Spring Cleaning at the North House

Snow might still be on the ground, but the Greenbrier Historical Society has begun its spring cleaning. The artifacts are getting carefully dusted and vacuumed, the archives are receiving reorganization, and our closets are being cleaned out. (Shouldn’t all of our holiday decorations be put in one location?) Spring cleaning is always time consuming, but we usually find lots of great treasures!

A Snow-Covered North House

A Snow-Covered North House

If you clean the way I do, the rooms scheduled for cleaning must be completely torn apart so that they can then be put back together, and more time is spent looking through the things that you forgot (or in the North House’s case, did not know) you had than actually cleaning. While organizing files in my office, AmeriCorps member Megan Ramsey and I found old copies of the Appalachian Springs newsletters, the Journals of the Greenbrier Historical Society, and technical leaflets on collections care. We also found the original minutes from the founding of the Greenbrier Historical Society in 1963. As this year is the 50th Anniversary of the Greenbrier Historical Society, this find was timely and incredibly interesting.

Minutes from the initial meeting to form the Greenbrier Historical Society, February 3, 1963

Minutes from the initial meeting to form the Greenbrier Historical Society, February 3, 1963

We also used Spring Cleaning as an excuse to change the Pete Ballard dolls that are displayed in the North House Museum. The Greenbrier Historical Society has 14 dolls created by artist Pete Ballard and each one of them depicts a style of dress from the 18th and 19th centuries. The dolls currently on display have flowers in their bonnets and colorful dresses – which remind us that sunshine and warm weather is hopefully just around the corner.

Pete Ballard Doll in Victorian Room

Pete Ballard Doll in Victorian Room

Pete Ballard Doll on Landing

Pete Ballard Doll on Landing

 

Happy Easter Everyone!

Cheers,
Elizabeth McMullen
Executive Director

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GHS Turns 50 This Year

The Greenbrier Historical Society is pleased to be celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2013! In honor of this milestone, we will be writing several articles about the history of the organization as well as some of the memorable events and projects throughout the years.

The Greenbrier Historical Society officially began in 1963, but as early as 1941, a group of dedicated individuals began collecting artifacts and documents. The town of Lewisburg acquired and restored James Frazier’s 1834 law library, once used by the Supreme Court of Virginia. The building was dedicated as the Greenbrier County Library in 1941 and the city opened the Greenbrier County Museum on the second floor.

The Old Greenbrier County Library was the first location of the Greenbrier Historical Society

The Old Greenbrier County Library was the first location of the Greenbrier Historical Society

In 1963, the Greenbrier Historical Society was officially incorporated “to promote interest in the history of the Greenbrier Area, including its past and present inhabitants, and their interests, works, and aspirations.” They continued to operate the archives and museum in the second floor of the Greenbrier County Library until 1976 when the need for more space led them to lease the North House from the State of West Virginia.Among the 300 original members are many individuals who have been instrumental to the organization over the years – including the first officers: President James P. Baker, Vice President Norman Blake, Secretary C. Thomas Sydenstricker, Treasurer William M. Dickson, and Archivist Gladys C. Agsten.

GHS Volunteers from the 1970s

GHS Volunteers from the 1970s

The first President, Mr. James P. Baker, wrote in the 1963 Journal of the Greenbrier Historical Society that “history is more than records of great battles, than chronicles depicting the rise and fall of empires, than stories of famous or infamous men; it is the story of life…History has [also] never been contained by county or state lines, or by any other boundary lines.” As the society moves forward into the future, it will continue to embrace this definition of history—expanding its knowledge of local events and giving voice to individuals and communities from across the Greenbrier Valley.

Please join the Greenbrier Historical Society in celebrating our 50th Anniversary this year by sending us your photographs and historical society stories. Tell us about the great projects undertaken, the fun events hosted, and the amazing volunteers who have been dedicated to our organization over the years. We will be compiling all of our information to create a “Greenbrier Historical Society Remembers” exhibit in the Fall of 2013.

What do you know about Women’s History?

Did you know that March is National Women’s History Month? The origins of Women’s History Month can be traced back to the first International Women’s Day in March 1911. Still, women’s history was virtually unknown in K-12 education until the 1970s. In 1978, the Educational Task Force of Sonoma County (California) initiated a “Women’s History Week” during the week of March 8th, International Women’s Day.

Two years later, President Carter issued a proclamation naming the week of March 8th “National Women’s History Week.” Carter stated that “too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.” In 1987, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity.

In honor of Women’s History, the Greenbrier Historical Society would like to highlight one of many women who helped to build the Greenbrier Valley. Elizabeth Coffman Rodgers was born in 1815 on Davis Stuart Road near Lewisburg, in what was at that time the Commonwealth of Virginia. Elizabeth grew up learning the crafts of spinning, dyeing and weaving from family members. She even made a living selling her distinctive bed coverings long before she married at the age of 29.

Elizabeth was quite a prolific coverlet maker at a time when only men were expected to be professional weavers. Many examples of her work are to be found around the Greenbrier area and the Greenbrier Historical Society has six in its collection.

Coffman Coverlet

This Elizabeth Coffman Rodgers Coverlet is currently on display at the Greenbrier Historical Society’s North House Museum, located at 301 West Washington Street in Lewisburg, West Virginia.

Share with us your thoughts and stories of extraordinary women in our history!

Welcome

Welcome to the Greenbrier Historical Society’s first blog!

Here we will share some of our research, fun history finds, and upcoming events. Our goal is to prove to you all that history can be fun and interesting…it’s not just dusty old books and boring dates.

But we also want to hear from you. Share your own stories and interesting history finds. Tell us what programs, events, and (of course) posts you would like to see us do!

For those of you who do not know us, the Greenbrier Historical Society – North House Museum & Archives is located in lovely downtown Lewisburg, West Virginia. We are a museum and archives dedicated to making history come alive through tours, research, programs, exhibits, and events.

Contact us or like us on Facebook for more information!