As part of my job as photographs manager, I field research questions and fulfill orders for high resolution copies of photographs in our collection. The most common request is from authors and publishers securing photographs for their books, but the WVRHC actually serves a much broader audience. Here are a few categories of requests that I receive on a monthly basis!
This photo was previously listed on the site as standing at Putnam Street and Highland Avenue, but this was incorrect information as the two roads do not intersect. A patron— the current owner and resident of this home— contacted us with the correction after discovering the photo online.
The patron also generously provided a photo of the house as it stands today (2022). You can see the clothesline, on the left, is still in use!
A surprising number of ghost hunters and storytellers purchase copies in the course of their research, whether to spruce up their podcast thumbnails or to publish in newspaper articles. I’ve also had ghost hunters once purchase a photo to give their psychic a source to pore over in search of clues. The belief that photographs can “capture one’s soul” remains popular in occult study circles!
Miniature Model Makers
Some of my favorite photo requests come from folks in the miniatures hobby. Attention to detail can be paramount in recreating props and machinery, and some hobbyists will go to great lengths to get accurate references— and what better to use as a reference than an actual photo?
Trains are a popular subject in this category, as their makeup is quite complicated.
As mentioned, the largest percentage of photo requests come from authors and researchers hoping to illustrate their papers and books with photographs. That doesn’t mean their requests are always cut-and-dry, though; some authors need assistance finding appropriate photos for their subject matter, leading to a treasure hunt on my part for good images.
One author recently asked me to help them locate the origin of this photo:
…as they had taken a phone pic of it a few years prior but lost the information about where it came from. I was able to locate it as being part of this photograph:
…which the patron promptly purchased!
These examples are not exhaustive, but they represent the variety of requests the WVRHC fields when it comes to photographs. The breadth of populations we serve keeps every day interesting!
In July, West Virginia University Libraries began a partnership with the Public Library of Science (PLOS) to provide researchers with the opportunity to publish, free of processing charges, in any of their Open Access titles over the next three years.
PLOS is a nonprofit, Open Access publisher with a suite of 12 influential Open Access journals across all areas of science and medicine. Open Access refers to free, immediate and permanent online access to digital full-text scientific and scholarly material, primarily research articles published in peer-reviewed journals.
“Investment in open access initiatives is one of the WVU Libraries’ five collection funding priorities. This PLOS agreement is another significant step forward,” said Beth Royall, past-chair of the WVU Libraries Collections Advisory Committee.
To celebrate the new academic year, I’d like to share comments I made at our recent celebration of the 40th (actually 42nd) anniversary of the Evansdale Library. This is a good reminder of how libraries continue to evolve to meet the needs of campus.
In 1978, while I was still in high school, WVU broke ground for the Evansdale Library. By November 1980, when I was taking a year off from my own college experience, the doors opened to students.
It was acknowledged that the growing campus needed an expanded library system that could serve students who now did business on three different campuses within Morgantown. We see from the newspaper accounts that one of the exciting features of this new library was going to be a large microfilm room and an AV lab! Exciting stuff! Having been a college student myself at this time I can imagine the AV space had turntables, cassette players, big heavy headphones, and maybe even a state-of-the-art VHS player. Also present would have been the card catalog. Ah yes, it was the environment of my own learning and experience.
The award is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), 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 $1,293,568.29.
“We are honored that the NEH continues to support our efforts to enhance access to the historical newspapers preserved in the WVRHC,” WVRHC Interim Director Lori Hostuttler said. “It’s a testament to the incalculable value of these resources and the influential role West Virginia has played in our nation’s history.”
WVU faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends are invited to celebrate the 42nd anniversary of Evansdale Library at an open house on Friday, August 19, from 2:30-4:30 p.m., with remarks at 3 p.m.
Designed to support the students and faculty on the then-growing Evansdale Campus, the new library provided the campus with much-needed resources. An exhibit of 1980s library service, contrasted with library service today, will be available for viewing during the open house, and during Evansdale Library’s open hours from August 10-24.
A&M 0979, Miners’ Treason Trials, Records, contains six reels of microfilm of case papers for the trials of coal miners and UMWA leaders who were indicted for, varying, treason or murder in connection with the armed march into Logan County, West Virginia, during August and September 1921, better known as the Battle of Blair Mountain. These materials specifically concern the 1922 trials of Walter Allen, William Blizzard, C. Frank Keeney, Rev. J.E. Wilburn, and John Wilburn. Unlike most of the collections at the West Virginia and Regional History Center, this collection exists only on microfilm, a format similar to film negative strips, that allows a single reel to contain thousands of images of miniaturized versions of documents. But how did the WVRHC get these materials, and why is it important that we have them even if they are not the original documents? Judge Decatur H. Rodgers and Clerk W. M. Jones of the Circuit Court of Jefferson County in Charles Town, WV sent these materials to the (now defunct) West Virginia University Libraries Photoduplication Section in 1957 to be microfilmed only 35 years after the trial occurred. Though we don’t have documentation on why this was done, other collections within the WVRHC such as census and county court records exist in this format as well.
