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Documented History of the WVRHC

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 19th, 2020

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

Today, I finally found the content that established the predecessor to the WVRHC, called the Division of Documents.  Much of the story of the evolution of the Center, from the days when the Library was collecting historical material piecemeal through to the days of the well-established West Virginia and Regional History Collection, appears in Dr. John Cuthbert’s article, “West Virginia Collection Holds Keys to the State’s History,” West Virginia University Alumni Magazine, vol. 23, no. 3, Fall 2000, pp. 36-39. The name was updated to West Virginia and Regional History Center in 2013. 

Since we are updating some of our documentation, I have been searching for the often-mentioned WVU Board of Governors’ establishment of the Division of Documents in 1933, as well as the mention of the Division of Documents as an official repository of state documents in the Acts of Legislature the following year.

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Collection Highlight: A Souvenir of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 5th, 2020

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

Recently, when reviewing the content of a new collection at the History Center, I discovered a souvenir of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, a photograph of the world’s first Ferris Wheel that is more than 125 years old.  Mounted on a card of four by seven inches, it was likely sold to tourists of the Exposition, of which there were 27 million, or more that 1/3 of the population of the United States at that time.

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Garden Dreams: Vick’s Flower and Vegetable Garden Catalog

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 29th, 2020

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian

Garden catalogs usually begin to arrive in my mailbox during January’s cold and dreary days. I love sitting down with a catalog and turning the pages filled with colorful photographs of flowering seeds, plants and vegetables.  Flipping through these pages and admiring the photos always makes me want to order more seeds and plants than I could ever use or could possibly plant in my yard. 

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Global and Local Bird Populations Recorded

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 24th, 2020

Blog post by Linda Blake, University Librarian Emerita

George H. Breiding, 1917-2007, spread the news regarding the importance and impact of nature and its conservation.  While a naturalist at Oglebay Park in Wheeling, 1950-1963, where he was born, he wrote a nature column for the Wheeling Intelligencer, did radio interviews, and taught youth about the natural world.  He was an agent for WVU’s Extension Services, 1963-1979, and also wrote widely for various popular magazines including Wild Wonderful West Virginia and Bird Watcher’s Digest.  As I said, he spread the word at every opportunity.

Older man holding up a poster, talking to younger man beside him
George H. Breiding teaching a youth
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Welcome Back to WVU: 1920 Edition

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 16th, 2020

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC

About this time one hundred years ago, WVU students returned to Morgantown to begin a new semester of classes.  The collections at the West Virginia & Regional History Center allow us a glimpse of student and University life back then.  The Athenaeum student newspaper describes student experiences, happenings on campus, and the important topics of the day. 

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A New Way of Looking at Thomas Jefferson’s Legal Dictionary

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
December 16th, 2019

By McKayla Herron, Graduate Assistant at the WVRHC

Working as a graduate assistant at the WV&RHC, I have been surrounded by amazing archival materials. This semester I had the opportunity to undertake an in-depth study of Thomas Jefferson’s Common Law Dictionary, one of the many treasures found in our Rare Book Collection, as part of my coursework for ARHS 412: Collections Care and Preservation of Material Objects. (This book was featured in a previous post by Rare Book Librarian Stewart Plein.) Utilizing a microscope to examine the book, I was able to learn more about the materials that comprise it and the techniques used to make it.

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Something Good from Helvetia: Pfeffernusse

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
December 6th, 2019

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC

A couple of years ago, I purchased a small cookbook from the Helvetia table during WVU’s Mountaineer Week.  I collect local cookbooks and this one was of special interest because I had just learned that my Hochstadler ancestors had likely immigrated from Switzerland to America in the mid-eighteenth century.

Cover of book showing title "Oppis Guet’s Vo Helvetia" and a green china hutch.
The cover of my cookbook. Art by Delores R. Baggerly. Oppis Guet’s Vo Helvetia translates to “Something Good from Helvetia.” The WVRHC has 1969 original prints of the cookbook in the collection. My copy is a modern reprint.
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Apple Stack Cake

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
November 25th, 2019

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

After my blog post about Shoofly Pie, controversially credited as the WV state dessert on some websites, I’ve been on the lookout for a dessert that would better suit the title of “West Virginia state dessert.”  It has proven to be a real challenge.  My most recent search turned up new ideas (summed up nicely in this WV Gazette Mail article) from hot dogs/mad dogs (tasty pastries that are actually filled with cream) to peanut butter oat cookies (which I love, knowing them from my non-WV childhood as chocolate oatmeal no bake cookies and other less pleasing names).  I kept digging through the internet, seeing apples and molasses pop up a couple of times as quintessential ingredients.  Then, I stumbled on Appalachian Apple Stack Cake.

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Remembering the Farmington Mine Disaster November 20, 1968

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
November 19th, 2019

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian

Huge plume of smoke billowing from an obscured structure over a parking lot

Early on the morning of November 20, 1968, while the day was still in darkness, an explosion rocked the Consolidation Coal No. 9 mine in Marion County, WV.  The Farmington Mine Disaster, as it is remembered today, took the lives of 78 miners.  Of the 99 miners at work in the mine that day, only 21 survived.  Of the 78 miners who died, 19 of the dead have never been recovered.  Their grave is the mine where they worked. 

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My West Virginia Family Ghost Story

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
November 15th, 2019

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC

By the time this is published, Halloween will be a diminishing memory for most but I think ghost stories are enjoyed year round!  So I wanted to share my family’s ghost story. When I was in elementary school, one of my teachers read to the class from the West Virginia classic, The Telltale Lilac Bush and Other West Virginia Ghost Stories by Dr. Ruth Ann Musick.  The book was published in 1965. Dr. Musick was folklorist and faculty member at Fairmont State College (now University.)

