Participation Type


Session Title

Moments and Momentum in Jefferson County African American History

Session Abstract or Summary

This session will include presentations by the West Virginia and Regional History Center at West Virginia University and the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society regarding topics related to black history in Jefferson County, West Virginia, the site of the 2016 Appalachian Studies Conference.

As Jefferson County is at the center of a long, rich and storied history of the struggles for African American civil rights, this panel will discuss county related subjects ranging from the founding of Storer College, a mission school established in 1865 to educate former slaves in Harpers Ferry, to slavery on the massive farms throughout the county, to John Brown’s blow against slavery at Harpers Ferry, to the Niagara Movement’s stand against economic and educational discrimination and the end of Jim Crow laws, to the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society’s current efforts to preserve Jefferson County African American history. It all took place in Jefferson County, and it all greatly influenced change in the social structure of America.

Presentation #1 Abstract or Summary


At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #1

John Cuthbert is the Director and Curator of the West Virginia and Regional History Center. he mission of the West Virginia and Regional History Center is to acquire, provide access to, and preserve information resources in all formats which elucidate the history and culture of West Virginia and the central Appalachian region.

Presentation #2 Title

Storer College: Celebrating 150 Years of Education, 1865-1955

Presentation #2 Abstract or Summary

rom its humble beginnings as a mission school founded in 1865 by the Reverend Nathan Cook Brackett to educate former slaves, to its development as a fully-fledged college granting degrees to African American men and women, Storer College became the first institution of higher learning for African Americans in the State. Located in Harper’s Ferry near the site of John Brown’s 1859 attack on the Federal Armory, Storer College represented the freedom Civil War African Americans hoped to achieve. From the first, Storer College was a center for civil rights activities. From its earliest days following the Civil War, teaching children and former slaves, Storer College became a meeting place for the expression and development of important ideas. Storer’s long history came to a close in 1955 following the 1954 decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case ending the legal segregation of public schools.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #2

Stewart Plein is the Rare Book Librarian and Assistant Curator of WV Books and Printed Resources in the West Virginia and Regional History Center at West Virginia University. She has been an active participant and presenter at Appalachian Studies Association Conferences since 2009 with a research agenda focusing on rare books and Appalachian Studies.

Presentation #3 Abstract or Summary


At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #3

James Green, Jr. is an Associate member of the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society, Inc.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #4

James A. Tolbert Sr. is a native of Charles Town West Virginia and serves as the Secretary of the Jefferson County Black History Preservation Society. Tolbert dedication to civil rights and civic organizations led to the establishment of the James A. Tolbert, Sr., Civil Rights Scholarship created for West Virginia youth interested in furthering the work of the civil rights movement and the NAACP.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #5

George C. Rutherford, a native of Jefferson County, received an A.B. degree in secondary education and a bachelor of arts degree from Shepherd College (now University) in biology and a master’s degree from Marshall University in biological science. Rutherford has been the recipient of the T.G. Nutter Award by the West Virginia State NAACP (highest honor); State of West Virginia Martin Luther King Living the Dream Award; City of Ranson Citizen of the Year Award; Governor’s West Virginia Civil Rights Day Award.



Moments and Momentum in Jefferson County African American History