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Dr. James Vance Boughner and His Morgantown Home

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 15th, 2019

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

The reference staff at the West Virginia & Regional History Center answers all kinds of interesting questions and it is always an extra pleasure when we can help patrons find that piece of information that they are very eager to find.  I had that experience this week.

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Picturing West Virginia

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 1st, 2019

Blog post by Catherine Rakowski, Administrative Associate, WVRHC.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Boston physician, amateur photographer and father of SCOTUS Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., described photography as “the mirror with a memory.”  In 1859 he believed that there would “soon be such an enormous collection of forms that they will have to be classified and arranged in vast libraries, as books are.”

Holmes’s forethought was correct. At the West Virginia and Regional History Center, over a million “photographic records” are among the treasures in our holdings, ranging from the earliest photographic images, daguerreotypes, to the current born-digital images.

On West Virginia Day, June 20, 2019, the History Center opened a new exhibit in the Davis Family Galleries located on the 6th floor of the Wise Library.  The title of the exhibit is “Picturing West Virginia: Early Photography in the Mountain State.”

This weblog will focus on a few items from the exhibit. They happen to be some of my favorites:   

Tabletop stereoscope viewer
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Oliver P. Chitwood, Namesake of Chitwood Hall

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
June 18th, 2019

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

Oliver Chitwood as an older man, seated, holding a book

While working to make our card catalog for the President’s Office Archive more accessible, I came across microfilmed faculty application materials from the history department. These included Oliver Perry Chitwood’s application for work at WVU, as well as some correspondence between him and Dr. Purinton, then University President, who was recruiting Chitwood.

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It’s a Good Hair Day!

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
June 11th, 2019

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

Having a good hair day? Or is it time for a new do?  Humans have been cutting, coloring, curling, and styling their hair since ancient times. This week the Center blog includes a sample of images that show shampoos, haircuts, hair dressers, barber shops, and beauty salons in West Virginia.  Enjoy!

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West Virginia Day celebration to focus on early photography

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
June 7th, 2019
Two men standing in front of a saloon
Two unidentified men raise their mugs of beer outside a Tucker County saloon, ca. 1885.

If you’re on Facebook, twitter or Instagram, it’s impossible to miss the selfies people post to announce a night on the town, a trip to an exotic location or just a new pair of sunglasses.

Set aside the Internet and smartphones, and they’re simply following a social norm established more than 150 years ago. While Millennials are growing up on social media, the Civil War generation was the first to grow up with photography.

“Photography was an earth-shattering innovation in the mid-19th century, perhaps like the introduction of the computer or the cell phone,” said John Cuthbert, director of the West Virginia and Regional History Center. “It was introduced in the U.S. around 1840 and within a couple of decades people all over America were getting their pictures taken by itinerant photographers who would travel from town to town.”

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Remembering D-Day, June 6, 1944: 75 Years after the Allied Invasion of Normandy – D-Day plus 27,375

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
June 6th, 2019

Blog post by Catherine Rakowski, Administrative Associate, WVRHC.

Photo of soldiers holding guns, running up a beach amid smoke
US Army, 2nd Rangers charge the heavily fortified cliffs on the Normandy beach

In 1947, West Virginia University student John Poulos wrote the following description of the World War II military fighting man for a history class essay:

 “He is pretty young, between 17 and 25. As a fighter, he’s a cross between Geronimo . . ., Buck Rogers, Sergeant York and a clumsy heartsick boy.  He had an understanding of the war that it will take most Americans a long time to get.  For one thing he has lost several friends. He knows plenty about fear, about huddling up in a foxhole . . . when a big one is coming in with its ghastly, spiral noise”.

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Frederick Douglass Remembers Decoration Day, May 30, 1881

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 28th, 2019

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

Black and white portrait photo of Frederick Douglass as an older man

Decoration Day, May 30, 1881.  Frederick Douglass, considered among the greatest orators of the nineteenth century, stood on the grounds of Storer College, the first institution of higher learning for African Americans in West Virginia, a state not long separated from its parent, Virginia.   Douglass, a trustee of Storer College, was the Decoration Day keynote speaker.  The events of the day were part of a commencement celebration that also included the laying of the cornerstone for a new building.  This new addition to campus would be called Anthony Hall, “in honor of Mr. Anthony, of Providence R. I., a relative of Senator Anthony.”  But Douglass was not there to praise the success of Storer College, or to decorate the graves of soldiers who fought and died during the late Civil War, instead, Douglass took this occasion to talk about his friend and fellow abolitionist, John Brown, whose execution following his failed raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1859, twenty-two years before, was within living memory of many of the attendees that day.

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Uncle Sam of Freedom Ridge

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 21st, 2019

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC

Please note, this post mentions the suicide of a fictional character.

While reprocessing the collection of Margaret Prescott Montague, a West Virginia-born author, I discovered that one of her stories was made into a movie when I found a large folder of clippings about it. I wanted to know more about what this White Sulphur Springs native had written that would make it to the big screen.

