia: Spoken Word, September 30, 2017 in the Milano Reading Room of the Downtown Campus Library. The curated event that travels around the region featuring some 30 women artists, included several West Virginia artists. WVU Campus Read Director and Teaching Assistant Professor of Marketing, Susan Lantz, graciously provided a reflection of the event for the Libraries’ blog, below, accompanied by links to recordings of the event.

Today, as I begin the semester assessment in my 97-student “Intro” classes, I asked the students,

“What things did we do in class to make you better understand the diversity of West Virginia University?”

I expected typical answers like. . .

“We read a book about women who were African American.”

“We watched a TED talk about women in Rwanda who are entrepreneurs.”

“We talked about race and class in business when we watched the one video.”

And, indeed. I got those answers. But I got another one that pleasantly surprised me.

A young women raised her hand and said, “That event you told us to go to at the library…the one where the women read stories. ‘Women Speak,’ I think it was called.

I could have kissed her.

Because, even though a 48 year old Assistant Professor of Marketing like me absolutely knew that a spoken word event consisting of Appalachian Women telling their stories speaks to the diversity of our college, state, and region. . . I wasn’t sure the students would. Especially because the event was on a beautiful September Saturday afternoon. And especially because the event was on a list of events that students could choose from (they were required to attend five.)

But, to my surprise, not only did over 100 people show up to the Spoken Word Event, but over 30 of them were students. Some of them were native West Virginians. Some of them were from New York, New Jersey, and Washington D.C. One young woman was from Oman, and one was from Saudi Arabia.

And they were INTO IT. When I quizzed my classes later to find out which events from the list of 19 they had enjoyed the most, this event was often mentioned.

We linked the event to this year’s Campus Read, *Hidden Figures*, a book about the female African American Physicists and Mathematicians who were the underpinnings of the space program. We had chosen the book because two of these women had lived in our town. In fact, one of them had actually attended West Virginia University. We are very proud.
We thought that the subject matter of the book, daughters of Appalachia who used their talents to achieve great things, would link naturally to an event that celebrated Appalachian Women. And it did, and it was a huge success.

But I underestimated my students. Because I think they understood the importance of the event even more than I did. For many of the students who gathered together for the Women Speak event in Morgantown, it was a celebration not only of the diversity of our state and our region, but of the beautiful commonalities and truths that we all share.

Below are the last two video recordings of the live event; to see the first two visit:
https://news.lib.wvu.edu/2017/11/07/wvu-libraries-hosted-regional-women-of-appalachia-spoken-word-event-a-reflection-by-wvu-mds-professor-renee-k-nicholson/

Looking at Morgantown – Call for photography

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
December 7th, 2017

How would you capture the spirit of Morgantown in a photograph? Is it fans tailgating before a Mountaineer game, hikers exploring a trail at Coopers Rock, or a family gathering together for Sunday dinner?

West Virginia University Libraries’ Arts in the Libraries Program is seeking submissions for Looking at Morgantown, an upcoming exhibit to be displayed at the Downtown Campus Library from April through August 2018.

The exhibit is in conjunction with Looking at Appalachia: Selected Images from 2014-2016 currently on display at the DCL. Looking at Appalachia is an ongoing crowdsourced photography project created by West Virginia-based photographer Roger May as a response to media coverage and perceptions of Appalachia and the President Johnson’s War on Poverty.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirroring the LOC: Mirror Images in the Collection of the WVRHC

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
December 4th, 2017

Blog Post by Jessica Eichlin, Photographs Manager and Preservationist

One of my favorite parts of my job as an archivist is seeing what other museums and archives around the world are doing through social media.

The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division uses a blog to let people see their collections online. I love seeing their posts about the items they have, the projects they are working on with the public, and their new acquisitions. The newest post on their “Picture This” blog, “Double Take: Mirror Images,” was especially intriguing, as I knew the WVRHC had a number of photographs of mirrors in our own collections. Photographs of mirrors can be particularly fascinating due to the images captured, deliberately or unintentionally, in the mirror itself.

Check out the original post here, then keep scrolling to see some of the WVRHC mirror photos!  Read the rest of this entry »

Our Apple Heritage

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
November 29th, 2017

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC.

Fun fact of the day: apple trees are a member of the rose family, and are not native to North America—they spread from Asia through Europe and colonists brought them to this continent in the 1600s.

