Ask A Librarian

WVU Libraries joins MIT Press Open Access Publishing Initiative

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 23rd, 2022

In March 2021, MIT Press announced the launch of its Direct-to-Open (D2O) framework. In this model, rather than purchasing licenses to eBook titles individually or through packages, libraries pay annual participation fees that support open access (OA) book publishing. Participating libraries gain access to new MIT Press titles—around 90 titles per year—as well as its eligible backlist of approximately 2,300 books. D2O features two non-overlapping collections of scholarly monographs and edited volumes: Humanities & Social Sciences and STEAM. Anyone can read the OA titles free of cost on the MIT Press website, regardless of institutional affiliation. 

Read the rest of this entry »

WVU Libraries names three Munn Scholars

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 19th, 2022

West Virginia University Libraries’ Teaching and Learning Committee has selected Samantha N. Franzese, Jude Platz and Elizabeth Rockwell as 2022 Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library Scholars.

“We at WVU Libraries are pleased to recognize Samantha, Jude and Elizabeth as Munn Scholars,” Dean of Libraries Karen Diaz said. “They thoroughly researched their topics and wrote impressive works of scholarship.”

WVU Libraries and the Honors College established the Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library Scholars Award in 2009 to honor Dr. Robert F. Munn, dean of Library Services from 1957-1986. The award goes to one or more Honors students for an outstanding humanities or social sciences thesis based on research conducted in the WVU Libraries. Along with a $1,000 award, their names will be added to a plaque in the Downtown Campus Library and their theses added to the Research Repository @ WVU. These papers can be read at

Read the rest of this entry »

Libraries unveil inaugural Inclusive Portrait

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 11th, 2022
Portrait of Victorine Louistall Monroe
Dean of Libraries Karen Diaz and artist Anna Allen pose with Allen’s portrait of Victorine Louistall Monroe.

Victorine Louistall Monroe made history twice at West Virginia University. She received her master’s in education from WVU in 1945, making her the first known Black female to be awarded a graduate degree from the University. Then, Monroe made history again in 1966 when WVU hired her to teach Library Science, making her the University’s first Black faculty member.

In April, WVU Libraries unveiled a portrait of Monroe (1912-2006), Professor Emerita of Library Science, the first painting to be commissioned as part of the Inclusive Portrait Project, in the Downtown Library’s Robinson Reading Room.

“We are excited to celebrate Victorine Louistall Monroe with this portrait,” Libraries Dean Karen Diaz said. “A true Mountaineer, Victorine broke several barriers throughout her life and set a shining example for future generations to emulate.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Downtown Library to host Margaret Armstrong exhibit and speaker

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 5th, 2022
Armstrong book cover

An exhibit on the works of Margaret Armstrong, best known for her intricate and innovative book covers, opens May 18 in the Downtown Library’s Rockefeller Gallery. The opening kicks off with a presentation by Lowell Thing, author of the upcoming book “Cover Treasure: The Life and Art of Margaret Armstrong” at 4 p.m. in the Milano Reading Room.

The exhibition, titled “The Book Beautiful: Margaret Armstrong and her Bindings,” is a collaboration between West Virginia University LibrariesWest Virginia and Regional History Center and the New York Society Library.

Armstrong (1867–1944) was 18 years old when she broke into the male dominated industry of book design and started to make a name for herself. At the time, there was only one other woman working in book design. Armstrong pushed the boundaries of design and began to dominate the field with the quality of her work.

Read the rest of this entry »

Shakespeare’s Third Folio: Tracing Ownership over 350 years

Posted by Admin.
April 22nd, 2022

Written by Stewart Plein

Most people have heard of Shakespeare’s First Folio, but the subsequent folios don’t seem to get quite as much press as the first one.  What’s so great about a later printing of Shakespeare’s folio?  Turns out – plenty! 

William Shakespeare's third folio, open to the title pages. On the left is an illustration of the author. on the right the title page.

