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.”
The Chronicling America website – chroniclingamerica.loc.gov – provides access to more than 15 million newspaper pages from 1789 to 1963. So far, the WVRHC has contributed 400,000 pages from more than 50 historic West Virginia newspapers. And, because of this grant, another 100,000 pages will soon be added to the site.
WVRHC Curator Stewart Plein said this round of newspapers focuses on two periods of great upheaval in West Virginia history that have national implications – the Civil War and the Mine Wars.
“The struggles of West Virginia in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were the struggles of the nation,” Plein said. “West Virginia was at the crossroads of American history during these periods and the state’s newspapers serve as a compendium of Civil War and labor history in the United States.”
The Eastern Panhandle counties of Jefferson and Berkeley were heavily engaged during the Civil War in battle and conflict. Plein cites three incidents that had major implications:
John Brown’s 1859 raid on Harpers Ferry ignited a firestorm that drove the country into the Civil War.
The Battle of Charles Town in 1863 saw the Confederates victorious, but it would fall back into Union hands for the rest of the war.
The hotly contested town of Martinsburg bore a heavy toll during the war as it was captured and recaptured a total of thirty seven times, with control constantly shifting between the Confederacy and the Union.
“The strategic locations of these towns made this area a hotbed of activity throughout the war,” Plein said.
A half century later, in the southern coalfields, Mingo and Logan counties became the epicenter of labor unrest and spurred a national debate on labor, unions, job safety and security.
“The mine wars of Paint Creek, Cabin Creek, the Battle of Blair Mountain, and the shootout at Matewan exposed the poor work and living conditions of miners and their desire for a better way of life for themselves and their families,” Plein said.
Fueled by an initial $266,000 grant in 2011, the WVRHC began by concentrating on the Wheeling Intelligencer, which they identified as the most significant newspaper for the time period. The only daily newspaper being published in western Virginia at the start of the Civil War, it held anti-slavery and pro-Union stances and supported the statehood movement.
With the next three grant cycles, the WVRHC widened their scope to include newspapers from around the state and incorporate reporting from both sides of the Civil War conflict and issues such as the growing antebellum conflict between eastern and western Virginia, West Virginia’s statehood movement and establishment, West Virginia’s 1872 Constitution, Reconstruction and the United States’ Centennial.
The WVRHC holds the most comprehensive collection of West Virginia newspapers, including more than 50,000 reels of microfilm. The collection is the Center’s most frequently consulted resource.
“Newspapers are among the most significant resources for studying nearly every topic. They are a daily record of what was happening in society over the years,” Cuthbert said.
Blog post by Jessica Eichlin, Reference Supervisor, WVRHC.
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.
WVRHC now holds Lucy’s diary and scrapbook from her time at WVU in A&M
4024. Contained within the pages of both
her diary and scrapbook are glimpses into her life while a young student in
Morgantown. Lucy was a Morgantown
native, having grown up just south of town in the small community of Little
Falls. Later in her adolescence, Lucy
and her family moved to Morgantown, where she attended Morgantown High School.
addition to playing on the first women’s basketball team at MHS, Lucy was also
an editor for the school’s annual yearbook, the Allerlei. Once she reached
college, Lucy quickly got involved in social life, joining the Kappa Kappa
Gamma sorority. Shortly after joining
KKG, Lucy began keeping a detailed diary of her experiences at school.
are just a few of her entries.
Tuesday August 20, 1918, 11 PM “this is the most perfect night, moon n’ everything and I feel like I would love to walk for miles and miles.”
Sunday September 1, 1918 11:30 PM “To-day we had our Shuttlesworth reunion at Aunt Louise’s old home, it has rained for three days and the roads are fierce so there were not many there but we had a good time and wonderful eats.”
Monday October 28, 1918 “The second wild (or should I say wild?) thing of my life happened to-day. No, I shall not call it wild for it was just thrilling– I have it now, it was daring.”
Tuesday November 12, 1918 “War really ended yesterday, we had a big parade and all sorts of celebration. Man oh man, it was the happiest day of our lives.”
Monday March 25, 1919 “o little diary, if you knew how miserably blue I am but you don’t, nobody does and I don’t. I could just cry and cry — Disgust–”
Monday June 9, 1919 “Exams to-morrow– Oh horrors! Weeping, Wailing, Knashing of teeth!”
scrapbook is also packed full of ephemera, including dance cards, letters,
table place cards, and more.
may have dressed and talked differently than college students today, but she
did enjoy spending time with friends, going to parties, and, of course,
complaining about exams.
Blog post by Linda Blake, University Librarian Emeritas
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).
