Roads to Appalachia through Belgium
and the Germanic Roots of Western Germany & Northern Switzerland

July 08 – 20, 2011
Itinerary & Application
Sponsored by the Frank & Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center Arrangements by National Travel In Summer 2011, the “Roads to Appalachia through Study-Travel Abroad” will travel to Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland in search of our region’s connections to these root areas. As part of the largest and earliest ethnic population in America, the Germans settled in eastern and northern “western” (West) Virginia by the early to mid 18th Century, primarily emigrating from the Rhineland-Palatinate region of western Germany. By the mid 19th Century, German Swiss settlements were being made throughout central West Virginia, with the Aargau Region of Switzerland populating the small West Virginia mountain village of Helvetia. Among the heavy wave of settlers into Central Appalachia during the early 20th Century’s Industrial Revolution, many glassworkers came from Belgian cities, such as Charleroi. Settling throughout West Virginia, these Europeans brought with them varied skills, traditions, customs, storytelling, and other folkloric elements that are still being perpetuated in parts of Central Appalachia.

    A 2011 Spring Semester course, “Roads to Appalachia through Belgium and the Germanic roots of Western Germany and Northern Switzerland,” will be offered for those traveling to the European Countries during the Summer of 2011. Two local texts have been chosen to accent this course including Gerald Milnes’ Signs, Cures, and Witchery: German Appalachian Folklore, and David H. Sutton’s Helvetia: The History of a Swiss Village in the Mountains of West Virginia. This special “Study-Travel Abroad” program will be led and hosted by Dr. Judy Prozzillo Byers, Director, and Noel W. Tenney, Cultural Specialist, both of the Folklife Center.

Contact Info

The Frank and Jane Gabor
West Virginia Folklife Center

on the campus of Fairmont State University
1201 Locust Avenue
Fairmont, WV 26554
(304) 367-4403

Pat Musick
Pat Musick
, Interim Director
Frank & Jane Gabor WV Folklife Center
(304) 367-3606


FSUNow Stories

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fairmont State University’s roots reach back to the formation of public education in the state of West Virginia. In 2015, students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community are celebrating Fairmont State’s 150th birthday with special remembrances and events.

As part of the Sesquicentennial Celebration, author Dr. M. Raymond Alvarez will present a talk about his recent book “The Normal on Fairmont Avenue.” The event will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 11, at the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center on the main campus.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Fairmont State University College of Liberal Arts honored its high achieving students during the fifth annual Academic Awards Ceremony at the end of the spring 2015 semester.

Dr. Deanna Shields, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts; Dr. Maria Rose, FSU President; and Bill Holmes of the Fairmont State Foundation Inc. presented greetings and congratulations to the students for their academic achievements.

Department of Behavioral Sciences

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

In celebration of Fairmont State University’s Sesquicentennial, the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center has created an exhibit titled “On a Hill by a Dream,” which features FSU history, traditions and lore.

The title for the exhibition was taken from a poem by Louise McNeill, West Virginia’s former Poet Laureate who taught history at Fairmont State. The following quote is from her “Chestnut Orchard” (“Paradox Hill: From Appalachia to Lunar Shore”):

“Back through the years beyond time and space,
On a hill—by a dream—we will find that place.”

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