In addition to West Virginia University, colleges and universities in Oklahoma, Maryland, Texas, Vermont, Colorado, Oregon, North Carolina, and Kentucky have mountaineer mascots, but none of those states have as their state motto, “Mountaineers Are Always Free.” Books have been written about the concept of “hillbilly,” but I know of no others that address the folklore of the “mountaineer” concept which is clearly distinct. The first three chapters consider the whole idea of a mountaineer, and the last two focus in on the WVU mascot and controversies that surrounded, for example, the first two female mountaineers. “Folklorist Rosemary Hathaway’s well-researched and engaging book explores the evolution of the WVU ‘mascot’ the Mountaineer from its preindustrial origins to the present. Imaginatively analyzing personal, local, and national sources, Hathaway reveals how the ongoing transformations of the Mountaineer have both built upon and challenged regional and national stereotypes in ways that reflect competing conceptions of freedom and identity.” - Anthony Harkins, author of Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon. “Rosemary Hathaway has written a well-crafted and thoroughly researched narrative with nuance, a strong historical foundation, and important analysis. Mountaineers Are Always Free has both relevance to the current political moment and the power to endure.” - Emily Hilliard, West Virginia State Folklorist. The author, Rosemary V. Hathaway, grew up in an Ohio family whose parents were both West Virginia natives and WVU graduates, The author now teaches at WVU.
Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2020. 276 pages with an Index, Notes, Bibliography, photos and graphics. Trade paperback.