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Campus invited to talk exploring thoughts on conspiracy theories

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 21st, 2024

The WVU Humanities Center and the Religious Studies program invite the campus community to attend a presentation entitled “Feeling is Believing: A New Approach to Conspiracy Theory” at 4:30 p.m. Monday, March 4, in the Downtown Library’s Milano Room.

In this talk, Donovan Schaefer, an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, will examine what makes people believe and how science and disinformation battle to convince us. He’ll also raise the question of why the apocalyptic discourse of conspiracy theory has risen to prominence in our current political moment.

Schaefer brings a new way of assessing the relationship between thinking and feeling, suggesting that we see them as deeply interrelated rather than fundamentally separate. Shifting our frame of reference allows us to draw a clearer map of how and why conspiracy theories have managed to gain such a powerful hold in contemporary society.

Schaefer is the author of “Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power” and “Wild Experiment: Feeling Science and Secularism after Darwin.” His research and teaching examine the role of affect and power in formations of secularism, religion, science and material culture. 

For more information contact the Humanities Center at

Faculty invited to workshop on emotional impact of academic transformation

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 20th, 2024

The WVU Humanities Center and the Religious Studies program are co-sponsoring a workshop for faculty titled “Affect, Teaching, and Academic Transformation” from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday, March 4, in the Downtown Library’s Milano Room.

Donovan Schaefer, an associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, will lead the workshop. Participants will explore the overlaps between affect/emotion and teaching, especially in light of Academic Transformation at WVU. They will delve into questions, such as: What impact has Academic Transformation had on our emotional lives within (and outside) the classroom? Are there ways to specifically address this affective dimension of teaching in order to better serve both faculty and students?

Schaefer is the author of “Religious Affects: Animality, Evolution, and Power” and “Wild Experiment: Feeling Science and Secularism after Darwin.” His research and teaching examine the role of affect and power in formations of secularism, religion, science and material culture.

This event is limited to 20 participants and lunch will be provided. Registration is required. Please RSVP to and include any dietary preferences or allergies.

Libraries seeking feedback from search users

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 5th, 2024

WVU Libraries would like to survey active users of their website. The feedback will help the Libraries improve the usability of their website and search features. This survey will take approximately 8 to 10 minutes to complete. Please complete in one session. To participate visit

Lorilla Bullard: Doctor to Insane Women

Posted by Mary Alvarez.
January 8th, 2024

Written by Linda Blake

If you are a native West Virginian, as I am, you will have heard the jokes about being “sent to Weston” or “coming from Weston.” Everyone knew the Weston reference was to the Weston State Hospital. Like many people living in Weston, my aunt worked at the hospital. I have visited the hospital as a tourist many times since it became the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, but my first visit was in the 1970s when I was an education major at Glenville State College. We made a class visit to the Weston State Hospital and to a hospital in St. Mary’s, West Virginia, to see special needs populations. The memories of those visits have stayed with me some fifty years later.  

Black women patients in the hospital and their caregivers, circa 1896-1900.
White women patients in the hospital and their caregivers, circa 1896-1900.

A new acquisition to the West Virginia and Regional History Center, “Lorilla Frances Bullard Tower, Doctor, Papers,” sheds light on the history of the Weston State Hospital, or as it was known when Dr. Lorilla Bullard was an Assistant Physician there, the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane. Dr. Bullard provided medical services to mentally ill women during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Her papers consist largely of photographs of the hospital, staff, and patients; correspondence regarding the employment of Dr. Bullard at the hospital; and papers on the treatment of the mentally ill at the turn of the 20th century. This blog post will highlight just a few of the most interesting papers. 

The West Virginia Hospital for the Insane, circa 1900

The Weston State Hospital 

First, a bit of history of this state institution created to treat mentally ill patients who over the years were officially called “insane” and “lunatic,” the latter by the 1858 Virginia Legislature when it passed a law authorizing the start of building “The Lunatic Asylum West of the Alleghany Mountains.” Upon its completion and after West Virginia became a state in 1863, the hospital was named the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane which is the name of the hospital discussed in Dr. Bullard’s Paper, 1894-1904. Patients who originally resided in West Virginia but who were living in Virginia’s Western Hospital in Staunton were transferred to the new hospital in Weston. In 1913 the name was changed to the Weston State Hospital which remained its name until its closing in 1994. The current hospital called The Trans-Alleghany Lunatic Asylum is a tourist attraction with some parts open to the public. The building and grounds are monumental and of historical and architectural significance and the building and museum are well worth a visit.

