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America First Day, 1922

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 24th, 2017

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

Recently, I was using the Harvey Harmer Collection to answer a research question and I came across a file labeled “America First Day – 1922.”  The research question was unrelated, but I was intrigued by the contents of the folder.  In 1940, the “America First Committee” was the leading group arguing against entrance into the second World War, but this was a much earlier use of the slogan.  So I wanted to investigate it further.

 

Harvey Harmer seated with four pumpkins in 1914

Harvey Harmer and his pumpkins in 1914.  Harmer (1865-1961) was a layer, local historian, and state senator from Clarksburg in Harrison County.

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"One of the best known cooking experts in the United States" and The New Calendar of Salads

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 15th, 2017

Blog post by Jessica Eichlin, Photographs Manager and Preservationist, with editing, insight, and additional salad-making by Stewart Plein, Assistant Curator for WV Books & Printed Resources & Rare Book Librarian

 

We are always looking for new ways to share items in our collections, so when we found out that May is National Salad Month, we knew we had to find something to share.  Although the West Virginia and Regional History Center has an entire section of cookbooks which feature recipes for salads, we thought it would be more fitting to share an entire book devoted exclusively to salads.  The New Calendar of Salads features a full 365 recipes for a variety of salads–one for every day of the year–as well as a variety of dressings and sauces.  Written by Elizabeth O. Hiller, the New Calendar of Salads debuted in the 1910s.

For someone who has authored at least 14 different cookbooks, Mrs. Elizabeth O. Hiller is surprisingly difficult to pin down.  During the course of our research, we were unable to find any concrete information about her.  Nevertheless, Hiller likely lived in Chicago during her active period.  Advertisements in Good Housekeeping indicate that she founded the Chicago Domestic Science Training School.  The school offered “plain and advanced cookery, carving, dining room service, training of butlers and waitresses, and sickroom cookery.”  A note in the “News and Notes” section of The Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics, Volume 5 from 1900 indicates that invitations for the opening day are being acknowledged and that “Mrs. E. O. Hiller, class of ‘98, is principal of this school.”

Hiller also spent time traveling around the country, performing cooking demonstrations to audiences of “two to four thousand per day.”  A search on Chronicling America, a digital archive for American newspapers, yielded a number of advertisements featuring Mrs. Hiller’s approval.  Products such as Cottolene (a beef tallow and cottonseed oil alternative to lard), Fruited Wheat and Fruited Oats, Pike’s Peak Self-Rising Flour, and Tone Spices were all endorsed by Hiller in newspapers.

 

Mrs. Elizabeth Hiller endorsement ads for Fruited Oats and Pike's Peak Self-Rising Flour

The Fruited Wheat and Fruited Oats advertisement on the left was found in The Washington Herald, February 3, 1919. The Pike’s Peak Self-Rising Flour advertisement was found in the Las Vegas Optic, May 15, 1914. Both advertisements located using the Library of Congress Chronicling America newspaper database.

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Strike a Pose! Re-enacting Shakespeare

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 8th, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

"Shakespeare" in fancy text

When Dr. Anna Elfenbein asked if she could schedule a visit to the Rare Book Room for her That’s Amoré group, who had recently returned from a week-long trip to Italy, I was happy to comply.  We scheduled a visit to preview materials on Italian cities and culture, Italian studies, and the country of Italy.  Dr. Elfenbein asked if the class could have an opportunity to examine Shakespeare’s First Folio, the first printing of Shakespeare’s collected plays, as many of them, like Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, and Two Gentlemen of Verona, have Italian settings.  I made a list of materials the class would be using and a request for the history of the bust of Dante in one of the Downtown Library’s historic settings, the Robinson Reading Room.

Portrait of William Shakespeare

I believe most people think that a visit to the Rare Book Room is a serious and somber occasion.  We might wear white gloves, speak in hushed tones, and examine centuries of priceless historic volumes.  Sometimes it can be like that.  And then, there are other visits that turn out to be a lot of fun, like Saturday’s visit with Dr. Elfenbein’s That’s Amoré group!  Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Astronomical! The Biggest Book in the Rare Book Room

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 8th, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Colored book plate of November Meteors

The Rare Book Room is home to books both big and small, but the largest book by far is Trouvelot’s Astronomical Drawings, published in New York by Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1881.  Measuring a whopping 42 ½” in height by 14 ½” wide, Trouvelot’s Astronomical Drawings is actually a portfolio collection of prints documenting observations of the night sky.  Read the rest of this entry »

MayDay: Small Steps to Save our Stuff

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 1st, 2017

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC

 

MayDay 2017 logo

  

What is MayDay?

MayDay is a time when archivists and other cultural heritage professionals take personal and professional responsibility for doing something simple—something that can be accomplished in a day but that can have a significant impact on an individual’s or a repository’s ability to respond.” (Thanks to the Society of American Archivists’ website for the quote.)

