People’s University Fall Schedule

FALL 2017 PEOPLE’S UNIVERSITY: West Virginia History through Archives–Preserving the Mountain State’s Stories


From documents that record the formation of our proud state during the tumultuous Civil War years to letters that tell the family histories of the hard-working men and women who settled these hills long before the declaration of “Montani Semper Liberi,” our stories are told through our archival collections. They increase our state’s sense of identity and cultivate our understanding of our culture. The latest series in the People’s University program at the Ohio County Public Library in Wheeling will explore archival collections from throughout West Virginia, show how different media and materials can be accessed and used as research tools to tell our varied stories, and inform people how to keep their own collections organized and safe for future generations. “The People’s University: West Virginia History through Archives–Preserving the Mountain State’s Stories will consist of eight classes covering a range of topics, from preserving family photographs to salvaging materials following a flood. The classes will generally be held Tuesday evenings at 7 PM in the library’s auditorium throughout October and November.


The schedule for The People’s University: West Virginia History through Archives is as follows:
CLASS 1:  TUESDAY, OCTOBER 3 at 7 pm – Materials for the Historian, an Identity for Future Generations: West Virginia’s State Archives

West Virginia’s first State Historian and Archivist, Virgil A. Lewis, stated, “Public Documents are the materials for the historian.  . . . posterity can not have the means of judging, as it might, of the deeds, and principles of action, and of the legislation of ancestors. Thus the State that neglects to preserve its Public Documents, loses much to future generations — to the whole world indeed.” To this end, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History collects all manner of public documents–yearbooks, rare books, phone books, periodicals, manuscripts, state documents, photographs, films, and more – and each preserves a unique piece of the West Virginia story. Current State Historian and Archivist  and Director of West Virginia Archives and History, Joe Geiger, will give a behind the scenes look at the activities of the State Archives—from digitizing genealogical records to microfilming newspapers to curating museum exhibits—and explain why it is important to collect, preserve, and make accessible the history of West Virginia for present and future generations.


Instructor Joe Geiger received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a Master’s degree in History from Marshall University where he taught as an adjunct professor in the History department. He has published two books, Civil War in Cabell County, West Virginia, 1861–1865 and Holding The Line: The Battle of Allegheny Mountain and Confederate Defense of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike, 1861-62, and numerous scholarly articles. Geiger, who serves as the State Historian and Archivist, has worked for West Virginia Archives and History since 1998 and was appointed Director in 2009.


CLASS 2:  THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12 at 7 pm – Wheeling’s Treasure Maps: Using New Digital Tools to Find the Oldest Surviving Homes in North Wheeling
Professor Dan Bonenberger of Eastern Michigan’s Historic Preservation Program will discuss how he is leading an effort to identify houses from the 1830s to 1860s by analyzing old maps using new technologies. His presentation will go step-by-step through the process including how the some of the oldest maps of Wheeling (1853, 1871, and 1890) were brought together for analysis in a Geographic Information System (GIS). He will explain where the team found the maps, how they were digitized and integrated with high-resolution aerial orthophotographs, and describe how digital libraries and other tools such as Google Streetview are being used to supplement traditional fieldwork and archival research, as well as provide an overview of the larger project including how census records, city directories, and other sources can be used to flesh out the story of West Virginia homes and people.  Bonenberger will discuss best practices for digitizing historic maps, photographs, and ephemera in light of the principles and values that guide his research and show some rare images of North Wheeling, numerous details from the historic maps, and reveal some of the oldest houses that have been identified in the area.


The public is encouraged to bring old photographs of the neighborhood north of the suspension bridge to the event. Selected photographs will be digitally scanned during the event to supplement the project and its goal of preserving evidence of North Wheeling’s past. Of particular interest are those taken before ca. 1960 where houses, businesses, or streetscapes are visible. The Eastern Michigan Historic Preservation North Wheeling Program project is funded by a grant from the West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office administered by Wheeling Landmarks Commission in partnership with Wheeling Heritage.


Instructor Dan Bonenberger, a Wheeling native, has his BA and MA in History and an ABD in Geography from West Virginia University. He is an Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation at Eastern Michigan University.


CLASS 3:  TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17 at 7 pm – Time Capsules to Our Past: Identifying and Preserving our Photographic Images
With the click of a shutter, a camera has the unique ability to freeze a moment in time, capturing a split-second time capsule view into our history. The visual evidence photographs provide of our past — whether it be mapping the development of a cityscape or supplementing a family history — make them an invaluable tool for research. From Daguerreotypes to Polaroids, Nat DeBruin, Head of Archives and Special Collections at Marshall University, will explain the different types of images made prior to the advent of digital photography, discuss the challenges involved with preserving different photographic formats, and provide solutions to help preserve and protect your own photographic images.


Instructor Nat DeBruin is the Head of Archives and Special Collections at Marshall University. He has a BA in History from Texas A&M University and an MLS for the University of Maryland College Park.


CLASS 4:  TUESDAY, OCTOBER 24 at 7 pm – Through Flood & Fire: Preserving the Records of St. John Catholic Church in Benwood, West Virginia
The Catholic community of Benwood can be traced back nearly 150 years and has weathered disasters ranging from floods, wind, and fire, not to mention one of the worst mining disasters in the history of West Virginia. When a 2015 fire destroyed the Benwood’s St. John Catholic Church, it was feared that the rich written history of the parish was lost. Jon-Erik Gilot, Director of Archives & Records at the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, will discuss how a team of local archivists were able to triage and salvage the church’s historical records, photographs, and artifacts. He will outline how the wet, soot-covered records were preserved and are today more accessible than ever before. Jon-Erik will also discuss what steps are being taken to ensure the safekeeping and preservation of parish records, and how the disastrous fire helped him to uncover his own familial ties to St. John Church.