Professional staff of the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane, circa 1894-1900. Lorilla Bullard, front row left. W.E. Stathers, possibly the bearded man in front row. Others pictured: C.S. Topping, Clerk; T.B. Miskimom, Druggist; Miss Hall, Sup.; William Mick, Sup.; J.W. Curtis, Ush.; R.H. Fetty, M.D.; Mamie McIntyre, Mat.; Mark Perry M.D.

Dr. Lorilla Bullard 

Lorilla Frances Bullard was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, on March 15, 1870. She and her sister Rachel both attended the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. After graduating, she moved in Oakland, Maryland where she settled for the rest of her life when she left the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane in Weston.  

She worked in Weston as one of two Assistant Physicians, 1896-1901. After serving a five-year term, Bullard requested another term. Her papers indicate that her bid for reappointment in 1901 was contentious with indications that it was because she was a woman. Letters of support for her reappointment came from West Virginia movers and shakers including the West Virginia State Medical Society, government administrators, state legislators, and other leaders of the Republican Party. Many of the letters express not just Dr. Bullard’s qualifications, but the efficacy of women being treated by women. A.B. White, President and Editor of The State Journal wrote: 

“A physician of her own sex is no longer denied in many progressive states to the unfortunates whose mental conditions require treatment at the asylum and no one better than a skillful woman could treat a woman thus afflicted. The very nature and condition of patients in many cases implies the need for women attendants of skillful hands and through medical training. Dr. Bullard meets these requirements admirably and I commend her to your most favorable consideration.”

J.K. Hall wrote of Dr. Bullard “…she stands high in her profession, has met with marked success at your institution, and is in every way deserving of re-appointment.”  

At about this time, 1902, Dr. Bullard married Edward Zealous Tower in Lewis County. The couple moved back to Maryland after she was not being reappointed at the West Virginia Hospital for the Insane. In Maryland. she was very active in local causes, including child welfare and the voting rights of women. She continued to be a licensed physician, but did not practice extensively, but she did work with the Red Cross and other civic groups until her death in 1963. According to one source, she was the only female doctor listed in Garret County in 1922. Dr. Tower was recognized in 2020 as a Maryland (Garret County) suffragist for “her work to empower women for social reform and suffrage.”  

Dr. Lorilla Frances Bullard Tower later in life.

Superintendent’s Scandal 

Dr. Bullard’s papers overall are fascinating and a great addition to the knowledge we have regarding the history of the State Hospital and the treatment of mental illness, specifically of women. Some items in the collection which may be of special interest to researchers include a letter from a lawyer detailing the legalities of women doctors for the insane, photographs of the inner workings of the huge building, notes on the treatment of four women, and photographs of Black patients and workers.  

I found one item particularly intriguing: the January 23, 1900 edition of the Weston Independent newspaper with an article regarding the Hospital’s Board hearing on the termination of Dr. W.E. Stathers as the Superintendent at the Hospital. He was charged with inappropriate relationships with women, both patients and staff. An August 19, 1899 newspaper article now online provides background details of accusations against Dr. Stathers as well as testimony discrediting witnesses. Dr. Bullard was mentioned as caring for Harriet Green, one of Stathers’ accusers, and testified regarding Harriet Green’s attempted suicide and to rumors about Green and Stathers.  After the hearing, the Board did not dismiss Stathers, but according to the 1900 newspaper article included in the collection, various newspapers and the general public lobbied for Stathers’ dismissal.  He finally did resign in 1901, which to some was an admission of guilt, but the Board was slow to find a replacement.  An editorial in The Argus called Stathers “the old reprobate.” Another newspaper editorial in the Farmers Advocate said the Board’s reluctance to dismiss Stathers and its subsequent inability for months to hire a replacement was “a disgrace intolerable.” 

So, Dr. W.E. Stathers kept his job after abusing his position of power over women in his employ and women disabled by mental illness. Conversely, Dr. Lorilla Bullard, who cared for the health needs of those same mentally ill women, was not allowed to keep her job.  Could it have been because she was a woman practicing in a male-dominated profession? 