Here at the Center, we are participating in MayDay.   Over the years, a lot of people have given us precious papers, photos, artifacts, and more to preserve and make accessible.  To be good caretakers of these gifts, we have to lessen risks and plan how to respond to emergency situations.  Read the rest of this entry »

"Do they want recognition?": Activism in the WVRHC's Collections

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 24th, 2017

Blog post by Ashleigh Coren, Visiting Librarian.

 

What happens when you search for “activist” in the West Virginia & Regional History Center? You’ll see the usual suspects like Mother Jones or John Brown, but, there are a few other gems worth exploring. Last fall I had the pleasure of interviewing bookseller and Appalachian scholar George Brosi, owner of Appalachian Mountain Books in Berea, Kentucky. George, who spent some time in Morgantown in the 1970s, spoke a great deal about the various examples of activism that took place during that time and also in the 1960s.  After our conversation I thought about what I might find in our collection, and as it turns out there’s some pretty fantastic items.  Read the rest of this entry »

A Two-Faced Villain: John J. Davis and the Political Ideology of the West Virginia Statehood Movement, 1861-1863

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 17th, 2017

By Casey DeHaven, Graduate Assistant, WVRHC.

Ananymous letter to John J. Davis from March 9, 1863, letting him know his political opinions about the possible new state of WV were putting him in danger

In March 1863, an anonymous author penned a foreboding letter to Harrison County delegate John J. Davis, warning the politician that his opposing stance on the West Virginia statehood movement was not well received among his constituency. “Sir, you’re in danger…your course is entirely ‘repulsive’ to all true patriots & sensible men…I advise you to desist from being too ambitious in your new state feelings – or rather anti-new state sympathies.”[1] Conceptualizations of loyalty during the West Virginia statehood movement became incredibly skewed as politicians and their constituents struggled to balance law and reason with moral principles. The movement created a fire storm that forced western Virginia citizens to redefine democracy, which consequently became so convoluted in nature that politicians at the helm of the movement began to lose former constituents and even turn on one another.
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Easter Greetings from the 1900s

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 16th, 2017

Blog post by Jessica Eichlin, Photographs Manager and Preservationist, WVRHC.

Easter is this weekend, and with it comes time spent with family and friends, good meals, and holiday symbols such as rabbits, baby chicks, and flowers.

Items related to Easter can be found in our Reading Room, in Archives and Manuscripts collections, and in our photograph collections.  We hope you enjoy this small selection of items celebrating the holiday.  Happy Easter!

 

Three children in field of chickens Read the rest of this entry »

19th Century Memorabilia: Autograph Books

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 13th, 2017

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

 

Recently at the History Center, when cataloging a collection, I encountered two 19th century autograph books kept by students from Clarksburg, West Virginia and Toboso, Ohio.  Having previously encountered this type of material in my work here, I was inspired to sample our holdings of these books in order to learn more about our collections, and to delve a bit into the history of this genre.  Read the rest of this entry »

A Visit to the Rare Book Room: A Tweet Story

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 3rd, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

When Sharon Kelly, WVU Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, reached out to me to ask if her class could come to the Rare Book Room as an extra credit activity I jumped at the chance to share WVU’s rare book collection with Sharon’s students.  The following is a series of tweets between the instructor and her class documenting the process of arranging for a class to visit the Rare Book Room and the students’ excitement once they began to experience the collections.

 

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New Collection, New Discovery: Mr. Jones and the Student Army Training Corps

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 27th, 2017

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC

 

I recently processed a new collection for the archives here at the WVRHC – A&M 4179, the Larry Jones, Collector, Postcards and Photographs.  Among this lovely collection of West Virginia related postcards and holiday postcards are three mounted photographs of the Student Army Training Corps (SATC) of West Virginia Wesleyan College–two of them include Ralph Jones. One of them is below.

 

Group of WV Wesleyan SATC with hands raised as if for an oath

Ralph Jones is behind the right shoulder of the fellow in the “C” sweater—can you tell which one?

  Read the rest of this entry »

It's Green-up Time: the Arrival of Spring and Louise McNeill's The Milkweed Ladies

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 23rd, 2017

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

As of Monday, spring is officially here!  Every year when the time changes and we have evening light, I look forward to blooming buds and the appearance of leaves on the trees, also known as “green-up time.”  I was not familiar with this colloquialism until I read poet Louise McNeill’s memoir, The Milkweed Ladies.  McNeill describes all the activity that took place on the farm just before and during springtime in the chapter, “Green-up Time.”  It is nostalgic and beautiful, revealing a routine unknown to most in our modern times.

 

“Soon after sassafras time, it was green-up time, with the first shoots coming up out of the ground.  We watched the sprouts hopefully, for this was the time of year for Granny to go to the fields and woods to pick her wild greens, the “sallets” of the old frontier. Granny Fanny taught us all the plants, and how to tell the good greens from the bad. We gathered new poke sprouts, always being careful not to snip them too close to their poison roots; and we gathered “spotted leaf,” leaves of “lamb’s tongue,” butter-and-eggs, curly dock, new blackberry sprouts, dandelions, and a few violet leaves.”  — The Milkweed Ladies, page 45.

