Through a donation by a couple with many ties to Fairmont State University, future scholars and students of West Virginia and Appalachian literature and history will have a new tool to aid their research.
On Thursday, June 9, James Howard Moore and Phyllis Wilson Moore of Clarksburg signed an agreement to contribute the Moore West Virginia Literary Collection to the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center and Fairmont State University.
“With all of the effort we put into this collection over the years, Jim and I really wanted to find it a suitable home. We just clicked with Dr. Judy Byers. Establishing that relationship made us realize the stewardship that Fairmont State University could provide, and we decided that FSU would be the ideal place for our collection,” Phyllis Moore said.
In recognition of its importance to the preservation and perpetuation of West Virginia literature, history and culture, the collection will be protected and catalogued.
“Fairmont State is honored to accept and maintain this important collection of West Virginia literature, research and archives. We appreciate the Moores for their diligence and dedication to preserve and promote this part of West Virginia’s culture and heritage, and we are glad to have them as part of the Fairmont State family,” said Dr. Maria Rose, FSU Interim President.
The Folklife Center and the Ruth Ann Musick Library will assist in the endeavor to prepare the collection for public use, and it will be housed in the Folklife Center on the main campus of FSU and Pierpont Community & Technical College.
“The Moore West Virginia Literary Collection is a valuable gift that will aid future literary scholarship. We thank them for being the caretakers of West Virginia literature for so many years and to now share their collection with a wider audience,” said Dr. Judy P. Byers, Director of the Folklife Center.
The Moores have ties to Fairmont State dating to 1881, when James Moore’s grandfather, Ira Corwin Moore, enrolled in Fairmont State Normal School. James Moore’s father, Lloyd Everett Moore, received his Fairmont Normal School certificate in 1912 and spent his life as a teacher and principal in Mannington. James Moore’s mother, Hazel Pearl Spring Moore, received her Fairmont Normal School certificate in 1916 and earned a bachelor’s degree from Fairmont State College; she spent her life teaching and as a principal in Mannington. Many members of the Moore and Wilson families either attended or graduated from Fairmont State.
A native of Pennsylvania, Phyllis Wilson Moore met James Moore at Fairmont State while she was taking first-year nursing classes through Fairmont General Hospital on the college campus and Jim was a Fairmont State student. She became a registered nurse in 1956.
In 1985, Phyllis Moore began to study the multicultural history of West Virginia as a hobby, which mushroomed into a major research project and inspired her to return to Fairmont State to study literature. Moore said she learned a great deal from faculty members, Dr. Jack Wills, Dr. George Byers and Dr. Judy P. Byers. In fact, Dr. Judy P. Byers’ support of the research project led to an informal collaboration between them. Phyllis Moore graduated from Fairmont State with a Regent Bachelor of Arts degree in 1990.
The Moores continued work on the project. Phyllis Moore identified and reviewed the literature, surveyed and interviewed authors, obtained materials and memorabilia, visited sites and developed programs. James Moore served as computer specialist and creator of PowerPoint presentations, created posters and bookmarks, was a photographer and a chauffeur. Phyllis Moore served as project director for the first West Virginia Literary Map, which was released in 2005 and illustrates West Virginia’s literary mile markers and related sites. Copies of the map are available today through the Folklife Center at http://www.fairmontstate.edu/folklife/.
The donated collection focuses on the literature included on the literary map, but it also features poetry and a broad range of nonfiction related to the history of the state and the Civil War. The collection includes books, archives, photographs, personal interviews with authors, correspondence and other related research and scholarship.
“Our research has always focused on the diversity of West Virginia with special emphasis on ethnicity, race, class and gender,” Phyllis Moore said.
Following are just a few of the items included in the collection:
- An autographed copy of “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck, who was born in Pocahontas County.
- “Jamie Lemme See” (1975) by Juliette Ann Holley of Bramwell, which is considered the state’s first published children’s book with an African-American protagonist in a coal mining family.
- An undated copy of Morgantown High School’s Journalism Department’s “Peacepipe Passages,” including an essay by (then) student Lawrence “Larry” Kasden, who graduated in 1966. His career led him to Hollywood fame related to writing and directing some of the “Star Wars” series and much more.
- “A Vein of Riches” by Fairmont’s John Knowles, which is set in Fairmont and Marion County and is a first edition.
The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center, which houses programs for Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College, is dedicated to the identification, preservation and perpetuation of our region’s rich cultural heritage, through academic studies, educational programs, festivals and performances and publications.