The change is intended to better reflect the nature of the state’s leading historical archives-library.
“Rather than simply a subject area within the WVU Libraries, the WVRHC is, in fact, a complex research organization with distinct reading rooms and galleries, expert staff, and not one, but many collections and units,” said John Cuthbert, director of the center.
Located in the Charles C. Wise, Jr. Library, the center serves thousands of researchers engaged in investigating West Virginia and Appalachian history and culture each year.
“People travel from every county in the state and from across the country to consult our resources which include leading research collections in nearly every information format and subject area,” Cuthbert said.
The center’s Archives and Manuscripts collection alone consumes more than half of the total shelf space in the 10-story Wise Library. Included are the majority of deposited papers of West Virginia’s early governors and economic leaders, along with those of authors, soldiers, doctors, musicians, coal miners, and indeed, people of all walks of life. The center’s collections of West Virginia and regional books, photographs, early sound recordings and historic newspapers are also the most comprehensive of any institution.
The center’s origins date back to 1930 when the University Library accepted responsibility for preserving the papers of Senator Waitman T. Willey, a founding father of West Virginia. The papers of other key political and industrial leaders soon followed, including those of Francis H. Pierpont, governor of the Reorganized Government of Virginia (1861-1863), and U.S. senators and capitalists Henry Gassaway Davis and Johnson Newlon Camden.
The WVU Board of Governors formally authorized the library’s growing “Division of Documents,” as the collection was initially known, in 1933. The collection was made an official depository for state government records by an act of the West Virginia Legislature the following year.
The center serves literally thousands of researchers each year through both onsite services and a growing offering of digital collections and services. Among the most popular of the latter is West Virginia History OnView, a digital photograph database, which provides online access to more than 40,000 historical photographs. Visit the site at http://wvhistoryonview.org/
The West Virginia and Regional History Center will launch a new website later this month. For more information about the center, visit: http://www.libraries.wvu.edu/wvcollection/
CONTACT: Monte Maxwell, WVU Libraries
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