Two African-American men with apple sacks, in front of an apple bin in an orchard

Apple Pickers, 1975

There were once 1000 to 1600 varieties of apples grown in the southern and central Appalachian region, which is pretty astounding considering that they aren’t native and that Wikipedia tells us there are over 7500 cultivars of apple.  As of 2011, one study suggested there were still over 600 distinct varieties grown in the region.  At least two of these cultivars are special West Virginia contributions. Read the rest of this entry »

Rahall Collection now open to the public

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
November 29th, 2017

Thousands of archival records and digital photographs from the Congressman Nick Joe Rahall II papers are now open for research at West Virginia University Libraries’ West Virginia & Regional History Center.

In 1976, Nick Rahall II, a 27-year-old native of Beckley, WV, won the race for the West Virginia Fourth Congressional District and went on to win re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives for another eighteen terms (1977-2015), making him the longest serving congressman in West Virginia history.

Congressman Rahall with senators Jennings and Byrd

Before he was elected to Congress, Nick Rahall worked in the office of then U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd and as assistant to the Majority Secretary of the Senate. He is pictured with senators Jennings Randolph, Mike Mansfield and Byrd in June 1976. Read the rest of this entry »

Tiera Joy Tanner, CCA painting grad student, exhibits at Evansdale Library

Posted by jetapia@wvu-ad.wvu.edu.
November 27th, 2017

Moments in time captured on film are taken into the hands of West Virginia University College of Creative Arts painting graduate student Tiera Joy Tanner and made into something new yet nostalgic.

Tanner works with photographs dated from the early 1990’s by embracing the out-of-focus details. In order to bring new concepts into focus she resizes and crops her images in order to emphasize the lack of detail and out-of-focus look of them. By doing this she brings attention to the lack of clarity and the way that these subtle distortions evoke differing feelings and perceptions of these flashes from the past. Within her painted work she uses these elements to show fragments of their childhood, giving us memories in paintings. More information can be found at tierajoytanner.com.

Her work is on display on the 1st floor and 2nd floor of Evansdale Library through January 2018.

Art in the Libraries develops exhibits and related programs in the Downtown Campus Library, Evansdale Library, and Health Sciences Library, highlighting the creative endeavors and scholarship of WVU faculty, staff, and students, reaching across the University, the region, and the broader academic community. This program demonstrates how art, libraries and scholars encourage the community to explore, reflect, and discuss what they encounter in the WVU Libraries which seeks to embody the mission of West Virginia University by excelling in discovery and innovation, modeling cultural diversity and inclusion, promoting vitality and building pathways for the exchange of knowledge and opportunity.

Exhibition proposals are open and ongoing at exhibits.lib.wvu.edu.

Talking Turkey: Celebrating Thanksgiving in West Virginia

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
November 20th, 2017

Group of turkeys on snowy ground

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Many people would argue that Thanksgiving is just not complete without a turkey as the centerpiece of a loaded dinner table surrounded by loved ones.  Every other dish, no matter how elaborately prepared or presented, seems to be relegated to side dish status once the turkey comes out of the oven.  But there’s more to talking turkey on Thanksgiving than the meal of the day, there’s the way we celebrate, from turkey calls, to hunting wild game, to watching parades, and cooking the bird.  It’s all part of that most American of holidays, Thanksgiving.  Read the rest of this entry »

Preserving the History of WVU’s First African-American Graduates

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
November 13th, 2017

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

The West Virginia & Regional History Center collects materials that document the history and culture of our state and region – including records that document the history of WVU.  This post examines the history of some of WVU’s first African-American graduates and the collections that tell their stories.  Read the rest of this entry »

WVU Libraries to host open forum on serving veterans

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
November 8th, 2017

As part of its service to student veterans, West Virginia University Libraries will host an open forum titled “Serving those who Served” on Monday (Nov. 13) from 10 a.m.-noon in the Downtown Campus Library, Room 104.

The speaker is Sarah LeMire, the First-Year Experience librarian at Texas A&M University and the co-author of Serving Those Who Served: Librarian’s Guide to Working with Veteran and Military Families. Before becoming a librarian, LeMire served in the U.S. Army as an Arabic linguist including a deployment to Iraq in 2005-2006.