To see the photographs, correspondence, and other papers of Dr. Lorilla Bullard, make an appointment to visit the West Virginia and Regional History Center.  

Planned steam outage at Downtown Library

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
December 14th, 2023

WVU Facilities has planned a steam outage for the Downtown Library and other downtown buildings for Monday and Tuesday, December 18 and 19. Consequently, the Downtown Library will be closed to the public for part of that time. The Library will be open Monday, December 18, from 8 a.m. to noon. It will be closed Monday afternoon and all day Tuesday, December 19. The Library will resume normal intersession hours – 8 a.m.-5 p.m. – on Wednesday, December 20. Please check the Libraries’ website for updated operating hours.

Mountaineers’ Road to Statehood: Reflections on “Born of Rebellion” with Graduate Assistants Devon and Erica

Posted by Mary Alvarez.
November 20th, 2023

This post was written by Devon Lewars and Erica Uzak.

“Born of Rebellion: WV Statehood and the Civil War,” a traveling exhibit established by the West Virginia Humanities Council, has made its way to the Downtown Library’s Rockefeller Gallery. Civil War historians and WVRHC GAs Erica Uszak and Devon Lewars will be sharing their first impressions of the exhibit.

When visiting, take note of the suggested panels to follow. See exhibit directory below.

Each section title is a quote taken from the diary of Sirene Bunton, a teenager at the time, she lost two of her brothers to the conflict.

See Devon’s favorite panel below:

This panel engages visitors by asking them to choose what the state should have been called if “West Virginia” wasn’t an option. Magnets are provided to visualize votes for each alternative name. Stop by the second floor to cast your own!

The panels have been designed to showcase different perspectives of the conflict which can be seen by shifting your body to each side of the panel board. See below two different perspectives of the same panel:

“Born of Rebellion” utilizes a variety of sources that highlight the voices of women, African Americans, and Virginians/West Virginians. See for yourself the beautiful details that were put into this exhibit by visiting the downtown library through the first week of December!

The above section was written by Devon Lewars.

President Abraham Lincoln came to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863, tasked with giving “a few appropriate remarks” in a dedication paying tribute to those U. S. soldiers laid to rest in the Soldiers’ National Cemetery. He began his address by reminding the audience of the nation’s core principles found in the Declaration of Independence, which stated that “all men are created equal.” He concluded his address by pledging “increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion,” and an increased commitment to the soldiers and the ideas found in the Declaration, promising that “these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

A few months earlier, on June 20, West Virginia had been granted statehood into the United States, breaking free from the seceded Confederate state of Virginia. West Virginia’s involvement in the Civil War and its statehood are discussed in the new exhibit, “Born of Rebellion.” This exhibit explores the war’s beginning and the importance of slavery at the heart of the conflict, military action in West Virginia, the political statehood process, Black West Virginians, Union and Confederate West Virginia women, and the commemoration and memory of the war in the state. The exhibit condenses many complicated details and presents the war in an accessible way. It does not shy away from the issue of slavery and discusses the hardships that enslaved people faced in slavery and the continued struggle for freedom after emancipation. One of the most moving aspects of the exhibit are the enlarged photographs of men, women, and children, who look directly at the viewer. Most striking is the photograph of the young children in the Lincoln school in Wheeling, which “was one of the first publicly funded educational institutions for Black children in the state,” according to the exhibit. It adds that these schools did not have the same state funding as all-white schools. Many schools stayed racially segregated until 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that “separate but equal” was “inherently unequal.” One of the panels about Black West Virginians concludes, “In many ways, the fight for equality has been nearly as difficult as the antebellum struggle against slavery,” as they fought against racism, discrimination, and white violence.

While the road to full freedom and equality for all would be treacherous and long, many West Virginians fought for the “new birth of freedom” that Lincoln had promised. They renewed their commitment to independence and freedom in their state motto: Montani Sempre Liberi – Mountaineers are always free.

The above section was written by Erica Uzak.

WVRHC to host “Women Making History” exhibit opening

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
October 3rd, 2023
Women making history logo

The West Virginia and Regional History Center extends an open invitation to celebrate the opening of the new exhibition, “Women Making History: Showcasing the West Virginia Feminist Activist Collection,” on Monday, October 16, at 5 p.m. in WVU’s Downtown Library.

