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Dr. William Hal Gorby, an associate teaching professor in the Department of History at West Virginia University, will speak at the Aug. 23 event, which is free and open to the public. / Photo courtesy FSU

W.Va. Folklife Center to commemorate Battle of Blair Mountain’s 100th anniversary Aug. 23

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont State University Frank and Jane Gabor WV Folklife Center will host Dr. William Hal Gorby to commemorate an important time in West Virginia’s history through discussions around the labor struggles that led to the Battle of Blair Mountain, as the 100th anniversary of the battle approaches. The event is free and open to the public, and will take place on Monday, August 23 at 7 p.m. at the Folklife Center.

The Blair Mountain Battle site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and was part of the larger West Virginia Mine Wars.

“We are thrilled to host Dr. Gorby as he speaks about an important period in West Virginia history, and the history of labor in America,” said Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin. “This state’s shared history forged it and its people, and many of the wounds of labor struggles of one hundred years ago are still visible and felt today. I encourage everyone to join us for this important look at our region’s past.”

Gorby is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of History at West Virginia University. He is a historian of West Virginia and Appalachia whose work focuses on the role of immigrants in the state’s steel and coal mining industries, particularly during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Gorby consulted for the recent PBS American Experience documentary, The Mine Wars (2016), which received an Emmy nomination for research. He is the author of Wheeling’s Polonia: Reconstructing Polish Community in a West Virginia Steel Town (WVU Press, 2020).

The mission of the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center at Fairmont State University is to preserve and perpetuate West Virginia’s rich cultural heritage. The Center houses materials important to the region including the Ruth Ann Musick Folklore Archives and the Patty Looman Collection. These collections are open to scholars and researchers.

The second floor gallery space contains The People Upon a Land, a permanent exhibit that features information about early immigrant groups and industries that influenced West Virginia’s culture. The Ruth Ann Musick gallery currently contains the Porter Stiles Civil War Collection, a narrated exhibit of one man’s quest to understand a complex time in American history.

The Frank and Jane Gabor WV Folklife Center is open for visitors Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and weekends by appointment. For more information or to schedule group tours, contact wvfolklife@fairmontstate.edu or (304) 367-4403.

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