The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

January 14, 2013

History lecturer uses rocks to tell West Virginia’s story


MORGANTOWN — Our stories live on in the rocks of West Virginia’s parks and forests, one West Virginia University researcher is discovering.  

To unveil more of our state’s past, Jenny Boulware, a lecturer with the WVU Department of History, is setting out to explore and understand the state’s history through the crags and peaks at North Bend State Park.  

Funded by Campus Compact/Campus Community LINK, Boulware’s project includes meetings with archaeologists and state park personnel while conducting site visits at North Bend. Boulware will focus a graduate course on interpreting rock formation and land use patterns using local and state archives.  

“I’m relatively new to West Virginia and would like to learn more about the state through these collaborative projects,” Boulware said. “The LINK approach to community development and assistance is appealing to both me and my students.”

Boulware is investigating North Bend State Park rock structures from a theoretical perspective, focusing on the legal aspect of cultural resource protection. She will also help to create informational materials that can be used by community members and state park personnel seeking to protect this site and its resources. The class’ initial site visit to the park is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 22.  

Because it is hands-on, site assessment provides cultural value for the students.

Boulware will study land-use patterns to determine the purpose of different rock formations found in the park. These unusual rock formations could be attributed to weather, hunting, farming, Native American usage, or erosion.

After the initial site visit, students will conduct archival research to better understand the use and purpose of the rock structures in our state. Then Boulware’s students will create a preservation/management plan for the North Bend State Park rock formations.

“Coordination is key to a successful, quality program as well as a more purposeful ‘beyond the classroom’ format,” Boulware said. “Meeting community needs while exposing students to real-world issues provides a way in which both parties can develop and enhance their collaboration skills.”

To broaden the scope of her research, Boulware is conducting a comparative study with Stonewall Jackson Park near Weston. Both Stonewall Jackson and North Bend parks have similar rock structures that convey historical stories. Not only will studying the structures of North Bend benefit the historical understanding of Ritchie County, but also West Virginia history as a whole.  

“Designing courses in which my graduate students work in and for a town or community agency is intensely challenging, but immensely rewarding,” Boulware said.

“Students begin to understand the complex issues of working in the public realm. Ideally, I seek service learning projects that include professional ethics, consensus building, collaboration and volunteerism as well as projects that strengthen relations with business and political leaders at the local and state level.”

Boulware’s students for the course include history majors Eliza Newland from Hamilton, Ga.; Christine Humphry from Beckley; Abigail Cioffi of Charleston; Alee Robbins from Morgantown; Terrill Henthorne, a native of Wetzel; as well as Jessica Duda from Westover, a public administration major working towards a Culture Resource Management Certificate.  

Boulware received her bachelor’s from Coastal Carolina University in 1998 and her master’s from the University of South Carolina in 2000. Prior to becoming associate coordinator of WVU’s Cultural Resource Management Program, she served as executive director of Main Street Laurens, a non-profit economic development organization in Upstate South Carolina. During her time there she created, coordinated, guided and completed numerous community projects, including a TV series.  

For more information, contact Boulware at 304-293-9331 or Jenny.Boulware@mail.wvu.edu.