April 28, 2010
The Archives and History Library staff will introduce its latest on-line exhibit, entitled Battleground West Virginia: Electing the President in 1960, during its next after-hours presentation on Tuesday, May 4, from 6 - 7:30 p.m. The program will take place in the Archives and History Library in the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The session will include a lecture and discussion, followed by a guided tour of the on-line exhibit. Visitors will have the opportunity to share their memories of the 1960 West Virginia primary and general election campaigns. The program is free and the public is invited to attend. The library will close at 5 p.m., and reopen at 5:45 p.m., for lecture guests and participants only.
In the spring of 1960, West Virginia was in the national spotlight as John F. Kennedy spent much time in the state campaigning for president against Sen. Hubert Humphrey. Kennedy’s victory in the Democratic primary not only propelled him to the nomination of his party, but also undermined the conventional wisdom that a Catholic could not be elected president. Kennedy also was challenged by senior party members who thought he was too young and inexperienced to serve as president. The 1960 West Virginia primary marked the first time in the state’s 97-year history that it was involved and influential on a national level in a presidential election.
The new exhibit features hundreds of primary source documents, newspaper articles, photographs and audio-visual clips documenting this important election. Nearly 90 newspapers were researched and more than 400 newspaper articles that tell the day-to-day story of the campaign were transcribed. There are almost 100 photographs and more than 100 documents including letters from Kennedy, a telegram from him announcing his entry into the West Virginia primary, and a piece of a paper bag that features the signatures of Kennedy on one side and Humphrey on the other.
In addition, nearly two dozen audio-visual clips of Kennedy, Humphrey, Republican nominee Richard Nixon, and others who campaigned on the various candidates’ behalf are available for viewing. The exhibit also includes an article discussing the campaign at the state level and in its national context. The exhibit offers the text of speeches that Kennedy made in West Virginia during the primary and transcripts of interviews conducted in the 1960s with several individuals involved in the election, courtesy of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
Another section of the exhibit contains recollections of individuals who have submitted an e-mail or letter to Archives and History with memories of the campaign. Persons wishing to submit a story of their encounter with one of the candidates, or wanting to donate documents or photographs relating to the 1960 campaign, are encouraged to contact Joe Geiger, director of archives and history, by e-mail at Joe.N.Geiger@wv.gov.
The on-line exhibit can be viewed at www.wvculture.org/history/1960presidentialcampaign/1960presidentialcampaign.html.
Registration is not required, but is requested to ensure proper seating. To register in advance, contact Robert Taylor, library manager for archives and history, at (304) 558-0230, ext. 163, or by e-mail at Bobby.L.Taylor@wv.gov. Participants interested in registering by e-mail should send their name, telephone number and the name and date of the session. For additional information about the lecture and workshop series, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.
The next session will focus on “West Virginia Statehood” with Geiger on Tuesday, June 1.
The Archives and History Library is open from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., on Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m., to 8 p.m., on Thursday. The library is closed on Sunday.
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. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.