Read the rest of this entry »

WVU Libraries hosted regional Women of Appalachia Spoken Word Event: A Reflection by WVU MDS Professor Renée K. Nicholson

Posted by jetapia@wvu-ad.wvu.edu.
November 7th, 2017

WVU Libraries was pleased to host Women of Appalachia: Spoken Word, September 30, 2017 in the Milano Reading Room of the Downtown Campus Library. The curated event that travels around the region featuring some 30 women artists, included several West Virginia artists. Multidisciplinary Studies Professor Renée K. Nicholson was one such West Virginia artist who read at the event, and she graciously provided a short reflection for the Libraries’ blog, below.  If you missed the live event, we have links to the Youtube records included as well.


On a crisp, early October Sunday afternoon, I made my way to WVU’s Downtown Library, climbing the spiral stairs and making my way to the Milano Reading Room for the first of the Women of Appalachia readings for 2017-2018. The sun slanted in the windows, filling the room with natural light, as people milled around the refreshments set out for the occasion. Though this was my first time reading as part of the series, the project has enjoyed many years of women writers and artists from all around Appalachia.

Some familiar faces were in the room. Cheryl Denise, a poet from Phillipi, WV is someone I’ve known for years and whose work in poetry both tells a story and celebrates language. Anna Smucker was another poet, whose work on many acclaimed children’s books is well known in West Virginia and beyond. Kari Gunter-Seymour Peterson, a writer I had met before, had worked tirelessly to assemble this group after a professional vetting process, and also read as part of the event. There were also many writers whose work I didn’t know, and so it made for a delightful treat to learn of the work they did.

One of the goals of the project is to challenge the stereotype of “Appalachian Woman.” With so many different voices, not just from West Virginia, but Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina and beyond, and with a mix of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, the range alone challenged the idea of single Appalachian Woman. Instead we stitched together in worlds a quilt of language and lived experience that was beautiful more for the ways it kept pattern at bay than for the way it conformed. Listening to others felt like the true reward of the day.

Place defines people, and an event like the Women of Appalachia gathering presented the idea of place as a rooting one. Roots support and nourish, and clearly the work of the assembled readers showed how Appalachia sustained the writing shared. Outside the autumn sun illuminated trees that would soon burst forth into garnet and persimmon and golds, all the glory of autumn and inside, the vibrancy of the words were already in full view. In the patter of after-reading conversation, once again I felt reminded of what place and poetry can do—create community.

Renée K. Nicholson, MFA
Assistant Professor, Programs for Multi and Interdisciplinary Studies, West Virginia University
Assistant Director, West Virginia Writers’ Workshop
Author of Roundabout Directions to Lincoln Center
Co-editor, Bodies of Truth: Narratives of Illness, Disability & Medicine (Nebraska UP, 2019)

Journalist to address the failure of mass incarceration

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
October 26th, 2017

A project exploring stereotypes and mass incarcerations will bring journalist Sylvia Ryerson to campus November 15 for multiple class visits and a public presentation in the Downtown Campus Library’s Milano Reading Room at 6 p.m.

Sylvia Ryerson

Sylvia Ryerson

Ryerson’s presentation, “Public Airwaves through Prison Walls: Restoring Connection in the Era of Mass Incarceration,” will complement the visual perspective of The Divide, WVU Multimedia Producer and photojournalist Raymond Thompson’s exhibit of photographs on display in the Downtown Campus Library Atrium. Ryerson partnered with Thompson to document a 2015 trip by Virginian families as they drove together in a van from urban centers to rural Appalachian prisons to visit incarcerated loved-ones.

Raymond Thompson

Raymond Thompson

“ ‘Restoring Connections’ showcases how art, journalism, and activism intersect to highlight topics of academic interest that have a direct impact on society; exactly the programming we are aiming to host in the libraries,” said Karen Diaz, interim dean of WVU Libraries. “Raymond’s photographs have been surrounding library users for months, bringing an awareness of the families impacted by incarceration. This program will fill out those photos with the stories of those affected and give us all a new perspective on the impacts of mass incarceration in our country. These sorts of conversations are essential to helping us shape the thoughtful democratic society we wish to create for ourselves.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Downtown Campus Library to transform into Hall of Games for International Games Week

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
October 24th, 2017

Got games? West Virginia University Libraries will host a series of events at the Downtown Campus Library as part of International Games Week (IGW) (Oct. 30-Nov. 4). All events are free and open to the public.

