Invitation to WV Public Employees

Your efforts in this and last winter’s work stoppages were powerful. Not only did your concerted efforts change policy here, but the movement sponsored teacher strikes across the country. You are a part of West Virginia’s living history. We believe that your perspectives are an essential part of this history (and its future!). We are building an archive of public employees’ narratives and photos of the work stoppages and the continued efforts, and we invite you to submit yours.

Think of how you feel when you see a photo of a teacher or read their words from earlier decades. Imagine 10, 25, 50 years from now. What could it mean to someone - a young teacher, researcher, or your grandchildren - to see a collection of photos, hear the voices of people who stood on the picket lines, and to read the reflective essays of those who walked out.

Archives are important collections of our history. We invite you to participate in this research project in which we collect and study artifacts of the 2018 and 2019 strikes. The artifacts will be preserved in the West Virginia & Regional History Center, the archives and special collections library at the West Virginia University Libraries.

What We are Collecting

We are collecting photos, videos, written and audio narratives, and interviews related to the strikes.

With your permission, we will store any digital artifacts you submit (photos, written narratives, and oral narratives) on a secure server administered by WVU Libraries. You will choose when and to whom your artifacts will be accessible to researchers and/or the public.

Who We Are

We are a collection of West Virginia public school teachers, parents of children in public schools, and professors and librarians at West Virginia University.

West Virginia University is a public, land-grant university with a mission to serve the residents of the state of West Virginia. Names of individuals overseeing this project are listed below.

What to Do

If you choose to take part in this voluntary project, you can go to our website, where you can upload a variety of materials to the archive. Submissions may include:

  1. Photos and videos of yourself, your signs, the rallies engaged in the work stoppages and related events. These photos and videos should capture public events.
  2. Written narratives of specific moments during the stoppages (e.g. how it began, how you felt on the “Cool Down” Day, what it was like at the Capitol, etc.) or your memory across the whole time.
  3. Audio narrative, which would be like a written narrative, but you can record yourself saying (or reading) the narrative. 

Please remember, this voluntary. You only need to share your artifacts of the strikes if you want to. You are welcome to explore this website and peruse the artifacts here without submitting any artifacts of your own.

Contributing to this project – if you choose to do so – may take a just a few minutes, or several hours, depending on how you want to participate. If you upload a photo, it may take just a few minutes. If you decide to write a narrative about your experiences, that may take a couple of hours. You will be in control of your own time and how exactly you would like to participate.

How Archives May Be Used

As a digital archive associated with the West Virginia University Library, it will be accessible to the public as well as to researchers. Researchers might be historians, educational scholars, anthropologists, humanities scholars, political scientists, writers, artists, and others with interests in public education, labor movements, and West Virginia.

If you submit an item, you are taking part in a research project. We will ask you will provide permission for certain types of people to access your item and under which conditions. Specifically, you will specify if the item will be:

All items will be tagged with the following information that you provide:

  1. County where you work
  2. Your profession (e.g. teacher, law enforcement, bus driver, etc.)
  3. Dates relevant to the submission

With the basic information that will be tagged to each submission, we hope to create an interactive map of West Virginia that allows visitors to the webpage to “click” on a county and see the images and hear and read the stories that are connected to that county.

Similarly, we hope to create an interactive timeline. By “clicking” on a date, a visitor will be able to access the archived items associated with that particular date. For example a visitor might access the stories and images from the first rally at the capitol.

We hope that you choose to contribute to history with your unique voice and perspective. Please visit https://walkout.lib.wvu.edu to share.

More Details

The research team include Malayna Bernstein (Learning Sciences & Human Development, WVU), Audra Slocum (Curriculum & Instruction, WVU), Ryan Claycomb (English, WVU), Ian Harmon (WVU Libraries), Jessica McMillen (WVU Libraries), and Catherine Gooding (Anthropology, Wellesley College).

If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact the Principal Investigator of this project, Malayna Bernstein, at malayna.bernstein@mail.wvu.edu, 304/293-3202, or 504 Allen Hall, 355 Oakland Street, P.O. Box 6122, Morgantown, WV 26506-6122. Institutional approval for this research protocol is on file with the WVU Institutional Review Board.

Benefits of Taking Part

There may be no benefits to you for taking part in this project.