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100 Year Old Artifacts Show the History of WVU

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 22nd, 2017

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

 

To help commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of West Virginia University, a historical photography exhibit featuring holdings of the West Virginia and Regional History Center is showing at the Erickson Alumni Center.

 

In addition to photographs, the History Center also possesses scrapbooks, letters, and other material related to the history of WVU, including what is known in the archival profession as “ephemera,” or material intended to perform a function of limited duration, such as announcements, invitations, programs, tickets, schedules, etc.  The website of the Ephemera Society of America provides an informative listing of examples on their website.  Ephemera from the History Center’s collections will be presented here to further celebrate WVU’s 150 years of service.

 

Mountaineer Football figures prominently in our ephemera holdings, including these antique game tickets from the 1895 and 1900 seasons:

 

WVU football game tickets, 1895 and 1900

WVU football game tickets, 1895 and 1900.

WVU football booster badge, 1903

WVU football booster badge, 1903.

 

The booster badge on exhibit from 1903 shows the pride of Mountaineer fans when their team, under head coach Harry E. Trout, achieved a 7-1 season, including their first victory over early rival Washington and Jefferson College.

 

Booster card for construction of WVU's old Mountaineer Stadium below Woodburn Hall, 1924

Booster card for construction of the old Mountaineer Stadium below Woodburn Hall, 1924.

 

A common type of ephemera item in the archives of colleges and universities is the dance card, and there are many in the collection of the History Center, including this early one from 1890, which lists items such as the “Cheerful” Polka and “Clarissa” Quadrille:

 

Dance card, WVU Commencement Ball, 1890

Dance card, Commencement Ball, 1890.

 

This 1890 social event was even covered by a major state newspaper, the Wheeling Intelligencer:

 

Clipping Report of WVU Commencement Ball, Wheeling Intelligencer

Report of WVU Commencement Ball, Wheeling Intelligencer, 12 June 1890.

WVU Dance Cards, 1922 and 1932

WVU Dance Cards, 1922 and 1932.

 

Particularly remarkable in the early days of WVU is how elaborately ornamented commencement announcements were, including these examples from 1875 and 1890:

 

WVU commencement program, 1875 WVU commencement program, 1890

WVU commencement announcements, 1875, 1890.

 

If this exhibit was of interest to you, I recommend checking out the WVU historical photography exhibit at the Alumni Center for a more immersive experience in WVU history.

 

Sources Consulted:  Collections at the West Virginia and Regional History Center; Wikipedia for article regarding coach Harry Trout; and Chronicling America for news clipping regarding the commencement ball of 1890.

 

President Taft Visits Morgantown and North Central West Virginia, 1911

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 21st, 2017

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

In honor of President’s Day, this post takes a look back at President William Howard Taft’s visit to Morgantown in November 1911.  Taft came to town to mark the inauguration of West Virginia University’s eighth president, Thomas E. Hodges.  Read the rest of this entry »

Looking at Appalachia forum now available online

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 16th, 2017

A forum that focused on how images in the media affect the nation’s perceptions of Appalachia is now available online.

The event, held February 7 in the Downtown Campus Library, was inspired by Looking at Appalachia, a juried collection of images by amateur and professional photographers currently on display at the DCL as part of the West Virginia University LibrariesArt in the Libraries series.

Read the rest of this entry »

Booker T. Washington and West Virginia Salt Works

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 7th, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Bags of Charmco Feeds and Kanawha Salt

Along the banks of the Kanawha River lies an ancient deposit of briny saline, or salt deposits.  Their salty presence figures prominently over millennia and they have played an important role for centuries and for generations of people in West Virginia.

The Kanawha Salines, the name given to the salt fields of West Virginia, travel along both banks of the Kanawha River until the waters reach Charleston, a distance of approximately ten miles.  The origin of the region can be traced back to the earliest times, 600 million years ago, to an ocean that predates even the Atlantic, the Iapetus Ocean, so named for the father of Atlantis, whose own name was given to the Atlantic Ocean we know today. Read the rest of this entry »

Forum will explore how photographs define Appalachia

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 3rd, 2017

A panel of West Virginia University faculty from journalism to public health will discuss how images in the media affect the nation’s perceptions of Appalachia during a forum on February 7 from 4-6 p.m. in the Downtown Campus Library (DCL), Room 104.