The third folio is particularly interesting.  Basically, it’s the third printing of the first folio, which was the first printing of Shakespeares’ plays.  The first folio gave us eleven plays that were unknown before its’ publication including Macbeth, The Tempest, Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night.  A significant literary achievement.

The third folio, published in 1663, is important because very few copies have survived.  Traditionally, a few hundred copies of a book were published, then stored in a warehouse while waiting for buyers.  Three years after its publication, while many copies of the third folio were still warehoused, the Great Fire of London erupted.  The fire destroyed many booksellers’ warehouses along with their inventories, thus, few copies of the third folio have survived. 

WVU’s rare book room is fortunate to have a copy of the third folio donated by an alumnus, Arthur Dayton.  WVU received five Shakespeare folios in the Dayton donation, the first, second, an additional second printing, the third and the fourth folio.  These comprise the complete set of Shakespeare’s folios. 

The Dayton third folio is interesting for another reason.  Several names, notations and bookplates appear on the first couple of pages.  These notes and bookplates document previous owners.  Evidence of previous ownership is called “provenance.”  Provenance is considered to be a record of an items’ history, or a record of ownership.  If you’re a fan of the PBS series, the Antiques Roadshow, you know that provenance, such as purchase receipts, bookplates, author signatures, and gift presentations, are important tools used to establish the authenticity of an item.     

So, what can we learn from bookplates and notations in books?  What role does ownership play in the life of a book?  Let’s take a look at the bookplates and notations in Shakespeare’s third folio to find out.

First documented owner: Thomas Sharp.

The first thing we see is an ownership stamp for Thomas Sharp, (1693 – 1758).  Sharp was a clergyman.  He was named to the important position of Archdeacon of Northumberland on February 27, 1722.  According to Wikipedia, the Archdeacon of Northumberland is a senior officer responsible for the disciplinary supervision of clergy within his region.  An important position, indeed. 

Below, we see a portrait of Thomas Sharp.  Beneath is the book stamp he used in the third folio. Sharp held a number of positions throughout his lifetime, but the presence of the stamp verifies that Sharp acquired the third folio while serving as Archdeacon. 

An illustration of Thomas Sharp, a middle-aged white man with a high collared shirt, black robes, a thin nose, and curly gray hair.
Thomas Sharpe's book stamp, used in the third folio. It is an oval with a shield inside, the head of a bird is over the top point of the shield, and laurels surround the outside

Although this attribution is important – there is no record of previous owners.  Since the third folio was printed in 1663, there’s 60 years of ownership unaccounted for.  That is disappointing, but it is great that we can pick up on who may be the second, or third owner.

Second documented owner:  Clare Hall, Cambridge University, England.

The college of Clare Hall, founded in 1326 as University Hall, is the second-oldest college at Cambridge University.  In 1338 the college was renamed Clare Hall, in honor of Elizabeth de Clare (1295 – 1360), the 11th Lady of Clare, who provided an endowment for the college.

A large building with three stories and ornate stone architecture.

The notation marking Clare Hall’s ownership is on the title page of the third folio.

A page of the third folio with the inscription "From Clare Hall, March 1843."

This brings us to the question – why did the college dispose of the 3rd folio? And when did they dispose of it?  We may never know.

Third documented owner:  Shakespearean actors, Edward Hugh and Julia Marlow Sothern.     

The Sotherns are shown here, photographed in costume as Lord and Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, in 1911.  Edward Hugh Sothern (1859-1933) was an American actor and author who appeared on the stage in New York and London.  Julia Marlowe (1865-1950) primarily acted in New York. They met in 1904 when they starred in a play together.  They married a few years later in 1911.  Following their marriage, they toured across the United States, mainly in Shakespeare plays, until Julia retired in 1924.  Their bookplate is pasted inside.

