William Hal Gorby
Teaching FieldsWest Virginia and Appalachian History Immigration/ Ethnic History U.S. Working Class 20th Century U.S.
DegreesPh.D., West Virginia University, 2014
I am a historian of West Virginia and Appalachia, whose work focuses on the the
role of immigrants in the state's steel and coal mining industries, particularly
during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. My book Wheeling's Polonia: Reconstructing Polish Community in a West Virginia Steel Town (WVU Press, 2020) examines the Polish and other Eastern European immigrants in
Wheeling, and the process of forging a distinct Catholic working class culture
in the wider region. Polish immigrants and their children were one of the most
prominent of the new ethnic groups in the Upper Ohio Valley. 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-Americans served as a major catalyst behind CIO union
organizing at Wheeling Steel in the 1930’s and 1940’s.
My current work continues to focus on working class history as well as the modern
political economy in West Virginia during what I call the "Age of Globalization,"
as the state's economy began to be affected by global economic changes from the
1970's well into the 2000's.
I have also worked on various public history projects. I worked for over a
year conducting research, fact-checking, and consulting for the recent PBS American
The Mine Wars (2016), which received an Emmy nomination for research.
I also hosted and researched for a podcast called "Henry: The Life and Times
of Wheeling's Most Notorious Brewer," produced by Wheeling Heritage Media:
153: Making Modern America: 1865-Present
- HIST 200: Practicing History History
- HIST 250: West Virginia History
- HIST 456: Gilded Age History
HIST 473: Appalachian Regional History
- HIST 478: American Immigration History
- HIST 484: Intro to Historical Research-Capstone (West Virginia and Appalachia)
"Justus Collins and the Struggle for Economic Control, 1857-1913" West Virginia History 12, no. 1 and 2 (Fall 2018): 1-29
“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 39, no. 2 (Winter 2017): 5-17