WVSU Professor Will Present “History of Charleston: The Modern Era”


CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Nov. 14, 2013, Dr. Billy Joe Peyton, a West Virginia State University Associate Professor of History, will present “History of Charleston: The Modern Era” at the Thursday evening lecture in the Archives and History Library in the Culture Center in Charleston. The program will begin at 6:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Charleston has a rich history that spans 225 years, starting with the founding of Fort Lee at the mouth of Elk River in 1788. After becoming the permanent state capital in 1885, Charleston entered into a period of rapid growth and development. By 1960, it had evolved into a bustling city of 85,000 residents and was a hub of government, industry, and commerce. Over the next 50 years, socioeconomic forces dramatically redefined the capital city—population decreased to 51,000, the historic downtown has evolved, and modern multi-lane highways crisscross the region.

Much has changed in Charleston since the dawn on the 20th century, but the city retains a great deal of its history. Bringing his look at Charleston’s earlier history, which he covered during a library program in March, into the modern era, Billy Joe Peyton will share glimpses of historic Charleston through words and images. He will recount extraordinary moments of the past century, and share details about some little known historical secrets of the capital city.

Peyton received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in History from West Virginia University. He has worked as a public historian at WSWP-TV in Beckley and for the National Park Service in Mississippi and West Virginia. He also served as associate director of the Institute for the History of Technology & Industrial Archaeology at WVU, worked for an historic architectural firm, and taught high school history.

In 2002, Peyton joined the full-time faculty at West Virginia State University, where he is associate professor of history and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Active in local preservation efforts, he has worked as a writer and historian on several documentary films, including Ghosts of Green Bottom, winner of a 2005 Bronze Telly Award. He also may be seen in The 50 States series that airs on the History Channel. In 2010, Peyton authored a local history book titled Charleston Then and Now, and he has just completed a second book titled Charleston: The First 225 Years, scheduled for release this December.

For planning purposes, participants are encouraged to register for the lecture, but advance registration is not required to attend. To register in advance, contact Robert Taylor, library manager, by e-mail or at (304) 558-0230, ext. 163. Participants interested in registering by e-mail should send their name, telephone number and the name and date of the session.

For additional information, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.

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