While overseeing an historical document preservation project with students at the Mary F. Shipper Library, Nick Gardner, who serves as a librarian, noticed that chapters were missing from a 1930s title, The History of the Potomac State School.
The book was created as a collective effort by freshmen composition students and supervised by Elizabeth Sexton during the 1935 spring semester. The book summarized the history of the Keyser and Mineral County areas, as well as the history of the school from its founding to the then-present era of the 1930s. Detailed information was included about the grounds and buildings, different academic departments and the extracurricular activities of students. Joseph Stayman, campus president at the time, provided access to his personal office files from which students drew much of their information, along with many primary sources housed in the student newspaper office and the library. The students also interviewed townspeople and former students to help fill in their research gaps.
The work was approved by the West Virginia State Board of Education and was lauded as a worthwhile endeavor that would benefit not only Potomac State students, but also students throughout the state of West Virginia, as noted by Charles G. Gain, a member of the state’s Board of Education. The writing was spurred in part by the fact that the school was to be placed under the control of the WVU Board of Governors the following academic year. A March 27, 1935 article in the student newspaper, The Pasquino, suggested that the work was intended to be ultimately deposited in the campus library at completion. Short excerpts of each chapter were orally presented by the students during the final 1934-1935 faculty assembly meeting that May.
Regrettably, to the library’s knowledge, the only evidence this work was ever undertaken is a draft copy which has been housed in the library’s collection for the past 86 years. This draft contains corrections and markings. While otherwise complete, two chapters from the second volume are missing, ‘The Biology Department’ and ‘Conclusion.’
Gardner hopes that the missing pieces might eventually come forward or that he’ll have more time to research the history of the book before publicly sharing the digitized copies.
If members of the community have copies of the missing chapters or the entire work which they are willing to temporarily lend for photocopying, please contact Gardner at 304-788-6901 or at email@example.com.