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West Virginia Memory Project

West Virginia History
Film Project

Collection Guide

The collection guide provides access to materials collected, created, and presented as part of the West Virginia History Film Project. This guide was developed through a 1998 agreement between the West Virginia State Archives and the West Virginia History Film Project to create an electronic finding aid to the films West Virginia: A Film History and The West Virginians. The guide to the collection is presented here in three independent databases.

The West Virginia History Film Project organized in 1991 to produce a film and video on the history of the state. Over the next three years, project staff conducted nearly three dozen interviews and shot scenic footage at locations around the state. Approximately 2,000 historic still and moving picture images were acquired from individuals and repositories throughout the state and in over a dozen other states, the District of Columbia and three foreign countries. In 1995, West Virginia: A Film History, a six and one-half hour documentary, premiered on public television. The West Virginians was televised the following year. This one-half hour film looks at many noted individuals who made contributions to the history of the state and focuses on nine of them: Robert C. Byrd, Henry Louis Gates, James "Buck" Harless, John Hendricks, Lawrence Kasdan, Kathy Mattea, Mary Lee Settle, Leon Sullivan, and Jerry West.

The three databases detail the contents of these films and associated materials. The image database contains over 5,000 records that identify and describe every image in the two films and their outtake footage. Where rights allow, an image captured from video is linked to the descriptive record; about 70 percent of these records include digital images. Image sources are also given. Users of this database are advised, however, that the information available to electronic finding aid staff was not always complete or adequate. Attempts to fill in the gaps were sometimes unsuccessful, and a small number of images acquired for West Virginia remain of unknown or uncertain origin. Records for The West Virginians are more sketchy, leaving the sources of a larger number of images in doubt. Users are further advised that information on sources dates to the period during which the films were created and does not reflect subsequent changes in ownership.

The transcript database contains fully searchable text of transcripts of West Virginia and the interviews conducted for that feature. The inventory database contains a box-by-box description of the contents of the West Virginia History Film Project Collection, now housed at the State Archives. This collection includes several boxes of research material, but the bulk of the collection consists of various production formats. Because each of the databases addresses an entirely different facet of the project materials and includes different fields of information, the three have not been concatenated and must be searched individually.

Individuals seeking information on specific pictures used in West Virginia or The West Virginians will find the image database an invaluable tool, as will those who may be unfamiliar with the films but who wish to locate images that depict the state's history. Students of West Virginia history will be interested in the personal recollections and scholarly interpretations found in the interviews.

All requests for copies or use of material should be directed to the person or institution identified in the source field. Where that field names the West Virginia History Film Project, the project's successor, the West Virginia Humanities Council, should be contacted.

Corrections to the databases should be sent to Mary Johnson.

Images        Transcripts        Inventory

How To Use The Database

West Virginia Memory Project