An ornately decorated bookplate with a shield in the middle and ribbons reading "Edward Hugh" and "Julia Marlowe" and below, "Southern."
  Edward Hugh and Julia Marlow Sothern’s bookplate.
A woman and a man, dressed in ornately decorated robles and dresses, each wearing golden crowns and covered in golden detailing. They hold hands, the man looking downward.
  Shakespearean actors, Edward Hugh and Julia Marlow Sothern.

Fourth documented owner: Arthur Dayton

A graduate of WVU with a degree from the College of Law, Arthur Dayton’s lifelong dream was to own all four of Shakespeare’s folios.  He accomplished his goal, and after his death, his wife Ruth donated his entire Shakespeare collection, including the 5 Shakespeare folios, to WVU.  The folios now reside in the rare book room, which was founded in 1951 to house his collection.  Dayton purchased his folios at auction in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s, when folios regularly appeared on the market.  Today, most of the surviving Shakespeare folios are owned by institutions like WVU and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

A bookplate showing WVU's documentation of Arthur Dayton's gift of the folio.
A photograph of Arthur Dayton, an adult white man with light colored hair, glasses, and wearing a suit and tie.
Arthur Spencer Dayton (1887-1948) from Phillipi, WV.

Above is the bookplate added by WVU to document Dayton’s gift to the University.

The letter below, from the previous owner, Julia Marlowe Sothern, discusses Dayton’s purchase of “their” third folio.

Julia Sothern describes how happy she is that Arthur Dayton, a collector of Shakespeare’s works, purchased “her” folio. 

A page of a letter
A page of a letter

Do you have any books that once belonged to someone else?  Who might that be? How do you know?  Did the previous owner sign their name or add a bookplate?  Let us know!

If you’d like to examine the provenance in Shakespeare’s third folio, please send an email to Stewart Plein at to make an appointment.


Third Folio image: 

Image of Thomas Sharp: 

Image of Clare Hall:,_Cambridge#/media/File:Clare_college.jpg 

Information regarding Edward & Julia Marlowe Sothern: 

Images of provenance: taken by author.

WVU Libraries and partners debut NEH-funded online portal for congressional archives

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 19th, 2022
Portal screen shot

West Virginia University Libraries has created the first-ever online portal bringing together congressional archives from repositories throughout the United States.

“The American Congress Digital Archives Portal Project represents the most significant proposal that I have ever seen in terms of its promise to bring historical, political, and policy materials to the fingertips of more scholars on more questions,” Douglas Harris, Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Maryland, said. “It is not a stretch to think that this project could revolutionize the study of Congress across multiple disciplines.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Libraries to unveil inaugural Inclusive Portrait

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 13th, 2022
Victorine Louistall Monroe gives a presentation at a public library, circa 1974.

West Virginia University Libraries will unveil a portrait of Victorine Louistall Monroe (1912-2006), Professor Emerita of Library Science, the first painting to be commissioned as part of the Inclusive Portrait Project, April 28 from 4-6 p.m. in the Downtown Library’s Robinson Reading Room.

“We are thrilled to honor Victorine Louistall Monroe with this portrait,” Libraries Dean Karen Diaz said. “A true Mountaineer, Victorine broke several barriers throughout her life and set a shining example for future generations to emulate.”

Monroe graduated from Kelly Miller High School in Clarksburg and earned her bachelor’s degree from West Virginia State College. She received her master’s in education from WVU in 1945, making her the first known Black female to be awarded a graduate degree from the University.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wheeling’s German Newspapers

Posted by Admin.
April 11th, 2022

Written by WVU History Department doctoral student Jack Webster

The masthead for the Deutsche Zeitung

The Deutsche Zeitung (literally German Newspaper) was a German language newspaper from Wheeling publishing under that name beginning in 1901. It was not the first German newspaper in the state. German language journalism in western Virginia precedes the Civil War with the Virginische Staats-Zeitung, (Virginia State Newspaper) 1848 – 1863, which became the West Virginische Staats-Zeitung following West Virginia statehood in 1863. Other German newspapers, namely Der Arbeiter-Freund (the Worker’s Friend), also had its start during the Civil War era. 

a two page newspaper spread of the WV Staats-Zeitung

The Deutsche Zeitung was not the first Deutsche Zeitung in the state. The previous paper by that name combined with the Wheelinger Volksblatt (the Wheeling People’s Paper), to form the West Virginische Staats-Zeitung in the 1880s. The West Virgische Staats-Zeitung was actually the precursor to the Deutsche Zeitung of 1901.

