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Ancella Bickley Collection Highlights African American Teachers and School Integration

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 14th, 2019

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

Dr. Ancella R. Bickley is a celebrated author, historian and educator from West Virginia. The Ancella Bickley Research Papers (A&M 4208) held at the West Virginia & Regional History Center document her life, work, and service to the public, especially her research and writing on topics of African American history. 

Ancella Bickley wearing a graduation gown and mortarboard hat

Ancella Bickley speaking at Marshall University commencement in 1990. Image from the Bickley Collection.

One of the projects recorded in her papers are interviews of black women teachers in West Virginia that she undertook with Dr. Rita Wicks-Nelson.  The interviews are part of Series 4, Interviews and Oral History Interviews—Black Teachers, 1955-2011, and were completed during Bickley and Wicks-Nelson’s time as Rockefeller Scholars-in-Residence at Marshall University.  The series includes transcripts of the interviews, correspondence with interviewees, as well as background information about the women.  Additionally, the project files contain administrative records about the project and scholarly articles by Bickley and Wicks-Nelson that draw conclusions from the interviews.

The teachers interviewed came from three regions of the state: North-Central West Virginia (Marion County), the Eastern panhandle (Jefferson County), and South/Southwest West Virginia (Cabell, Kanawha, Logan, Fayette, McDowell, and Mercer Counties.)  Most had attended black schools and graduated from black colleges.  All taught in public schools and three became principals.  The teachers ranged in age from 54 to 92 years old at the time of their interviews.  They grew up in times when racial segregation was the norm.  Bickley notes that “over time, they became more aware and less accepting of racism. Among the profound changes they personally experienced was, of course, change in the educational system.”

Outdoor group portrait of Faculty at Douglass High School in Huntington, W. Va., ca. 1919-1920

Faculty at Douglass High School in Huntington, W. Va., ca. 1919-1920. Image from WV History OnView.

The interviews provide insights into integration of public schools in West Virginia from the teachers’ perspectives.  As the school systems combined white and black schools, African American teachers moved to previously all white schools, but not all black principals were given new assignments.  The transferred teachers had mixed experiences – some were treated well, while others were set up to fail – with principals, parents, and colleagues.  The teachers noted pros and cons for their students as well.  Integration provided better supplies and equipment and enabled a broader curriculum.  At the same time from the teachers’ perspectives, black students experienced poorer academic performance, fewer opportunities for getting involved in school activities, and a loss of history and culture that was embedded in their school buildings.  Overall, most participants were disappointed in the disparity between the promises and realities of integrated schools.    

Students seated at desks in a classroom as teachers look on

Students and teachers in class at the Kimball Negro High School in McDowell County, February 1950. Image from WV History OnView.

Selected quotations from the teachers illustrated the mixed feelings and experiences regarding integration.  Nancie Smith Robinson shared her feelings of alienation from her new colleagues:

“I’ve always been kind of a private person and I just, I wasn’t friendly with the teachers [at Jefferson Elementary School, an all-white school]. I just didn’t try to be friendly. I wasn’t mean to them or anything but I didn’t want to be [friends]—I just wanted to do my work, do my job, and come home. And that’s what I did…[the school] had a bowling team. Well, instead of them asking me—it was the teachers—instead of them asking if I wanted to be on the bowling team and give me the right to refuse or whatever, they didn’t. They would sneak off in the evenings like they weren’t going anywhere. And I never heard anything about it until I heard from one of the patrons at [the bowling alley], wanted to know why I wasn’t on the bowling team. I didn’t even know they had one. And then another thing, like they would have birthday parties for themselves and they wouldn’t tell me anything about it. And I just happen [sic] to go down the cafeteria and there they were after school having a party…And uh, I, I just, after that I just didn’t try to make friends with any of the teachers at [the school].”

Velma Twyman recalled difficult experiences with parents:

“I can remember one [parent], and this was not my first year there. But she had had a crisis in her family. And she came down, she came to my room, crying. I mean she was broken up…I don’t remember what had happened. Had she just lost somebody, or one of her children was really ill? Something. Anyway, I can remember putting my arms around her and consoling her. And all of a sudden, she thought about who I was, and she did one of these numbers [dropped her arms and jumped back over from her]. I just stepped back, and, and let her go…my problem was mostly with parents. And I can remember being in the grocery store and one of my students running up to me, and her mother in a strong voice saying, ‘Come here!’ And there was another time in the grocery store, one of my kids saw me and said, ‘Mom, Mom…There’s [my teacher].’ The mother said–, never turned one way or the other.”