The program begins at 5 p.m. with tours of the exhibit in the History Center and a concurrent reception in the Milano Room. At 6 p.m., WVU Professor Emerita Judith Stitzel and Jessie Wilkerson, associate professor of history in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, will deliver remarks in the Milano Room. Following the speakers, the exhibit will remain open for viewing until 8 p.m.

This is a hybrid event. Those unable to attend in person can register for the zoom at

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Libraries to open library transformation exhibit September 12

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
August 22nd, 2023

WVU Libraries will launch an Art in the Libraries’ exhibit on library transformation with featured speaker Emily Drabinski, president of the American Library Association, September 12 from 4-6 p.m. at the Downtown Library.

The exhibit, titled “Hacking the Library”, was designed around the hacker ethos in the positive sense regarding the ability to deconstruct and reconstruct information systems. Hacking starts with reconceptualizing libraries beyond the book.

“’Hacking the Library’ invites us to think about our institutions as places of engagement and transformation,” Drabinski said. “As buildings and collections, they may look fixed in place. But as sites of research and study, exploration and imagination, libraries are also always in motion. From the classification structures that group like with like to the copy machines that are always in need of repair, libraries are always subject to change.”

Drabinski is Critical Pedagogy Librarian at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She publishes and presents widely on topics related to knowledge organization, information literacy, and critical perspectives in librarianship. Drabinski edits “Gender and Sexuality in Information Studies,” a book series from Library Juice Press/Litwin Books. She is a contributing writer at “Truthout.”

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The Rumors of His Death were Exaggerated: The Darlington-Hutton Shooting Revisited

Posted by Mary Alvarez.
May 1st, 2023

Written by Luke Masa, Doctoral candidate, History & WV Newspaper Project Grant Assistant

A newspaper clipping with the following area highlighted: Woodford Hutton, son of Col. Elhu Hutton, who was dangerously wounded by a man named C.P. Darlington some time ago, is still in a Baltimore hospital.

In a previous post, I wrote about an early twentieth-century West Virginian newspaper editor, Charles Peyton Darlington (also known as “C.P. Darlin[g]ton”, with or without the “g”), shooting and killing a man in an argument over politics. As it turns out, that man, Woodford (not “Woodward”) Hutton, did not, in fact, perish by Darlington’s bullet. Hutton actually lived another 26 years following the incident. And moreover, Darlington, already 40 years old at the time of the shooting, lived to be 98! Below is a brief attempt at correcting the record and outlining historical methods through biographies of both men.

            I realized my mistake while further investigating Darlington’s life after coming across his name once more during the course of my newspaper research. Perhaps it should not have surprised me to encounter him again, since like many West Virginia newspaper editors of his day, Darlington moved around quite a bit, and worked on a lot of papers. For example, before coming to Randolph County, where he shot Hutton, Darlington edited the newspaper that I am currently researching: the Webster Echo out of Webster Springs, Webster County.

In confirming that the editor of the Echo circa 1896 was indeed the same man who would go on to do a brief turn at the Randolph Enterprise and, while there, violently attempt to silence an interlocutor, I used a combination of census records, keyword searches, and obituaries. These sources returned evidence of Darlington’s decades-spanning career in the newspaper business – something I found very odd for an alleged killer to have had. But I could not uncover references to jail time or even a trial with respect to Darlington.

That prompted me to look into Hutton. But it turned out that I had his first name incorrect. That meant that I could not initially find records of him, whether in other papers or elsewhere. So, I looked instead for his father, Colonel Elihu Hutton, who was also referenced in reports of the shooting. Elihu Hutton’s 1900 census record listed members of his household, including a 24-year old son named Woodford. Searching “Woodford Hutton” rather than “Woodward Hutton” in Chronicling America’s online database returned several hits, some dated after 1900. One from 1910, a reprint of a story out of the Grafton Republican in the Fairmont West Virginian, placed Woodford and his father in Grafton that April. What’s more, the 1920 federal census lists Woodford Hutton as a resident of Huttonsville at the time. Thus the Clarksburg Telegram’s report of July 13, 1900 must have been wrong, while Staunton, Virginia’s Spectator and Vindicator got the story (and name) right: as of August 24th of that year, Woodford Hutton, while “dangerously injured” was nevertheless still alive in a Baltimore hospital.

