Ask A Librarian

Libraries seeking submissions for upcoming voter suppression exhibit

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
October 1st, 2019
flyer promoting exhibit

West Virginia University Libraries is seeking submissions for a major art exhibition to mark the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U. S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote, and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which enforced voting rights for racial minorities.

“Undefeated: Canvas(s)ing the Politics of Voter Suppression since Women’s Suffrage” will open at the Downtown Campus Library in fall 2020 and address the political process with special attention to efforts to suppress the votes of women and minorities since 1920.

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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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Art Crawl to highlight art, history, nature on campus

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
September 25th, 2019
Flyer for art crawl

West Virginia University Libraries encourages University and Morgantown community members to participate in the Campus Art Crawlon Friday, Sept. 27, 1-5 p.m.

This collaborative event includes 11 stops with fascinating exhibits ranging from topics like photography to education, Appalachia to LGBTQ history. Spanning all three campuses – Downtown, Evansdale and Health Sciences – the Campus Art Crawl will feature exhibits, activities, food, and drink. Participation and admission is free. Hours will differ at some locations.

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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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Touchdown Challenge 2019 – Are You Ready?

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
August 20th, 2019
aerial picture of stadium

Football is in the air and that means West Virginia UniversityLibraries and the WVU Department of Intercollegiate Athletics are teaming up once again for the Mountaineer Touchdown Challenge, our annual fundraising campaign to benefit the Libraries.

“The Athletics Department has enjoyed its partnership with the WVU Libraries for the past eight years in supporting the Mountaineer Touchdown Challenge,” WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons said. “It’s an outstanding initiative, because everyone wins – our fans are happy when our players score touchdowns, which hopefully turns into wins, and that assists the entire student body with their academic endeavors. I encourage our alumni and fans to join us in the Challenge and support all of WVU.”

The initiative, in its ninth year, has provided for many student needs, such as digital cameras, laptops, graphing calculators and other technical equipment that can be checked out, poster printers and a presentation practice room. The Downtown Campus, Evansdale and Health Sciences libraries have all shared in these benefits. 

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Libraries to host “Appalachian Futures” exhibit

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
August 19th, 2019
Drawing of a train.

Image by David Smith, Reed College of Media senior lecturer, and Baaria Chaudhary, Reed College graduate student.

How do you imagine the future of Appalachia?

“Appalachian Futures,” West Virginia University Libraries’ new year-long exhibition, addresses the current dominant narratives about Appalachia in a new way, by looking at how the people of Appalachia have worked and will work to rewrite their own story.

“The exhibit takes us beyond the stereotypes to paint a rich and multi-layered picture of what it means to be Appalachian,” said Sally Brown Deskins, exhibits & programs coordinator for WVU Libraries.

The exhibit officially opens on Sept. 3, with a reception from 5-7 p.m. in the Milano Reading Room in the Downtown Campus Library. Chris Haddox and Travis Stimeling will provide live music. Also, attendees will have the opportunity to interact with games inspired by West Virginia history and designed by collaborative teams of art, media and computer science students.

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New Microfilm Scanners at the WVRHC

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
August 16th, 2019

Blog post by Jessica Eichlin, Reference Supervisor, WVRHC.

Screenshot of ScanPro software, showing historical letter with enlarged picture of letterhead of the Ruffner Bros. Wholesale Grocers
Screenshot of ScanPro software, showing letterhead of the Ruffner Bros. Wholesale Grocers

The West Virginia and Regional History Center just upgraded two of our microfilm machines to the ScanPro 3000, a brand of digital microfilm readers.  Frequent visitors may have already seen these machines in action.  We already have two digital microfilm machines, both ViewScans.  The addition of the two ScanPro microfilm readers gives patrons greater flexibility to use the machine with which they are most comfortable.  Alongside our two ViewScan digital machines, the ScanPro microfilm readers will give patrons better control over viewing and image editing, and will allow digital capture of  images.

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WVU Women in 1969

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
August 13th, 2019

Blog post by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director, WVRHC.

As classes are set to resume in just a few weeks and celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing have just ended, it seems appropriate to look at what life would have been like on the WVU campus back in 1969.  The collections at the West Virginia and Regional History Center include a wealth of University Archives that document the history of WVU.  The West Virginia University Office of Student Life, Publications collection (A&M 5192) contains a number of pamphlets, programs, and handbooks that provide a glimpse into campus life. 

One item, a pamphlet entitled, West Virginia University Coed 1969-70, published by the Associated Women Students organization (AWS) provides insight into the lives of women at WVU fifty years ago.  It presents information about AWS, other women’s organizations on campus, and “coediquette,” the rules and guidelines for women at WVU.

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“Salt Pork, West Virginia”

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 23rd, 2019

Blog post by Linda Blake, University Librarian Emerita

Don’t try to find Salt Pork, West Virginia on a map because it’s not a real community.  I wondered about the location of Salt Pork when I ran across references to it while processing the papers of William “Bill” Archer.  Archer, a long time writer for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, documented everything about the Bluefield and southern West Virginia area including its rich contribution to American music.  I also noted in Archer’s papers information on Louis Jordan, a swing music artist from the 1940s, and Wallace W. McNeal, a Mercer County magistrate, with regards to Salt Pork.  After I saw that Louis Jordan was honored at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., then I knew I had to find out exactly where Salt Pork, West Virginia was located.

Buildings with a road on the left and wooded hills in the background
Bluefield, WV, ca. 1946
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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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Research Repository surpasses 25,000 downloads worldwide

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
June 20th, 2019
screenshot of research repository website

The Research Repository @ WVU, an online, openly available, home for the scholarship, creative work and research of West Virginia University faculty, researchers and students, has surpassed 25,000 downloads worldwide.

“It’s been very exciting to watch the repository grow over the last several months,” Scholarly Communications Librarian Ian Harmon said. “We just launched last October, and the fact that we already have over 25,000 downloads demonstrates that researchers around the world are eager to read the groundbreaking work that takes place at WVU. It also shows that making your work available Open Access really does have the potential to increase its readership.”

The Repository is a collaboration between WVU Libraries and the WVU Office of Research. It provides the University community with a library-supported platform for sharing their work with the worldwide scholarly community. Currently, there are close to 11,000 items available.

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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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