Dr. Melissa Sartore will present “Outlaws in West Virginia: War, Whiskey and Wonder – and not a Robin Hood in Sight” on Tuesday, May 5, in the Archives and History Library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The program will begin at 6 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
West Virginia is associated with outlaws and outlaw activity in the minds of many, in popular culture, and in history books. Outlaws themselves frequently evoke romantic notions of Robin Hood figures who fight injustice and give back to society despite breaking the law in the process. There are few indications that outlaws in West Virginia – John Brown and members of the Hatfield and McCoy clans for example – were heroic.
The Mountain State’s relationship with outlaw behavior, including fighting, moonshining and robbing banks, reveals the complex relationship between law, culture and justice in Appalachia while demonstrating how the definitions of outlaws shape and are shaped by collective consciousness. Sartore will discuss outlaws in history and folklore as well as how West Virginia has fostered the outlaws it has, Robin Hood or not.
Sartore received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from West Illinois University, Macomb, IL and her Ph.D. in medieval history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her dissertation, “Outlawry, Governance, and Law in Medieval England,” was published as a book in 2013. Sartore is an assistant professor of history at West Virginia University-Tech. For additional information, contact the Archives and History Library at 304-558-0230.
The WV Division of Culture and History is an agency within the WV Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, cabinet secretary. The division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the division’s programs, events and sites, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.