On Saturday, Dec. 2, the West Virginia State Archives of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History will complete a $101,000 Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant to digitize and catalog materials in the Boyd B. Stutler Collection pertaining to abolitionist John Brown. The date marks the 141st anniversary of Brown’s hanging in Charles Town for an October 1859 raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry.
Over the past two years, Archives staff members have scanned more than 20,000 images from the manuscript collection, the largest known assemblage of records relating to Brown. The images have been linked to searchable text descriptions in an online electronic database which can be accessed through the State Archives link on the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org/history.
The database contains photographs, original manuscripts, research papers and printed material, including more than 100 original Brown letters, manuscripts and family letters, and three letter books from Brown’s partnership with Simon Perkins in the wool business. In addition, there are hundreds of letters of associates and biographers such as George Luther Stearns and Frank Sanborn, two of Brown’s most ardent supporters, and William Connelley, an early biographer.
The project was made possible by a grant from IMLS, an independent federal agency that encourages leadership, innovation and lifetime learning by supporting museums and libraries. In 1998, the State Archives was one of 41 recipients of the first National Leadership Grants awarded by that agency. The grants were created to help libraries and museums address individual education, research, and preservation needs, as well as support collaborative projects that expand service to the public.
The IMLS grant allowed the State Archives to make an important body of material accessible on the Internet to people who are unable to visit its library in person. It also will help preserve the original images from the wear and tear of normal use.
The State Archives plans to place additional materials from the Stutler Collection online in the coming months. For more information about the IMLS grant project or State Archives programs, call Fredrick Armstrong, director of archives and history for the Division, at (304) 558-0220, ext. 164.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at www.wvculture.org for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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