FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Fairmont State University’s Frank and Jane Gabor Folklife Center has exhibits of multiple collections in West Virginia history.

The Folklife Center’s mission is dedicated to the identification, preservation, and perpetuation of our region’s rich cultural heritage. Cultural institutions like the Folklife Center are the stewards of their community’s cultural heritage.

A timely collection would be the “Italian Heritage” collection, due to the West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival taking place on Sept. 2 through Sept. 4. In the collection, it shows the last names of the original Italian settlers, pictures and small facts and a binder with the story of Italian Heritage settling in West Virginia.

This collection talks about the story of settlers and how they made it in their new lives within’ the state of West Virginia. From coal mines to festivals, there is a lot of history to learn.

When talking with the new Director of the Folklife Center, Tiffany Martin said, “cultural heritage is the basis of a culture’s values and beliefs, so to understand West Virginians we must learn and understand the people that came before us.”

She mentioned that West Virginia’s history is a story of immigration and one cannot tell either story without the other. Martin believes that West Virginia is West Virginia because of the people that settled here, and that every person and every family, brought with them their own cultural heritage. The Italian culture evolved with their experiences and influenced the communities in which they lived in, just like any other heritage.

A few of the other collections in the Folklife Center include:

  • Coal and Its Story
  • Native American Indians
  • Irish Heritage
  • Trunk of Traditional Tunes

If interested in checking out this collection or any others, the center is open Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Friday by appointment, and closed Saturday and Sunday.