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(Revised 5/2011)

GOLDENSEAL is a quarterly magazine published by the State of West Virginia, Division of Culture and History. Founded in 1975, GOLDENSEAL documents the state's rich cultural background and recent history by means of oral accounts, research articles, and old and new photographs. Stories and photographs are submitted by freelance contributors. We welcome non-fiction manuscripts on West Virginia folklife, traditional farming practices, industry and commerce, holiday and community celebrations, immigrants, music, crafts, herbs, architecture, religion, politics, medicine, sports, railroading, women’s history, and similar topics. We strongly prefer stories about living West Virginians, based on recent, direct interviews. We do not publish manuscripts that focus on the pre-20th century era (including the Civil War), out-of-state activities (including foreign military service), genealogy, poetry, or fiction.

Our circulation is approximately 15,000; roughly 70% of our readers are in-state – most of the remainder are former residents or frequent visitors. We consider our primary readership to consist of mature individuals (age 55+) who live in West Virginia, possess a personal knowledge of rural life, and have at least a high school education.

Story ideas and unsolicited manuscripts should be submitted to the editor, in writing, as far in advance as possible. Submissions or proposals should be sent to us as hard-copy print-outs, along with photocopies or laser prints of any potential illustrations; please do not send original photographs, artwork, or computer disks until requested to do so by the editor. We are happy to review typewritten or handwritten submissions, as well. Feature articles generally average 3,000 words in length, though shorter features are also accepted.  The minimum story length is 500 words. Please let us know if material has already been published or is being considered by other publications – ordinarily we cannot publish material printed elsewhere. Please notify us if the story is time-sensitive. Due to the high volume of submissions, contributors should allow six to nine months for a response. Please be aware that it usually takes up to two years from initial submission to publication.

The editor seldom assigns stories. For story ideas, we recommend that potential authors review our on-line index at

Approved manuscripts should be typed, double spaced; please send a PC-compatible computer disk (no Mac disks, please), as well as a hard copy. Our word-processing program is Microsoft Word; we can also accept finished manuscripts in ASCII/text format.

We accept analog or high-quality digital photographs.  Analog images should be submitted as 8x10 black-and-white glossy prints or as slides. Digital images should be submitted on disk as high-res tif or jpeg files only, generally at least 300 dpi for a 5x7 image. Be sure to include .tif or .jpg file extensions. We prefer to process our own scans or copy prints of historical photographs, working from original prints whenever possible. For publication purposes, we usually cannot work from photocopies, laser prints, commercially produced copy prints, copies taken from other publications, or microfilm. Scanned historical images should be submitted on disk, with the same specifications as above.

Author payment: We pay 10 cents a word for one-time use of original manuscripts. We regret that we cannot pay for travel or other reimbursements. Payment follows publication.

Photographer payment: We pay $25 for each new photo used. Photos must be of top professional quality; we usually assign photographers when the writer is unable to illustrate an article. We always welcome historical photographs. While we cannot pay for their use, we handle them very carefully and return them promptly.


Veracity - In many cases, an article in GOLDENSEAL may be the only published source for information on a particular subject, so please be careful with facts, dates, names, and spellings.

Tone and format - Manuscripts should be written in an informal narrative style, with generous use of direct quotation; we occasionally publish manuscripts in the Q&A format. We generally cannot use stories written as formal academic papers. Please keep in mind the age and background of our readers, as outlined above. It is easy to be overcome with enthusiasm when writing about a state as wonderful as West Virginia, but please refrain from exaggerating or over-romanticizing your subject. We cannot accept manuscripts that are overly promotional, self-promotional, or express partisan political views.

Verb tense - Use the past tense in narrative writing. However, since so many GOLDENSEAL stories are based on oral recollections, we prefer that references to a living interviewee be kept in the present tense. This helps distinguish between what happened in the recent past – at the interview or in your other interaction with your subject – and in the "real" past, maybe decades ago. Use the first person when referring to yourself or when writing from your personal experience.

Quotations - Be accurate. Give exact words, especially when quoting from printed sources, and be as precise as possible when quoting from the spoken word. We try to convey our story subjects' natural way of speaking, as much as possible.

West Virginia places - Our readers understand that all truly important places are in the Mountain State. Consequently, there is no need to tack "West Virginia" onto place names. Nothing extra is needed for our major cities and towns (Wheeling, Charleston, Beckley, etc.); use the county name with less-known places: Buckeye, Pocahontas County.

Publication and editorial decisions are final and rest entirely with the GOLDENSEAL editor. Decisions are based on the parameters set out in these guidelines, the short- and long-term needs of the magazine, the overall quality and style of writing, and the editor’s personal and professional judgment. Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope with your submission. All submissions are acknowledged promptly upon receipt, are read personally by the editor, and receive an individual response.

For further information or to submit a query or manuscript, write to:


Kim Johnson
The Culture Center
1900 Kanawha Blvd. East
Charleston, WV 25305





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