The microfilm contains more than 8,700 pages of records from the trials, including trial transcripts, charges, witness summons, and other court documents. These documents follow the progression of the trials in varying levels of detail. But to fast forward to the end: what happened to these men? Ultimately, William Blizzard was tried for treason in Charles Town in the same courthouse in which John Brown was convicted of treason in 1859. He was found not guilty. Rev. J.E. Wilburn and his son John Wilburn received an eleven year sentence in the West Virginia Penitentiary for the murder of Deputy John Gore. They only served three years after receiving a pardon from Governor Howard M. Gore. Walter Allen was tried and convicted of treason. Though he received an eleven year sentence, he jumped bail and was never imprisoned. C. Frank Keeney was charged with treason and the charges were dismissed.
The six reels of microfilm containing the records are divided into nine “flashes”, or sections, that are now available online for the first time thanks to a project conducted by Catherine Venable Moore and a research assistant using MacDowell Fellowship funds. Use CTRL+F within each file to search for relevant words and people.
Flash 1 – Jefferson County Circuit Court. Orders and opinions regarding witness claims, change of venue. Various defendants.
Flash 2 – Kanawha County. Intermediate Court. Indictments and certifications, recognizances, court order, grand jury proceedings.
Flash 3 – Logan County. Indictments, carbon copy of letters, etc.
The Portal will provide open access to congressional archives by bringing together these geographically dispersed and civically important sources from multiple institutions using open-source software (OSS) into a single online portal.
“The portal will illuminate the connections across collections, provide opportunities for new scholarship, civics and history education, and make the archives of the ‘People’s Branch’ more equitably available to the people,” Catalyst Fund Program Lead Leigh Grinstead said.
This summer, I worked as an intern in the Rare Book Room studying manuscript leaves and fragments in antiquarian books. I was terrified. What if I dropped one of the books? Turned a page too fast and ripped it? Committed a major faux pas to the world of rare book study?
I did make a few blunders (note: do not compliment the condition of a book “considering its age”), but I avoided most of the nightmares that worried me most. I did not break anything, rip off any covers, etc. Something unexpected did happen, though—my attitude toward books changed entirely.
I had always appreciated stories and the power of a good book. But it did not occur to me that the most valuable books might not be the signed first editions, but the book bound in manuscript. I had never thought about the value of a book’s binding or the history it might share. Rarely did I think about what happened to the volumes upon volumes of manuscript after the invention of the printing press. Now, though, these are the first things I think of when an old book is placed in front of me.
The Rare Book Room’s collection of manuscript fragments is varied and encourages those that study it to consider the multiple repurposed realities manuscripts faced as technology progressed. This 1566 edition of A Summarie of our Englyſh Chronicles by John Stowe, for example, has manuscript fragments hiding inside its covers. Their intended purpose is unclear. They are too small to be pastedowns or endpapers, and it is not possible to discern if they reinforced the binding in any way. Perhaps they were cut. It is a mystery that we might never uncover. What we are sure of, though, is that these fragments, like many in our collection, were recycled and used as scraps for binding purposes. After the invention of the printing press, manuscript fragments were considered junk—certainly not valued as they are today!
Even further hidden in the binding are the fragments inside this Bible printed in 1493. The fragments are barely visible peeking through the spine. Can you spot them?
This dictionary, rather than having manuscript fragments tucked away inside, is bound in a manuscript leaf. On its back cover is a doodle of a man. The doodling is likely contemporary to the book, which was printed in 1731.
Fragments come in all shapes and sizes. This choir book, commissioned by Andres Camacho in 1450, is huge. There is an elaborate manuscript fragment used as a pastedown inside the rear cover. The decorative initial is gorgeous, but this fragment was cut, repurposed, and meant to be ignored in the back of the book.
Some manuscript fragments survived long enough to be sold as antiques. The library has a small but impressive collection of individual leaves like this Book of Hours fragment. This leaf was printed then hand illuminated, meaning a scribe decorated the capital initials by hand after the text was printed. This single leaf is worth hundreds of dollars!
