Skip to main content

West Virginia Feminist Activist Collection showcases social movements in West Virginia and Appalachia

Black and white photo of women sitting in room, talking

The four members of the Morgantown National Endowment for the Humanities Women in the Community Project team are pictured here with Barbara Haber, Curator of Printed Books at the Schlesinger Library for the History of Women in America at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Mass. Team members were: Dr. Judith Gold Stitzel, Carroll Wetzel Wilkinson, Barbara Caron, and Meredith Pearce, 1981. (Carroll Wilkinson Papers, WVRHC)

Download full-size

What’s the news?

An online collection of photos, oral histories and other records will showcase the unique and longstanding history of Appalachia’s feminist activism. The West Virginia Feminist Activist Collection, currently in development in the West Virginia and Regional History Center in West Virginia University Libraries, documents people working toward equality of the sexes in West Virginia and Appalachia and is being curated with special attention to uplift and emphasize the voices of women of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Quotes and comments: 

"I see this Collection as a major part of WVU fulfilling its responsibilities in fulfilling the social, educational and ethical goals of equity, diversity and inclusion. With its commitment to identifying, preserving and making available examples of the broad range of women’s experiences -- the Feminist Activist Collection contributes to our creating and entering a more vibrant and life-affirming future for all of us. Especially as the first director of the WVU Women's Studies Program in 1980 (now the Center of Women's and Gender Studies) I am delighted to see the fruits of mutual support between the WVU Libraries and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences that this project represents." - Judith Gold Stitzel, Professor of English and Women's Studies and Founding Director of the Women's Studies Program

“I'm thrilled to serve as a collaborator and adviser on the WVFAC, which will help debunk myths about the forces behind social change in West Virginia and amplify the voices of women of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community, which have been overlooked or silenced far too often throughout history. Their stories of struggle, oppression and gender-biased experiences have a right to be heard. I'm excited to help elevate some of our fiercest and strongest feminist activists with the public, as well as with our student body.” - Ellen Rodrigues, interim director of the LGBTQ+ Center and instructor of LGBTQ+ Perspectives in the Women's and Gender Studies program

“The humanities often illuminate for us where we have been to help us envision where we are going. By supporting the work of the West Virginia Feminist Activist Collection, the Humanities Center hopes that the outreach, research and oral histories will preserve a uniquely West Virginian women’s history, as well as provide insight into archival practices that reflect our diverse heritage and elevate the relevance of humanities research.” - Renée Nicholson, director of the WVU Humanities Center, which is co-funding this project

“I first became involved with the WVFAC in the fall of 2020 when I received a phone call from Judith Gold Stitzel inviting me to attend an organizational meeting. What I encountered was a group of energized and organized women – both academics and activists – who were dedicated to preserving the complete and nuanced history of feminist activism in West Virginia. As a Public Historian, I am drawn to the project’s potential to turn the act of archival collecting into a form of community engagement and educational outreach – to enrich archival holdings while simultaneously educating the broader public about the importance of archives. This project requires an interdisciplinary team in order to be successful, and I am honored to be included. My role in the project has been to help secure grant funding, assist with public events and outreach, and mentor students working on the project. I believe that this project is an innovative and timely approach to archiving that will significantly diversify the collections related to the history of Appalachia, providing a model for community collecting that other archivists and Public Historians across the county can employ.” - Jennifer Thornton, Assistant Professor of Public History

“I’ve long been interested in the history of Appalachian women’s organizing for social justice in the 20th century, so it seemed like a natural fit when I had the opportunity to join the project. I see my role as a historian who studies social justice movements in Appalachia and the history of women’s movements in the south and so really my role on the project is to bring that perspective to bear. So the perspective of a scholar who is interested in researching in these kinds of collections that are going to be held at the West Virginia and Regional History Center and also by contributing to the written history.” - Jessie Wilkerson, Stuart and Joyce Robbins chair and associate professor of history at WVU


Link to original story: WVRHC receives two grants to support Feminist Activist Collection

Video: Don’t Throw it Out! Documenting women in the WVU Feminist Activist Archives

Digital Exhibit: WVRHC Feminist Archives: A Curated Selection

Website: West Virginia Feminist Activist Collection

 Target Audience


●West Virginians and Appalachians

●Feminist Activists

●Students and Faculty at WVU



CONTACT: Lori Hostuttler
Assistant Director
West Virginia & Regional History Center

Call 1-855-WVU-NEWS for the latest West Virginia University news and information from WVUToday.

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.