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West Virginia Univeristy

Digitized Negatives Reveal Charleston Business History

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
August 5th, 2014

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

 

The West Virginia and Regional History Center is continuing to digitize the negatives of the Gravely and Moore collection in order to enhance their accessibility to researchers.  A previous installment of this blog highlighted Gravely and Moore photos of a busy World War II era bus depot in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  In this installment we show images recently “discovered” of businesses in Charleston, West Virginia.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Clara Hough, WVU Librarian

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 28th, 2014

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian.

Martin Hall Library, West Virginia University

Library on the third floor of Martin Hall.

 

The study of Library History has become a popular field in recent years.  With the rise of interest in historical libraries, library practices, librarianship and librarians, we’ll take this opportunity to look at our own library history and the librarians who worked to make information accessible to students in the early years of West Virginia University.  This blog is part one in a series on the evolution of the WVU library and its librarians.

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Posted by Monte Maxwell.
July 24th, 2014

The West Virginia University Press has returned to its home in the WVU Libraries. After 15 years under the charge of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, the Press has returned to where it began.

“We’re delighted that the Press is now in the Libraries and under the leadership of Dean of Libraries Jon E. Cawthorne, who is an energetic and visionary person,” Eberly Dean Robert Jones said. “We think that bodes well for the future of the Press.”

It was a dean of Libraries – Dr. Robert F. Munn – who founded the Press in the 1960s. In 1999, the Press moved to Eberly, where it has been managed by Dr. Pat Conner and then Carrie Mullen.

The Press publishes about 17-20 books each year, as well as four journals, and has received national recognition as an award-winning press. So far this year, three of its titles have won awards.

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Christmas in July: Ornaments of WVU Buildings

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 21st, 2014

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

 

Though many of us don’t think about it, the buildings that make up the landmarks of our daily lives change over time.  West Virginia University is no exception.  Interiors are refurbished, wings are added, facades are restored, and new buildings are being constructed even now.  Some of our campus landmarks have been memorialized in holiday ornaments, donated to the WVRHC as part of a collection in processing which will soon be A&M 3950, tentatively called the Vaughn L. Kiger Collection of Historical Photographs and Records Regarding Morgantown.  These ornaments are part of a series produced by Heritage Collection in the 1990s.  I’ve paired each ornament below with an older photograph from our West Virginia History OnView database to highlight some of the changes, or lack thereof.   Read the rest of this entry »

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Bygone Era of Travel Revealed in Recently Digitized Negatives

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 15th, 2014

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

 

Recently, when reviewing the images resulting from scans of negatives from our Gravely and Moore photography collection, photos were uncovered that systematically document the facilities and operations of a busy bus depot during World War II.  According to a current online exhibit by the Smithsonian, “Americans On The Move,” the 1930s and 40s were a time when bus travel was a “glamorous and modern” mode of transportation that hit its peak during the years of World War II.  The photographs we discovered date from this golden era, documenting a Greyhound bus depot in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in September 1942.  This blog will present a selection of images from this grouping of negatives.

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July 4, 1863: The Daily Citizen and the Surrender of Vicksburg

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
July 7th, 2014

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian.

Wallpaper background with the Daily Citizen newspaper nameplate

The nameplate of the Daily Citizen, and the wallpaper on which the WVRHC’s copy was printed.

As we celebrate Independence Day this July 4th, we look back to another 4th of July one hundred and fifty one years ago to events that occurred a mere fourteen days after West Virginia achieved statehood on June 20, 1863.  It was on July 4th, 1863, that Lieutenant General John C. Pemberton surrendered to General Grant at Vicksburg, an event considered by many to be an important turning point in the Civil War. Read the rest of this entry »

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A West Virginian on the Oregon Trail

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
June 30th, 2014

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

Though the West Virginia and Regional History Center’s collections focus on the history of our state and the central Appalachian region, their scope extends across the globe.  West Virginians have travelled far and wide to see and do incredible things, and the WVRHC keeps their stories for posterity.  These travelers include WVU students who served in World War II and documented their experiences abroad (see A&M 120); businessman Stephen B. Elkins, who lived in Santa Fe, NM in the 1870s and recorded information about illegal land speculation in his letter book (see A&M 3979); and poet Maggie Anderson, who collected information on the Danish Resistance Movement when she traveled to Denmark in the 1990s (see A&M 3956).  Today’s post is about Reverend Edward Evans Parrish, a native of Monongalia County, WV who took his family west on the Oregon Trail in 1843-1844 and kept a travel diary for most of the trip. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Photographs of James Green and the Democratization of Photography

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
June 24th, 2014

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

 

The digital revolution has transformed the economics of photography, allowing almost anyone with a cell phone access to an inexpensive and convenient method to create photographs.  It’s consequently difficult to imagine a time when photography was an expensive and cumbersome process, usually requiring the attention of full time professionals.

