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Dr. Jessie Wilkerson and Emily Walter
The Women Miners Oral History Project aims to collect and preserve the life histories of women in the Appalachian region who entered the mines as protected workers in the late 1970s after decades of exclusion. This project is the outgrowth of a conversation between Jessie Wilkerson (WVU) and former miners Kipp Dawson, Marat Moore, and Libby Lindsay, all of whom were involved in the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) and the Coal Employment Project (CEP), a non-profit organization that advocated for women’s entrance into industrial mines, fought discrimination that working women encountered, and organized around working-class women’s issues. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Dawson, Moore, and Lindsay began organizing lists of women miners and considering ways to preserve their history, compelled by the loss of some sisters and the illness of others.
Emily Walter is a Public History Master's Student at
West Virginia University. She came to public history after becoming
interested in community storytelling through her undergraduate thesis: a
comic book about three women leading anti-fracking activism in
southeastern Ohio. At WVU, she is honing skills in collecting oral
histories, creating digital history projects, and designing exhibits to
interpret our shared experiences. She is a public historian of
Appalachia, labor, and environment.
Dr. Jessie Wilkerson has collaborated on or co-founded several oral history and public history projects, including the Long Women's Movement Project at the Southern Oral History Program, the Invisible Histories Project-Mississippi to document LGBTQ+ history in Mississippi, and the Black Families of Yalobusha County, MS Oral History Project at the University of Mississippi. At WVU, she is currently collaborating with former women coal miners on an oral history project documenting their lives and work, and she is on the advisory board for the West Virginia Feminist Activist History Collection.
This project is presented with financial assistance from the West
Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment
for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations
do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities
Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Speakers: Susan Ferentinos, PhD
Our understanding of the past depends on what has survived. Previous generations
saved only those things they thought were important, leaving historians in the
twenty-first century struggling to access marginalized voices. The Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) past is particularly elusive, given the
stigma associated with these identities throughout most of U.S. history. In this
talk, Susan Ferentinos will consider the challenges and possibilities of engaging
with the history of queer feminist activism. Where do historians turn to learn
about this history? How do they address gaps in the historical record?
What can archivists do to expand queer feminist collections? Drawing on thirty
years of work as a queer feminist historian, Dr. Ferentinos will offer a glimpse
at the wonders and mysteries of the queer feminist archive.
Susan Ferentinos is a public history researcher, writer, and consultant specializing
in LGBTQ and women’s history. She is the author of
Interpreting LGBT History at Museums and Historic Sites, which won the 2016
book award from the National Council on Public History. Her recent projects include
a statewide historic context study of LGBTQ history in Maryland; a historic resource
study for Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site; and a National Historic Landmark
nomination for the House of the Furies, a lesbian-feminist collective in Washington,
DC. Ferentinos hold a Master of Library Science degree with an emphasis on special
collections and a PhD in U.S. history with an emphasis on gender and sexuality.
This project was presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Humanities
Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any
views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent
those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for
September 15, 2021
West Virginia History Makers: Black Women's Activism in the Archives
Speakers: Dr. Tamara Bailey, West Virginia Wesleyan College & Dr. Sheena Harris, West Virginia University
For this educational program, Dr. Tamara Bailey and Dr. Sheena Harris discuss
the lives of Black women activists and educators from West Virginia and their
use of women’s archives. A question and answer session follows the
This project was presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations do not necessarily represent those of the West Virginia Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The City of Charleston is provided additional support for this program.
March 19, 2021
Presented by the Art in the Libraries Virtual Program Series as a Women’s History Month Presentation
Panelists: Judith Stitzel and Carroll Wilkinson
Moderated by Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director and Curator, West Virginia & Regional History Center
Introduction by Sally Brown, Exhibits Coordinator