The program is inspired by Looking at Appalachia, a juried collection of images by amateur and professional photographers, currently on display at the DCL as part of the WVU Libraries’ Art in the Libraries series. West Virginia native Roger May directs the ongoing Looking at Appalachia project that chronicles life in the 13-state region more than 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

“This forum is a great opportunity to use the Looking at Appalachia exhibit to spark conversations about how images in the media can affect a range of issues facing the region,” said Alyssa Wright, chair of the Art in the Libraries Committee.

Three friends pose for photographer Dennis Savage in Cabell County, W.Va. The image is part of the Looking at Appalachia exhibit.

Read the rest of this entry »

Erickson Alumni Center to host historical photograph exhibit

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 2nd, 2017

A historical photograph exhibit titled “Through the Looking Glass: Early Glass Plate Views of West Virginia University” will open in the Erickson Alumni Center’s Nutting Gallery on February 7 to mark the 150th anniversary of West Virginia University’s founding.

The display will include more than 30 prints made from glass plates from the holdings of the West Virginia & Regional History Center that illustrate the formative years of WVU from 1867-1920. The exhibit will be open to the public Monday-Friday, 8:15 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and remain on display through March 31.

“These photos reveal just how much the University has changed from its early years to the present,” WVRHC Director John Cuthbert said. “Morgantown was a sleepy little village, Westover was non-existent and WVU consisted of just a single building at times. The founders would be stunned to see the sprawling globally significant institution it has become.”

One image in the exhibit is this early photograph of the West Virginia University campus taken from the hill now occupied by Stalnaker Hall, ca. 1878.

Read the rest of this entry »

Skiing in West Virginia

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 31st, 2017

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

With the arrival of winter weather, many are heading to the slopes to enjoy one of West Virginia’s most popular outdoor activities – skiing. The ski industry is a major part of the state’s economy that contributes over $250 million dollars annually and supplies more than 5000 jobs.

The first downhill ski area in West Virginia (also the first commercial ski area south of the Mason-Dixon line) came after members of the Washington Ski Club installed a rope tow on Weiss Knob in Canaan Valley, Tucker County in 1953.  This area is now part of the Canaan Valley State Park ski complex that opened in 1971.  Read the rest of this entry »

200,000 Pages of West Virginia Newspapers Digitized

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 23rd, 2017

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

The West Virginia and Regional History Center, in collaboration with the Library of Virginia, has been digitizing its newspaper collection for the Library of Congress website Chronicling America.  This 200,000 page collection of West Virginia newspapers is easily accessible through character string searching, and therefore offers extraordinary access to a treasure trove of primary historical resource material.  More specifically, this collection covers the period 1836-1922; the titles currently available are listed on the website, including mainly papers from Charles Town, Clarksburg, Fairmont, and Wheeling.  This digital collection will take a quantum leap forward in August 2017 when an additional 100,000 pages go online!

 

Having recently encountered on the internet news of the plans to restore the historic Robinson Grand Theater located in Clarksburg, West Virginia (which is scheduled to open in Spring 2018), I thought I would test the search engine by looking up the early history of the theater.  I was immediately rewarded with a wealth of easily accessible information regarding events connected with the topic.  In reviewing this snapshot of early entertainment history at the Robinson Grand we sometimes also encounter broader themes of national history that were concerning Americans at that time.

 

Among the results of my research, I found a front page report regarding a public reception occurring on February 6, the day before the theater opened on February 7:  Read the rest of this entry »

The African American Press in West Virginia

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 12th, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Two African-American Newsboys and Unidentified man stand outside C. N Chilins Newsstand

C.N. Chilins News Stand, Fairmont, W. V. 1904/06. Two African-American Newsboys and Unidentified man stand outside C. N Chilins, located on Madison Ave.. Fairmont, W. V., eventually (relocated) to the first floor of Watson Hotel.

Beset with a fluctuating subscriber base, the constant need for funds, and personnel shortages, African American newspapers in West Virginia during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries struggled to survive.  Many were short lived, publishing issues for a couple of years at best.  Some papers found themselves shutting down production for weeks or even months at a time, waiting for subscribers and advertisers to provide enough funding to begin publishing again.  Read the rest of this entry »

This Day in History: Farmers’ Week

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 5th, 2017

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

While searching for a blog post topic, I came across a mention of Farmers’ Week, January 5-9, 1920.  I had never heard of Farmers’ Week before, so I combed through the WVRHC’s printed ephemera, photos, and our vast collection of university publications till I found out about this great educational program from WVU’s College of Agriculture.

Farmers Week Exhibit with signage and tables full of produce

Farmers Week Exhibit

Read the rest of this entry »