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Renovation Temporarily Limits Access to Portion of Evansdale Library Collection

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
June 23rd, 2014

Renovation work will temporarily limit access to a portion of Evansdale Library’s collection. During this time, Evansdale Director Mary Strife advises users to request needed items through ILLiad or E-ZBorrow.

Strife said crews will be laying carpet on the facility’s lower level beginning Tuesday, June 24. A completion date has not been set.

The overall renovation project, expected to be complete by August 8, will add a coffee shop to the first floor and more study space on the lower level.

 

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Trustees of the Monongalia Academy

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
June 16th, 2014

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian.

Monongalia Academy

The Monongalia Academy

Chartered in 1814, the Academy’s administration was guided by a group of Morgantown men who served as its trustees.  Three men among this group who served as trustees were instrumental to the life of the Academy, and credited with the civic and business development of Morgantown.  Although many others served as trustees for the Monongalia Academy over time, this look back over the succeeding two hundred years since the Academy’s charter examines the lives of some of the Academy’s leading principals. Read the rest of this entry »

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WVU Libraries Explore Education History for West Virginia Day

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
June 13th, 2014

WV Day image for post

The West Virginia UniversityLibraries will mark West Virginia’s 151st birthday on June 20 by looking back 200 years.

Long before students filled the buildings of Woodburn Circle, or the West Virginia Legislature created West Virginia University, or the United States Congress passed the Morrill Act to establish land-grant universities, Morgantown residents made education a priority.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Monongalia Academy which first placed Morgantown on the map as a seat of education.

“Morgantown’s long history as an education center began in 1814 with the founding of the Monongalia Academy,” said John Cuthbert, director of the West Virginia and Regional History Center. “This foundation grew with the additions of the Morgantown Female Academy and the Woodburn Female Seminary in the following decades and culminated with the creation of West Virginia University in 1867.”

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Soldier’s Letters at the WVRHC

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
June 9th, 2014

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

We would like to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day (the invasion of Normandy by Allied troops in World War II) by telling the story of Private Ralph J. John, who served with the U.S. Army’s 3rd Battalion, Headquarters Company 112th Infantry, 28th Division. Read the rest of this entry »

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History Center is Digitizing Photos from Glass Plate Negatives

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
June 3rd, 2014

Blog post by Michael Ridderbusch, Associate Curator, WVRHC.

 

Recently, the West Virginia and Regional History Center has turned its attention toward digitizing its collections of glass plate negatives.  Among the first to be scanned were the plates in the Newbraugh collection, a grouping of 91 images documenting Berkeley Springs that were collected by local historian Fred T. Newbraugh.  Current and future researchers can feel fortunate that Mr. Newbraugh chose to publish a number of these photographs with identification in his 1976 book, Warm Springs Echoes, since it’s probable that the content of many of these photos would otherwise have been left unidentified.

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Thomas Jefferson at the West Virginia and Regional History Center

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 19th, 2014

Blog post by Stewart Plein, Rare Book Librarian.

 Thomas Jefferson Portrait with Signature

Portrait Image Credit:  http://jrbenjamin.com/tag/thomas-jefferson-the-art-of-power/

The Rare Book Room in the West Virginia and Regional History Center owns many treasures from across the globe, from Austen to Diderot, and Linnaeus to Shakespeare.  The collection also includes many American gems; among these are books by Mark Twain and Isaac Asimov, as well as books associated with well-known individuals, such as the two volume legal dictionary once owned by the author of the Declaration of Independence, former President of the United States, and the founder of the University of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson. Read the rest of this entry »

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Teaching with Primary Sources

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 12th, 2014

Guest blog post by Dr. Brian Luskey, Associate Professor, WVU Department of History

 

In “Slavery’s Capitalism,” a history course I taught this semester, my students and I tried a bit of an experiment. Taking advantage of the small class size (10 undergraduate students hailing from a variety of majors across the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences), students learned how to do history by researching, writing, and revising sections of a collaborative research paper based upon archival sources in the West Virginia & Regional History Center.

