August 3, 2010
West Virginia Independence Hall (WVIH) Museum in downtown Wheeling will present a lecture by Dr. Connie Rice, lecturer at West Virginia University (WVU), on Saturday, Aug. 14, from 2 - 3 p.m. A reception will follow the program. The lecture and reception are free and the public is invited to attend.
Rice will discuss, “The Road to Freedom: Black West Virginians in the Civil War Era.” Before, during, and after the Civil War (1830-1877), black West Virginians, both slaves and freemen, lived varied lives. Despite legal and cultural restrictions, black West Virginians provided the labor that built West Virginia industries, fought to obtain freedom and equality, and built educational, religious, and political institutions that enriched black communities across the state. These early West Virginians played a vital role in the development of the Mountain State long before African American migrants moved to West Virginia during the coal boom of 1880-1920.
Rice is the assistant editor of West Virginia History: A Journal of Regional Studies and a member of the Governor’s West Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history, graduating Summa Cum Laude from WVU. Rice continued her studies, receiving a master’s degree in Public History and her Ph.D. in history, also from WVU.
Visitors also are encouraged to tour the museum and see Waving for Liberty and the Union, the largest exhibit of West Virginia Civil War battle flags anywhere. The exhibit features the state’s rare collection of original flags, which had not been on display for more than two decades until the exhibit opened last year.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History partnered with the non-profit West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation to conserve and exhibit a selection of the 140-year-old flags, which for many years were among the most popular items on display in the West Virginia State Museum in Charleston.
Participants can also tour The Wheeling Room which showcases Wheeling’s history. The city’s geographic position, at the confluence of the Ohio River, the National Road and the B & O Railroad led it to become the gateway to westward expansion in the 19th century. The area also was abundant in its supply of coal and natural gas. Steel and iron mills, glass factories, cigar factories, breweries, and the manufacture of nails all made Wheeling a city of privilege and prosperity. Visitors can see period glassware, furniture and other artifacts.
For more information about the lecture or other programs at the facility, contact Travis Henline, site manager at West Virginia Independence Hall, at (304) 238-1300.
West Virginia Independence Hall, originally built as a federal custom house in 1859, served as the home of the pro-Union state conventions of Virginia during the spring and summer of 1861 and as the capitol of loyal Virginia from June 1861 to June 1863. It also was the site of the first constitutional convention for West Virginia. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1988, the museum is maintained and operated by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, with the cooperation and assistance of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with the exception of major holidays. The museum is located on the corner of 16th and Market Streets in Wheeling.
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.