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Produced by award-winning journalist Trey Kay, supported by West Virginia Humanities Council and the College of Human Resources and Education at West Virginia University, The Great Textbook War audio documentary recounts the controversy that erupted over newly adopted school textbooks in Kanawha County, West Virginia in 1974. The documentary tells the history of that local confrontation and the effect it had on American politics. The traveling exhibit is on display at the College of Human Resources and Education of West Virginia University on November 17, 2011.

Historian Stan Bumgardner, who produced the exhibit for the Kanawha Valley Historical & Preservation Society commented on the value of the traveling exhibit. “To this day, I think the Kanawha County textbook controversy remains compelling for several reasons. First, it was one in a string of defining moments for the emerging Conservative movement nationally and yet another unfortunate time that seems to recur throughout West Virginia history--when a controversy disintegrates into violence. Second, it reflected a growing cultural divide in America that would become even more evident over time. All of these issues are still very relevant today. So, the exhibit gives us an opportunity to learn from history . . . and recent history at that."

On January 27, 2010, students from two local high schools had the opportunity to view the historical traveling exhibit entitled, "Books and Beliefs: The Kanawha County Textbook War", which is based on historical material unearthed in the research for the radio documentary. The exhibit consisted of four large panels of photos and newspaper articles accompanied by a repeating 22-minute sound-and-video show. At 10:00 AM, panelists addressed students, followed by a panel discussion with students based on questions arising from the exhibit.

John Marshall High School and Wheeling Park High School students participated in an educational forum that investigated the nature of the confrontation and complete curriculum extensions to the exhibit and the forum upon completion of the experience. Following the high school forum, panelists participated in on-campus discussions with West Liberty University students and faculty. At 6:30 PM, the panelists presented to West Liberty University students and the general public an evening forum, followed by a reception.

Upon departure from West Liberty, "Books and Beliefs: The Kanawha County Textbook War" traveled to New York City for a reception at the College Board Headquarters and then on to Bard College for another student and public forum. While at West Liberty University's Highland Center and on the main campus, the exhibit was free of charge and open to the public.

Below is a teacher's guide that is designed to help teachers who are unfamiliar with The Great Textbook War and/or this Wiki to organize their approach to the curriculum.


If you’re having trouble downloading and reading the files on these pages, you should visit:
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For questions or concerns about this page or have technical issues, please send an e-mail to Mark Swiger.