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100 Years of Mother’s Day

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
May 5th, 2014

Guest blog post by Brandi Oswald, Graduate Student Assistant, WVRHC.

May 9, 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson’s proclamation designating Mother’s Day as an official holiday. Wilson issued his proclamation in response to a movement started by Anna Jarvis to honor and recognize mothers.  The holiday has its roots in Grafton, West Virginia. Read the rest of this entry »

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WVU Libraries continue to strengthen information literacy on campus through program

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
May 2nd, 2014

The West Virginia University Libraries have selected five faculty members to participate in the sixth year of the Information Literacy Course Enhancement Program, an initiative to enhance courses so that students can improve their research skills and become more discerning when searching for and using information.

Meanwhile, the program will be holding a showcase of this past year’s collaborations on May 7.

The Information Literacy Course Enhancement Program, a collaborative endeavor between the Libraries and the Provost’s Office, focuses on fulfilling the University’s 2020 Strategic Plan which calls for “engaging undergraduate, graduate, and professional students in a challenging academic environment.” Information literacy is the ability to find, evaluate, and effectively use information.

“As WVU’s new Dean of Libraries, I’m proud that we have an established Information Literacy program that helps students become better researchers and gain more from the classroom experience,” said Dr. Jon E. Cawthorne, Dean of Libraries. “We have heard great feedback from faculty and students, and I’m looking forward to us working alongside another group of faculty.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Recent Acquisition: WV Country Music Memorabilia, 1930s-50s

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 30th, 2014

Tradition and Innovation in Country Music

Unlike artists such as Hazel Dickens of West Virginia (1935-2011), who have sustained traditionally oriented musical styles of bluegrass and folk within their work, contemporary country-pop artists such as Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum have submerged these rural styles to the vanishing point within the stylistic blend of their hybrid music.  This is of course the way music evolves, and the audience has moved with it.

There was an earlier time, however, after the “Big Bang” of modern country music in 1927, when commercially successful country artists more or less evoked the sounds of traditional rural music.  A collection of music memorabilia recently acquired by the West Virginia and Regional History Center documents two such country artists who are both connected to West Virginia, Cowboy Loye and Buddy Starcher. Read the rest of this entry »

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Exhibit Showcases Legacy of All-Around Artist

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 28th, 2014

Virginia B. Evans may well be the most acclaimed but largely unknown artist in West Virginia history.  But that situation is about to change.

The artist and her work are subjects of an exhibit open at the West Virginia State Museum in Charleston through June 7.

“There can be little doubt that Virginia B. Evans is among the foremost figures in West Virginia art history,” said John Cuthbert, director of the West Virginia and Regional History Center at the West Virginia University Libraries. “The extensive body of her artwork that survives is worthy of enduring recognition, not only in the Mountain State but well beyond, for its inherent quality and its evidence in representing the art of its time and place.”

Virginia B. Evans, The Yellow Lampshade, oil on canvas, 35 x 31 inches, ca. 1930. Private collection

Cuthbert has authored a book about the Moundsville native. Virginia B. Evans: An All-Around Artist chronicles the life and diverse career path of an artist who made her mark as a painter, glass industry designer, and teacher during the 20th century.

A buzz has already begun, and new admirers are gathering.

Charleston art collector Diane Hackney-Oliver heard about Evans only a few years ago, and became an immediate fan.  She now owns three Evans paintings.  Two of those are currently on display in the Commissioner’s Gallery of the State Museum.

“I knew about Blanche Lazzell and a few other West Virginia artists, but I didn’t know about Virginia B. Evans until recently,” Hackney-Oliver said. “I was very impressed to learn about her. She is an undiscovered gem.”

While Hackney-Oliver was first drawn in by Evans’s style and her use of vibrant colors, she developed a deeper respect when she learned that Evans was a strong, independent woman who traveled on her own to Europe multiple times. One of those trips was aboard a merchant marine ship which became the subject of one of Hackney-Oliver’s paintings.

