ELKINS - A new exhibit on the Battle of Harpers Ferry recently opened in Davis & Elkins College’s Stirrup Gallery thanks to a senior class project by Katy Mattingly, a recent graduate of Elkins High School. By combining a love of Civil War history with community service, she created an interpretive display that connects the College’s Darby Collection to West Virginia’s exciting past.
“This is a great example of using the extensive resources we have in The Stirrup Gallery to bring history to life,” said Mark Lanham, coordinator of special collections at D&E.
Mattingly, who has worked with Lanham as a volunteer in the Gallery, regularly attends Civil War battle re-enactments and participated as a soldier in the 151st Gettysburg Anniversary last summer. Those experiences motivated her to create a project centered on that era and she turned to the Darby Collection for inspiration.
The Darby Collection, which includes more than 10,000 pieces, is the showpiece of The Stirrup Gallery. The firearms collection includes 100 guns, both rifles and pistols, from the period of 1600 to the Civil War era.
Under Lanham’s supervision, Mattingly gathered three muskets which had originally been displayed randomly, but all shared a common connection to the 1862 Battle of Harpers Ferry. Using her project as an opportunity to unite these related pieces of history, she hoped to educate others on the significance of the event.
“It feels nice to know that this may draw more people into The Stirrup Gallery and interest them in Harpers Ferry,” Mattingly said. “People should know about it, especially people who live in West Virginia. This is the history of the state.”
“Many people don’t realize the extent of artifacts we have right here on campus,” said Lanham. “It was exciting to work with a student who used our collection as a basis for study.”
The Harpers Ferry exhibit is currently on display with the rest of The Darby Collection which is comprised of additional firearms, glassware, pottery and Americana, and international antiquities.
Mattingly is the daughter of Stephen Mattingly, assistant professor of computer science, and Amy Mattingly, director of information services for D&E. She plans to continue her exploration of history and theatre this fall at Drew University.
The Stirrup Gallery, located in Myles Center for the Arts, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and evenings and weekends by appointment. For more information, call 304-637-1980 (office) or 304-642-6705 (cell) or visit www.dewv.edu/arts-entertainment/stirrup-gallery.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.