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Instructor Jon-Erik Gilot is Director of Archives at the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. He has a BA in History from Bethany College and an MLIS in Archives from Kent State University.


CLASS 5:  TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7 at 7 pm – “And the Creek Don’t Rise”: Preparing for and Coping with Water Damage to Archives and Heirlooms
From roof leaks and burst pipes to basement floods and hurricanes, everyone faces some possibility of water damage to their homes. Lori Hostuttler and Jane LaBarbara of the West Virginia and Regional History Center at WVU Libraries will talk about how libraries and archives prepare for disasters and discuss how people can prepare for and perform salvage at home. Hostuttler and LaBarbara will focus on traditional formats found in family papers such as photographs, books, and paper documents, but will also touch on the salvage of textiles, audiovisual materials, and more.  Attendees will be sent home with hope, realistic expectations, and the information needed to help mitigate disaster and start them down the path to preservation should their prized possessions face water damage.


Instructor Lori Hostuttler is the Assistant Director at West Virginia & Regional History Center and West Virginia University. She earned a BS in Secondary Education and an MA in Public History from WVU and an MLIS from the University of South Carolina.


Instructor Jane LaBarbara is an Assistant Curator for Archives and Manuscripts and Assistant University Librarian at WVU’s West Virginia & Regional History Center. She has a BA in History from Rhodes College and an MSLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


CLASS 6:  TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 14 at 7 pm – Authors in the Archives: Manuscripts, Memoirs, and More 
While a manuscript archivist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, Laura Carroll processed the papers of award-winning author and international figure Salman Rushdie. In addition to the correspondence, journals, numerous drafts and proofs of manuscripts that are commonly found in author collections, Rushdie’s “papers” also included four of his computers and other electronic material. Laura will discuss some of the unique challenges involved in organizing authors’ papers and how these collections can inform scholarly research in a variety of disciplines. She will also discuss one of the Ohio County Public Library’s own author collections, The Elizabeth Monroe papers, which consist of Monroe’s extensive research for her book, The Wheeling Bridge Case: Its Significance in American Law and Technology.


A special Lunch With Books will be held the Thursday following Class 6, November 16 at noon, when award-winning biographer Walter Stahr will be at the library to tell the story of Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, the man the president entrusted with raising the army that preserved the Union. Stahr, author of the New York Times bestseller Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man, came to Wheeling to access the OCPL’s Elizabeth Monroe papers while doing research for his new book, Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary, and will talk about Stanton’s connection to the Wheeling Suspension Bridge.


Laura Carroll, Archivist for the Ohio County Public Library, earned her MLIS from Dominican University and her MA in Public History from Loyola University, Chicago. She served as an archivist in the Rare Book Library at Emory University and for the American Medical Association.


CLASS 7:  TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 21 at 7 pm – Our Industrious Past: Bethany’s Upper Ohio Valley Collection
From catalogs to postcards to advertisements, the ephemera of yesterday tells the story of our industrious past. Bethany’s extensive Upper Ohio Valley collection contains materials collected from Ohio counties Belmont, Harrison, Jefferson, and Monroe; West Virginia counties Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, and Ohio; and Washington in Pennsylvania — counties connected by the Ohio River, the National Road, and the Baltimore & Ohio and the Pennsylvania railroads. Sharon Monigold, Director of Bethany Heritage Program and Archivist, will give an overview of the Upper Ohio Valley collection and show us, through archival materials, the industries that sprung up throughout the valley along these major transportation routes.


Instructor Sharon Monigold has a BA in History from Youngstown State University and a MLIS  from Kent State University. She was the Director of Historic Bethany and Archivist at Bethany College and is the Reference, Instruction, & Archives Librarian for the Bethany’s T.W. Phillips Memorial Library.


CLASS 8:  TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28 at 7 pm – Stories For Future Generations: Organizing, Processing, and Preserving Collections
Shelley Jacobs became interested in restoration history when she realized the younger generations in Western Canada, where she grew up, no longer knew the stories of their past. Concerned the history would be lost without a concentrated effort to preserve it, Jacobs worked on archives collections and organization at her alma mater, Western Christian College in Saskatchewan, until the school closed in 2012. Over the next two years, she managed, packed, and itemized the collection so it could be turned over to the Saskatchewan Provincial Archives. Now working as the Archivist for Disciples of Christ Historical Society, Jacobs oversees the eleven semi-trailer loads of archival materials that traveled from Nashville, TN to Bethany, WV during the society’s own time of transition and restructuring. Jacobs will speak about the process of organizing and maintaining collections and advise how people can organize and preserve their own personal collections to pass their stories on to future generations.


Instructor Shelley Jacobs is the Archivist for Disciples of Christ Historical Society. She has a Bachelor of Theology from Western Christian College in Saskatchewan and a Master’s in Church History focused on Restoration Studies from Harding University Graduate School of Religion. Jacobs was named Historian of the Year by the Canadian Churches of Christ Historical Society in 2010.


The People’s University is a free program for adults who wish to continue their education in the liberal arts, featuring courses taught by experts in each subject that enable patrons to pursue their goal of lifelong learning in subjects such as history, philosophy, and literature. There are no grades and patrons are welcome to attend all classes in a series or individual programs on a class by class basis.

To register for The People’s University: West Virginia History through Archives – Preserving the Mountain State’s Stories, please call the library at 304-232-0244, send an email to, or visit the Reference Desk. Classes are free and open to the public. Registration is not a commitment and you are welcome to attend any or all classes. Complimentary refreshments will be provided.