Surviving editions of the Deutsche Zeitung commemorate anniversaries, including one in 1906, and another sixtieth anniversary of German reporting in the region in 1910. The 1906 edition includes a list of the men who ran the newspaper, all German immigrants: Fidelis Riester, president, born in Wuerttemberg, who immigrated in 1869; Christian Steinmuetz, vice president, from the Rhineland, immigrated 1866; Constantin Bente, secretary, from Westphalia, immigrated 1879; Michael Kirchner, treasurer, from Franconia, immigrated 1867; and Jacob H.H. Beu, also from the Rhineland, a German Army veteran, immigrated 1881. Bente was the principal owner, editor and manager. All members of the board were involved with a variety of German-American civic societies in Wheeling, including the German American Central Bund, and organizations for Germans from particular regions, such as Bavaria and the Rhineland.

These special editions ran similar articles, including histories of German communities in the Ohio Country and of German language reporting in the state. They also include profiles about towns in West Virginia such as Morgantown and Charleston, as well as their major industries and points of interest, both natural and man-made. The centers of German-American community were the historic German Churches, which could be Catholic, Lutheran, or Reformed. These newspapers took pride in their identity as German-Americans: they date from around the Fourth of July, and report stories of German patriots from the American Revolution. One even claims that the tune of “Yankee Doodle” was a Hessian folk song! Each paper also features a page reporting events from German Central Europe, categorized by regions, such as East Prussia and Austria.

Advertisement in the May 1907 issue of the Deutsch Zeitung.
Advertisement in the May 1907 issue of the Deutsch Zeitung.

Papers like the Deutsche Zeitung not only expressed the voice and culture of German-Americans, they revealed the connections between these people and the Americans of other backgrounds. Each edition contains advertisements for translating services, and both German- and English-speaking entrepreneurs, politicians, and other public figures feature on their pages. Unfortunately, the Deutsche Zeitung appears to have met the same fate as other expressions of German culture from the early twentieth century, going out of publication in 1916. That same year, another German, Austin Brodoehl founded the West Virginia Patriot perhaps responding to a culture now hostile to Germans in the leadup to American intervention in the First World War.

Libraries to host Food Justice in Appalachia “Community+Food” virtual panel discussion

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 6th, 2022
Food Justice poster

Food is vital to sustaining all living things; yet, not everyone has access to a constant food supply, let alone fresh healthy foods. Do you want to know what local organizations are doing to help the community access food security?

West Virginia University Libraries will host a panel discussion titled “Community+Food” April 13 from 4-5 p.m. in the Downtown Library, Room 104. The program is in conjunction with the “Food Justice in Appalachia” exhibit and will give panelists the opportunity to share their organization’s role in making food more accessible to the community. For those who can’t physically attend, the discussion will also be available for viewing on Zoom.

Register for the Zoom event here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Library Faculty Assembly names Hostuttler Outstanding Librarian

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 5th, 2022
Lori Hostuttler

The Awards Committee of the West Virginia University Library Faculty Assembly has selected Lori Hostuttler, interim director of the West Virginia and Regional History Center, as the Outstanding Librarian for 2022.

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.

In her nomination, Hostuttler was recognized by members of the College of Creative Arts, College of Arts and Sciences and West Virginia Humanities Council for her accomplishments in the areas of innovative instruction, accessibility and social equity. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Library Faculty Assembly presents Distinguished Service Award to Roth

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 5th, 2022
David Roth

The Awards Committee of the West Virginia University Library Faculty Assembly has presented the Distinguished Service Award to David Roth, who retired December 31, 2021 as a digital education specialist in the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Support with 28 years of service to WVU.

