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West Virginia and the Vietnam War

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
December 12th, 2017

Blog Post by Catherine Rakowski, Administrative Associate at the WVRHC

The United States’ involvement in Vietnam (also known as French Indochina) began as early as 1950 in an effort to contain the spread of communism.  Throughout the next 25 years, the American support for the anti-communist government of South Vietnam escalated from supplying funding, military advisors and equipment to a full-scale involvement of U.S. forces fighting the war.

By the end of America’s most controversial war in 1975, more than 3 million Americans had served and 58,220 had died.  The state of West Virginia sent 36,578 troops of which 1,182 died. West Virginia suffered the highest casualty rate in the nation.

The West Virginia and Regional History Center is now displaying through December 2017, in the Rockefeller Gallery (2nd floor of the Wise Library) the exhibit, “West Virginia and the Vietnam War.” It includes political papers, maps, photographs, correspondence, artifacts, ephemera and the stories of individuals involved in the war on the front lines and at home. The photographs in this blog are from that exhibit.  Read the rest of this entry »

Mirroring the LOC: Mirror Images in the Collection of the WVRHC

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
December 4th, 2017

Blog Post by Jessica Eichlin, Photographs Manager and Preservationist

One of my favorite parts of my job as an archivist is seeing what other museums and archives around the world are doing through social media.

The Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division uses a blog to let people see their collections online. I love seeing their posts about the items they have, the projects they are working on with the public, and their new acquisitions. The newest post on their “Picture This” blog, “Double Take: Mirror Images,” was especially intriguing, as I knew the WVRHC had a number of photographs of mirrors in our own collections. Photographs of mirrors can be particularly fascinating due to the images captured, deliberately or unintentionally, in the mirror itself.

Check out the original post here, then keep scrolling to see some of the WVRHC mirror photos!  Read the rest of this entry »

Our Apple Heritage

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
November 29th, 2017

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

Fun fact of the day: apple trees are a member of the rose family, and are not native to North America—they spread from Asia through Europe and colonists brought them to this continent in the 1600s.

Two African-American men with apple sacks, in front of an apple bin in an orchard

Apple Pickers, 1975

There were once 1000 to 1600 varieties of apples grown in the southern and central Appalachian region, which is pretty astounding considering that they aren’t native and that Wikipedia tells us there are over 7500 cultivars of apple.  As of 2011, one study suggested there were still over 600 distinct varieties grown in the region.  At least two of these cultivars are special West Virginia contributions. Read the rest of this entry »

Rahall Collection now open to the public

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
November 29th, 2017

Thousands of archival records and digital photographs from the Congressman Nick Joe Rahall II papers are now open for research at West Virginia University Libraries’ West Virginia & Regional History Center.

In 1976, Nick Rahall II, a 27-year-old native of Beckley, WV, won the race for the West Virginia Fourth Congressional District and went on to win re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives for another eighteen terms (1977-2015), making him the longest serving congressman in West Virginia history.

Congressman Rahall with senators Jennings and Byrd

Before he was elected to Congress, Nick Rahall worked in the office of then U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd and as assistant to the Majority Secretary of the Senate. He is pictured with senators Jennings Randolph, Mike Mansfield and Byrd in June 1976. Read the rest of this entry »

Talking Turkey: Celebrating Thanksgiving in West Virginia

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
November 20th, 2017

Group of turkeys on snowy ground

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Many people would argue that Thanksgiving is just not complete without a turkey as the centerpiece of a loaded dinner table surrounded by loved ones.  Every other dish, no matter how elaborately prepared or presented, seems to be relegated to side dish status once the turkey comes out of the oven.  But there’s more to talking turkey on Thanksgiving than the meal of the day, there’s the way we celebrate, from turkey calls, to hunting wild game, to watching parades, and cooking the bird.  It’s all part of that most American of holidays, Thanksgiving.  Read the rest of this entry »

Preserving the History of WVU’s First African-American Graduates

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
November 13th, 2017

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

The West Virginia & Regional History Center collects materials that document the history and culture of our state and region – including records that document the history of WVU.  This post examines the history of some of WVU’s first African-American graduates and the collections that tell their stories.  Read the rest of this entry »

West Virginia’s Own World War I Flying Ace: Louis Bennett, 1894-1918

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
October 23rd, 2017

Top of statue showing man in aviator cap/goggles

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

 

Lt. Louis Bennett, Jr. and his dog standing in front of a SE5a biplane

Lt. Louis Bennett, Jr. and his dog standing in front of a SE5a biplane

 

This year, 2017, marks the 100th anniversary of America’s entry into World War I.  While war had raged in Europe since 1914, President Woodrow Wilson was making every effort to keep America from committing soldiers and joining the war effort.  However, the tide turned in support of the war and America joined forces with Europe in April 1917.   Following that declaration, the U.S. then declared war on Austria-Hungary in December with troops arriving on the Western Front the following year, 1918.