Just weeks before, the good people of Keystone, West Virginia could have seen the removal of bank records from an old school building and witness their burial on the property of Terry Church, the head of the bank. Bank officials buried the records in an effort to cover up their inefficiency, corrupt and illegal practices, and the theft of millions of dollars. A month and a half after the bank closing, the FBI dug up the records, and so began the collection of evidence for the criminal and civil trials to follow.
The town of Keystone, with a population of about 500 at the time of the bank closing, was once a thriving coal community with an historically majority black population, but in 1999 it was the center of national attention as the story of the unprecedented collapse unfolded. The town of Keystone lost one of its major employers and some people lost their life savings.
The bank once heralded as one of the top-performing banks in the nation faced a deficit of $500 million between reported assets and actual funds. The FDIC estimated that the bailout cost the Bank Insurance Fund between $750 million and $850 million, making it one of the 10 most costly failures in history.
William “Bill” Archer, reporting
for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph,
documents the collapse of the bank and its aftermath in his papers which were
recently processed in the WV and Regional History Center. Archer’s in depth reporting and research covered
every aspect of the troubles at the Keystone Bank and then closely followed the
subsequent court cases against the crooks who drained the bank of its funds and
wreaked financial devastation on this small town. He also investigated the key characters in
this unbelievable drama. They include
Knox McConnell who came from Pennsylvania to run the bank in 1977 but died
before the collapse in 1997; Terry Church who took over the bank after
McConnell’s death; Billie Cherry, McConnell’s companion who was mayor of
Keystone at the time of the bank closing; and an assembly of bank employees,
relatives of the major players, government officials, accountants, and many
If burying bank records in broad
daylight seems fantastical, other side stories from the Keystone Bank collapse
obstructing the investigation by federal
agencies with shenanigans including threats and intimidation of examiners,
stonewalling, falsifying documents, and involving U.S. Congressmen
incompetence and in-fighting of the two
oversight federal agencies, the OCC and the FDIC
forging a false codicil to a will to gain
control of McConnell’s wealth
Waynesburg College’s battle to get the endowment
left in McConnell’s will
money laundered through a bingo parlor in
Alabama and a motorcycle shop called Hog Pen and owned by Terry Church’s
Keystone as precursor of the larger 2008 big
bank financial collapse
international intrigue as off shore lenders
criminal involvement of a prestigious law firm and accounting firm
including an accountant named Harry J. Potter
a U.S. Congressional hearing on how the
government failed to prevent the disaster
Blog post by Jane Metters LaBarbara, Assistant Curator,
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.
One of the first things I found was a list of former Most Loyal award
winners. During Mountaineer Week, they
have chosen Most Loyal Mountaineers and Most Loyal West Virginians. The
Most Loyal Faculty and Staff Mountaineer award was created in 1994 and split into
two separate honors in 2003. The History
Center has the papers of a few of these individuals, including Jim Comstock,
Donovan Bond, Dr. Earl Core, and Arch Moore.
Mountaineer Week has included a host of unusual and
interesting events over the years, but one that caught my eye was an
advertisement for the “world’s largest” Duck Duck Goose game, to be held on Saturday,
November 8, 2003. The event was sponsored by U92, WVU’s student-run radio
station, in conjunction with Mountaineer Week. I checked the Daily Athenaeum for the following Monday
to see if this game happened as planned, but it was not mentioned. For
reference, the current largest Duck Duck Goose record was established in
October 2011, for a 2,135 participant-game at Logan-Rogersville High School in
Rogersville, Missouri, lasting over 15 minutes. (https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/largest-game-of-duck-duck-goose)
Finally, in one of the 2005 planning binders, I found a multi-page document titled “Mountaineer Week History,” which I have copied below for you all. I think it was originally written to be added to the Mountaineer Week web page for 2005. The images were added by me.
“Mountaineer Week marks the time when the leaves are
turning and the chill has returned to the evening air,
setting the stage for a celebration filled with art, unique
crafts, and Appalachian culture,
heritage, and cuisine. This celebration
of the state of West Virginia, held on the campus of
West Virginia University, was conceived in 1947 as an event to arouse more school
spirit. The initial weekend started with a thuse [?] on the old athletic field
the night before the WVU versus Kentucky football game.
Following the game, a dance requiring mountaineer garb was held with
awards given for the costumes most representative of a true mountaineer.
In 1948, the initial Mountaineer school spirit
activities were held. However, other events added to
the celebration were floats, hay wagons,
and “jalopies” parading down
High Street and up University Avenue before the
beard growing competition was held in 1949. The idea for a Mountaineer Mascot
Statue was initiated during the 1950 Mountaineer Weekend which ended with a
carnival in the Field House with the proceeds from the various booths being
placed in a fund to help pay for a bronze statue of a Mountaineer for
Between 1953 and 1958, a fashion show,
folk singing events, and
a Friday night concert were added to the weekend
No major innovations were introduced until 1962 when
the Mr. and Ms. Mountaineer Contest joined in the festivities. In 1972, the
25th Anniversary of this West Virginia University and state of West Virginia
celebration grew into a week-long event now referred to as Mountaineer Week.
