History helps us learn more about who we are. When we do not know our own history, however, our power and dreams can be hindered. The contributions and accomplishments of women have often been overlooked and omitted from mainstream culture and historical interpretation. In order to expand knowledge of West Virginia history, a team of emerging history professionals from Morgantown has been working to fill that void.
Eliza Newland (Collections and Program Manager, Watts Museum), Karly Kovalcik (Public History MA Candidate, WVU), and Lacey Bonar (History PhD Candidate, WVU) created a West Virginia Women’s History Tour as an interactive component of an upcoming exhibit at Arts Monongahela. The exhibit, “IN.EXclusive,” is designed to commemorate Women’s History Month (celebrated during the month of March) and includes artwork by six West Virginia artists. The artwork, inspired by women from West Virginia’s past and present, is accompanied by a unique installation design and the interactive tour.
Traveling from Mary Lee Settle’s family home in Cedar Grove to the Pearl S. Beck Birthplace Foundation and Museum in Hillsboro, the tour (accessible online: http://bit.ly/2l4bodA) shares the stories of more than twenty women who are influential in the history of West Virginia.
The team used technology to reach members of the public where they are, creating a series of connected entries in Clio (theclio.com). Created by Marshall University history professor Dr. David Trobridge, Clio is the first non-commercial website and mobile application that connects users to historical and cultural sites across the United States. Each entry provides reliable and concise information, connecting the public to scholarship, related websites, and other media.
This tour has the potential to breathe new life into the curriculum of area schools and help teachers and students engage with the past, especially during Women’s History Month celebrations. The tour development team hopes that this project will expand beyond West Virginia and encourages other museums, libraries, and archives to utilize Clio.
The Opening Reception for “IN.EXclusive” is on Friday, March 3 from 5-8PM at Arts Monongahela (201 High Street, Morgantown, WV).