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WVRHC to celebrate West Virginia Day June 20

Mothman drawing

The West Virginia & Regional History Center invites the public to celebrate West Virginia Day with a program on West Virginia folklore and the opening of a new exhibit at 2 p.m. June 20 in the Milano Room of the WVU Downtown Library. 

Attendees will be treated to birthday cake and folk music by local musician and WVU Professor Chris Haddox before the program starts. 

Speakers Rosemary Hathaway and Jennie Williams will talk about their experiences studying and documenting folklore and traditional practices in West Virginia. Their presentation will explore approaches to fieldwork and teaching and interrogate commonly held assumptions about folklore in West Virginia and Appalachia. 

“Tradition is not static,” Williams said. “Someone may be brought up in a traditional practice, but often they add their own creativity to make it relevant today and to carry it forward.” 

Rosemary Hathaway

Hathaway is Professor Emerita of English at WVU. During her 17 years at the University, she taught courses in American Literature, young-adult literature, folklore, and Appalachian Studies. She is the author of “Mountaineers Are Always Free: Heritage, DIssent, and a West Virginia Icon,” a cultural history of the West Virginia Mountaineer that was published by the WVU Press in 2020.  

Jennie Williams

Williams is the West Virginia State Folklorist and directs West Virginia Folklife, a project of the West Virginia Humanities Council. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Ethnomusicology at Indiana University and earned her master’s degree in Folklore and Ethnomusicology from IU in 2017. She is experienced in research, documentation, writing, grants administration, and facilitating and presenting programs in folk and traditional arts.  

Following the speaker’s program, the WVRHC will open the new exhibition, “Living the Folklife: Monsters, Music, Medicine, Myths and More,” in the Davis Family Galleries.  The exhibit highlights West Virginia folklife and folklore with documents and artifacts from the WVRHC’s collections.  

“The WVRHC holds the collections of some of West Virginia’s most prolific folklorists, including Louis Watson Chappell, Patrick Gainer, and John Harrington Cox. In their archives and others, we find stories, songs, recipes, remedies, and an abundance of evidence of rich folklife in our state,” WVRHC Director Lori Hostuttler said. 

The exhibit will also illustrate the stories behind Mothman, the Flatwoods Monster, and other cryptids that have recently become a popular part of West Virginia folklore and a driver of tourism in the state.  

For more information about the program and exhibit, contact Hostuttler at 304-293-1116 or