Margaret Prescott Montague in white dress, seated amid foliage in the sunshine
Margaret Prescott Montague

“Uncle Sam of Freedom Ridge” first appeared as an 11-page short story Atlantic Monthly in June 1920. Later that year, Uncle Sam of Freedom Ridge was published by Doubleday, Page & Company as a small, 60 page book (with generous margins). You can read it here: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433076044944;view=1up;seq=9

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Ancella Bickley Collection Highlights African American Teachers and School Integration

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 14th, 2019

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

Dr. Ancella R. Bickley is a celebrated author, historian and educator from West Virginia. The Ancella Bickley Research Papers (A&M 4208) held at the West Virginia & Regional History Center document her life, work, and service to the public, especially her research and writing on topics of African American history. 

Ancella Bickley wearing a graduation gown and mortarboard hat

Ancella Bickley speaking at Marshall University commencement in 1990. Image from the Bickley Collection.

One of the projects recorded in her papers are interviews of black women teachers in West Virginia that she undertook with Dr. Rita Wicks-Nelson.  The interviews are part of Series 4, Interviews and Oral History Interviews—Black Teachers, 1955-2011, and were completed during Bickley and Wicks-Nelson’s time as Rockefeller Scholars-in-Residence at Marshall University.  The series includes transcripts of the interviews, correspondence with interviewees, as well as background information about the women.  Additionally, the project files contain administrative records about the project and scholarly articles by Bickley and Wicks-Nelson that draw conclusions from the interviews.

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A Snapshot of the Prohibition Era in West Virginia

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 8th, 2019

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

Recently, while working the reference desk in the Manuscripts Room at the History Center, I browsed the papers of West Virginia Governor Ephraim Morgan (1921-1925) that had been retrieved for a researcher and discovered a couple items of historical interest.  While the era of the early 1920s was a time in which Governor Ephraim’s attention was focused on the conflict between labor and management in the coal industry, a conflict known as the “mine wars,” it was also a time of prohibition in America, so it wasn’t surprising to discover letters in the collection related to its enforcement.

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The Scott’s Run Memory Project

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 29th, 2019

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

In 2018, the WVU Humanities Center funded a project to explore the memories of the Scott’s Run community through oral history and photography.  For the project, grant team members chose a set of historical images of the Scott’s Run area from the West Virginia & Regional History Center’s online photographs database, West Virginia History OnView. Over a series of interviews with community members who gather every Saturday at the Scott’s Run Museum, team members recorded residents’ memories and observations derived from viewing the selected photographs. 

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Celebrating Shakespeare’s 455th Birthday on April 23

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 24th, 2019

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

Portrait of William Shakespeare

Spring is here and what better way to celebrate William Shakespeare’s 455th birthday, than to look at the way he used flowers in his plays. 

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The 1918 Spanish Influenza in Morgantown

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 15th, 2019

Blog post by Jessica Eichlin, Reference Supervisor, WVRHC.

Lucy Shuttlesworth, a twenty year old West Virginia University student, recorded the 1918 flu epidemic in her diary, writing that “the Spanish influ[enza] is spreading like mad, 150 of the boys have it, (the Delt house has been taken over as a hospital) ten girls at the hall and five of our kids at the house” have it.  The particularly deadly strain of Spanish influenza initially appeared in August 1918, but the first mention of the fall epidemic did not appear in a local Morgantown newspaper until September 11, 1918.  By September twenty-fifth, an unidentified Associated Press author states that “Spanish influenza has spread over the country so rapidly that officials of the public health service, the war and navy departments and the Red Cross conferred today on measures to help local communities in combating the disease,” which had spread to twenty-six states.  By October first, the number of cases nationwide reached 88,000, and the Spanish flu finally arrived in Morgantown.

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Guest Post: Clover Lick Homecoming

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 3rd, 2019

This blog post, written by Libby Coyner, Archivist and Assistant Librarian at Elon University’s Carol Grotnes Belk Library, was originally posted on November 30, 2018 at https://www.librarylibby.com/single-post/2018/11/30/Clover-Lick-Homecoming. You can see additional photos relevant to the post at that site.

 *The text here is from a talk I gave as part of Elon University’s Numen Lumen weekly storytelling event. 

It’s November 2018, Thanksgiving, and I’m making my way to West Virginia, 14 miles past the Virginia border into to a place that no longer supports a store, post office, or gas station. No cellphone service. My pal from graduate school, now working as a librarian in Spartanburg, South Carolina, has agreed to come along for the ride. We prepare for three days with 24 degree weather and no running water.

We are making our way to the little turn in the road where my father was born, which has been all but abandoned for about thirty years now, save a few old houses that get dusted off and used during hunting season. Clover Lick, unincorporated, a sign reads, sits along the Greenbrier River, and declined around the same time that the train stopped coming. Today, Clover Lick is mostly in a state of neglect. My cousin maintains one of the houses, always dubbed “Cold Comfort Farm” in our family, and this is where we will stay.

