Ask A Librarian

Happy Halloween from the WVRHC!

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
October 28th, 2019

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

Still looking for costume ideas?  In addition to the many historical outfits you can find examples of in our West Virginia History OnView database of photos, we also have examples of costumes people have worn in the past.

With basic papier-mâché skills and some rather large clothes, you could make your very own Very Tall Person costume:

Children hiding behind five people in very tall person costumes.
Parade Participants in Tall Costumes, Morgantown, W. Va., early 1900s

If you have an artistic bent, like Grace Martin Taylor, you could create your own take on a famous artwork (I’ll admit, I don’t get the joke on the newspaper, but I feel it must be important to the overall costume).

Woman in costume made of frames and a paper mache head, holding newspaper, partly obscured, that reads, "The Atom Times, __eaded woman (Picasso) ___overs Eames Chair"
Grace Martin Taylor in her prize-winning costume, 1950.

Maybe you don’t consider yourself artistic but you have great skill with cardboard? Why not customize a robot costume?  I’m 99% sure there is a person inside this one:

Men on stadium field holding "Engineers" sign, with man in robot costume.
WVU Engineers on Athletic Field, ca. 1930s

A staff favorite, this picture shows someone in a stork costume.

Person standing on porch in stork costume, with beak holding a baby doll.
Person Dressed in Stork Costume With Baby Doll Dangling From Beak, Monongalia Co., W. Va., ca. 1890-1920?

Finally, you could choose the mountaineer look, which is always a classic choice in Morgantown:

Family walking down a street in the rain, with the man and boy in Mountaineer costumes and the women in pioneer style dresses.
Monongalia County Bicentennial Parade, Morgantown, W. Va.,

If you are instead looking for scary stories to share with friends, we have a few recommendations. (I have not vetted any of these because I want to get uninterrupted sleep tonight)

Front cover of "Beyond Haunted Spencer State Hospital"

For even older ghost stories, you can check out one of our archives and manuscript collections on the subject, such as A&M 2335, Milspaw Folklore Collection, Typescripts, Tapes, and Films,, which has student papers on things like ghost stories, dating from the early 1970s, or A&M 0883, John Harrington Cox, Collector, Papers Regarding West Virginia Folklore,, showing folk song and story material he collected from 1915 to 1936.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>