June 13th, 2014
Long before students filled the buildings of Woodburn Circle, or the West Virginia Legislature created West Virginia University, or the United States Congress passed the Morrill Act to establish land-grant universities, Morgantown residents made education a priority.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Monongalia Academy which first placed Morgantown on the map as a seat of education.
“Morgantown’s long history as an education center began in 1814 with the founding of the Monongalia Academy,” said John Cuthbert, director of the West Virginia and Regional History Center. “This foundation grew with the additions of the Morgantown Female Academy and the Woodburn Female Seminary in the following decades and culminated with the creation of West Virginia University in 1867.”
To commemorate the city’s bicentennial as an education center, the WVU Libraries and the WVRHC have assembled a panel of three speakers who will explore those institutions as well as the educational environment of the region during the nineteenth century.
Activities begin at 9 a.m. June 20 in Wise Library’s Milano Reading Room with a reception, followed by the forum at 9:30 a.m. Speakers include Dr. Barbara Howe, Dr. Connie Rice, and Dr. Lillian J. Waugh.
Howe taught history and women’s studies at WVU. She will address the importance of the Literary Fund; the establishment of the Monongalia Academy, its trustees who were leaders in other aspects of early Morgantown history, its curriculum, and student life. She will also talk about the earliest efforts to provide educational opportunities for girls.
Rice, an expert on African-American history in the county and state, is a lecturer in the WVU History Department and assistant editor of West Virginia History: A Journal of Regional Studies. She will talk about the legal restrictions on education for blacks prior to the Civil War, how some blacks were taught to read and write despite the laws, and the efforts of African Americans to obtain an education during and after the Civil War.
Waugh was the project historian for the WVU Women’s Centenary, served as the interim director for Women’s Studies, and received the Mary Catherine Buswell Award. She will speak on female education at the time and address the debates on and implementation of coeducation.
Following the talks, the WVRHC will open two exhibits in its Davis Family Galleries. Gallery II will focus on education, and Gallery I will display treasures from the Collection related to the state’s early history and founding in 1863.
Those visiting the WVRHC will receive a free commemorative West Virginia Day poster. After June 20, any remaining posters will be available for purchase.
Also to celebrate the occasion, attendees can stop by the Downtown Campus Library Atrium to enjoy a slice of birthday cake.