With funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, West Virginia University will digitize Mountain State newspapers published in six counties — Pocahontas, Greenbrier, Nicholas, Randolph, Tucker and Webster — between 1791 and 1927.
(Photo WVU)

The National Endowment for the Humanities is awarding a grant to the West Virginia University Libraries and Regional History Center — its sixth from the NEH, this one totaling $162,155 — allowing it to continue its important work digitizing newspapers published in West Virginia from from 1791 to 1927.

The award is part of the National Digital Newspaper Program, a collaboration between the NEH and the Library of Congress to recruit libraries and institutions across the country to create a digital database of historic newspapers in the United States.

This grant brings total NEH funding for WVRHC efforts to more than $1.29 million.

“We are honored that the NEH continues to support our efforts to improve access to historical logs housed in the WVRHC,” said Lori Hostttler, Acting Director of WVRHC. “It is a testament to the incalculable value of these resources and the influential role West Virginia has played in our nation’s history.”

The America Chronicle The website provides access to over 15 million pages of newspapers from 1690 to 1963. So far, WVRHC has provided 500,000 pages from over 105 historic West Virginia newspapers. Thanks to this grant, 100,000 additional pages will soon be added to the site.

WVRHC Curator Stewart Full said this journal series will focus on the timber industry and its three major impacts within the state: its exponential growth, the effects of deforestation, and the rise of conservation and reforestation.

Newspapers selected for this grant round will cover six counties – Greenbrier, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Randolph, Tucker and Webster – all located in the mountain region of the state.

“The history of the lumber industry in West Virginia is as much a cycle of boom and bust as it is that of the lumber towns that grew and fell on the path to clear-cutting and deforestation. Unprecedented growth in logging operations has not only changed the face of West Virginia, but as the only state entirely within the borders of Appalachia, the impact on forestry and lumber has been felt in the whole region,” Plein said.

Logs have been essential in documenting the lumber industry, as most companies destroyed their records upon leaving the state.

“West Virginia’s historical newspapers will reveal every argument for development, every corporate move after clear-cutting, every accident, immigrant hardship, the legacy of deforestation, and the rise of conservation in a state that has played a major role in the lumber industry, in West Virginia, Appalachia, and across the country,” Plein said.

STephen Kidd, executive director of the National Humanities Alliance, commended the NEH for awarding $31.5 million in grants to support 226 humanities projects nationwide.

“The National Digital Newspaper Program grants will contribute to the continued preservation of our nation’s history and culture through the digitization of local newspapers, including those that covered underrepresented stories,” Kidd said. “We are extremely proud of NEH’s impact across the United States and will continue to advocate for increased federal support for future grants in 2022 and beyond.”

Previously, the NEH funded WVU projects focused on mine warfare, African American newspapers, the Civil War with reporting from both sides of the conflict, the struggles between East and West Virginia, the movement and the establishment of the State of West Virginia, the 1872 Constitution of West Virginia, Reconstruction and the American Centennial.



MEDIA CONTACT: Stewart Plein
West Virginia and Regional History Center
[email protected]

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