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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 »


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 »


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:

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 »


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 »


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 »


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 »


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


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:


Celebrating William Shakespeare’s 450th Birthday

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 21st, 2014

Portrait of William Shakespeare

April 23, 2014 will mark the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare.  Born in 1564 and considered the greatest writer in the English language, Shakespeare is the author of such well known plays as Romeo & Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The WVU Libraries, the West Virginia and Regional History Center, and the Department of English will celebrate William Shakespeare’s birthday on Wednesday, April 23, at 2:30 PM in the Robinson Reading Room located in the Downtown Campus Library.  The celebration includes a lecture by English Professor Dr. Sarah Neville titled, Break[ing] into this woman’s mood': The Lab Space of Shakespeare’s Henry IV. The talk, according to Dr. Neville, will explore the ways that the current production of Henry IV onstage at WVU’s Creative Arts Center subverts the underlying patriarchal messages of Shakespeare’s play, and adapts it into a feminist tragedy for our modern age. Read the rest of this entry »


Extended Library Hours Have Begun

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 17th, 2014

The WVU Libraries are operating under extended hours. The Downtown Campus and Evansdale libraries will remain open through 10 p.m. Friday. Both libraries will be open from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday. For Finals Week, they will be open from 9 a.m. April 27 through 8 p.m. May 2.

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

Semester Break hours are available on the Libraries’ website:


3 Fantastic Books of Poetry in the Rare Book Collection

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 14th, 2014

In honor of National Poetry Month, today’s post features three wonderful books of poetry in the WVU Libraries Rare Book Collection.  To create this list, I looked for the work of famous poets whom many of us learn about in school.  The Rare Book Collection also includes poetry of many other famous poets who did not make it onto this list (such as Walt Whitman and William Blake) as well as lesser known poets (such as Isaac Asimov, David Selby, and those featured in The Poets of Maine). Read the rest of this entry »


Learn Non-Profit Fundraising in Summer Service Class

Posted by
April 10th, 2014

This summer, the Libraries are partnering with the WVU Center for Service and Learning and Milan Puskar Health Right to offer ULIB 200, a summer service class on grantseeking for non-profits. Students will learn grantseeking research while they prepare a fundraising plan to help Health Right purchase technology.

ULIB 200 will not only give students hands-on experience with non-profit fundraising, but also teach them how to identify funding sources for non-profit organizations using specialized databases and how to prepare a professional research portfolio. The course will be offered May 19 through June 26.

For more information, visit the course webpage or contact Social Sciences Research Librarian Alyssa Wright at


Recent Acquisition: Amy Moore’s Scrapbook from the Years 1917 to 1921

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
April 7th, 2014

Amy Moore in the 1921 Monticola, the yearbook of West Virginia University

Scrapbooks are compelling snapshots of the past.  Their contents, consisting of the tangible ephemera of daily life such as photos, invitations, movie tickets, etc., can bring to life the experience of past times, even for those with only a modest interest in history.  The recently acquired scrapbook of Amy Moore, a WVU student in the period 1918-1921, affords just such a backward look, and the following highlights some of its contents. Read the rest of this entry »


Try SAGE Research Methods in April

Posted by
April 3rd, 2014

Students and faculty have month-long access to an award-winning new database, SAGE Research Methods. Try it for free and tell the Libraries how you would use it to support your own research projects or teaching.

SAGE Research Methods contains content from journals, books, and reference sources, including The Little Green Books. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help design research projects, understand particular methods, identify a new method, conduct research, and write up findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, it will be useful across many fields of study, including the social sciences, business, and health sciences.

To access SAGE Research Methods visit the listing on the library web site.

To learn more, sign up for an online training session. Heather Dray, a trainer from SAGE will conduct a webinar on Monday, April 14th, from 10-11 AM. Contact Penny Pugh,, to register for the training.


President Gee Visits Wise Library

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
April 3rd, 2014

President E. Gordon Gee offered some inspiring words to WVU Libraries employees during a visit to the Charles C. Wise, Jr. Library Tuesday.

“I appreciate the work that you do,” Gee said. “When I talk with students, they seem to be very happy with the Libraries.”

He said a key to keeping them happy is providing good customer service. Gee encouraged librarians and staff to always be welcoming when someone approaches them for help.

“If a student comes in here and asks a question, and you give them a big hug and tell them, ‘I’m going to help you’, they will always remember that. If you growl at them, they’ll remember that forever. And that’s probably the person who will invent the new Google and would have given us a billion dollars,” Gee said. “Remember, every person is a friend of the Libraries.”

President E. Gordon Gee surveys a gift from the WVU Libraries. Dean of Libraries Jon E. Cawthorne (right) presented Gee with a framed document that records the thousands of degrees Gee has conferred throughout his career.

Read the rest of this entry »


Beautiful Books: The Designs of Margaret Armstrong

Posted by Jane Metters LaBarbara.
March 31st, 2014

Margaret Armstrong (1867-1944) made books beautiful.  Armstrong was a young woman when she began her career as a book binding designer.  As one of the first women to enter this new field, she would soon make a name for herself that would be recognized by publishers and the book buying public alike for her beautiful and intricate designs.  Years of innovation and technological advancements developed during the industrial era made the manufacturing of her designs possible. Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Embassy Donates Books to the WVU Libraries

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
March 24th, 2014

A book can be the perfect gift to mark an event, celebrate one of life’s milestones, or to signify a friendship.

Officials from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China have donated a selection of books and DVDs to the West Virginia University Libraries as a token of their nation’s growing bond with the University.

“Books are the best way to promote culture. In the future, we can donate more books,” said Zhou Yong, First Secretary in the Embassy’s Cultural Affairs Office.

Dr. Jon Cawthorne, Dean of Libraries, and Zhou Yong, First Secretary in the Embassy’s Cultural Affairs Office, pose with books the Libraries gave Zhou during a ceremony in the Charles C. Wise, Jr. Library’s Robinson Reading Room.

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