The West Virginia Archives and History Library will present for the very first time a rare showcase of its unique collections on Monday, Dec. 7, from 7 - 9 p.m., at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. Refreshments will be served in the Great Hall. The event and reception are free and the public is invited to attend. The library will close at 5 p.m., and reopen at 6:45 p.m., for the showcase.
Visitors will have the exceptional opportunity to see old photographs, distinctive books and manuscripts, newspapers, Civil War documents and West Virginia Civil War medals. “Several of the actual medals will be on display and we’ll explain how to apply for one if you have a relative from the era who can be found on the medal list. The list was compiled at the end of the war, and there are about 4,000 names left on the unclaimed medal list from the original list of 26,000,” says Greg Carroll, historian for archives and history.
There also will be Veterans Memorial biographies available, as well as genealogy tools, musical selections, and clips from the audio and video archives. A selection of home movies and documentaries from 1928 - 1979 can be seen including the dedication of the Silver Bridge, a movie showing Route 60 in 1929 and a 1951 color film showing various industries across West Virginia.
Terry Lowry, historian for archives and history, will have Civil War documents from the Adjutant General papers including regimental muster rolls, clothing books, broadsides, captured Confederate documents, and letters by such prominent people as Civil War nurse Clara Barton and General Winfield Scott Hancock, the hero of Gettysburg.
Bryan Ward, assistant director of archives, said that there also will be a number of presidential signatures available for viewing including those of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant and John F. Kennedy, to name a few. “We’ve got some great World War I and World War II posters we’re going to display, including one for the Women’s Army Corps and another of a V-Mail, Safest Overseas Mail which was how combat soldiers got their mail during WW II,” he added. There also will be some actual V-mail samples on hand.
In addition, archives staff members will demonstrate archival preservation techniques and offer the public behind-the-scenes tours where visitors can see state documents, special collections and manuscripts, among others.
“I think people are going to be surprised at the depth of our collections. We really have something for everyone, from land ownership documents to personal letters to photographic documentation of various time periods in West Virginia,” said Joe Geiger, director of archives and history.
For more information, contact Robert Taylor, library manager for archives and history, at (304) 558-0230, ext. 163, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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Media Note: There are two photographs from the State Archives attached.
Caption for 075915 jpeg is Undated picture of a seated man with bandaged finger, gun across lap and a concertina. West Virginia State Archives, John Edward Kenna Collection.
Caption for 278515 jpeg is Cyanotype of John Francis Gates, Harry Goodno Gates (approximately age three) and Alonzo Cushing Gates doing laundry, Buffalo, Putnam County, ca. 1879. West Virginia State Archives, Elaine Gates Collection.