Yet even though Hutton did not die that day in July, his life at that point was unfortunately already nearly halfway over. Hutton’s actual passing occurred in early December 1926, with the Belington Progressive publishing his obituary. Noting that he had just turned 50 after having suffered a long illness, the Progressive reprinted a story from Elkins’ Intermountain which celebrated Hutton’s accomplishments in farming as a cattle rancher, explaining that he had been head of a local Cattlemen’s Association.

A newspaper clipping reading: Woodford Hutton Dies After Long Sickness. Nepher of Dr. A.H. Woodford of This City. Laid to Rest Monday. Woodford Hutton, aged 50, a nephew of Dr. A.H. Woodford and Mrs. John A. Robinson of this city dies at his home at Huttonsville Saturday, following an illness of several years duration. He was buried Monday afternoon at Huttonsville at the old brick church cemetery.

And meanwhile, despite being 16 years Hutton’s senior, Darlington ended up outliving the man he nearly killed. Darlington, a native of Weston, seat of Lewis County, started and finished his career in the press there. Upon Darlington’s death in 1958, both the Weston Democrat and its counterpart the Independent published obituaries for him. According to the Democrat, Darlington got his start at that very paper at the age of 16, only nine years after its founding. Darlington himself, in turn, founded the Independent in 1894. He would end up working at, in addition to papers already mentioned, the Logan Banner, Buckhannon Delta, and the Buckhannon Record, among others. The Democrat (but not the Independent) noted Darlington’s time at the Enterprise, which it wrote was only “for a year”, without elaborating any further. Coming back to Weston and the Democrat by 1913, Darlington retired during the First World War, eventually living at Jackson’s Mill with his wife. That he lived nearby the boyhood home of Stonewall Jackson was not his sole connection to the Civil War, however. As a child in 1863 he was among the inhabitants of Weston who were sent to Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio as Union prisoners upon the recapture of the town from Confederate forces.

In the end, I’m glad I caught my error and am pleased to have the opportunity to fix it. Ideally in disciplines like History this process should be a common occurrence, through mechanisms like peer review, though only so much can be caught. Furthermore, historians are not stenographers of the past so much as we are interpreters. Hence, we continuously revise and rewrite, changing not the facts but what we make of them, or in cases like this, discovering new facts which force us to update our knowledge of a given situation. We understand that our sources are fallible and can even be contradictory. This requires us to leave room for the possibility that we may be proven wrong in the future. Therefore I hope this rough sketch of Darlington and Hutton’s lives beyond their brief and nearly fatal meeting serves to better contextualize both West Virginia’s history and how history writing is done.

Telling It Like It Was: The Civil War Diaries of Captain George W. Johnson, Part II

Posted by Mary Alvarez.
April 10th, 2023

Written by Erica Uszak

The diaries of Captain George W. Johnson, 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, showed that Civil War soldiers found many ways to cope with the stresses of army life (see A&M 4538). While many soldiers filled their time through socially and morally acceptable activities like letter writing and reading, soldiers also found entertainment through other means. Although war was a serious business, alcohol, gambling, and humor were ways for these men to break the tension, suffering, and death around them.

Often soldiers were found drinking liquor in camp.[1] One reporter noticed that upon pay day, soldiers immediately exchanged a portion of their pay for liquor. He noted with disgust how many soldiers were seen in the streets, “lying in the gutters, or on the doorsteps, in a state of beastly intoxication.”[2] The number of intoxicated men had also led to some violence in the form of riots. As noted in the previous post, Captain Johnson also commented with disgust when he encountered hundreds of intoxicated Union soldiers in Alexandria, clobbering and beating one another. He frequently commented upon the presence of alcohol in camp, among the men and his fellow officers, and the measures he and others took to keep them in line.

In February 1862, Johnson recounted how the regimental commander, Charles A. DeVilliers, became so exasperated with soldiers’ drunkenness that he ordered the alcohol in a nearby warehouse to be poured out and emptied in the town’s streets. Desperate soldiers soon found the “large puddles” of liquor and scooped up the alcohol into their canteens. DeVilliers ordered Johnson to station two soldiers to “guard the puddles.” Only an hour later, soldiers brought two drunken men to Johnson’s attention. Johnson saw that the one intoxicated man was one of the very same soldiers “I had stationed to keep others from drinking.”[3] The temptation had apparently become too great for him to resist.

