Charles Stuart McGehee: Prominent West Virginia historian dies

Historians in the News

The founder of one of West Virginia's most comprehensive archives on the state's coal history, Charles Stuart McGehee, died earlier this week.

McGehee, 55, was the founder of Bluefield's Eastern Regional Coal Archives, a professor of history at West Virginia State University, and the author of five books on West Virginia. He died Tuesday.

"Stuart was an absolute treat for the state of West Virginia and the coal industry," said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

Originally from Birmingham, Ala., McGehee started his career in West Virginia at Bluefield College in 1985, and quickly became one of the leading historians and voices of the state's coal history.

"The great thing about Stuart was he didn't grow up here," Raney said. "He came here and it seemed to intrigue him and he captured the real character qualities of the legacy of West Virginia and why we are who we are."

McGehee was the author of five books and more than 50 articles that appeared in national and regional publicans.

He also appeared in "West Virginia: A Film History" and the History Channel's "Modern Marvels" series, in addition to several PBS documentaries.

He attended the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and the University of Virginia for his master's and doctorate in American history.

McGehee was also chairman of social sciences at Bluefield College and chairman of the history department and dean of social sciences at WVSU.

"He found the value, the romanticism, the camaraderie and the family togetherness in the coalfields," Raney said. "He captured the heart of the people. I can't image there not being a huge void because he was a very unique talent."...

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