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Spotlight on Sabraton's Namesake

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 26th, 2019

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC

Earlier this week, I attended the Seventh Annual History Roundtable, organized by the Morgantown Historic Landmarks Commission. About half of the meeting was devoted to reports about the recent Sabraton Neighborhood Survey. (FYI, the Historic Landmark Commission’s archive is at the Aull Center, if you want to see their work in full.) Despite living in the Sabraton area, I realized how little I knew about Sabraton. I learned that Sabraton was named after the first wife of Hon. George C. Sturgiss (1842-1925), Sabra. In one resource, her name was reported as Sabra Chadwick, but I think her maiden name was actually Sabra Jane Vance. In this post I briefly explore the name of Sabraton as well as what remains of Sabra’s life story.

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WVU Libraries opens Congressman Arch Moore archives, releases digital photographs

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 19th, 2019
Arch Moore shakes hands with President Eisenhower
Congressman Arch Moore shakes hands with President Dwight D. Eisenhower, circa 1957-1960

West Virginia University Libraries’ West Virginia & Regional History Center has opened the congressional archives of former U.S. Congressman and West Virginia Governor Arch A. Moore Jr. and released digitized photographs that document Moore’s decade in the House of Representatives. 

A native of Moundsville, W.Va., Arch A. Moore Jr. served in the European theatre during World War II before enrolling at West Virginia University as a political science major in 1946. He later earned his law degree from WVU College of Law. In 1949, Moore married Shelley Riley, a fellow WVU student, and they had three children together, Arch A. (Kim) Moore III, Shelley Wellons, and Lucy St. Clair. Daughter Shelley served in the U.S. House of Representatives (2001-2014) and the U.S Senate (2015-present).

In 1952, Moore began his political career in the West Virginia House of Delegates, and in 1956 he was elected to the First District congressional seat. He went on to serve six terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (1957-1969) winning as a Republican in a predominantly Democratic state. He is the only person to serve three terms as Governor of West Virginia (1969-1977, 1985-1989).

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Springtime Selections from the Green Photography Collection

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 12th, 2019

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

The James Edwin Green photography collection of over 500 glass plate negatives at the History Center contains a variety of images that document life in western Pennsylvania and Pleasants County, West Virginia.  This blog will sample images that are seasonal, relating to the theme of springtime and warmer weather.

The first image shows the photographer, James Edwin Green (1878-1952) with his family at Orchard View Farm:

Family seated outside eating watermelon in an orchard, with text "Who Said Watermelon!"

James Edwin Green (1878-1952) and family at Orchard View Farm,
Pleasants County, West Virginia, ca. 1905-1910.
(From collection A&M 3460, James Edwin Green, Photographer,
Glass Plate Negatives and Other Material.)

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New Books on Frederick Douglass at the West Virginia and Regional History Center

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 8th, 2019

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

The life of Frederick Douglass is infinitely compelling.  Born enslaved, he barely knew his mother, who died when he was young, and never knew his father.  As a young man he escaped enslavement to become a prominent activist and one of the finest orators of the 19th century.

With the publication of David Blight’s new biography, Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, it seemed an appropriate time to share the West Virginia and Regional History Center’s extensive book collection on Frederick Douglass. 

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.
David W. Blight

Cover of book Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, showing a color portrait of Douglass

An award winning author, David W. Blight has written what is called the definitive biography of Frederick Douglass. 

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February is for the Birds

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 27th, 2019

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC

Happy National Bird-Feeding Month, everyone!

February was initially proposed for this month-long observance because winter can be a hard time for birds to find food (more on the official resolution here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Bird-Feeding_Month). The month is now celebrated by the National Bird-Feeding Society and bird enthusiasts across the country. The WVRHC has a few collections about birds and birding that will be of interest to other hobbyists and scholars.

Boy scout holding bird feeder
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Alpheus Poage Willson, 1794 to 1835, Morgantown Attorney

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 5th, 2019

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

While I was browsing volumes in the Rare Book Room recently I came across an early book of Virginia law, the Collection of All Such Public Acts of the General Assembly and Ordinances of the Conventions of Virginia, published in Richmond by Thomas Nicholson and William Prentiss, 1785. 

Opening the cover I could see that this particular book has an interesting provenance history.  The bookplate showed that this book had once belonged to a Morgantown attorney, Alpheus P. Willson.   The inscription at the top of the pastedown reads: “Presented to the West Virginia Historical Society, Nov 8, 1870, L.S. Hough.”  Another Morgantown attorney, Hough was known locally as a collector of rare books as well as law books.  The West Virginia Historical Society may well be the Monongalia Historical Society that operates in Morgantown today. The second bookplate, marked West Virginia University Libraries, shows that this book was donated in 1933 by A.P. Willson’s son, also named A.P. Wilson, though he chose to spell the family name without the extra “l” his father used.   

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