Roth was nominated by his supervisor, Kelly Diamond, head of the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Support, for the “quality of his work, thoughtful and insightful feedback on projects, and for modeling collegiality in the workplace.”

Roth’s accomplishments have included expanding and implementing quality control for instruction, scheduling workflows, and creating and maintaining instructional guides for ULIB 101, which have earned frequent praise from the librarians who have used them to teach. He has tested digital learning objects against instructional design principles, ever mindful of reducing inequities in access and representation. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Our New Collection: The Hatfield Family Papers

Posted by Admin.
April 4th, 2022

  By: Katie Saucer, Graduate Service Assistant

(An 1891 photograph of the Hatfield Family, courtesy of our OnView collection.)

I recently had the pleasure of processing a special collection at the WVRHC. The new “Hatfield Family Papers” collection (A&M 4490 if you want to schedule a visit) is a compilation of papers, photographs, and artifacts all pertaining to the infamous southern West Virginia family. From trinkets and treaties to biographies and a bible (Louvisa Hatfield’s, that is), everyone can find something that interests them within this collection.

The collection was compiled by descendents of Louvisa and Anse Hatfield, and a ton of the material came directly from Louvisa’s belongings. Much of the material, though, is related to subjects bigger than the Hatfield family. There’s content about the Pocahontas Coal Company, information about local politics, and so much more. Any researcher or lover of West Virginia history will have a wonderful time perusing this collection. 

My personal favorite part of the collection are the greeting cards and postcards. Not only do many of them have unique early 20th century illustrations, the content is also fascinating. In popular media, the Hatfields are remembered strictly alongside the McCoys. Violence and feuding seem to run the narrative. These cards, though, show the normalcy of the family. From sympathy cards to updates about grandchildren, it is interesting to see what Louvisa Hatfield’s children wrote to her about.

If you’re interested, I urge you to come in and look through the collection yourself. It really is a time capsule into the early 20th century, with helpful printouts regarding genealogy and timelines. Plus, you can sit down with the original 19th century Hatfield and McCoy treaty- which is as neat as it sounds! 

Downtown Library to host open house for Graduate Research Commons April 6

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 29th, 2022
Post with images of research commons

Come celebrate the Downtown Library’s new dedicated graduate student collaboration space at an open house Wednesday, April 6, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. in Room 122.

The Graduate Research Commons offers a flexible space to host study sessions, meetings, and events. With ID swipe-access for entry, the Commons is equipped with Mac and Dell desktops, two extended-hours study rooms, video call conferencing equipment, white boards, a printer, and a white noise sound system.

Learn more about resources available to improve your skills and make researching easier and have lunch on us. Help us plan by registering in advance:

Can’t make it? Learn more about services available via the Graduate Research Commons at our website: Presented in collaboration with OGEL as a part of Graduate Student Appreciation Week.

Join the “Amplifying Appalachia” Wikipedia Edit-a-thon Kickoff Event

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 18th, 2022

The Amplifying Appalachia Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon will run from March 21-25. Join us for a Zoom kickoff event Monday, March 21, at 10 a.m. for an overview of editing Wikipedia and a chance to ask questions.

A recording will be made available for those unable to attend. To register for the Zoom kickoff event, click here.

For more info/to register for the Edit-a-thon, click here.

Questions? Contact Lynne Stahl ( or Erin Brock Carlson (

Music of the Southern Coalfields

Posted by Admin.
March 14th, 2022

By Caleb Paul, intern with the West Virginia & Regional History Center in fall 2021 from The Catholic University of America

The Chappell Collection: Music from the Coalfields Digital Collection is the product of a collaboration between the West Virginia and Regional History Center and the blog Folk Music of the Southern West Virginia Coalfields, an ongoing documentation project by scholars Chris Haddox, a traditional musician from Logan County, and Gloria Goodwin Raheja, author of the forthcoming book Logan County Blues: Frank Hutchison in the Sonic Landscape of the Appalachian Coalfields. Haddox is an Associate Professor of Interior Architecture and Design Studies at WVU and Raheja is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Minnesota.

