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West Virginia and Regional History Center and Special Collections  

Welcome to the LibGuide for the West Virginia and Regional History Center and Special Collections. This guide will help you locate research resources in the largest archives/library in West Virginia.
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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About the WVRHC

The West Virginia and Regional History Center (WVRHC) is the foremost historical archives library in West Virginia, preserving the finest gathering of archives and manuscripts pertaining to the history of West Virginia and the central Appalachian region in existence. The Center dates back to 1930, when the University Library accepted the responsibility of 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 capitalist titans Henry Gassaway Davis and Johnson Newlon Camden.

The West Virginia University Board of Governors formally authorized the Library's growing "Division of Documents," as the Center was initially known, in 1933. The Center was designated as a permissive depository for public records by an act of the state legislature the following year and thus became a center for preserving the court records of many of West Virginia's oldest counties during the WPA period. During the 1950s, the Center's scope was expanded to include printed materials, audio-visuals and other historical information resources regardless of their format.

Today, the West Virginia and Regional History Center maintains leading collections in many fields and formats. Its library of West Virginia books and periodicals is unmatched, as are its holdings of early West Virginia photographs, maps, broadsides, and folk music. The Center's archives and manuscripts division continues to embrace the majority of deposited papers of West Virginia's political leaders, from the first governor, Arthur I. Boreman, to those of Governor Arch Moore, as well as outstanding archival resources regarding virtually all aspects of the state's economic, cultural, and social history.

Featured Collections, Digital Databases and Online Finding Aids

  • Guide to Archives and Manuscripts Collections
    Searchable database of over 20,000 linear feet of archives documenting a wide variety of topics.
  • West Virginia Books
    The WVRHC contains the most comprehensive collection of books and periodicals relating to West Virginia in existence. Subject areas of special strength include state and local history, the Civil War, biography, economic and industrial history, genealogy, literature and the arts.
  • Rare Books
    Housed within the WVRHC, the Rare Books Collection contains old and rare books from the 1400s to the present.
  • Digital Collections
    Includes the 31st Virginia Infantry Regiment Documents, Child Ballads of West Virginia, Drawings of David Hunter Strother, the Francis H. Pierpont Civil War Telegram Series, and more.
  • Photographs -- West Virginia History OnView
    The WVRHC contains the most comprehensive collection of historic photographs pertaining to West Virginia in existence. Search or browse this database of over 41,000 images.
  • West Virginia Folk Music Archives
    The WVRHC possesses the finest collection of early field recordings of folk music in existence. The earliest recordings date back to the 1930s and 1940s when field sound recording was in its infancy. Since many of the artists were then advanced in age, these recordings document traditions of performance technique and repertoire that date back to the nineteenth century.
  • West Virginia Newspapers
    The WVRHC holds the largest collection of historical West Virginia newspapers in existence. The newspapers are available for viewing on microfilm at the WVRHC; some have been digitized and are available online. Users can research the Center's holdings using MountainLynx, the WVU Libraries' Online Catalog.

Additional Resources

  • West Virginia and Regional History Center Newsletter
    The West Virginia and Regional History Center Newsletter is dedicated to disseminating information about the WVRHC and its mission to preserve and provide access to information resources that document the history of West Virginia and the Central Appalachian Region.
  • Genealogy at the WVRHC
    The WVRHC has an extensive and varied collection of materials available for genealogical research. Included in this collection are prepared genealogies (both published and unpublished), census records, public records, military records, photographs, and manuscript materials.
  • West Virginia History Bibliography
    View an electronic version of the book by Harold M. Forbes' book, West Virginia History: A Bibliography and Guide to Research, © WVU Press, 1981
  • West Virginia Court Records
    West Virginia county court records and other public records are available in the West Virginia and Regional History Center.
  • Census Records
    The WVRHC holds microfilm copies of all available census records for Virginia (1810-1860) and West Virginia (1870-1930).

West Virginia and Regional History Collection and Special Collections

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John A. Cuthbert
Contact Info
Box 6069,
WVU Libraries,
Morgantown, WV 26506
304 293 3536
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