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William Archer, Journalist, Research Papers Regarding McDowell and Mercer Counties

Collection Number: A&M.4388

Scope and Contents

The papers of William “Bill” Archer, newspaper journalist for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and historian, document Archer’s research and reporting of events in Southern West Virginia, predominantly Mercer and McDowell Counties. In addition to his reporting, Archer wrote a number of local history books as well as articles for publications other than the Bluefield paper.

The largest part of the collection, six boxes of records and three of artifacts, focuses on the historic collapse in 1999 of the First National Bank of Keystone in McDowell County; subsequent criminal and civil court cases; and Congressional oversight hearings. Another significant part of the collection, two boxes of records and three of artifacts, focuses on John Forbes Nash Jr., 1994 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics and a Bluefield native. The files document Nash’s time in Bluefield and at Bluefield State College, his family, and his career. The Nash files also include reporting and research materials about the book and film, A Beautiful Mind, about Nash’s life and work.

Archer researched all aspects of coal country life. Significant topics covered by him include music originating in the area, local African American culture and history, hometown heroes, disasters such as flooding and crashes, famous people connected to the area, court cases, coal mining and mining disasters, communities and their services, and transportation. Of particular note, the collection documents Archer’s trip to Japan in 1996 for the Interassociation for Ecology Symposia (INTECOL) on wood and forestry.

Photographs in the collection, mostly contemporary, detail many events during the time of Archer’s reporting. Of particular note are those by Melvin “Mel” Grubb, a long time photographer for The Bluefield Daily Telegraph. The collection also includes a number of other media formats such as films and recordings.

And finally, throughout the collection there are a large number of Archer’s newspaper columns which demonstrate the process of writing newspaper stories beginning with interview notes and ending with the final articles. Also included are his writings in other literary forms such as local histories, stories, poems, and songs. Some stories and a cookbook were written under the pseudonym Richard Lucas.

Twelve compact discs of performances by Archer and Miller are found in Box 28. Particularly represented in the collection is Archer’s work on the musical “Bramwell--100” about the 100th anniversary of the town of Bramwell. A compact disc of the music and narration is one of those in Box 28. Digital files of his compositions include 131 files consisting of the compact disk recordings as well as the text of an essay reflecting on music; and songs, written and performed by Archer and Karl Miller.

In addition to the compact discs, Box 28 also contains handwritten and typed Archer compositions and includes love songs to his wife Evonda.

The collection consists of the following series:

Series 1. Keystone Bank
Series 2. John Nash
Series 3. Subjects
Series 4. Photographs and Other Media
Series 5. Writings


  • 1795-2020
  • Majority of material found within ca. 1950-2010


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

Biographical Note

William “Bill” Archer’s papers represent his work as a journalist, historian, and musician. He grew up in Claysville, Pennsylvania. His parents provided roots in the Scotch-Irish heritage from his mother and Russian roots from his father, Carl Wesley Archer. After graduating from McGuffey High School in 1967, Archer attended West Virginia University where he graduated in 1972 with a Bachelor’s degree in English. He also completed twelve hours of graduate work in English with WVU.

Although Archer’s first writing job in southern West Virginia was with the Twin-State Marketer (Bluefield, VA) beginning in 1986, he contributed sporadically to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph beginning in 1983. In 1992, he joined the staff of the Bluefield paper and continued his work there as a reporter and senior editor until 2016. During this time, he was also a stringer from the State Journal, a West Virginia business publication, 1999-2003. Archer covered the news extensively not just in Bluefield but in adjacent counties in West Virginia and northwestern Virginia.

Due to Archer’s important coverage of news events in Southern West Virginia and service to his community, he has received a number of awards:

1994 For his substantial contribution to news coverage, he received the Award of Excellence for Outstanding Editorial Achievement from Thomson Newspapers 2000 For his coverage of the collapse of the First National Bank of Keystone Bank, he received the Outstanding Journalist Award from the West Virginia Trial Lawyers Association 2003 The Mercer County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People awarded him the Merit Award The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 9696, awarded him two Distinguished Service Awards 2007 Archer was dubbed “the consummate community newspaper reporter” by a former publisher of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph when he was named a West Virginia History Hero by the Mercer County Historical Society 2013 He received two awards the Shott Excellence in Media Award and the National Coal Heritage Area Research Documentation Award 2015 The local American Legion awarded him the Distinguished Citizenship Award

Archer authored a number of local history books and approximately 125 magazine articles in addition to his newspaper reporting. The books, in the “Images of America” series from Arcadia Publishing, document the history of the cities of Bluefield, Princeton, and Welch. His county histories include Mercer County (WV), McDowell County (WV), and Bland County (VA). He has written numerous articles for Wonderful West Virginia, and also has contributed to Goldenseal, The West Virginia Encyclopedia, Appalachian Heritage, Coal People, and Virginia Cavalcade.

Archer’s interest in the varied music of southern West Virginia is reflected in some of his writing, but he also wrote poetry and songs. He recorded and performed original music compositions with Karl Miller for more than thirty years. He wrote the lyrics for the musical “Bramwell--100” about the 100th anniversary of the town of Bramwell.

After retiring as a writer, Archere extended his service to the community as a Mercer County Commissioner for the 2017-2022 term. This time of his life postdates the donated materials in this collection.

William Archer and his wife Evonda continue to reside in Bluefield.


20.75 Linear Feet (20 ft. 9 1/4 in. (13 record cartons, 15 in. each); (4 document cases, 5 in. each); (1 document case, 4 in.); (1 document case, 2 1/2 in.); (2 flat boxes, 1 1/2 in. each); (3 flat boxes, 3 in. each); (1 box, 6 1/2 in.); (1 box, 5 in.); (1 index card box, 4 1/4 in.))

1.86 Gigabytes (496 digital files )

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 Materials

This collection (A&M 4388) contains a partial copy of the Matewan Trial transcript.

See also:
A&M 3608, Matewan Trial Transcript
Pages 2012 to 3958 (February 12, 1921 – February 23, 1921)
Plus 1 page of index of witnesses

Compare to:
A&M 4388, William Archer Papers, Box 8, Folders 1-7, Matewan Trial Transcript
Pages 1 to 11, list of witnesses, in Folder 1
Pages 3340 to 4671 (February 22, 1921 – February 28, 1921)

West Virgina Archives and History in Charleston, West Virginia appears to hold the entire transcript:
Mingo County, Case file State vs. Sid Hatfield et al., transcripts, jury selection, witness statements (originals and photocopies), 1921 January 19 to March 16, 15 boxes

Separated Materials

Items transferred to the Rare Books Librarian:

Wilderness by Vance G. Martin

The Crozers of Upland by David A. MacQueen -- Rare book

Legendary Local of McDowell County by William Archer

The Bramwell Breeze 1911/1912


William Archer, Journalist, Research Papers Regarding McDowell and Mercer Counties
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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