West Virginia State University Archeological Field School  to Give Students a Glimpse into the Life at the Kanawha Salines at Malden

Contact: Jack Bailey
(304) 766-4109
April 16, 2024
West Virginia State University Archeological Field School 
to Give Students a Glimpse into the Life at the Kanawha Salines at Malden
INSTITUTE, W.Va. – A summer archeological field school will offer students at West Virginia State University (WVSU) the opportunity to uncover more of the history surrounding the Hale House and the early salt industry at Malden.  

History 399:  Historical Archaeology will focus on the grounds of the Hale House, the former home of one of the Kanawha Valley’s early business and political leaders, Dr. John Hale.

In this course, students will learn the basic concepts and procedures of historical archaeology by actually carrying out a real dig.  This is the second year for the field school to be held at the Hale House.  Last year, hundreds of artifacts were unearthed, including a prehistoric drill and knife made of Kanawha Black Flint dating to the Archaic Period.

“This summer we will be conducting a Phase II investigation with a deeper and more intense look at the same area,” said Dr. Michael Workman, adjunct professor at WVSU and project director.  “At the same time, we will be conducting research at libraries and the West Virginia Archives to learn what we can from traditional sources. Matching what we find in the ground with what’s in the books is one of the challenges of historical archaeology. We will be looking for evidence of structures on the property, and for any artifacts that offer a glimpse into the daily life of people in this area.” 

The four-week field school will begin June 17, 2024, with an orientation on the WVSU campus.  Most of the instruction will be offered on-site at the Hale House in Malden. Students are required to be present from 9 a.m. until noon, but may work through the afternoon. The public is invited to visit the field school site during class hours and participate in the dig, which will conclude on July 12.  

“We have room for four or more students, who may register for the course through WVSU.  We also have scholarships to cover part of the cost of tuition,” Workman said. 

The historic Hale House was built in 1838 and was the one-time home of influential 1800’s Kanawha Valley business and political leader Dr. John Hale. After consolidating various properties between Malden and Charleston by 1860, Hale was the owner of possibly the largest salt works in North America, supplying the thriving meat-packing center of Cincinnati. 

The archeological field school project is being presented with financial assistance from the West Virginia Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Kanawha Salines Foundation, and The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation. 

For more information, contact Dr. Michael Workman at (304) 288-1757  or 

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West Virginia State University is a public, land-grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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