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Selected Environmental History Archives and Manuscripts Collections at the WVRHC

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 5th, 2018

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

West Virginia is known for mountain vistas, beautiful rivers and forests, and rural scenery.  The natural beauty of the state is one of its greatest assets.  This blog post compiles a number of collections at the West Virginia & Regional History Center that document efforts to preserve the natural environment in West Virginia.  Click on the link to see the finding aid for each collection.  This list is not comprehensive – there are many more relevant sources in the Center’s holdings.  Search the Guide to Archives and Manuscripts for additional collections and review the WVRHC website to find books, photographs, maps, and printed ephemera among other resources. 


Environmental Activists:


A&M 3424, Bonni McKeown, Activist. Papers

Inclusive dates: 1979-2000; Extent: 7 ft. 6 in. (six record cartons, one oversize folder)

The Bonni McKeown Papers include records of two citizen activists groups, including “Retain the Train” (1979-82) and “Corridor H Alternatives” (1993-2000). The collection contains correspondence, newsletters, court documents, maps, clippings, photographs, and sound recordings.


A&M 3163, Daniel Hale, Physician and Conservationist. Papers

Inclusive dates: 1953-1975; Extent: 2 ft. 1 in. (5 document cases, 5 in. each)

The correspondence, scrapbooks, articles and speeches of the collection document the later portion of the life of Daniel Hale (1912-75), a Princeton physician and conservationist, who was a creator of the board of the Southern Soil Conservation District, and a founder of the Mountain Resource Conservation and Development Area. Correspondents include Robert C. Byrd, James Kee, Arch A. Moore, Jr., and Jennings Randolph.

Man standing around monument for the Dr. Dan Hale Reservoir near Princeton, WV

Photograph of the monument for the Dr. Dan Hale Reservoir near Princeton, W. Va. from A&M 3163.


A&M 3223, Linda Cooper, Environmentalist. Canaan Valley Papers

Inclusive dates: 1945-1995; Extent: 27 ft. 11 in. (22 records cartons, 15 in.; 1 document case, 5 in.)

These records document Linda Cooper’s efforts to preserve the environment of Canaan Valley, WV, and to establish a National Wildlife Refuge there.


A&M 3623, Linda Cooper, Environmentalist. Records of Citizens for Responsible Wind Power

Inclusive dates: 1999-2008; Extent: 10 ft. 9 in. (9 record cartons)

This collection contains the records of Citizens for Responsible Wind Power (CRWP), an environmental advocacy group in West Virginia, collected and created by Linda Cooper, a member. It includes minutes, correspondence, reports, and legal documents.


A&M 2334, Dale Hagedorn, Compiler

Inclusive dates: ca. 1968-1971; Extent: 1 folder

A&M 2334 consists of a complete run of the newsletter “Carbon Copy”, published 1968-1971 by Dale Hagedorn, to protest the pollution caused by the Union Carbide plant at Anmoore, WV. Also includes correspondence and newspaper clippings concerning the same subject.


A&M 3646, Milton Cohen Papers

Inclusive dates: 1946-2006; Extent: 10 ft. 3 in. (10 records cartons, 1 flat storage box)

Milton Cohen was a Morgantown resident, businessman, World War II veteran, and community activist. The collection contains records in 11 series.  Series 9, Environmental Issues, includes records related to Cohen’s involvement in several environmental issues and protests.


A&M 3162, Maurice Brooks, Biology Professor. Papers

Inclusive dates: 1922-1973; Extent: 2 ft. 4 in. (5 document cases, 5 in. each); (1 small flat storage box, 3 in.)

These papers contain correspondence and lecture files of Maurice G. Brooks, a French Creek native and WVU graduate, who served as a professor of biology from 1932 to 1938 and professor of wildlife management from 1938 until 1969. His papers particularly deal with his work with the Wilson Ornithological Club, National Audubon Society, and West Virginia Conservation Commission.

Flooded farm field in Mercer County ca. 1957

Image of a flooded farm field in Mercer County ca. 1957 from A&M 3162.


Advocacy Organization Collections:


A&M 2618, Peoples Appalachian Research Collective. Papers regarding Strip Mining

Inclusive dates: 1968-1973; Extent: 10 in. (2 document cases, 5 in. each)

This collection consists of correspondence, notes, articles, newsletters, news clippings, reports, studies, Congressional testimony, and other materials collected by Keith Dix and other members of the Peoples Appalachian Research Collective for the purpose of preparing a 1971 issue of PEOPLE’S APPALACHIA concerning strip mining in Appalachia. The bulk of the material is newsletters from anti-strip mining organizations and reports, studies, and testimonies on regulation of this industry.

Strip mine operation circa 1970

Photograph of a strip mine operation circa 1970 from A&M 2618.


A&M 3072, Soil Conservation Society of America, West Virginia Chapter. Records

Inclusive dates: 1946-1965; Extent: 7 1/2 in. (1 document case, 5 in.); (1 document case, 2 1/2 in.)

These are the records of the West Virginia chapter of a national environmental association whose membership was composed of conservation professionals. Nearly all of its members were federal, state or academic employees of such organizations and institutions as the U. S. Forest Service, West Virginia University, or the WV State Conservation Commission. Arranged chronologically by year, the records include annual meeting programs, executive council meeting minutes, correspondence, newsletters, speeches, reports, and presentations. The society’s purpose was to serve as medium for exchanging information, “to promote and advance all phases of the science of conservation of soil and water resources,” and “to represent, advance and protect the standards of the science of soil and water conservation.”


A&M 3282, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. Records

Inclusive dates: 1967-1996; Extent: 8 ft. 9 in. (7 records cartons, 15 in. each)

A&M 3282 includes administrative records, correspondence, publications, financial records and other material that document West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (WVHC), an environmental advocacy group formed in 1967. This collection contains material regarding the WVHC’s activism on issues such as preservation of wilderness areas and air quality, among others.