Other teachers received support in their new schools. Fannie Ashe Thomas described the actions of her principal that eased relationships with parents:

“The first year I went to Fayetteville I was the first black teacher there. And the principal was standing there with me at the door that morning. I wondered why he kept standing there with me. Word had gotten around, this black teacher’s coming. And here came this lady with her little boy. And she said to him, ‘I hear my son’s going to be in a black woman’s room. I don’t want him in there. He’s not used to black folks.’ Mr. Thomas said, “Now this is a good chance for him to get used to them, because he’s going to be right in [my] room.’ He had all the names on the door, the kids who were in my room. She got to be one of my best friends before school was out.”

The Ancella Bickley Papers shed light on the lives and experiences of African American teachers in West Virginia during a time of profound change.  They are open to the public for further research.


Many of the conclusions about integration discussed in this blog come from the following paper. Ancella Bickley and Wicks-Nelson, “Mosaic in Black and White: Black Teachers Remember School Integration in West Virginia,” paper presented at Piecing It All Together: Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia,  Marshall University, Huntington, West Virginia, March 3-5, 2000, page 4. (A&M 4206, Box 11, Folder 2).


Special thanks to Library and Information Science Intern Grace Musgrave for her research assistance.

WVU Libraries and the Teaching and Learning Commons award Open Educational Resources grants

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 13th, 2019

West Virginia University Libraries and the Teaching and Learning Commons (TLC) have selected three faculty members to receive inaugural Open Educational Resources (OER) grants: Corey Colyer, an associate professor of sociology, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences; Caleb Holloway, an assistant professor of mathematics, Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering & Sciences, WVU Institute of Technology; and Chris McClain, assistant professor of mathematics, Nelson College, WVU Tech.

“We’re so excited that our inaugural OER grant program is off to a great start with the potential of saving WVU students nearly $50,000,” said Martha Yancey, chair of the grants committee. “This first cohort of grant recipients will provide good models for other faculty to learn from and consider during next year’s grant process. We hope to continue building momentum toward even bigger savings in the future.”

The aim of the grants is to encourage development of alternatives to high-cost textbooks, lower the cost of college attendance for students, and support faculty who wish to implement new pedagogical models for classroom instruction. Awardees agree to use their open textbooks in courses to be taught in fall 2019 or spring 2020, and then submit a course review/report.

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A Snapshot of the Prohibition Era in West Virginia

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 8th, 2019

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

Recently, while working the reference desk in the Manuscripts Room at the History Center, I browsed the papers of West Virginia Governor Ephraim Morgan (1921-1925) that had been retrieved for a researcher and discovered a couple items of historical interest.  While the era of the early 1920s was a time in which Governor Ephraim’s attention was focused on the conflict between labor and management in the coal industry, a conflict known as the “mine wars,” it was also a time of prohibition in America, so it wasn’t surprising to discover letters in the collection related to its enforcement.

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WVU Libraries names two Munn scholars

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 6th, 2019

West Virginia University Libraries’ Teaching and Learning Committee has selected Hannah Coffey and Kelsey R. Eackles as 2019 Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library scholars.

“All of us at WVU Libraries are pleased to name Hannah Coffey and Kelsey Eackles as Munn Scholars,” Dean of Libraries Karen Diaz said. “Both exceeded expectations with their remarkable efforts in researching their topics and then writing their impressive works of scholarship.”

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Downtown Campus Library to host “With a Grain of Salt: Art in Rocks” exhibit & talk

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 6th, 2019

It’s an exhibit ~270 million years in the making.

During the Permian Period, acidic, salty lakes and groundwaters existed in Kansas. Remnants of these extreme environments have been preserved as rocks and include red muds, blue gypsum, and clear halite, along with entrapped microcapsules of Permian water, atmosphere, and microorganisms.

WVU geology professor Kathleen Benison’s photographs of these rocks serve as both scientific evidence and aesthetic objects.

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REMIX the WVRHC Archives: Call for digital/collage work

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 6th, 2019
Altered historic photograph

The West Virginia University Arts in the Libraries committee wants people to get creative with history.

“REMIX the WVRHC Archives,” an exhibition and online project by the Art in the Libraries program, encourages people to use the West Virginia & Regional History Center’s online resources to design unique artistic works, such as collages, memes, GIFs, creative writing, redaction poetry and other agglomerations.

“While archives are used for research, they can also inspire contemporary thought, perspective and fun, which is the aim of this curated project,” said Sally Deskins, exhibits coordinator for WVU Libraries.

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Diamond selected as IELOL Fellow

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 6th, 2019
Kelly Diamond

Kelly Diamond, head of West Virginia University Libraries’ Office of Curriculum and Instructional Support, has been selected as a 2019 Fellow for the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL). In its 11th year, the IELOL Institute selects its Fellows from an international pool of candidates through a competitive application process.

The five-month Institute incorporates online learning with a week-long onsite immersive experience. The cohort of IELOL Fellows investigate personal, local, and global leadership challenges in online learning through individual, group, and team projects. Participants apply their new knowledge, experience, and connections to online learning projects at their home institutions. The IELOL Institute begins this July and will culminate with the IELOL Masters Class at the Online Learning Consortium annual conference in November.