It is the first-time recordings from the Chappell Collection have been available digitally. Not only are a selection of the recordings now available, information about the performers Chappell recorded, including pictures and interviews with descendants are featured on the blog.

Above: Technician using Recording Equipment at the Home of West Virginia University Professor Louis W. Chappell.

When it comes to the study of the folk music of West Virginia and larger Appalachia, the Chappell Collection’s historical and cultural significance cannot be overstated. Louis Watson Chappell was a folklorist, ballad and folk music collector, and a professor of English at West Virginia University. Between 1937 and 1947, Chappell recorded 647 discs in the field. This amounts to over 2000 individual recordings of ballads of every type and topic, fiddle tunes, instrumental music, social music, gospel tunes, and Appalachian song. He is also noted for a landmark 1933 study on the origins of the ballad John Henry.

Music from the Coalfields focuses on Chappell’s summer of 1940 collecting trip to the Southern West Virginia counties of Lincoln, Logan and Mingo. These landmark recordings give a glimpse of the vibrant Appalachian music and culture of a region known for its coal camps, historic border feuds, and for the violent labor uprisings of the West Virginia Mine Wars. Included are recordings of Kate Toney, from whom Chappell made a staggering 85 recordings in one day-long session. Toney, a Logan County ballad singer, had a high lonesome vocal style, and a sizable, unique repertoire that compares to the likes of Texas Gladden and Almeda Riddle.

Click to access the digital collection, the blog, and a podcast which features music from the Chappell collection framed by a discussion of the stories of these performers, analysis of rare ballads, vernacular styles, and traditional techniques featured in the recordings.

WVRHC to host “Engaging the Queer Feminist Archive” discussion

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 9th, 2022

The histories of traditionally marginalized groups have long gone unrepresented in archives. As part of its effort to reduce that disparity, the West Virginia & Regional History Center will host researcher and author Susan Ferentinos to discuss how to better represent LGBTQ+ communities in archival collections. The hybrid event will take place on March 31 from 3-4 p.m. in the Milano Room in WVU’s Downtown Library and on Zoom.

Register for the Zoom event here:

“Engaging the Queer Feminist Archive” is part of the WVRHC’s newly developed West Virginia Feminist Activist Collection (WVFAC). The growing collection works to capture the stories of West Virginia individuals and organizations who have fought for social justice and equity. Often, such activists are left out of the historical record for going against the status quo and/or having marginalized identities.

Read the rest of this entry »

Libraries to host Women of Appalachia Project’s “Women Speak” on March 12

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 8th, 2022
Women Speak graphic

The Women of Appalachia Project’s (WOAP) “Women Speak” performance, a juried presentation of story, poetry and song showcasing women artists living in or having strong ties to Appalachia, will be held Saturday, March 12, from 1-3 p.m. on Zoom. Register for the event here.

The event is a presentation of readings published in WOAP’s anthology series “Women Speak.” This is WVU Libraries’ fifth time hosting the event, which is co-sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center, WVU LGBTQ+ Center and Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why aren’t we talking about John Hunt?

Posted by Admin.
February 28th, 2022

    By Katie Saucer

John Hunt at Indian Rocks Resort, c.a. 1925-1932. Courtesy of OnView. 

In 1890, the 19-year-old son of a former slave moved to Morgantown and became a millionaire. Intriguing, right? Now, what if I told you this same man owned 23 businesses in the area, helped black residents establish businesses, and had a granddaughter who became the first black woman to receive an undergraduate degree from West Virginia University? You’re probably perplexed as to why John Hunt isn’t a household name in Morgantown history. I know I was.