A young man from Weston, Louis Bennet, Jr., couldn’t wait.  Bennett was the son of Louis Bennett Sr., a prominent Lewis County politician, and Sallie Maxwell Bennett.  Born September 22, 1894, Bennett attended preparatory schools in Pennsylvania, then enrolled at Yale in 1913, graduating in 1917.

While at Yale, Bennett began to envisage a West Virginia Flying Corps.  He left Yale briefly to return to West Virginia in order to put his idea for a flying corps into practice.  Once back in his home state, Bennett pursued his dream, fully developing a flying corps and situating it in Beech Bottom, a small town in Brooke County near Weirton.  Bennett established the corps with a full complement of pilots, crew and its own airfield.  With the attention of the governor, Bennett received a commission as the unit’s captain.  Read the rest of this entry »

WVRHC Staff Favorites

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
October 16th, 2017

American Archives Month & West Virginia Archives Month

Blog post compiled by Jessica Eichlin, Photographs Manager and Preservationist

October is American Archives Month and West Virginia Archives Month!  To celebrate, this post will look at some staff “favorites” from the collections at the WVRHC.


Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

 My favorite book that we have at the West Virginia and Regional History Center is found in the rare book room. It is an 1885 printing of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. It is one of my favorite books of all time, and Twain is my favorite author so it was really neat to see one of the first printings of the book.

Submitted by Savannah Rose, Graduate Assistant  Read the rest of this entry »

WVU History Exhibit Now Online

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
October 4th, 2017

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC; online exhibit by Savannah Rose, Graduate Assistant.

In celebration of WVU’s 150th anniversary, the WVRHC unveiled a new exhibit, Flowing Outward and Beyond: West Virginia University, on West Virginia Day.  The exhibit showcases WVU history through records and artifacts found in the Center’s collections, featuring WVU’s early days, student life, arts, sports, and more.

For those who cannot visit us in person, one of the WVRHC’s fantastic graduate assistants has created a digital exhibit that brings the story of the objects, text, and videos we have on display to a wider audience. We encourage you to check it out at https://wvuhistoryexhibit.wordpress.com/.

When I worked on my first exhibit at the Center, I saw how much effort and creativity my coworkers put into our yearly exhibits, and I wanted to be able to share the finished product with people far and wide (including my family members living over 1000 miles away).   Now, we have PDF versions of our previous 5 exhibits available, which you can find on our WV Day Exhibits webpage: https://wvday.lib.wvu.edu/exhibits.  Savannah tried something new this year, going beyond PDF slides to a web-based design.  I hope you all enjoy the upgrade as much as I do!

If this year’s digital exhibit whets your appetite, the exhibit can still be viewed in person at the WVRHC (in the back of the 6th floor, Downtown Campus Library); it will remain on display through May 2018.

Preview of WVRHC's 2017 WV Day poster

This year’s commemorative poster was a beautiful painting, and is one of my favorites!

The Dark Side of Butterflies: The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in William Henry Edwards Butterflies of North America

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
September 26th, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

The great West Virginia coal magnate, William Henry Edwards, was a butterfly lover at heart.  Edwards lived in Coalburg, a small town outside Charleston, and he is credited as the first to open the Southern Coalfields.  When coal shipments were threatened by the events of the Civil War, Edwards found a way to get his coal to market, shipping it by boat.  He was the first to ship coal for export to the North by water.  He was also the first to document the life cycle of butterflies throughout North America and his three volume set of books on butterflies is still considered to be the reigning masterwork on the subject.  Read the rest of this entry »

Conversations with Curators: Preserving the history of WVU’s first African-American graduates

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
September 21st, 2017
Jack Hodge

Jack Hodge, WVU’s first African-American graduate (Journalism, 1954) interviewing Thomas Fulton, head of Social Work Department, for The Daily Athenaeum.