“Camp Punishments--Too Fond of Whisky--Scene in the Army of the Mississippi.” Harper’s Weekly, June 28, 1862. Library of Congress
(Above): “Camp Punishments–Too Fond of Whisky–Scene in the Army of the Mississippi.” Harper’s Weekly, June 28, 1862. Library of Congress.

However, as demonstrated with the Harper’s Weekly print (above), soldiers found in a state of intoxication could be subject to punishment. In this print, a soldier wears a barrel with writing that reads, “Too fond of whisky, forged an order on the surgeon.” Soldiers desperate for alcohol would go to desperate measures–however, they had to be willing to face the consequences, including possible humiliation and punishment in front of their comrades.

Gambling and card-playing could accompany drinking, serving as outlets to relieve the stresses of war for some soldiers. Johnson noted in late January 1862, “The boys say they have a very good time generally playing cards drinking whiskey.”[4] Soldiers grumbled when they were without the comforts of alcohol and cards to help them with the ruggedness and boredom of camp life. Some enlisted men complained to Johnson when he reprimanded them for playing cards after the playing of Taps at night. They argued that “the officers do it [play cards] and why not let them do the same.” Johnson noted that as he listened to his men’s complaints, his fellow officers were “playing [cards] in our quarters” that same moment.[5] The men bristled at the unfair double standard.

Johnson looked down upon officers who spent too much time in immoral activities and were an unfit example for their men. Johnson frequently commented on officers he disliked and who were too fond of alcohol or were corrupt. For example, he described the regimental quartermaster as a man who “knows as much about his business now as he ever will know,” implying in his following sentence that the quartermaster knew very little. He criticized the quartermaster as a man who “Pays a great deal of attention to drinking whiskey & running after wimmen [women,] playing card & C.” instead of his soldierly duties.[6] Whether Johnson confronted his officers directly or confined his commentary to his diary remains unknown.

At an encampment at Petersburg, Virginia, soldiers of the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry play cards in front of their tents during the Civil War.” Anchor: A North Carolina History Online Resource
(Above): “At an encampment at Petersburg, Virginia, soldiers of the 114th Pennsylvania Infantry play cards in front of their tents during the Civil War.” Anchor: A North Carolina History Online Resource.

Soldiers also found clever and humorous ways to get what they wanted. In July 1862, Johnson had paid a local citizen for “huckel berries” and some coffee. However, once the man set down “several jugs of milk” and left them temporarily, Johnson took the milk for his own use and “in the inter time filled his jugs with water.” Upon his return, “he tried to sell his milk but of course the boys did not want to purchase” since they knew better.[7] Less than a month later, a Union soldier of Johnson’s regiment “dressed in a Butternut suit,” and accompanied by his comrades acting as “guards,” entered the home of a Confederate family, pretending that he was a Confederate prisoner. According to Johnson, “after hearing his tale the old woman & daughter just flew around to acomade [accommodate]” him and handed him “a good supply [of] some whiskey & wine.” The men were quite glad “that the delusion worked well.”[8] 

Soldiers could be very daring in their pranks and put themselves in danger. In August 1863, one soldier thought it might be funny to provoke the Confederate soldiers on picket duty across the river. The Union soldier “was attending to a call of nature” and then “exhibited his posterior[,] asking them if they had ever saw a Yankee Gun Boat and if not to satisfy their curiosity by looking at his ass.” In response to this insult, the Confederates “immediately fired on him,” but he escaped safely, as “he laughingly got out of their range.”[9]

George Johnson’s diaries show that soldiers turned to different means to alleviate their burdens and enjoy themselves in spite of the danger. They could be clever and daring, intoxicated and unruly, and many other things. Johnson’s diary entries show the daily experiences of soldiers who often lived on the wild side.

For further information about George Johnson’s diaries, see A&M 4538.

[1] Michael Mahr, “‘Half the Time Unfit for Duty’: Alcoholism in the Civil War,” The National Museum of Civil War Medicine, posted September 2, 2021,,ward%20for%20simply%20being%20drunk..

[2] Quoted in R. Gregory Lande, Psychological Consequences of the Civil War (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc, 2017), 101. EBSCOhost Ebook.

[3] George W. Johnson, Feb 4, 1862, diary entry, A&M 4538, Civil War Diary Transcriptions and

Related Material of Captain George W. Johnson, 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, West Virginia

and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries, Morgantown, West Virginia.

