Stewart Whitmore Plein

Class of 1982

Growing up, Emory & Henry was always an essential stop for Stewart Whitmore Plein and the Whitmore family, on the way to visit grandparents in Gate City, Virginia. Her father, Ernest, a 1956 E&H graduate in History, made the detour through campus, driving slowly and pointing out favorite places and telling stories of his time at E&H. From her first trip through campus, Stewart knew she wanted to attend Emory & Henry someday. That day arrived in 1978, when she enrolled as a freshman.

Born in Abingdon, Stewart is a 1982 graduate of Emory & Henry, with a degree in History, just like her father. She met her husband, Christopher Plein (’84) on campus and they married in the Emory & Henry Chapel in 1983. Stewart’s first job after graduation was working in the E&H Admissions office.

Stewart is the Curator of Rare Books and Print Resources in the West Virginia & Regional History Center, the special collections unit of West Virginia University. Stewart says, “I double majored in history and religion at E&H and I use my degree every day in my work. My love of history and my education at Emory & Henry have been essential to my success as a curator, teaching students, working with donors and collections, and assisting faculty.”

Stewart is also the Managing Director for the West Virginia National Digital Newspaper Project (NDNP) National Endowment for the Humanities grant in partnership with the Library of Congress. She received her Masters of Library Science from the University of South Carolina, and a certificate in Rare Book Librarianship from the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School.

Stewart’s research and publishing interests include book history, bookbinding design, and Appalachian Studies. She is currently working on a book focusing on the development of the Appalachian stereotype on the covers of local color literature. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Appalachian Studies, the West Virginia History Journal and the Smithfield Review, among others. Her forthcoming book chapter, “A Sense of Place: The Rhododendron as Regional Identification on the Covers of Appalachian Local Color Literature,” is forthcoming in the two volume ecocritical anthology, Appalachian Nature, Appalachian Environment, from West Virginia University Press.

Stewart works extensively with donors, teaches book history and rare book pedagogy sessions in the WVU rare book room, guest lectures, and always looks forward to reading a good book!

“I double majored in history and religion at E&H and I use my degree every day in my work.”

–Stewart Whitmore Plein ’82


History, Religion