The West Virginia University Libraries’ West Virginia & Regional History Center will host a discussion on preserving the history of WVU’s first African-American graduates on October 3 at 4 p.m. in the WVRHC in the Downtown Campus Library.

WVRHC Curator and Assistant Director Lori Hostuttler will highlight the archival materials documenting graduates Jack Hodge (first bachelor degree, 1954), Annette Chandler Broome (first female bachelor’s degree, 1957), Victorine Louistall Monroe (first master’s degree) and John Reuben Sheeler (first PhD.) who are part of the current exhibit Flowing Outward and Beyond: WVU 1867-2017.

Annette Broome

In 1957, Annette Broome (on the right) became the first known African-American woman to receive an undergraduate degree from WVU. She was the granddaughter of John Hunt. (L to R: Ruth Barnett, Lennie Wiley and Annette Chandler Broome)

Read the rest of this entry »

WVU Libraries holds film screening, opens exhibit about Vietnam War

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
September 19th, 2017

West Virginia University Libraries invites the campus community and the public to a screening and panel discussion of the West Virginia Public Broadcasting documentary “Vietnam: West Virginians Remember” at the Mountainlair’s Gluck Theatre on September 27 at 4 p.m. The Libraries welcomes all interested attendees and hopes many student veterans and campus veteran advocates will join us for this program.

A panel discussion will follow the film and feature WVPB Executive Producer Suzanne Higgins and WVU Associate Professor of History James Siekmeier. WVU Reed College of Media Shott Chair of Journalism and Assistant Professor Lois Raimondo will moderate the discussion.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Marshall Boys and the Mysteries in Archives

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
September 18th, 2017

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC

We recently received a collection of letters and other papers of George W. and Fred W. Marshall, two brothers who served and died in World War I.  Their collection is a good example of how archivists process smaller collections, and the mysteries that we work with every day.

Clipping of obituaries for Fred W. Marshall and George W. Marshall, Jr.

Clipping from a special issue of the Waynesburg Republican commemorating deceased soldiers from Greene County, PA

Their story is a sad one.  Both teachers before joining the military, they were the only sons in their family.  They both died in combat in France in the summer of 1918, within three weeks of each other.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Fun of Researching Sunnyside

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
September 12th, 2017

By Elizabeth Satterfield, undergraduate student at WVU

In junior high and high school, I remember research days.  As students, we loved research days!  We left the classroom, went to the computer lab, and often became distracted once we began researching. Today, I still feel the same way about research.  I love learning something new, discovering a forgotten detail, and connecting the dots.

This summer, I had the opportunity to conduct research on the Sunnyside neighborhood under the direction of Jenny Boulware in the history department as a part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE).  Although known in recent memory as a student rental neighborhood and popular party location, prior to the mid-twentieth century, Sunnyside was home to immigrants and multi-generational families, skilled and unskilled workers, professors and students.  In the last thirty years, however, student housing demands have significantly altered Sunnyside’s historic building stock.  Although every property has not been affected, it is important to record the history of the neighborhood and its residents before little is left to record.  Read the rest of this entry »

The First Post It Note: The Manicule

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
August 28th, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Throughout the history of the written word, whether it be a handwritten manuscript or the printed text, the reader’s need to mark a passage was always in demand.  Before bookmarks, before post it notes, there was the manicule.  Latin in origin, the root word manus, stands for “hand” and the word manicula for “little hand” or fist.  Hence the word manicule represents a small hand, usually drawn with a finger pointing to the desired text.

fancy manicule

Read the rest of this entry »

Today in West Virginia History: A Look at the Total Eclipse of the Sun

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
August 21st, 2017

Artist's rendering of an eclipse, titled Total Eclipse of the Sun

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

As the old saying goes, ‘there’s nothing new under the sun,” and that holds true for West Virginia as newspapers reported on the solar eclipse over the years.

The Weston Democrat reported on March 22, 1875, that an eclipse would be occurring in April, announcing “The Eclipse of the Sun, Observations to be Made – The Information to be Gained.”  The article stated that the eclipse “may mark an important era in all solar and stellar physics.”

Here’s the thrilling headline for The Clarksburg Daily Telegram, August 20, 1914, “Moon to Cut off Rays of the Sun!”

Martinsburg’s Pioneer Press, the first African American newspaper in West Virginia, ran this story on August 22, 1914, “War May Prevent Observations of the Total Eclipse of the Sun Tomorrow in Europe, Asia and Part of America.”  Although the United States had yet to enter World War I at this time, the eclipse was seen as posing problems for military activities throughout its path.