Collectors often sell individual leaves rather than full manuscript texts because they can increase their profit this way. Some go so far as to cut leaves into smaller pieces, which they then frame and sell.
This process of deconstructing and selling manuscript texts makes Fragmentology—the study of manuscript fragments—quite difficult. The pieces are scattered and oftentimes impossible to reassemble. Still, we are able to learn a lot about early book and manuscript history from each fragment and how they were repurposed!
If you are interested in learning more about West Virginia University’s manuscript collection, you can read this bibliography I created as part of my internship that provides in-depth descriptions and pictures of each fragment in the collection. I also designed this slideshow with pictures and information about the collection that you are welcome to share in a classroom setting.
The WVU Libraries’ Collections Advisory Committee explains the Libraries’ collection development strategies in a YouTube video. WVU faculty, staff and students may find this brief explanation helpful in understanding the Libraries’ budget, the effect of inflation on their capacity to subscribe to or purchase resources, and how to place requests for resources. To discuss this further, contact the subject librarian for your discipline.
The West Virginia Day program brings together West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman and the poetry of noted Appalachian poet Maggie Anderson.
“We are thrilled for Marc to headline our first in-person West Virginia Day program since 2019,” WVRHC Interim Director Lori Hostuttler said. “Although Maggie isn’t able to participate in the program, she will be present through Marc reading her works. Listening is poetry is always moving and inspiring, and will help us celebrate the experiences and relationships we as West Virginians value most.”
Few would argue that academic libraries have changed radically since 1902 when Stewart Hall was the WVU Library. What hasn’t changed is the Libraries’ commitment to WVU’s land grant mission and the study, teaching, and research of the faculty, staff, and students. One not-so-obvious change is the WVU Libraries’ focus on providing access to resources, as opposed to owning them. The explosion of research and new publications means no single library or library system can own everything the institution might need (even with the help of generous donors,) but through carefully curated collections and the power of interlibrary loan, libraries provide access to what faculty, staff, and students need. The focus on access is accompanied by a just-in-time approach, in contrast to the former just-in-case plan. (When the libraries purchased new books, videos, etc., because we thought they might be needed some day, this was a just-in-case plan.)
In March 2021, MIT Press announced the launch of its Direct-to-Open (D2O) framework. In this model, rather than purchasing licenses to eBook titles individually or through packages, libraries pay annual participation fees that support open access (OA) book publishing. Participating libraries gain access to new MIT Press titles—around 90 titles per year—as well as its eligible backlist of approximately 2,300 books. D2O features two non-overlapping collections of scholarly monographs and edited volumes: Humanities & Social Sciences and STEAM. Anyone can read the OA titles free of cost on the MIT Press website, regardless of institutional affiliation.
“We at WVU Libraries are pleased to recognize Samantha, Jude and Elizabeth as Munn Scholars,” Dean of Libraries Karen Diaz said. “They thoroughly researched their topics and wrote impressive works of scholarship.”
WVU Libraries and the Honors College established the Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library Scholars Award in 2009 to honor Dr. Robert F. Munn, dean of Library Services from 1957-1986. The award goes to one or more Honors students for an outstanding humanities or social sciences thesis based on research conducted in the WVU Libraries. Along with a $1,000 award, their names will be added to a plaque in the Downtown Campus Library and their theses added to the Research Repository @ WVU. These papers can be read at researchrepository.wvu.edu/munn.
Victorine Louistall Monroe made history twice at West Virginia University. She received her master’s in education from WVU in 1945, making her the first known Black female to be awarded a graduate degree from the University. Then, Monroe made history again in 1966 when WVU hired her to teach Library Science, making her the University’s first Black faculty member.
In April, WVU Libraries unveiled a portrait of Monroe (1912-2006), Professor Emerita of Library Science, the first painting to be commissioned as part of the Inclusive Portrait Project, in the Downtown Library’s Robinson Reading Room.
“We are excited to celebrate Victorine Louistall Monroe with this portrait,” Libraries Dean Karen Diaz said. “A true Mountaineer, Victorine broke several barriers throughout her life and set a shining example for future generations to emulate.”
An exhibit on the works of Margaret Armstrong, best known for her intricate and innovative book covers, opens May 18 in the Downtown Library’s Rockefeller Gallery. The opening kicks off with a presentation by Lowell Thing, author of the upcoming book “Cover Treasure: The Life and Art of Margaret Armstrong” at 4 p.m. in the Milano Reading Room.
Armstrong (1867–1944) was 18 years old when she broke into the male dominated industry of book design and started to make a name for herself. At the time, there was only one other woman working in book design. Armstrong pushed the boundaries of design and began to dominate the field with the quality of her work.