[4] Johnson, January 31, 1862, diary entry, A&M 4538, Civil War Diary Transcriptions and

Related Material of Captain George W. Johnson, 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

[5] Johnson, June 30, 1862, diary entry,  A&M 4538, Civil War Diary Transcriptions and

Related Material of Captain George W. Johnson, 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

[6] Johnson, July 1, 1862, diary entry, A&M 4538, Civil War Diary Transcriptions and

Related Material of Captain George W. Johnson, 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

[7] Johnson, July 21, 1862, A&M 4538, Civil War Diary Transcriptions and

Related Material of Captain George W. Johnson, 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

[8] Johnson, August 13, 1862, A&M 4538, Civil War Diary Transcriptions and

Related Material of Captain George W. Johnson, 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

[9] Johnson, August 23, 1863, A&M 4538, Civil War Diary Transcriptions and

Related Material of Captain George W. Johnson, 11th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

WVU Libraries to host Women of Appalachia Project’s 14th Annual “Women Speak”

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 6th, 2023
Women Speak collage

West Virginia University Libraries will host the Women of Appalachia Project’s (WOAP) “Women Speak,” a presentation of story, poetry and song showcasing women artists from throughout the Appalachian region, April 22 from 1-3 p.m. in the Downtown Library’s Milano Reading Room.

The performance will center around “Women Speak: Volume Eight,” a lavish mix of Appalachian female voices – northern, central, southern, Affrilachian, Indigenous, AppalAsian, LQBTQ, those differently abled and with developmental differences, emerging and well established – every voice raised in tribute to Appalachian endurance, honor, courage, love of family, community and the land. Copies are available online at

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Painting Flowers with Nature’s Colors

Posted by Mary Alvarez.
March 27th, 2023

Written by Erica Uszak

A portrait orientation panting of a bouquet of flowers in a small glass mason jar. The flowers are blue and white with yellow in the center. The background is a subtle green and yellow.
(Above) Arthur J. “Pete” Ballard, “Iris,” 2004, Oil on board. Arthur J. Ballard, Costume Artist and Curator, Papers, A&M 3869, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries, Morgantown, West Virginia.

West Virginian Arthur J. “Pete” Ballard (1931-2017) liked to paint with vivid colors, especially when it came to his many paintings of various flowers. His “Iris” painting shows his inclination towards bright colors, especially in his use of different shades of green. The white of the iris makes a sharp contrast to the vibrant green. The white petals, tinged in blue, indigo, and purple, draw the viewer into the life-like painting.

At a 2000 art exhibition, Pete Ballard remarked, “Occasionally, I’ve had my green backgrounds questioned,” as many of his paintings of flowers contain green settings. He found that other background colors never quite fit as well as he liked the color green. As he mulled over whether to use another color, he looked outside and saw green in everything alive, as “the hills were green, so were the trees; the grass was green, so were all the leaves. God used it. Why try to improve.”[1] Green was the color of life and energy, so Ballard decided to keep using green in his paintings, especially when it came to his paintings of flowers.

Pete Ballard used green to show the vibrant colors of nature and liked to paint the beauty and colorfulness of nature through his many flower paintings. As the weather (slowly) warms, one looks forward to the re-appearance of green and flowers as spring comes around the corner.

[1] Pete Ballard, “Memories and Mementos: A Collection of Paintings and Commentaries,” 2000, Box 2, “2000 Exhibition of My Paintings at Gertrude Smith House-Mt. Airy, NC.” Arthur J. Ballard, Costume Artist and Curator, Papers, A&M 3869, West Virginia and Regional History Center, West Virginia University Libraries, Morgantown, West Virginia.

Downtown Library to host “Unboxing the Black Box” exhibit reception

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 23rd, 2023
Black Box painting

The WVU Art in the Libraries committee will host a reception for “Unboxing the Black Box: The Evolution of Microbial Ecology,” an exhibit by Chansotheary Dang, Monday, April 3, from 4-6 p.m. in the Downtown Library Graduate Commons.

The exhibit, which won Dang the 2022 WVU Art in the Libraries’ Graduate Student Exhibit Award, will be on display in the Graduate Commons through August. Dang a PhD candidate in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.