A&M 3653, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. David Elkinton Research Papers

Inclusive dates: 1969-2007; Extent: 5 ft. (4 records cartons, 15 in. each)

The collection contains the papers of David Elkinton, environmentalist and author of “Fighting to Protect the Highlands: The First Forty Years of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.” It includes resource materials collected for his book, such as research notes, video and audio tapes of interviews, photographs, and historical records of the environmental activist organization West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, including correspondence, court papers, and issues of its periodical publication “Highlands Voice” for period 1969 through 1989 (paper and digital copies).


A&M 3923, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. Legal Records Regarding Otter Creek Drainage Case

Inclusive dates: ca. 1969-1971; Extent: 1 ft. 8 in. (1 record carton, 15 in.); (1 document case, 5 in.)

This Highlands Conservancy collection is comprised of legal records from attorney Frederick Anderson who was involved with the Otter Creek drainage case on behalf of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. The case took place within the early history of the modern environmental movement in the United States. Congress eventually provided permanent protection for the Otter Creek wilderness, which is located on the Cheat-Potomac Ranger District of the Monongahela National Forest in Tucker and Randolph Counties, West Virginia. The collection also includes a two page narrative by Frederick Anderson regarding the case, and court document 15028 from the US Court of Appeals; and a copy of “50 Year History of the Monongahela National Forest.”


A&M 3965, Monongalia County GreenSpace Coalition. Records

Inclusive dates: ca. 1990-2005; Extent: 6 ft. (6 cartons; poster boards)

A&M 3965 consists of records of the Monongalia County GreenSpace Coalition, an environmental advocacy group. It includes correspondence, minutes, reports, projects files, photographs, audiovisual material, and poster boards, among other material.


A&M 2781, Canaan Valley Alliance. Records

Inclusive dates: 1979-1984; Extent: 2 ft. 4 in. (4 document cases, 5 in. each); (1 large flat storage box, 3 in. each); (1 large flat storage box, 5 in.)

This collection is comprised of correspondence, newsletters, photographs and brochures with related news clippings and government publications of a non-profit conservation organization, the Canaan Valley Alliance, formed to oppose the Allegheny Power Company’s proposed Davis Power Project. The Project would have built a dam and created a lake in Canaan Valley displacing its original wetlands. The records document the mobilization of an effective campaign on an ecological issue. The Alliance, together with other environmental organizations, such as the Sierra Club, successfully opposed dam construction in the Canaan Valley.

Ground floor view of the Canaan Valley wetlands, undated

Photograph of a ground floor view of the Canaan Valley wetlands, undated, from A&M 2781.

A&M 3701, National Audubon Society. Mountaineer Chapter. Records

Inclusive dates: 1970-2013; Extent: 2 ft. 6 in. (2 record cartons, 15 in. ea.)

This collection contains the administrative records of the Mountaineer Chapter of the National Audubon Society. It includes copy of original charter (1971), minutes, correspondence, newsletters, financial records, and brochures. There are numerous bird count records for the Morgantown area. Local topical files include material regarding a NASCAR lawsuit, a Wal-Mart expansion, and a West Virginia Ecology Youth Camp. There are also two videos related to National Audubon’s “Protect the Arctic Campaign”.


A&M 3854, West Virginians for a Non-Nuclear Future. Records

Inclusive dates: 1979; Extent: 1/2 in. (2 folders)

West Virginians for a Non-Nuclear Future appears to have been created as a response to the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. The collection includes newsletters, news releases, correspondence, and other material.


Industry Collections:


A&M 3320, Kanwaha Valley. Chemical Industry. Publications and Videos

Inclusive dates: 1979-1994; Extent: 1 ft. 3 in. (1 records carton, 15 in.)

A&M 3320 includes publications and videos regarding risk management, pollution, and safety of chemical industry in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia; it also includes aerial photos of the Kanawha Valley.


A&M 2380, International Association of Machinists, Local 598. Papers

Inclusive dates: 1965-1975; Extent: 10 in. (2 document cases, 5 in. each)

The correspondence, newspaper clippings, and other papers of the International Association of Machinists, Local 598, concerning working conditions in Union Carbide plants. The papers cover working conditions in Union Carbide Corporation chemical plants, vinyl chloride health hazards for chemical plant employees in South Charleston, and the history of Local 598.


A&M 4141, Rauch, Henry, Geology Professor. West Virginia Surface Mine Board Case Files

Inclusive dates: 1979-2008; Extent: 56 ft. 3 in. (45 record cartons, 15 in. each)

This collections contains records documenting the activity of Henry Rauch as a member of the Reclamation Board of Review (1978-1984; 1990-1993) and of the Surface Mine Board (1994-2015) in the state of West Virginia. These boards represent a judicial function whereby citizens or mining companies may appeal decisions related to mining permits made by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. The majority of the files regard coal mining, including 1. cases where a company doesn’t get a permit and appeals, and 2. cases where a company gets a permit, and there is a citizens’ complaint or appeal. These files document mountain top removal mining from the beginning (except during the time he was not on the board). Henry Rauch was a professor of geology at West Virginia University from 1970-2015. His area of expertise was hydrology.


The WVRHC holds numerous records of coal companies. If you are interested in a specific company or disaster, search for their Archives & Manuscripts in the Center’s Guide to Archives and Manuscripts.

State agency reports such as the West Virginia Department of Mines as well as transcripts of legislative hearings like those of the Buffalo Creek flood are primary sources that are located among the Center’s book collection.  Find them by searching the library catalog.


For additional information about the Center’s holdings, feel free to contact us by phone at (304) 293-3536 or by emailing

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