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Alvena V. Seckar, Author and Artist, Writings, Photographs, Scrapbooks, and Other Material

Collection Number: A&M 4204

Scope and Contents

Papers of artist and author Alvena Seckar, who spent much of her early life in West Virginia. Includes writings by Seckar, including both autobiographical and fictional writings; photographs, mainly of Seckar, her family, and her artwork; family documents; correspondence; scrapbooks; and other material. Please be aware that parts of the collection have been minimally processed and therefore remain in their original physical and intellectual arrangement.


  • Creation: 1927-2005

Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please see the Permissions and Copyright page on the West Virginia and Regional History Center website.

Biographical / Historical

Alvena Seckar was born in McMechen, West Virginia to first-generation immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia in 1915. Her father was a coal miner and the family moved frequently around the coal fields of West Virginia and Pennsylvania during her childhood.

Seckar's artistic talents were recognized while she was in school and she was able to attend college, first studying at the University of Pennsylvania. She then transferred to the Institue of Fine Arts, New York University. She earned her Bachelor's Degree there in 1939 and her Master's Degree in the History of Fine Arts in 1949.

Seckar's artwork drew inspiration from her coal field childhood, depicting working class people and landscapes with sympathy by without any attempt to "prettify" her subjects. She was also inspired by her travels in post-World War II Europe, where she visited the Eastern Europe of her parent's heritage. Seckar considered herself a politically conscious artist and took part in the Civil Rights Movement, anti-nuclear movement, and other causes.

Seckar came to her second career as a writer almost by accident. She was initially interested in illustrating children's books, but after receiving several rejections, decided to write a book of her own. Like her artwork, her books drew from her childhood experiences living in the coal fields. "Zuska of the Burning Hills" and "Mischko" tell stories of children living in coal towns from Eastern European immigrant families, while "Trapped in the Old Mine" is a science-fiction story for young readers.

Seckar continued to write, paint, and exhibit her artwork throughout her life. Even when, later in life, she developed multiple sclerosis, which crippled her right hand, Seckar continued to paint and write, even teaching herself to paint with her left hand. Seckar had been working on a novel regarding the lives of her grandmother, mother, and herself -- tentatively titled "Jewels of Memory" -- which was not published before her death. Seckar passed away on 7 March 2012 in her long-time home of Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.


8.3 Linear Feet (8 ft. 3 1/2 in. (3 record cartons, 15 in. each); (1 record carton, 17 in.); (6 document cases, 5 in. each); (3 document cases, 2 1/2 in. each))

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL:

Related A&M Collections

556, 903, 2002, 4204, 4428

Alvena V. Seckar, Author and Artist, Writings, Photographs, Scrapbooks, and Other Material
Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US