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Halloween Poem

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
October 31st, 2019

Courtesy of Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian

Enjoy this short Halloween poem from an item in our rare book collection:

Carved jack-o-lanterns sketch

We are merry Jack O’Lanterns, See!
Come and join us in our glee,
While we dance beneath the tree,
While we dance upon the green,
While we dance on Hallowe’en,
Come and join our merry ranks,
While we play our jolly pranks
Come and hear us as we tell,
What the witches know so well,
Come, Oh come! And do not wait,
While we dance here on the green,
While we dance on Hallowe’en.

Sketch of children carrying jack-o-lanterns

Poem and images (which can be printed as coloring pages, if you like) all from:

Lewis, G.W. The Story Primer.  Illustrated by Bess Bruce Cleaveland.  Third edition.  Chicago: G.W. Lewis Publishing Co. 1915.  Pages 70-72.

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
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October is Archives Month!

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
October 14th, 2019

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC. Photographs by Jessica Eichlin, Reference Supervisor.

October is Archives Month and the occasion has caused me to reflect on the work we do at the West Virginia & Regional History Center. I often give tours and lead classes where I have a short amount of time to relay all the moving parts that makes us a thriving archive.  In this blog post, I hope to do the same: provide a short overview of the myriad activities that comprise the important work we do.

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National Newspaper Week: Celebrating Morgantown’s Newspapers

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
October 10th, 2019

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian

Logo stating "Think First, Know Your 5 Freedoms, National Newspaper Week, October 6-12"

The editorial in yesterday’s Dominion Post newspaper for Wednesday, October 9, 2019, discussed National Newspaper Week, which recognizes the service of newspapers and their employees across North America.  This year, National Newspaper Week is October 6-12, and it is sponsored by the Newspaper Association Managers.  The poster pictured above, is the logo for this year’s celebration.

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Preserving the Emory Kemp Collection Inspires a Former Student and Spawns a New Addition at the WVRHC

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
September 30th, 2019

Blog post by Alanna Natanson, 2018-2019 Preserve WV AmeriCorps member who served at the WVRHC

Universities love monetary donations to help fulfill our missions, but at the West Virginia and Regional History Center (WVRHC), the special collections library at West Virginia University (WVU), we love donations of another kind: old papers! Specifically, the materials that individuals and organizations in West Virginia and Central Appalachia create during their lifetimes. My work with the papers of Dr. Emory Kemp as part of my AmeriCorps service caught the attention of WVU alum Glenn Longacre, and it inspired him to offer research materials from his own career to the WVRHC.

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Tales from Japan: Lafcadio Hearn and Japanese Folklore

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
September 25th, 2019

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian

This past weekend I lazily paged through a recent issue of the New Yorker magazine and found a book review for Monique Truong’s The Sweetest Fruits.  After reading it, I found that I was already familiar with its subject, the writer Lafcadio Hearn (1840 – 1904), whose books are part of the WVU Library’s rare book collection. 

From reading the review I gathered that Truong’s book can be seen as an imagined conversation that relives moments in Hearn’s life, as spoken by the women who were important to him. The promotional description on Amazon’s website describes the book in this way: “The lives of writers can often best be understood through the eyes of those who nurtured them and made their work possible. In The Sweetest Fruits . . .  three women tell the story of their time with Lafcadio Hearn, a globetrotting writer best known for his books about Meiji-era Japan.” 

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WVRHC receives fifth NEH grant to digitize historical newspapers

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
September 18th, 2019
Picture of a front page of a newspaper

This image is an example of the searchable content available on the Chronicling America website.

The West Virginia University Libraries’ West Virginia & Regional History Center has received a $201,917 grant – its fifth from the National Endowment for the Humanities – to continue digitizing newspapers published in West Virginia from 1790 to 1923.

The award is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, a collaboration between the NEH and the Library of Congress to enlist libraries and institutions from around the country to create a digital database of historical United States newspapers. This grant brings the NEH’s total funding of the WVRHC’s efforts to $968,000.

“We are honored that the NEH recognizes the tremendous value of the historical newspapers archived in the WVRHC,” WVRHC Director John Cuthbert said. “Their support speaks volumes to the instrumental roles the Mountain State and its citizens played in the formation and growth of our nation.”

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Lucy Shuttleworth at WVU

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
September 10th, 2019

Blog post by Jessica Eichlin, Reference Supervisor, WVRHC.

Now that the students at West Virginia University have settled back into their school routines, we thought it might be a good idea to take a look back at what other WVU students experienced in the past.  This post will just focus on one such student: Lucy Shuttlesworth, who attended WVU from 1917-1921.

Headshot portrait of Lucy Shuttleworth
Lucy Shuttlesworth’s high school senior portrait, 1917.  From the Allerlei.
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The Incredible Story behind the Collapse of the National Bank of Keystone

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
September 4th, 2019

Blog post by Linda Blake, University Librarian Emerita

Twenty years ago, on September 1, 1999, a federal agency, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), closed the National Bank of Keystone and turned it over to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Button on jacket that says "I survived the 1st National Bank of Keystone"
Button on jacket that says “I survived the 1st National Bank of Keystone”
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Mountaineer Week Collection

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
August 26th, 2019

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

The University Archives recently received records from the Office of Multicultural Programs that cover the planning of Mountaineer Week in the past. Among other things, we now have their planning binders covering 1995-2005.  This has been a very enjoyable collection to process, though it has made me crave funnel cake and kettle corn a few months too early.  (Mountaineer Week runs November 1-9, 2019.) There are a few highlights that I found so far to share with you.

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