Most people have heard of Shakespeare’s First Folio, but the subsequent folios don’t seem to get quite as much press as the first one. What’s so great about a later printing of Shakespeare’s folio? Turns out – plenty!
The third folio is particularly interesting. Basically, it’s the third printing of the first folio, which was the first printing of Shakespeares’ plays. The first folio gave us eleven plays that were unknown before its’ publication including Macbeth, The Tempest, Measure for Measure and Twelfth Night. A significant literary achievement.
The third folio, published in 1663, is important because very few copies have survived. Traditionally, a few hundred copies of a book were published, then stored in a warehouse while waiting for buyers. Three years after its publication, while many copies of the third folio were still warehoused, the Great Fire of London erupted. The fire destroyed many booksellers’ warehouses along with their inventories, thus, few copies of the third folio have survived.
WVU’s rare book room is fortunate to have a copy of the third folio donated by an alumnus, Arthur Dayton. WVU received five Shakespeare folios in the Dayton donation, the first, second, an additional second printing, the third and the fourth folio. These comprise the complete set of Shakespeare’s folios.
The Dayton third folio is interesting for another reason. Several names, notations and bookplates appear on the first couple of pages. These notes and bookplates document previous owners. Evidence of previous ownership is called “provenance.” Provenance is considered to be a record of an items’ history, or a record of ownership. If you’re a fan of the PBS series, the Antiques Roadshow, you know that provenance, such as purchase receipts, bookplates, author signatures, and gift presentations, are important tools used to establish the authenticity of an item.
So, what can we learn from bookplates and notations in books? What role does ownership play in the life of a book? Let’s take a look at the bookplates and notations in Shakespeare’s third folio to find out.
First documented owner: Thomas Sharp.
The first thing we see is an ownership stamp for Thomas Sharp, (1693 – 1758). Sharp was a clergyman. He was named to the important position of Archdeacon of Northumberland on February 27, 1722. According to Wikipedia, the Archdeacon of Northumberland is a senior officer responsible for the disciplinary supervision of clergy within his region. An important position, indeed.
Below, we see a portrait of Thomas Sharp. Beneath is the book stamp he used in the third folio. Sharp held a number of positions throughout his lifetime, but the presence of the stamp verifies that Sharp acquired the third folio while serving as Archdeacon.
Although this attribution is important – there is no record of previous owners. Since the third folio was printed in 1663, there’s 60 years of ownership unaccounted for. That is disappointing, but it is great that we can pick up on who may be the second, or third owner.
Second documented owner: Clare Hall, Cambridge University, England.
The college of Clare Hall, founded in 1326 as University Hall, is the second-oldest college at Cambridge University. In 1338 the college was renamed Clare Hall, in honor of Elizabeth de Clare (1295 – 1360), the 11th Lady of Clare, who provided an endowment for the college.
The notation marking Clare Hall’s ownership is on the title page of the third folio.
This brings us to the question – why did the college dispose of the 3rd folio? And when did they dispose of it? We may never know.
Third documented owner: Shakespearean actors, Edward Hugh and Julia Marlow Sothern.
The Sotherns are shown here, photographed in costume as Lord and Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, in 1911. Edward Hugh Sothern (1859-1933) was an American actor and author who appeared on the stage in New York and London. Julia Marlowe (1865-1950) primarily acted in New York. They met in 1904 when they starred in a play together. They married a few years later in 1911. Following their marriage, they toured across the United States, mainly in Shakespeare plays, until Julia retired in 1924. Their bookplate is pasted inside.
Fourth documented owner: Arthur Dayton
A graduate of WVU with a degree from the College of Law, Arthur Dayton’s lifelong dream was to own all four of Shakespeare’s folios. He accomplished his goal, and after his death, his wife Ruth donated his entire Shakespeare collection, including the 5 Shakespeare folios, to WVU. The folios now reside in the rare book room, which was founded in 1951 to house his collection. Dayton purchased his folios at auction in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s, when folios regularly appeared on the market. Today, most of the surviving Shakespeare folios are owned by institutions like WVU and the Folger Shakespeare Library.
Above is the bookplate added by WVU to document Dayton’s gift to the University.
The letter below, from the previous owner, Julia Marlowe Sothern, discusses Dayton’s purchase of “their” third folio.
Julia Sothern describes how happy she is that Arthur Dayton, a collector of Shakespeare’s works, purchased “her” folio.
Do you have any books that once belonged to someone else? Who might that be? How do you know? Did the previous owner sign their name or add a bookplate? Let us know!
