William Hal Gorby, Ph.D.
Teaching FieldsWest Virginia and Appalachian History Immigration/ Ethnic History U.S. Working Class 20th Century U.S.
DegreesPh.D., West Virginia University, 2014
Dr. Gorby's work focuses on the intersections of Catholic religion, ethnicity, and the working class during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. He is specifically interested in the social history of the “new immigrants” working in the steel mills, coal mines, tobacco factories, and breweries of Wheeling, West Virginia.
His dissertation focused on the Polish and other Eastern European immigrants in Wheeling, and the process of forging a distinct Catholic working class social consciousness in the wider region during the Progressive Era. Polish immigrants and their children were one of the most prominent of the new ethnic groups in the Upper Ohio Valley. He examined how their Polish-American culture sustained them during the nativism of the 1920’s. The Polish were persistently targeted by dry agents during Prohibition, and many openly violated the law, which targeted their ethnic Catholic culture as un-American. Out of these trying times, the Polish-American population served as a major catalyst behind a distinctively Catholic-inspired New Deal politics and CIO union organizing at Wheeling Steel in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
As an Appalachian historian, he also examines the intersection of ethnicity and working class life in the coalfields of West Virginia. He worked for over a year conducting research assistance and consulting for the recent PBS American Experience documentary “The Mine Wars.”
HIST 152: Growth of the American Nation to 1865
HIST 153: Making Modern America: 1865-Present
HIST 200: Practicing History His 250: West Virginia History
HIST 259: United States, 1865-1918
HIST 456: Gilded Age His 473: Appalachian Regional History
PublicationsTentative Book Title: “Re-Creating Polonia in the Upper Ohio River Valley: Wheeling’s Polish Immigrant Community, 1890-1945”
“Justus Collins, Coalfield Capitalism, and the Struggle for Economic Control” article in progress
“Subcultures in Conflict in Polonia: Class, Religion, and Ethnic Tensions in the Formation of Wheeling’s Polish Community, 1895-1917” West Virginia History 4, no 2 (Fall 2010): 1-34
“South Wheeling’s Industrial History,” guided walking tour pamphlet, published by Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation (WNHAC), January 2013
“The Black Hand: Wheeling’s First Concern over Immigrant Organized Crime” Upper Ohio Valley Historical Review Approved for Publication (Fall 2016)