The first time I came across John Hunt was in our OnView photograph collection. WVRHC Instruction and Public Services Coordinator, Miriam Cady, showed my Digital Humanities seminar an image of one of his businesses, Hunt’s Oysters and Ice Cream Parlor. The odd combination of oysters and ice cream, along with the basic knowledge (from Cady) that Hunt was an influential Black entrepreneur in Morgantown, piqued my curiosity. My research took off from there, and now I can say, with full confidence, that it’s time we start talking about the incredible life of John Hunt.

My introduction to the story of John Hunt, undated. Courtesy of OnView.

Born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania in 1871, Hunt moved to Morgantown at age 19 and began work as a cook. Two years later, he became one of the first African Americans in Morgantown to operate a restaurant, which was located on High Street. He later opened Hunt’s Oyster Parlor for Ladies on Walnut Street. In 1900, he opened the first ice cream plant in the county. (Fun fact: Hunt used cut and stored winter ice from the Monongahela River to create his famous “Hokey Pokies”, which were ice cream bricks on a stick). Hunt was also known for his aid to black residents in Morgantown. He “either transferred or shared his business license with cooks Eddie Dooms and B.W. Anderson”. Both of these men eventually owned prominent restaurants in the area.

Hunt at age 19, c.a 1890. Courtesy of OnView.

Hunt, his wife Anna Davis, and their eight children lived in a home on Hunt Street (Yes, named after John Hunt himself) between Colson Hall and Purinton House on West Virginia University’s downtown campus. As the century progressed, Hunt became known in the area for his catering. When WWI broke out, he served food to local soldiers in training, and was appointed chairman of the State Council of Defense for black West Virginians by Governor Cornwell. 

In the 1920s, Hunt established three resorts located in Preston County and the Cheat Lake Area. The most famous of these was Indian Rocks Resort near Reedsville, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. The resort boosted walking trails, sun bathing areas, and private cottages for white guests. Hunt, though, continued his history of employing local black workers. In 1928, he constructed a large dining hall for the resort.

Inside of Indian Rocks, c.a. 1925. Courtesy of OnView.

During the Great Depression, Hunt and his family made financial sacrifices to save the  Indian Rock’s new dining hall, including the loss of their home. In 1932, 61-year-old John Hunt died at his beloved Indian Rocks Resort. His granddaughter, Annette Chandler Broome, went on to become the first black woman to receive an undergraduate degree from West Virginia University in 1957.

With a remarkable life story and lasting influence on Morgantown (and the surrounding areas) it is difficult to understand why Hunt is not discussed regularly as being a vital part of the state’s growth during the early 20th century. Hunt represents the efforts of black West Virginians pre-civil rights. His aid to his community, Morgantown, and the state coupled with his business endeavors, prove Hunt is a vital part of West Virginia history. It’s time we start talking about Hunt, along with other West Virginians missing from the popular historical record. 

Hunt outside of his ice cream factory, which was located on the corner of Hough Street and Beechurst Avenue, undated. Courtesy of OnView.

I would like to thank Miriam Cady for introducing me to the story of John Hunt. To piece together Hunt’s life, I used “Our Monongalia: A History of African Americans in Monongalia, West Virginia” by Connie Rice, along with the Indian Rocks National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form.

Libraries, History Department mark Buffalo Creek disaster anniversary with exhibits, event

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 23rd, 2022
Photograph of Buffalo Creek
Photograph of the damage along Buffalo Creek after the flood, February 1972, Governor Arch A. Moore Jr. papers, WVRHC.

In the early the morning of February 26, 1972, a coal slurry impoundment on Buffalo Creek collapsed, sending millions of gallons of wastewater rushing into the valley below. Hundreds of people died or were injured, and thousands were left homeless. The cleanup, investigations, and lawsuits that followed further strained the community.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the disaster, WVU Libraries and the Department of History have created exhibitions online and in the Downtown Library’s Atrium that will remain on display through December.

