The West Virginia & Regional History Center and WVU Libraries celebrated West Virginia Day 2021 with a program and exhibit focusing on the West Virginia Mine Wars, a series of strikes and battles between 1912 and 1921 that pitted pro-union miners against coal companies. Most notable was the Battle of Blair Mountain which observes its 100th anniversary this year.
The program features a presentation by William Hal Gorby, Assistant Teaching Professor of History at WVU, and Charles B. Keeney, Assistant Professor of History at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, founding member of the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum, and author of The Road to Blair Mountain.
William Hal Gorby is a Teaching Assistant Professor of History, and Director of Undergraduate Studies at West Virginia University. He teaches courses on West Virginia, Appalachian, and American Immigration History, and is the 2020-21 recipient of the Eberly College’s Outstanding Teacher award. His book, Wheeling’s Polonia: Reconstructing Polish Community in a West Virginia Steel Town was published by WVU Press in May 2020. He has also consulted on the research and script editing for the PBS American Experience documentary “The Mine Wars.” In 2019, he researched, wrote, and hosted a podcast by Wheeling Heritage Media, titled “Henry: The Life and Times of Wheeling’s Most Notorious Brewer,” which won a History Hero Award from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History in 2020.
Chuck Keeney is the great grandson of labor leader Frank Keeney and holds a doctorate in history from WVU. Keeney is currently Associate Professor of History at Southern WV Community and Technical College and he is a founding member of the WV Mine Wars Museum. Keeney also served as president of the historic preservation group Friends of Blair Mountain. His latest book, The Road to Blair Mountain: Saving a Mine Wars Battlefield from King Coal, details the successful efforts of that group to preserve and protect the Blair Mountain Battlefield.
More information about West Virginia Day can be found on the West Virginia Regional History Center’s website: https://wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu/news-events/west-virginia-day and https://www.blair100.com/