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Books: challenged, banned, and burned

Researching and tracing trends and events

Contemporary West Virginia challenges

Contemporary West Virginia book challenges




"Set the ground for readers to pay attention to the narrative with contextual, supplemental, complimentary reading, perhaps pairing. In the case of the 2021 Pocahontas County West Virginia challenge to The Hate U Give, the instructor explained the pairing of The Hate U Give with This Book is Anti-racist."

West Virginia and regional book banning

In April 1974 the Kanawha County Board of Education gathered for a routine meeting in Charleston, West Virginia. On the agenda was a report from a textbook selection committee that had worked ten months to decide which new language arts curriculum to recommend for adoption for all levels, first through twelfth grades. The curriculum they chose included more than 300 titles from mainstream publishers such as Houghton Mifflin and Macmillan. In dutiful fashion, the selection committee described the books they chose and their procedures for ensuring that the books met a state-sanctioned mandate to include multiethnic and multiracial literature in the new curriculum. Everyone seemed surprised when the only female board member, Alice Moore, who had moved to Kanawha County six years earlier with her fundamentalist preacher husband, objected to the selection committee's report by raising questions about the books, even though she admitted she had not yet read them. With a flurry of accusations about the committee's purpose, its relationship to national "anti-American" trends, and particular concerns over lessons in dialect that later she referred to as "ghetto" language, Alice Moore sparked a controversy that would become the most violent curriculum dispute in American history.

From (2005) An American Conflict: Representing the 1974 Kanawha County Textbook Controversy by Carol Mason. Appalachian Journal, 32(3), 352–378.

Kanawha County textbook controversy: primary sources and archives

bussing and textbook protest in Washington D.C.

(1975) Women from Boston and Charleston, West Virginia, holding signs, demonstrating against busing and textbooks, Washington, D.C. Washington D.C. Boston Massachusetts, 1975. [Photograph] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

Resources at the West Virginia and Regional History Center

Archives and manuscripts

Kanawha County Public Schools, Textbook Controversy Records A&M 3523
Records regarding controversy over textbook selection in Kanawha County schools. Includes correspondence, legal documents, and newsletters. Also includes copies of textbooks in question. The textbooks in this collection cover the subjects of literature, communications and speech, vocabulary and grammar, myths and fables, poetry, nonfiction, writing skills, and biography. There are also books regarding Federal and West Virginia school laws.

Kanawha County Book Protest, Miscellaneous Papers A&M 2624

Articles, broadsides, and other materials concerning selection of textbooks for the public schools of Kanawha County, West Virginia. The controversy involved confrontation between Christian fundamentalists and liberals over educational policy.

Resources at the West Virginia State Archives and History 

Special Collections

Kanawha textbook controversy 


Ku Klux Klan brochures, 1975. 1 folder. Sc2016-046

Scrapbooks and other materials, 1974-1982. 1 folder and 5 volumes. Sc2002-053

Kanawha Textbook Controversy, 1974. 2 items. Sc93-3


Location: Ph2016-046
Collection: Kanawha Textbook Controversy. B&W prints including Ku Klux Klan protest, 1975 September 6. 17 items.
Donor: Mike Bell

Location: Ph2009-145
Collection: Kanawha Textbook Controversy. Copy negatives of Alice Moore and family, board, 1969-1978. 8 items.
Donor: Alice Moore

Vertical Clipping Files Folder

Textbook Controversy

41 newspaper articles from West Virginia newspapers 1974-2011 from the West Virginia Memory Project

Audio on Kanawha County's Textbook Controversy, 1974: Listen on YouTube