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WEST VIRGINIA HISTORY ON THE INTERNET

By Stan Bumgardner and Chris Kreiser

West Virginia history and genealogical resources have appeared on the Internet and the World Wide Web. Stan Bumgardner and Chris Kreiser have been working on a list that could be called comprehensive if the Internet and World Wide Web sites could be frozen in time. However, this new medium for researchers grows exponentially each month. They have, regardless, provided the most inclusive list and discussion of Web sites now available. The West Virginia Historical Society Quarterly provides you with this excerpt from their article which will appear in its entirety in a future issue of West Virginia History. Ms. Kreiser and Mr. Bumgardner have graciously allowed us this preview of their work. (Ed.)

http://www.wvculture.org/history

The West Virginia State Archives home page consists of basic researcher information such as hours of operation and library rules, a partial guide to collections, on-line exhibits of photos from the Archives, student projects, and updates on items recently received by the Archives. The list of historical societies and repositories consists of collection descriptions, services, and other pertinent information. Based on the West Virginia State Records Assessment Project, funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the list has been expanded and refined.

The West Virginia History component of the database has proven to be one of the most popular features. West Virginia History has been the primary source for new research in the state's history for almost sixty years. Since going on- line, Internet users all over the world have accessed the journal and many have expressed interest in seeing more articles on-line. West Virginia History provides an excellent context for the study of other features in the database, as users can easily compare historical items with historians' interpretations of the same topic.

In West Virginia, Bell Atlantic's World School Project has enabled students to place projects on line and create their own web pages. Moundsville Junior High School sponsored the award- winning project, "Inmates and Alternatives: The Prison Project," in which students from all over the country conducted electronic dialogues with prisoners at the West Virginia State Penitentiary. This ongoing project has resulted in the creation of a home page discussing social issues from crime to the AIDS epidemic. Brooke High School and Chapmanville Middle School have also developed on-line student projects. The West Virginia History Database will establish hyperlinks to student history projects already on-line and will serve as a library for students who do not have access to the technology for placing their own history projects on- line.

In addition to students, avocational historians will be able to submit their own projects to the database. These may include family or local histories or individual West Virginia history research topics. The database will also feature out-of-print works of West Virginia history, such as How West Virginia Was Made, by Virgil Lewis. In-print publications will be considered as well, pending the permission of the author and/or publisher to make it available electronically.

In addition to featuring original historical research, the West Virginia History Database will be continually adding links to other pertinent sites on the Internet. Currently, several organizations and institutions have established sites which relate to West Virginia history.

Through the West Virginia Library Commission's InfoMine network, at least one public library in each of the state's fifty-five counties will have access to the Internet. In 1995, the Library Commission received three grants totalling nearly three million dollars, including one from the United States Department of Education, designed to provide Internet access to schools and libraries throughout the state. With a personal computer and a modem, any of the state's 175 public libraries can connect to the InfoMine. By the end of 1997, it is expected that at least 120 public libraries and fifty-five high schools, one in each county, will be on-line with the Internet. The Bridgeport Public Library and the Putnam County Public Library, for example, currently maintain web sites, which can be accessed from the InfoMine home page

In addition to the West Virginia State Archives, several of the state's academic libraries have established home pages on the Internet. The MountainLynx system has enabled institutions of higher learning to go on-line and provides access to libraries all over the world. The West Virginia and Regional History Collection and other libraries at West Virginia University are part of this system. Accessing MountainLynx requires a special connection and a piece of software which can be downloaded. Information about MountainLynx can be found.

The Internet site for the T. W. Phillips Memorial Library at Bethany College includes a description of some of the major collections, an on-line library of various reference sources, library hours and personnel, and a tour of the library. The Special Collections Department of Marshall University's James E. Morrow Library provides descriptions of the university archives, manuscripts, rare books, the Blake Library of the History of the Confederacy, and the Hofmann Library of the History of the Medical Sciences. A more detailed guide to family history and genealogical resources itemizes materials in its West Virginia Collection. The Special Collections Department has also placed on-line the West Virginia Historical Resource Guide, a bibliographical accompaniment to the West Virginia film history. In addition, Marshall University regularly updates a list of World Wide Web servers in the state. The R. A. Musick Library at Fairmont State College and the West Virginia Institute of Technology's Vining Library briefly describe their hours of operation and services.

Although many of the state's colleges and universities now have web sites, there are few history department pages. West Virginia University's history department features syllabi and listings of alumni, faculty, and their e-mail addresses, as well as a series of links to other history-related web sites and discussion groups. The Marshall University history department site consists primarily of faculty names, e-mail addresses, course requirements, syllabi, research areas, and financial aid information. Bethany College has placed its history and political science department course catalog on-line.

For those interested in books on West Virginia history and Appalachia, one should consult Lisle Brown's West Virginia Historical Resource Guide. A recent addition to the web entitled "West Virginia Histories Homepage" is a regularly updated bibliography of relevant histories. Other academic sources for West Virginia history include federal government sites, such as the Library of Congress and the census bureau.

There are numerous Internet sites for genealogy and family history enthusiasts. Many surname and genealogy exchanges have been set up on the web in addition to individuals posting their own ancestral charts. At least two West Virginia historical societies have gone on-line. The Allegheny Regional Family History Society in Elkins has an impressive assortment of cemetery readings, copies of its journal, and Helen Stinson's Index to Coal Mining Fatalities. The Hacker's Creek Pioneer Descendants site provide family history information relevant to central West Virginia. They have established a home page for the Mining Your History Foundation which can be accessed from their home page. The Mining Your History Foundation is a non-profit partnership of state historical and genealogical societies dedicated to supporting the work of the West Virginia State Archives.

A number of counties, cities, institutions, and organizations include brief histories on their home pages. One of the more impressive is Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, which provides on-line tours, historical photos, and links to the park bookshop and other sites. Each of West Virginia's state park have their own home page, including sites of historical interest such as Berkeley Springs, Blennerhassett Island, Carnifex Ferry Battlefield, Cass Scenic Railroad, Droop Mountain Battlefield, the Fairfax Stone, Grave Creek Mound, Point Pleasant Battle Monument, and Pricketts Fort.

One of the more extensive West Virginia sites on the Internet is the New River Net's Southern West Virginia Collection, featuring business, computer, community, education, government, recreation, statistical, shareware, and weather links, as well as a listing of web servers. The community section provides the best historical information, including brief histories of and historical photos from Beckley, Glen Jean, Hinton, Oak Hill, Mt. Hope, and Thurmond. A similar site for Fayetteville also provides a historical map and description of its historical district. Subjects relevant to West Virginia, such as coal, railroads, and logging, are covered in this same section.


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