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Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center launches online archive

Weirton Steel bulletin goes online

Craig Howell Savannah Schroll Guz, executive director of the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center, hosts a livestream to showcase the museum’s new online archive featuring digitized copies of the Weirton Steel Employees Bulletin. The online archive was made possible through a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council.

WEIRTON — Those looking to learn more about the history of Weirton Steel Corp. and its employees now are able to do so from the comfort of their own home.

The Weirton Steel Employees Bulletin, which was published by the former steel manufacturer for 55 years, went online Saturday through the efforts of the Weirton Area Museum and Cultural Center. Dennis Jones, executive director emeritus of the museum, explained the bulletin was created as a reaction from Weirton Steel management to an employee strike in 1933. The first edition came out in April 1934, featuring a letter from then-Weirton Steel President J.C. Williams, a report on an inter-departmental baseball league, news of construction on a community swimming pool in the city’s Marland Heights area, and a contest to name the new bulletin.

“This was the start of it,” he said, noting the opening of the Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool and the launch of the original Festival of Nations later that same year would follow as efforts to ease relations between employees and management. Throughout its history, the bulletin would showcase not only activities within the company, but also community events and the home lives of employees.

Editions frequently would include contributions from employees, including family photographs, information on their hobbies, salutes to retirees and more. The bulletin would cease publication in December 1989.

“I doubt there’s any other city that has their community life documented like that,” Jones said.

As part of the online launch Saturday, current museum Director Savannah Schroll Guz hosted a livestream through the museum’s Facebook page to demonstrate how to find and use the online archive, which is available through the museum’s website at www.weirtonareasmuseum.com, under the “Digital Research” area.

“This is just the beginning of what we will be doing,” Guz said, announcing plans for additional online archives of photographs and other historical documents in the future.

The online archive, as with the digitized copies at the museum, contains copies of every edition of the bulletin, allowing for searches of names, events and other items, as well as the ability to narrow a search by the date.

“A lot of this is intuitive,” Guz said. “You’ll be able to figure it out as you’re using it.”

The online presence of the bulletin has been years in the making. Jones dedicated his own time and money obtaining copies of every edition ever published, having them digitized and watermarked, and then stored on a computer, which has been available at the museum for the last five years.

That includes more than 550 issues and more than 10,000 pages, he said.

Jones noted people visiting Weirton from all over the country have used the in-house archive to search for family members and more, telling of one individual who had been able to learn about his estranged father.

Guz was able to obtain a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council to take the next step, making the archive available to anyone around the world.

“Thanks to Savannah, we’re on a whole new level,” Jones said.

For more information on the archive, or about the museum, visit the website, email at weirtonareamuseum@gmail.com, or call (304) 224-1909. The website also features information on upcoming events at the museum, an online gift shop and opportunities to support the museum through a donation or membership.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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