If you’d like to examine the provenance in Shakespeare’s third folio, please send an email to Stewart Plein at Stewart.Plein@mail.wvu.edu to make an appointment.
“The American Congress Digital Archives Portal Project represents the most significant proposal that I have ever seen in terms of its promise to bring historical, political, and policy materials to the fingertips of more scholars on more questions,” Douglas Harris, Professor of Political Science at Loyola University Maryland, said. “It is not a stretch to think that this project could revolutionize the study of Congress across multiple disciplines.”
West Virginia University Libraries will unveil a portrait of Victorine Louistall Monroe (1912-2006), Professor Emerita of Library Science, the first painting to be commissioned as part of the Inclusive Portrait Project, April 28 from 4-6 p.m. in the Downtown Library’s Robinson Reading Room.
“We are thrilled to honor Victorine Louistall Monroe with this portrait,” Libraries Dean Karen Diaz said. “A true Mountaineer, Victorine broke several barriers throughout her life and set a shining example for future generations to emulate.”
Monroe graduated from Kelly Miller High School in Clarksburg and earned her bachelor’s degree from West Virginia State College. She received her master’s in education from WVU in 1945, making her the first known Black female to be awarded a graduate degree from the University.
Written by WVU History Department doctoral student Jack Webster
The Deutsche Zeitung (literally German Newspaper) was a German language newspaper from Wheeling publishing under that name beginning in 1901. It was not the first German newspaper in the state. German language journalism in western Virginia precedes the Civil War with the Virginische Staats-Zeitung, (Virginia State Newspaper) 1848 – 1863, which became the West Virginische Staats-Zeitung following West Virginia statehood in 1863. Other German newspapers, namely Der Arbeiter-Freund (the Worker’s Friend), also had its start during the Civil War era.
The Deutsche Zeitung was not the first Deutsche Zeitung in the state. The previous paper by that name combined with the Wheelinger Volksblatt (the Wheeling People’s Paper), to form the West Virginische Staats-Zeitung in the 1880s. The West Virgische Staats-Zeitung was actually the precursor to the Deutsche Zeitung of 1901.
Surviving editions of the Deutsche Zeitung commemorate anniversaries, including one in 1906, and another sixtieth anniversary of German reporting in the region in 1910. The 1906 edition includes a list of the men who ran the newspaper, all German immigrants: Fidelis Riester, president, born in Wuerttemberg, who immigrated in 1869; Christian Steinmuetz, vice president, from the Rhineland, immigrated 1866; Constantin Bente, secretary, from Westphalia, immigrated 1879; Michael Kirchner, treasurer, from Franconia, immigrated 1867; and Jacob H.H. Beu, also from the Rhineland, a German Army veteran, immigrated 1881. Bente was the principal owner, editor and manager. All members of the board were involved with a variety of German-American civic societies in Wheeling, including the German American Central Bund, and organizations for Germans from particular regions, such as Bavaria and the Rhineland.
These special editions ran similar articles, including histories of German communities in the Ohio Country and of German language reporting in the state. They also include profiles about towns in West Virginia such as Morgantown and Charleston, as well as their major industries and points of interest, both natural and man-made. The centers of German-American community were the historic German Churches, which could be Catholic, Lutheran, or Reformed. These newspapers took pride in their identity as German-Americans: they date from around the Fourth of July, and report stories of German patriots from the American Revolution. One even claims that the tune of “Yankee Doodle” was a Hessian folk song! Each paper also features a page reporting events from German Central Europe, categorized by regions, such as East Prussia and Austria.
Papers like the Deutsche Zeitung not only expressed the voice and culture of German-Americans, they revealed the connections between these people and the Americans of other backgrounds. Each edition contains advertisements for translating services, and both German- and English-speaking entrepreneurs, politicians, and other public figures feature on their pages. Unfortunately, the Deutsche Zeitung appears to have met the same fate as other expressions of German culture from the early twentieth century, going out of publication in 1916. That same year, another German, Austin Brodoehl founded the West Virginia Patriot perhaps responding to a culture now hostile to Germans in the leadup to American intervention in the First World War.
Food is vital to sustaining all living things; yet, not everyone has access to a constant food supply, let alone fresh healthy foods. Do you want to know what local organizations are doing to help the community access food security?
West Virginia UniversityLibraries will host a panel discussion titled “Community+Food” April 13 from 4-5 p.m. in the Downtown Library, Room 104. The program is in conjunction with the “Food Justice in Appalachia” exhibit and will give panelists the opportunity to share their organization’s role in making food more accessible to the community. For those who can’t physically attend, the discussion will also be available for viewing on Zoom.