  • Events kick off Monday, Oct. 30, at noon with a presentation by Jaime Banks, professor of Communication Studies, and Ph.D. student Joe Wasserman, titled “Real Representations and Liminal Lessons: Considerations for Games in Learning” in Room 104.
  • Monday through Saturday, Oct. 30-Nov. 4 – Take a break from work or study to play arcade games provided by local Star Port Arcade and Pub in Room 1036.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 1, at 11 a.m. in Room 104 – A panel of WVU instructors (Banks; Mark Benincosa, School of Music; Dr. Bob Britten, Reed College of Media; and Dr. Brian Ballentine, Professional Writing and Editing) will discuss how they use games and gamification in their teaching and research. Librarian Jing Qiu will facilitate. Following the panel, instructors are invited to participate in a noon workshop on gamifying lesson plans featuring lunch provided by Lotsa Motsa.
  • Thursday, Nov. 2, from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., in Room 2036 – Cartridges Galore Video Games will provide an on-site open gaming station for users to play with for free.
  • Friday, Nov. 3, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., in Room 2036 – The WVU Student Game Developers Club will have an open showcase of games they designed.
  • Saturday, Nov. 4, from 2 p.m.-7 p.m. – Family Day offers a casual community game extravaganza that includes lessons for beginners for all kinds of games, giveaways, competitive tournaments, open play, live WVU Jeopardy and an appearance by real Jeopardy star and Morgantown resident Leigh Limerick. College of Creative Arts Professor Jeffrey Moser’s game design class will display Breakout Storytelling. Four Horsemen Comics and Games and Star Port Arcade is giving out free prizes. Visitors can learn and play Magic the Gathering, Pokémon, board games and more.

Attendees are encouraged to use social media and tag #wvulibraries or #wvugamesweek to celebrate the fun.

International Games Week has been celebrated in 53 countries and territories on all 7 continents. Hundreds of libraries across the country will join WVU in celebrating the popularity and educational, recreational and social value of games. For more information, contact Sally Deskins, Libraries Exhibits and Programs Coordinator, sbdeskins@mail.wvu.edu or Beth Toren, Interdisciplinary, Cultural and Film Studies Librarian/Games Week coordinator, beth.toren@mail.wvu.edu.

West Virginia’s Own World War I Flying Ace: Louis Bennett, 1894-1918

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
October 23rd, 2017

Top of statue showing man in aviator cap/goggles

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

 

Lt. Louis Bennett, Jr. and his dog standing in front of a SE5a biplane

Lt. Louis Bennett, Jr. and his dog standing in front of a SE5a biplane

 

This year, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I.  While war had raged in Europe since 1914, President Woodrow Wilson was making every effort to keep America from committing soldiers and joining the war effort.  However, the tide turned in support of the war and America joined forces with Europe in April 1917.   Following that declaration, the U.S. then declared war on Austria-Hungary in December with troops arriving on the Western Front the following year, 1918.

A young man from Weston, Louis Bennet, Jr., couldn’t wait.  Bennett was the son of Louis Bennett Sr., a prominent Lewis County politician, and Sallie Maxwell Bennett.  Born September 22, 1894, Bennett attended preparatory schools in Pennsylvania, then enrolled at Yale in 1913, graduating in 1917.

While at Yale, Bennett began to envisage a West Virginia Flying Corps.  He left Yale briefly to return to West Virginia in order to put his idea for a flying corps into practice.  Once back in his home state, Bennett pursued his dream, fully developing a flying corps and situating it in Beech Bottom, a small town in Brooke County near Weirton.  Bennett established the corps with a full complement of pilots, crew and its own airfield.  With the attention of the governor, Bennett received a commission as the unit’s captain.  Read the rest of this entry »

WVRHC Staff Favorites

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
October 16th, 2017

American Archives Month & West Virginia Archives Month

Blog post compiled by Jessica Eichlin, Photographs Manager and Preservationist

October is American Archives Month and West Virginia Archives Month!  To celebrate, this post will look at some staff “favorites” from the collections at the WVRHC.


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

 My favorite book that we have at the West Virginia and Regional History Center is found in the rare book room. It is an 1885 printing of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. It is one of my favorite books of all time, and Twain is my favorite author so it was really neat to see one of the first printings of the book.