 

Portrait of Louise McNeill in 1941
Louise McNeill in 1941  Read the rest of this entry »

The War in Words: Union and Confederate Civil War Military Camp Newspapers in Charleston, Western Virginia

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 14th, 2017

Masthead of newspaper titled The Guerilla

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Civil War Military Camp newspapers are few and far between, but the news they printed is still valuable to us today.  As troops came into town, if there were newspapermen among the regiment, they often took over the press to print their own regimental newspaper.  The press may have been abandoned by fleeing residents or it may have been taken over by the troops, in any case, these rare survivors of Civil War news often reflect the movement of troops, the availability of soldiers skilled as newspapermen, and the proximity of a usable press.  These papers document the continuing flux of the military during the war, the development of western Virginia as it strives for independence from Virginia, and the need to support and bolster troop morale.  Few copies survive and those that do are extremely valuable for their reports of daily life, the publication of popular songs and humorous sketches, and reports on battles, politics, and troop movements.  Read the rest of this entry »

Jerry West Exhibit Now Available Online

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 13th, 2017

WVRHC's commemorative WV Day poster showing Jerry West jumping with a basketball

Just in time for March Madness, the West Virginia and Regional History Center is pleased to release the online version of our 2016 West Virginia Day exhibit, “Jerry West: An American Icon.”

The exhibit can still be viewed in person by visiting the WVRHC (in the back of the 6th floor, Downtown Campus Library) and will remain open through May 19, 2017. For those who cannot visit us in person, we have made PDFs that capture the exhibit objects, text, and links to videos found in both galleries of the display. The links to these PDFs can be found here: https://wvday.lib.wvu.edu/exhibits/2016.

PDF versions of our previous West Virginia Day exhibits, from 2009-2015, can be accessed from the Exhibits webpage.

 

Stansbury Hall: A Piece of Campus History

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 27th, 2017

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC (with big thanks to Jessica Eichlin, Photographs Manager, for finding many of these great photos).

Since Stansbury Hall has been in the news recently, I decided to investigate the history of the building and the man for whom it was named.  The first thing I learned: Stansbury Hall was once the Field House for our sports teams.   Read the rest of this entry »

100 Year Old Artifacts Show the History of WVU

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 22nd, 2017

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

 

To help commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of West Virginia University, a historical photography exhibit featuring holdings of the West Virginia and Regional History Center is showing at the Erickson Alumni Center.  Read the rest of this entry »

President Taft Visits Morgantown and North Central West Virginia, 1911

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 21st, 2017

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Booker T. Washington and West Virginia Salt Works

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
February 7th, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Bags of Charmco Feeds and Kanawha Salt

Along the banks of the Kanawha River lies an ancient deposit of briny saline, or salt deposits.  Their salty presence figures prominently over millennia and they have played an important role for centuries and for generations of people in West Virginia.

The Kanawha Salines, the name given to the salt fields of West Virginia, travel along both banks of the Kanawha River until the waters reach Charleston, a distance of approximately ten miles.  The origin of the region can be traced back to the earliest times, 600 million years ago, to an ocean that predates even the Atlantic, the Iapetus Ocean, so named for the father of Atlantis, whose own name was given to the Atlantic Ocean we know today. Read the rest of this entry »

Skiing in West Virginia

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 31st, 2017

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

With the arrival of winter weather, many are heading to the slopes to enjoy one of West Virginia’s most popular outdoor activities – skiing. The ski industry is a major part of the state’s economy that contributes over $250 million dollars annually and supplies more than 5000 jobs.

The first downhill ski area in West Virginia (also the first commercial ski area south of the Mason-Dixon line) came after members of the Washington Ski Club installed a rope tow on Weiss Knob in Canaan Valley, Tucker County in 1953.  This area is now part of the Canaan Valley State Park ski complex that opened in 1971.  Read the rest of this entry »

200,000 Pages of West Virginia Newspapers Digitized

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
January 23rd, 2017

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

The West Virginia and Regional History Center, in collaboration with the Library of Virginia, has been digitizing its newspaper collection for the Library of Congress website Chronicling America.  This 200,000 page collection of West Virginia newspapers is easily accessible through character string searching, and therefore offers extraordinary access to a treasure trove of primary historical resource material.  More specifically, this collection covers the period 1836-1922; the titles currently available are listed on the website, including mainly papers from Charles Town, Clarksburg, Fairmont, and Wheeling.  This digital collection will take a quantum leap forward in August 2017 when an additional 100,000 pages go online!

 

Having recently encountered on the internet news of the plans to restore the historic Robinson Grand Theater located in Clarksburg, West Virginia (which is scheduled to open in Spring 2018), I thought I would test the search engine by looking up the early history of the theater.  I was immediately rewarded with a wealth of easily accessible information regarding events connected with the topic.  In reviewing this snapshot of early entertainment history at the Robinson Grand we sometimes also encounter broader themes of national history that were concerning Americans at that time.

 

Among the results of my research, I found a front page report regarding a public reception occurring on February 6, the day before the theater opened on February 7:  Read the rest of this entry »