If you’re not able to view the eclipse today, stop by the West Virginia and Regional History Center to look at Trouvelot’s Astronomical Drawings, read the blog post, “It’s Astronomical! The Biggest Book in the Rare Book Room,” here, https://news.lib.wvu.edu/2017/05/08/its-astronomical-the-biggest-book-in-the-rare-book-room/  or visit Chronicling America, http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/ , to read all about newspaper reporting of the eclipse in West Virginia history.

 

Resources:

Eclipse Image: The Atlantic:  How Artists Have Depicted Eclipses Across History.  https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/09/an-artists-view-of-an-eclipse/498548/  Etienne Trouvelot, Lithograph in colour, Total eclipse of sun; observed 29 July 1878

Trouvelot, Etienne.  Trouvelot’s Astronomical Drawings, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1881.

Chronicling America: 

Daily Telegram:

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85059715/1914-08-20/ed-1/seq-12/#date1=1789&index=0&rows=20&words=solar+Solar&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=West+Virginia&date2=1924&proxtext=solar&y=13&x=12&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1

Pioneer Press: http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83025146/1914-08-22/ed-1/seq-1/#date1=1789&index=10&rows=20&words=solar&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=West+Virginia&date2=1924&proxtext=solar&y=13&x=12&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1

Challenges of Fragile WWII Era Films

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
August 21st, 2017

Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator, WVRHC

 

The WVRHC is more than a fantastic repository of the history and culture of West Virginia and the central Appalachian region—we are the Special Collections division of the WVU Libraries, so we also preserve selected materials beyond our state and regional scope.  This is a story of some of those out-of-state materials—56 reels of 16mm motion picture film that have nothing to do with Appalachia.

 

I picked up these films from the Potomac State College library in 2014.  The library director at the time told me that the films had been in the library since at least 1986, with no indication of where or who they had come from or whether they had a connection to Potomac State College.  PSC librarians gave the films to the Center so we could try to identify them, preserve them, and make them accessible.  Each film was housed in a plastic case, and some of those were carefully cataloged in a wooden box.  The labels on the film cases indicated World War II subject matter, and those labels formed the foundation of the collection’s contents list, available online.

 

Interior of box meant to hold film canisters

View of interior of a box meant to hold film canisters, with labels at each slot.

In the photo above, you can see the effort that a previous owner went to in order to keep the photos organized.

 

In addition to our lack of information about the creation of these films and how they got to Potomac State College, we faced a few other challenges with these films.

Read the rest of this entry »

Looking Back (and Up) at Spruce Knob

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
August 14th, 2017

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

Spruce Knob is West Virginia’s highest point and one of my favorite places. Located in Pendleton County, the Knob, the summit of Spruce Mountain, stands 4,861 feet above sea level.  The mountain takes its name from the growth of Red Spruce trees.  At Spruce Knob, many of these trees grow one-sided or in a flag shape due to high winds.

Scenic view from Spruce Knob, July 2017

Scenic view from Spruce Knob, July 2017

Scenic views from Spruce Knob, July 2017, photos by Lori Hostuttler.  Read the rest of this entry »

WVRHC receives fourth grant to digitize historical newspapers

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
August 11th, 2017

Newspaper front page

The West Virginia University Libraries’ West Virginia & Regional History Center has received a $210,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to continue digitizing newspapers published in West Virginia from 1836 to 1922.

The award is the Libraries’ fourth NEH grant as part of the National Digital Newspaper Program. The collaboration between the NEH and the Library of Congress enlists libraries and institutions from around the country to create a digital database of historical United States newspapers.

“We are honored that the NEH recognizes the tremendous value of the historical newspapers archived in the WVRHC,” WVRHC Director John Cuthbert said. “We are thrilled to make more of these resources accessible to the world.

Read the rest of this entry »

A New Gift for the Rare Book Room

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 31st, 2017

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian

Posed photo of Mike Murphy, Stewart Plein, and John Cuthbert

A seventeenth century book has found a new home in the WVU Rare Book Room.  WVU alumnus, Mike Murphy, above left, with Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian, and John Cuthbert, Director of the West Virginia and Regional History Center, recently donated a religious text published in Seville, Spain by Ioannis (Juan) de Cardenas of the Society of Jesus, a Jesuit monastic order.   Read the rest of this entry »