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The Scott’s Run Memory Project

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 29th, 2019

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

In 2018, the WVU Humanities Center funded a project to explore the memories of the Scott’s Run community through oral history and photography.  For the project, grant team members chose a set of historical images of the Scott’s Run area from the West Virginia & Regional History Center’s online photographs database, West Virginia History OnView. Over a series of interviews with community members who gather every Saturday at the Scott’s Run Museum, team members recorded residents’ memories and observations derived from viewing the selected photographs. 

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Celebrating Shakespeare’s 455th Birthday on April 23

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 24th, 2019

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

Portrait of William Shakespeare

Spring is here and what better way to celebrate William Shakespeare’s 455th birthday, than to look at the way he used flowers in his plays. 

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Wilkinson retires, university community invited to reception on Thursday

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 24th, 2019
Carroll Wilkinson

If you were a student at West Virginia University sometime during the past four decades, you probably benefited from Carroll Wilkinson’s work at WVU Libraries.

Did you ever check out a book at the Charles C. Wise, Jr. Library or the Downtown Campus Library? Did you log into eReserves to retrieve required course materials? Are you a student-veteran studying for final exams in one of the Libraries’ two Study Bunkers?

After 41 years of service to WVU, Wilkinson officially retired April 15.

“Carroll Wilkinson has been a valued librarian at WVU for 41 years,” Dean of Libraries Karen Diaz said. “She’s seen many changes within the profession and on campus and has herself been a change agent in helping move the libraries ever forward. Her insights, experience, and wisdom have been incredibly valuable to me during my interim term as Dean, and into my permanent role. I’ll miss her very much, but can think of no one more deserving of a rich and healthy retirement!”

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The 1918 Spanish Influenza in Morgantown

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 15th, 2019

Blog post by Jessica Eichlin, Reference Supervisor, WVRHC.

Lucy Shuttlesworth, a twenty year old West Virginia University student, recorded the 1918 flu epidemic in her diary, writing that “the Spanish influ[enza] is spreading like mad, 150 of the boys have it, (the Delt house has been taken over as a hospital) ten girls at the hall and five of our kids at the house” have it.  The particularly deadly strain of Spanish influenza initially appeared in August 1918, but the first mention of the fall epidemic did not appear in a local Morgantown newspaper until September 11, 1918.  By September twenty-fifth, an unidentified Associated Press author states that “Spanish influenza has spread over the country so rapidly that officials of the public health service, the war and navy departments and the Red Cross conferred today on measures to help local communities in combating the disease,” which had spread to twenty-six states.  By October first, the number of cases nationwide reached 88,000, and the Spanish flu finally arrived in Morgantown.

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Learn about the Morgantown Seed Preservation Library

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 8th, 2019

WVU Libraries and the Morgantown Public Library will jointly hold events on Friday, April 12, in conjunction with Food Justice Day, to celebrate the opening of the Morgantown Seed Preservation Library.

The Downtown Campus Library will host a panel session on seed sovereignty and seed/food justice from 1:30-3 p.m. in the Milano Reading Room. Barbara Hengemihle, associate university librarian, will open the session, and the moderator will be Mehmet Oztan, a WVU service assistant professor of geography who created the Morgantown Seed Preservation Library in collaboration with the Morgantown Public Library, WVU Libraries and the Food Justice Lab at WVU.

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Library Faculty Assembly names Wright Outstanding Librarian for 2019

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 5th, 2019

The Awards Committee of the West Virginia University Library Faculty Assembly has selected Alyssa Wright, social sciences librarian, as the Outstanding Librarian for 2019.

The award, presented triennially, recognizes a faculty librarian who has made exceptional contributions toward the delivery, development, or expansion of library services or special programs for the constituencies of WVU. 

“Alyssa is a creative and dedicated librarian, and we are honored to present her with the Outstanding Librarian Award this year,” said Anna Crawford, chair of the Library Faculty Assembly Awards Committee. “The impact Alyssa has made with the social science students and faculty she works with is apparent and highly valued. And her work combining information literacy with community engagement is just one example of the kind of innovative services she provides.”

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“Understanding Trauma through Art and Literature” exhibit displays at Health Sciences Library

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 4th, 2019
Heart shaped paper sculpture

Rather than simply trying to define trauma, a group of undergraduate honors students created works of art that illustrate and narrate trauma. Their exhibit, “Understanding Trauma through Art and Literature,” will remain on display at the West Virginia University Health Sciences Library through May 20.

“In healthcare, practitioners are often tasked with working with those in acute distress, which we might generally describe as traumatic. Understanding trauma, then, is an important aspect of the human condition that relates to medicine,” said Renée Nicholson, an assistant professor of multidisciplinary studies.