The theme of the 25th Anniversary was deemed as “The
Home of Mountaineers”. In 1972, several
diversified events were added to Mountaineer
Week, including: the first Mountaineer
Week Arts and Crafts Festival, a Mountaineer
dinner, various games and concerts, and a Downtown
West Virginia heritage at its
finest was displayed during the 1972 Mountaineer Week
with the opening of the First Annual
Mountaineer Week Arts and Crafts Festival.
In cooperation with the West Virginia State Department of Commerce
and the Campus Club, the Arts and Crafts Festival was held in the Gold Ballroom
of the Mountainlair. Some crafts that highlighted the event were spinning,
wood carving, early American basketry, cornhusk dolls, pottery,
leather crafts, blacksmithing, and dulcimer making.
Today, the Craft Fair remains to be held in the Blue and Gold Ballrooms of the
Mountainlair and features traditional and contemporary crafts of Appalachia
with over 60 artisans from West Virginia and neighboring states.
In 1972, the Mountaineer Week celebration also initiated a tradition that lasted many years at West Virginia University-Mountaineer Week Cabin Sales. Located in the right front yard of the Mountainlair was a rustic mountaineer cabin which was completely built by the Foresters and was made from native West Virginia materials. Cabin Sales, viewed to contribute to the heritage and culture of our great state, provided a central location in which mountaineer items could be purchased throughout the week. [Editor’s note: if anyone has photos of this cabin, please let me know!]
One of the first Mountaineer Week Dinners was held
in 1972 in Summit Hall and the Mountainlair. The Mountaineer Week Committee in cooperation
with Ms. Jean Benson of Housing and Food Service planned a menu that all
Mountaineers loved. Today, the annual Country
Vittles Dinner Buffet is a down-home feast like Grandma used to make. Mountaineer
Week also offers Appalachian treats such as funnel cakes,
homemade lemonade, maple sugar syrup/candy, muffins, fudge,
pepperoni rolls, candy apples, and much more!
Tradition was always the predominant element of
Mountaineer Week. In 1977, the practice of adopting a quilt pattern was
incorporated into Mountaineer Week to add a feeling of unity to the week’s
festivities. In 1977,
the “Double Wedding Ring” quilt logo was proposed and
accepted as the official quilt logo of that year’s
Mountaineer Week. The quilt was made by Ethelyn Butler and Mae Long,
who won the Bicentennial Quilt Show for the Smithsonian. The “Double
Wedding Ring” Quilt is still on display at WVU Jackson’s Mill Conference
Center. Each year thereafter, a quilt logo was chosen and a quilt square was
made and framed to showcase that particular year. Most of the framed quilt
squares are on display in the Mountainlair today. In
1997, the current Mountaineer Week logo was chosen to provide long-term unity
and consistency and remains as the official
Mountaineer Week Logo today. This year’s Mountaineer Week Quilt Show is being presented by the
Country Roads Quilt Guild. Adorning the Mountaineer Room and Ballroom Stage of
the Mountainlair will be colorful handmade quilts loved by generations, along with quilters showcasing
Fiddling has an extensive history and has been
studied and written about by many music scholars and history enthusiasts.
Fiddlers have provided mountain music and foot stompin’ fun for many years as
part of Mountaineer Week. Still today, the Fiddler’s Contest remains a favorite
part of Mountaineer Week. Local, state, and neighboring state fiddlers compete
in the Gluck Theatre of the Mountainlair for the top awards in the Junior and
From years gone by to the present time, dancing has
provided exercise and friendship to both the young and the old. This heritage form
of Appalachian entertainment historically consisted of dancing with partners at
an old-time square dance or adding a step to the square dance to enjoy what is
known as clogging. These traditions have followed our Mountaineers down through
the years at WVU. Mountaineer Week today still hosts an Old-Fashioned Square
Dance and many exhibitions of Clogging in Appalachia.
Mountaineer Week has showcased numerous other
heritage events in its 58 years of existence. Highlights through the years have
been the annual PRT Cram. Mountaineer Week is
certainly important on the WVU campus due to the fact that we have our very own
Mountaineer Week PRT Car, designed specifically
for our historical PRT Cram. The record number of students crammed into the PRT
Car is 97, accomplished in the year 2000.
The Mr. & Ms. Mountaineer
Contest has been held in conjunction with Mountaineer Week since 1962. Each
year, the long-awaited announcement of Mr. & Ms. Mountaineer is presented
to the Mountaineer fans at the halftime festivities of the Mountaineer Week
Football Game. Down through the years, the Mr. & Ms. Mountaineer have represented
West Virginia University and our great mountain state. This prestigious award
honors one male and one female student who have a record of academic
achievement and extracurricular involvement. Along with the announcement of Mr.
