Date of Award
College of Liberal Arts
Type of Degree
Robert F. Maddox
Leonard J. Deutsch
In the spring of 1919, Americans awaited the final resolution of World War I. This war, which had begun in the summer of 1914 and had involved direct American military intervention since April, 1917, had been effectively won by the Allies in November, 1918. However, the official resolution of the war required the completion of the Versailles Treaty, which the world leaders signed in June, 1919. Although most American sought a return to “normalcy,” a term used by Warren G. Harding in the presidential election of 1920, such an outcome proved unobtainable in most American communities because of the dramatic technological, demographic and social changes that began to emerge. Cities, whose municipal governments worked in conjunction with civic organizations and religious leaders, ultimately had to determine how to promote and to discourage many of these changes.
Charleston, West Virginia, also experienced these changes. Charleston served as the capitol city of the state and the county seat of Kanawha County, the largest and most populous county in the state. At the close of the war, the city stood as a growing industrial center and began a municipal campaign.
From a city of 11,099 inhabitants in 1900 and 22,996 in 1910, Charleston had continued to grow substantially. The federal census of 1920 showed the population within corporate limits of the city to be 39,608. This represented a percentage increase for each decade of 107.2 and 70.2 respectively. The 1920 census showed the population to consist of 85.2 percent native white, 3.4 percent foreign born white, and 11.4 percent Negro. A postal census of September 1, 1 922, showed a population of 43,667. Additionally, neither of these sources accounted for the growing suburbs of the city. These included to the west: South Charleston, Dunbar, Spring Hill, Institute, High Lawn, St. Albans, and Nitro; and to the east: Kanawha City, Malden, Belle, and Cabin Creek Junction. All of these were within easy reach of the capitol trolley cars, steam railways, paved highways, or the navigable Kanawha River. Charleston’s industrial district included a population of about 120,000 and its trade area an estimated 360,000.
Charleston (W. Va.) – History – 20th century.
Cities and towns – Growth.
Municipal government – West Virginia – Charleston.
Ledsome, Dwayne L., "A city's dichotomous response to postwar change: Charleston, West Virginia, 1919-1923" (1997). Theses, Dissertations and Capstones. 1694.