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Guest Post: Clover Lick Homecoming

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 3rd, 2019

This blog post, written by Libby Coyner, Archivist and Assistant Librarian at Elon University’s Carol Grotnes Belk Library, was originally posted on November 30, 2018 at You can see additional photos relevant to the post at that site.

 *The text here is from a talk I gave as part of Elon University’s Numen Lumen weekly storytelling event. 

It’s November 2018, Thanksgiving, and I’m making my way to West Virginia, 14 miles past the Virginia border into to a place that no longer supports a store, post office, or gas station. No cellphone service. My pal from graduate school, now working as a librarian in Spartanburg, South Carolina, has agreed to come along for the ride. We prepare for three days with 24 degree weather and no running water.

We are making our way to the little turn in the road where my father was born, which has been all but abandoned for about thirty years now, save a few old houses that get dusted off and used during hunting season. Clover Lick, unincorporated, a sign reads, sits along the Greenbrier River, and declined around the same time that the train stopped coming. Today, Clover Lick is mostly in a state of neglect. My cousin maintains one of the houses, always dubbed “Cold Comfort Farm” in our family, and this is where we will stay.

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Libraries’ Research Commons provides expertise and support

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 3rd, 2019
Student working on computer

Are you preparing to start a new research project? Are you exploring publishing options for your latest article?

In addition to connecting you with needed resources, West Virginia University Libraries’ librarians and staff can support users with a high level of knowledge and expertise at many points in the research life-cycle.

Last fall, WVU Libraries launched the Research Commons, a suite of services to foster interdisciplinary connections and support graduate student and faculty research needs.

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Libraries offering Scopus training during Research Week

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 28th, 2019
Screen capture of scopus website

In conjunction with West Virginia University’s inaugural Research Week, WVU Libraries will offer multiple workshops to help students and faculty take full advantage of Scopus, a popular scholarly search tool.

Currently the largest curated abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature, Scopus includes the fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, and arts and humanities. It can be accessed on the Libraries website.

Sessions are scheduled at all three Morgantown campus. On each day there will be an overview session that includes lunch.

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Spotlight on Sabraton's Namesake

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 26th, 2019

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC

Earlier this week, I attended the Seventh Annual History Roundtable, organized by the Morgantown Historic Landmarks Commission. About half of the meeting was devoted to reports about the recent Sabraton Neighborhood Survey. (FYI, the Historic Landmark Commission’s archive is at the Aull Center, if you want to see their work in full.) Despite living in the Sabraton area, I realized how little I knew about Sabraton. I learned that Sabraton was named after the first wife of Hon. George C. Sturgiss (1842-1925), Sabra. In one resource, her name was reported as Sabra Chadwick, but I think her maiden name was actually Sabra Jane Vance. In this post I briefly explore the name of Sabraton as well as what remains of Sabra’s life story.

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Looking for a fun summer online course? Register for ULIB300: Film and Media Literacy

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 22nd, 2019
Graphic for film course

Wherever you travel this summer, as long as you have Internet access, you can take ULIB300: Film and Media Literacy. In this 12-week online course, students will watch the films of Quentin Tarantino, including “Inglourious Basterds,” “Kill Bill,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Reservoirs Dogs,” “Hateful Eight,” and “Jackie Brown,” and discuss how they relate to other films in their genre, criticism, marketing, film vocabulary, and media literacy.

This 3-credit course fulfills GEC 5 and 7, and GEF 6. To register in STAR, use the Class Schedule Search and set Subject to “Library Instruction.” Learn more at the Libraries website or contact the instructor, Matt Steele, at or 304-293-4240.

WVU Libraries opens Congressman Arch Moore archives, releases digital photographs

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 19th, 2019
Arch Moore shakes hands with President Eisenhower
Congressman Arch Moore shakes hands with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, circa 1957-1960

West Virginia University Libraries’ West Virginia & Regional History Center has opened the congressional archives of former U.S. Congressman and West Virginia Governor Arch A. Moore Jr. and released digitized photographs that document Moore’s decade in the House of Representatives. 

A native of Moundsville, W.Va., Arch A. Moore Jr. served in the European theatre during World War II before enrolling at West Virginia University as a political science major in 1946. He later earned his law degree from WVU College of Law. In 1949, Moore married Shelley Riley, a fellow WVU student, and they had three children together, Arch A. (Kim) Moore III, Shelley Wellons, and Lucy St. Clair. Daughter Shelley served in the U.S. House of Representatives (2001-2014) and the U.S Senate (2015-present).

In 1952, Moore began his political career in the West Virginia House of Delegates, and in 1956 he was elected to the First District congressional seat. He went on to serve six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (1957-1969) winning as a Republican in a predominantly Democratic state. He is the only person to serve three terms as Governor of West Virginia (1969-1977, 1985-1989).

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