“Virginia B. Evans was definitely a woman before her time. She didn’t let anything stop her,” Hackney-Oliver said.

Evans was surely one of the best trained West Virginia artists of her era. Her studies took her from the Mount de Chantal Academy in Wheeling to the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, and the Pennsylvania Academy for the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. In 1924, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation awarded her a fellowship to study in New York. She capped off her education at the School of Art for American Students in Fontainebleau, France.

In his book, Cuthbert details Evans’s success as an impressionist landscape, still life, and portrait painter and her experiments with other realist and modern currents. Cuthbert believes she did her best work in a regional impressionist style.

Venturing into glass in the 1940s, Evans quickly became a leading designer in the Upper Ohio Valley glass industry and is best remembered for a product line she designed for the Imperial Glass Company. Inspired by Asian artistic motifs such as dragons and butterflies, she created Imperial Cathay Crystal, a mix of more than 30 items ranging from ashtrays to candle holders.

In the following years, Evans taught art, served as a mentor, promoted the importance of art education, and eventually moved to Florida. It was the Sunshine State that rejuvenated her interest in painting.

In 1974, Evans returned to West Virginia to spend her final years in the Moundsville area. She passed away on March 23, 1983, at the age of 89.

Cuthbert’s efforts at capturing Evans’s life and extensive career in his book about the artist won a stellar review from her nephew, Laurence Evans.

“John did a beautiful job with the book. He knows more about Virginia than I do,” he said.

Laurence Evans and John Cuthbert pose in front of The Devil’s Elbow which was commissioned by the West Virginia Permanent Art Collection in 1972.

As a child, the artist’s nephew often played in the sunroom, which served as the backdrop for several of her portraits. He also grew up surrounded by his aunt’s paintings, which hung throughout his parents’ house. One that sticks out most in his memory is The Guitarist, which adorned a spot over their mantel for years. His mother, Augusta Evans, donated the painting to the WVRHC in 2001.

“That was a hard one to give up,” he said.

His favorite work – one that he plans to hold to for a long time – is a portrait of his grandmother titled The Yellow Lampshade. He apparently has good taste. The painting graces the cover of the March/April 2104 issue of American Art Review, which contains a lengthy article about Virginia B. Evans by Cuthbert.

“I’ve taken that painting everywhere I’ve moved. It’s a beautiful painting,” Laurence Evans said.

The exhibit in Charleston is the second to which he has contributed. Last summer, the Oglebay Institute hosted an exhibit that coincided with the release of Virginia B. Evans: An All-Around Artist. Mr. Evans loaned several paintings from his private collection for both exhibits.

“I’m doing it because I knew Virginia fairly well. She wanted her work to be exhibited widely, not just in my house,” Evans said.

Jim and Janie Warsinskey traveled from Wheeling to see the exhibit. Longtime friends of the Evans family, they first discovered Virginia B. Evans by admiring her paintings at the Evans’s home. The couple later met the artist when she returned home to West Virginia late in life.

Janie Warsinskey said the exhibit was well worth the long drive. She especially enjoyed hearing Cuthbert’s insightful remarks about the artist in a gallery talk presented at the opening reception for the exhibit. They headed home with a signed copy of the book, a gift from Laurence Evans.

“I felt John brought Virginia to life by telling us so much about her growth through education, her determination to express herself with little compromise and, of course, her travels, both national and international,” Warsinskey said. “Now, I’m enjoying reading the book.”

The exhibit is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. It will be closed on May 13 for the Primary Election and May 26 for Memorial Day.

Virginia B. Evans: An All-Around Artist is available at assorted locations across West Virginia including at Tamarack and the West Virginia Culture Center gift shop and also through the WVU Press at www.wvupressonline.com.

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Extended Library Hours Continue

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 25th, 2014

The WVU Libraries are operating under extended hours. The Downtown Campus and Evansdale libraries will be open from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday. For Finals Week, they will be open from 9 a.m. Sunday through 8 p.m. Friday (May 2).

The Health Sciences Library will be open 9 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-1 a.m. Sunday; 7:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Monday (April 28)-Thursday (May 1); and 7:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday (May 2).

Semester Break hours are available on the Libraries’ website: www.libraries.wvu.edu.

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