West Virginia Folklife Collection at WVU

The West Virginia Folklife Collection is a growing collection, holding approximately 2,500 items generated by folklife fieldwork and programs conducted by the West Virginia Folklife Program since the program’s founding in 2015. In the collection are unique primary source materials such as field-recorded interviews and other audio recordings, transcriptions, photo and video documentation, ephemera, and some material objects. These recordings document the vernacular culture, beliefs, occupational skills, and expressive culture of contemporary tradition bearers, folk and traditional artists, and cultural communities across West Virginia.

In 2022, the West Virginia Folklife Collection received the Brenda McCallum Prize, an award sponsored by the Archives and Libraries Section of the American Folklore Society.

Visit the West Virginia Folklife Collection: https://wvfolklife.lib.wvu.edu/

The digital collection holds interviews with participants of the West Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship program like Jenny Bardwell and Susan Ray Brown describing the history and recipes of the Appalachian tradition of baking salt rising bread, and “West Virginia’s First Lady of Soul” Lady D describing the blues and Black gospel music scenes in the state. More highlights of the collection include documentation of the foodways and community celebrations of the Randolph County Swiss community of Helvetia, recordings of members of the Scotts Run Community Museum in Monongalia County, and Summers County collector Jim Costa’s collection of 18th and 19th century farm tools and objects of rural life.

Read more about the Collection and its featured items at our blog post announcing its online debut.