& Ms. Mountaineer, is the naming of
the Most Loyal West Virginian, the Most Loyal Alumni Mountaineer, the Most Loyal Faculty
the Most Loyal Staff Mountaineer for their accomplishments to the state and West
Virginia University. Our Mountaineer Week Royalty will be named at half-time
of the WVU versus Connecticut Football Game to be held on Wednesday, November 2, 2005, at 7:30 P.M. at Mylan Puskar
The Mountaineer Mascot has represented West Virginia
University’s athletic teams, students, and
alumni since 1927. In addition, each Mascot represented something even more –
the Mountaineer spirit that is spread throughout the great state
of West Virginia. In 1993, the first-ever Mountaineer
Mascot Reunion was held during Mountaineer Week. At this humbling event,
thousands of blue and gold fans welcomed back home our former Mountaineer
Mascots who were chosen by Mountain Honorary for outstanding enthusiasm and
character. At this first-ever gathering, it was decided that a Mascot Reunion
would be held every five years during Mountaineer Week. In this regard, a
Second Reunion was held in 1997, a Third in 2002, and we look forward to our
Fourth in 2007. The current Mountaineer Mascot is Derek Fincham,
a religious studies graduate now pursuing a master’s degree in rehabilitation
counseling, from Petersburg, West Virginia.
The year 2005 will mark the Second Annual Mountaineer Week Mountaineer Idol Competition on the campus of West Virginia University. The competition is open to WVU students only. The event is sponsored by Mountaineer Idol, Fox 46, and Coke-A-Cola [Coca-Cola]. Throughout the six-week competition, various genres of music will be highlighted such as pop, country, R&B, and rock. On Sunday, October 30, 2005, the Mountaineer Idol will be named at the official kick off to Mountaineer Week 2005. For more information on our Mountaineer Idol Competition, please click on Mountaineer Idol. [Editor’s note: this is why I think that this piece was originally written for a webpage]
of the highlighted events for Mountaineer Week 2005 will be the return of The
Bee Beard Man, Mr. Steve Conlon from Thistle Dew
Farm. If you want to BEE fascinated, please come to the Mountainlair Food Court
on Friday, November 4, 2005, for an 11:00 A.M.
show and a 1:00 P.M. show. Family Fun Day
will be held on November 5, 2005, from noon –
5:00 P.M. Family activities
will be held such as marble contests, special
appearances by numerous celebrities, cake
walks, local police and firemen appearances, storytelling,
horse and buggy rides, clogging, and much,
Fifty-seven years of culture and heritage is etched
in the minds and hearts of Mountaineers as they
remember Mountaineer Week on the campus of West Virginia University. Our WVU
Students need to be reminded of the heritage that has made West Virginia what
it is today. Therefore, we invite all members of our student
and state to join us on October 30 –
November 6, 2005, as we celebrate –
Prepared by: Sonja L. Wilson
Mountaineer Week Advisor”
Blog post by Jessica Eichlin, Reference Supervisor, WVRHC.
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.
The ScanPro software, although organized differently from the ViewScan, has many of the same capabilities. Patrons can digitally capture images, adjust the image brightness and contrast, and zoom in on film. Digital images can be emailed or saved to a USB drive. One of the ScanPro machines is attached to a printer.
user toolbar is located to the left of the screen when viewing microfilm. Divided up into Home, Adjust, Output, and
Setup, each menu contains a number of tools for viewing, capturing, and
exporting digital images. The Home
section includes tools which allow for basic image tweaking, including
brightness, contrast, straighten, and rotate.The Adjust section features
tools which allow a patron to adjust the image on their screen. Auto-Adjust is one which automatically
adjusts brightness and contrast, straightens the image, and detects the image
on the screen (the green dotted box in the image above). Also on this menu are zoom, film orientation,
and manual adjustments for brightness, contrast, and straightening. On the Output menu, patrons can print to the
printer if they are on the adjacent ScanPro, save to USB, or send captured
images through email. Images can be
captured in PDF, JPEG, and other file formats, although PDF is the
default. Patrons do not need to use the
Setup section of the toolbar, as it contains password-protected program
software also has some more advanced capabilities that the ViewScan machines do
not. Patrons can run OCR (Optical
Character Recognition) on a page to find particular words. The function is not 100% accurate, as early
newsprint isn’t always uniform, but the feature can streamline some of the
searching process. Another useful
feature is the program’s ability to recognize a page, and then scan from that
page to the next recognized page. This
can eliminate some scrolling as patrons read through a particular paper or
are just a few of the features of the new ScanPro microfilm machines. We hope you are able to stop by soon to test
out the new machines!