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Submit your research papers for Munn Library Scholars Award

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 23rd, 2023

Students, did you write an exceptional research paper this year? Consider submitting it for the Robert F. Munn Library Scholars Award.

This award is presented annually for outstanding research papers in the humanities or social sciences. Winners will be awarded $1,000 and be recognized publicly by the University and the Libraries.

To be eligible, applicants must be a student enrolled at West Virginia University as a full-time undergraduate student in good academic standing; conducted original research using resources from the West Virginia University Libraries; and used this research to produce a paper that reflects individual work, not that of a group or class project.

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Humanities Center to host an evening with author Mike Ingram

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 21st, 2023
Mike Ingram

The West Virginia University Humanities Center will present an evening with author Mike Ingram March 27 from 7:30-9 p.m. in the Downtown Library’s Milano Reading Room.

“Ingram’s writing gives depth and perspective to those deep vulnerabilities that make us human. In his hands, we’re led into a poignant rendering of modern life with all its foibles, complexities, and quiet, hard-won joys,” Humanities Center Director Renée Nicholson said.

Ingram’s stories, essays, and journalism have appeared in a number of publications, including PHOEBE, The North American Review, The Smart Set and Medium’s Human Parts. Ingram is also an associate professor of instruction at Temple University, where he teaches courses in creative writing, editing and publishing, and first-year writing.

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Registration deadline Friday for Open Textbook Workshop

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 2nd, 2023

Are you an instructor who is concerned about the impact of high textbook costs for your students’ academic success? WVU Libraries will host a virtual Open Textbook Workshop and Textbook Review on March 9 at 10 a.m. that will help instructors explore possible open textbook solutions to this growing financial issue.

Click here to complete an application. Registration deadline is Friday.

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Humanities Center and WVRHC to host author Valerie Nieman March 7

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 21st, 2023
Valerie Nieman
Valerie Nieman

The West Virginia University Humanities Center and the West Virginia and Regional History Center will present an evening with author and WVU alumna Valerie Nieman March 7 from 7:30-9 p.m. in the Downtown Library’s Milano Room.

Nieman will return to campus to read from her latest novel, “In the Lonely Backwater,” recipient of the Sir Walter Raleigh Award, North Carolina’s top prize for fiction, and other of her works of prose and poetry.

“Valerie Nieman is a dynamic figure in the vibrant literary history and landscape of West Virginia,” Humanities Center Director Renee Nicholson said. “It’s really an honor to be part of the celebration of her archive.”

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Downtown Library to host “Sustainable Fashion” presentation March 1

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 14th, 2023
Model wearing dress

The WVU Libraries’ Arts in the Libraries committee will host a program with Colleen Moretz, curator of the “Sustainable Fashion Design Exploration: Transformation to Zero-Waste” exhibit,  and her students at 4 p.m. March 1 in Room 1020 of the Downtown Library.

The exhibit includes Moretz’s work alongside zero-waste designs by students in her fashion design management course. Moretz, associate professor of Fashion, Dress & Merchandising in the Davis College, won the 2022 Art in the Libraries Faculty Exhibit Award.

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“Amplifying Appalachia” Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon set for March

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 9th, 2023
Amplifying Appalachia logo

WVU Libraries’ third annual “Amplifying Appalachia” Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon will take place throughout the entire month of March.

Instead of one organized gathering for volunteers to revise content on Wikipedia posts, participants are encouraged to set their own schedules to edit pages over the 31-day span. To cap off the month-long initiative, the Downtown Library will host an in-person editing event on Thursday, March 30, from 1-5 p.m.

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Libraries accepting submissions for Graduate Student Exhibit Award

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 8th, 2023

The West Virginia University Libraries’ Art in the Libraries committee is seeking submissions for the 2023 Graduate Student Exhibit Award.

As part of its mission, the Art in the Libraries Committee wants to highlight the art and scholarship of WVU graduate students. The Committee invites current graduate students to submit ideas for consideration for an exhibit to visually showcase their scholarship in new and experimental ways.

These can present a visual evolution of their work, visualize their research and influences, or answer a research question. Proposals should be based on their academic or creative research and lend themselves to visual interpretation with Library consultation.

“The goals of these awards are to provide a multidisciplinary platform for deeper learning, foster intellectual discourse and discussion and demonstrate the breadth of WVU’s creative and innovative activity,” Libraries Exhibit Coordinator Sally Brown said.

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