In conjunction with the exhibits, the Libraries’ Local to Global Film Series and Department of History will host a virtual screening of Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man and Buffalo Creek Flood Revisited followed by a discussionwith award-winning film director Mimi Pickering on March 3 at 7 p.m. Registration for the event is open.  

Read the rest of this entry »

Graduate Assistant Reflects on Buffalo Creek Disaster 50th Anniversary Archives and Exhibit

Posted by Admin.
February 21st, 2022

By Crystal Coon

Early on the morning of February 26, 1972, a coal slurry impoundment on Buffalo Creek collapsed, sending millions of gallons of wastewater rushing into the valley below. Hundreds died or were injured, and thousands were left homeless. The cleanup, investigations, and lawsuits that followed further strained the community.

Located in Logan County, West Virginia, the Buffalo Creek Valley is a series of communities built upon the coal mining industry along the banks of a small stream known as Buffalo Creek. At 8 o’clock in the morning on that fateful day, Dam No. 3 failed, sending 132 million gallons of water careening down the Buffalo Creek Valley. It traveled in a twenty- to thirty-foot-high flood wave that moved at about seven feet per second. Within three hours, the wall of water had traveled over seventeen miles, and seventeen communities were partially or totally destroyed by the flood. In total, 118 people were killed in the flood, while seven were never accounted for after the disaster. There were 1,119 people who were physically injured by the floodwaters. Approximately 4,000 people were left homeless when 507 homes were destroyed, 273 homes were left with major damage, and 44 mobile homes were completely destroyed. Ten bridges were destroyed in the flood as well as hundreds of miles of roads and highways. The destruction left behind in the valley after the water receded would take years to recover from, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Photograph of property damage done in the Buffalo Creek area by the flood, 1972 | from the Arch A. Moore Papers

Governor Moore created the Ad Hoc Commission of Inquiry into the Buffalo Creek Flood to investigate the reasons for the failure of Dam No. 3. The commission was charged with determining who was at fault for the collapse of the dam and the resulting loss of life and the destruction of property. The Commission gathered witnesses, heard testimonies, and talked to experts in the field of coal mining operations to best figure out why the tragedy occurred, who was responsible for it, and how it could be avoided in the future. In their conclusion, the Commission placed the blame on the parent company of Buffalo Mining Company but acknowledged that the lack of laws and regulations by the state and federal governments contributed to the failure of the dam.

Telegram from William Egan, Governor of Alaska, 1972 | from the Arch A. Moore Papers

On the 50th anniversary of the disaster, an online exhibit explores its history and implications for the present. The Buffalo Creek Disaster: 50 Years From Flooding is an online exhibit that showcases the disaster and aftermath of the devastating flood that hit Logan County in 1972. Curated from documents and photographs available through the West Virginia and Regional History Center, this exhibit focuses on the tragedy and recovery of the Buffalo Creek area. There is also an in-person exhibit that will be on display in the Downtown Library Atrium until December 2022. This exhibit will have some documents and photographs from the archives that show and discuss the disaster. During the spring semester, Mimi Pickering, filmmaker and director of “The Buffalo Creek Flood: An Act of Man,” will be hosting a virtual screening on her film at the Downtown Library. More information will be available as the event draws closer.

Photograph of Crystal standing next to the exhibit she worked on in the downtown library, personal photo

Having had the opportunity to sort through the papers from the Arch Moore administration about the disaster, I feel more connected to the event and the devastation that it left behind. Putting the exhibit together allowed me to sift through some of the more unseen side of the flood and people’s response to it. It gave me a deeper appreciation for the response of people all around the world when disaster strikes and they see other people in need. Seeing the letters, photographs, newspaper articles, disaster reports, and memos telling the governor of another body that was identified has allowed me to truly see even more meaning in the work that archives do in preserving emotion and memory.