Submitted by Savannah Rose, Graduate Assistant  Read the rest of this entry »

Donuts and Diversity: Expanding on Looking at Appalachia: A Panel on Intersectionality in Appalachian Photography

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
October 9th, 2017

WVU Libraries will host a discussion on Appalachian photography and identity on Friday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m.-noon in the Downtown Campus Library’s Milano Reading Room.

The program will begin with short presentations exploring different ways of representation and discuss intersectionality with regard to identities exuded in photos of the people and places of Appalachia. Intersectionality reflects the idea that multiple identities intersect to create a whole and proposes that an individual’s personal character traits are intimately linked and therefore inform one’s complete identity.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Latest Information Crisis

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
October 4th, 2017

By Karen Diaz, Interim Dean of Libraries

In the 80’s the crisis was access to information; in the 90’s, it was about the digital divide; in the 2000’s, the challenge became information glut; and now in the 2010’s, we are experiencing the latest round of information challenges – rampant disinformation. Assertions of fake news, Russian intervention in our social media streams, and confirmation-biased streams of information all lead to a crisis of belief in information itself.

One institution rarely mentioned in reports and calls for action to managing information crises are libraries. And yet, libraries have a long view of information flow and are in the thick of each challenge that arises. The current challenge is no different, and WVU Libraries is among those answering the call.

WVU Libraries not only supplies proprietary information to the campus, our bedrock curriculum is information literacy, a term difficult to define, but exactly what is needed in times of information crisis. Librarians are here, not only to help students learn how to use the library, but also how to think about their own thinking so that they become more literate information users.

Read the rest of this entry »

WVU History Exhibit Now Online

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
October 4th, 2017

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC; online exhibit by Savannah Rose, Graduate Assistant.

In celebration of WVU’s 150th anniversary, the WVRHC unveiled a new exhibit, Flowing Outward and Beyond: West Virginia University, on West Virginia Day.  The exhibit showcases WVU history through records and artifacts found in the Center’s collections, featuring WVU’s early days, student life, arts, sports, and more.

For those who cannot visit us in person, one of the WVRHC’s fantastic graduate assistants has created a digital exhibit that brings the story of the objects, text, and videos we have on display to a wider audience. We encourage you to check it out at https://wvuhistoryexhibit.wordpress.com/.

When I worked on my first exhibit at the Center, I saw how much effort and creativity my coworkers put into our yearly exhibits, and I wanted to be able to share the finished product with people far and wide (including my family members living over 1000 miles away).   Now, we have PDF versions of our previous 5 exhibits available, which you can find on our WV Day Exhibits webpage: https://wvday.lib.wvu.edu/exhibits.  Savannah tried something new this year, going beyond PDF slides to a web-based design.  I hope you all enjoy the upgrade as much as I do!

If this year’s digital exhibit whets your appetite, the exhibit can still be viewed in person at the WVRHC (in the back of the 6th floor, Downtown Campus Library); it will remain on display through May 2018.

Preview of WVRHC's 2017 WV Day poster

This year’s commemorative poster was a beautiful painting, and is one of my favorites!

Exhibit explores artist's fight with cancer

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
October 3rd, 2017

West Virginia University Libraries will host a reception on Tuesday, October 10, at 5 p.m. in the Health Sciences Pylons Area to celebrate the opening of Bodies of Truth: An Artist’s Creative Exploration through Cancer, an exhibition of artwork by Lacie Wallace.

Wallace, a Wheeling-based artist, shares self-portraits and other artwork she has painted throughout her experience in and out of hospitals as a patient with cancer as she has become “more aware of my new body, my cancer body.”

Wallace’s bright and intimate portraits are coupled with narratives written by her as well as those around her who have been moved by her courage and stamina including members of her healthcare team and others. As an act of story, art and healthcare, Bodies of Truth illuminates a full circle view of Wallace as a strong patient, artist, mother, community member and human being.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dark Side of Butterflies: The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in William Henry Edwards Butterflies of North America

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
September 26th, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

The great West Virginia coal magnate, William Henry Edwards, was a butterfly lover at heart.  Edwards lived in Coalburg, a small town outside Charleston, and he is credited as the first to open the Southern Coalfields.  When coal shipments were threatened by the events of the Civil War, Edwards found a way to get his coal to market, shipping it by boat.  He was the first to ship coal for export to the North by water.  He was also the first to document the life cycle of butterflies throughout North America and his three volume set of books on butterflies is still considered to be the reigning masterwork on the subject.  Read the rest of this entry »