The West Virginia Archives and History Library of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History will host its next after-hours lecture from 6 – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1. The session, titled “West Virginia State Police: The First Two Decades,” will be presented by Merle T. Cole, military, naval and police historian.

Cole will discuss the formative years of the State Police and the department’s history through 1939. Formed in 1919 in the wake of postwar fears about Bolshevism and other subversive elements, as well as coalfield lawlessness, the Department of Public Safety became a reality after a hard-fought battle in the legislature. Its first superintendent was Jackson Arnold, a grandnephew of Stonewall Jackson.

Born in Beaver, Raleigh County, Cole graduated from Marshall University where his interest in the state police began with a term paper he wrote for a state government course. He recently retired after 42 years of federal civil service. He had held several operational and staff positions with the U.S. Army Materiel Command, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Air Force Systems Command. He also has worked with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Md., and was a commissioned officer in the Maryland State Guard from 1985 to 1994.

Cole has published 70 articles and monographs in peer-reviewed state, national and international journals. He developed the official agency history website for the West Virginia State Police and is a research associate in military history with the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, Md.

The lecture will take place in the archives library at the Culture Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. All sessions are free and the public is invited to attend. The library will close at 5 p.m. and reopen at 5:45 p.m., for participants only.

Advance registration for the workshop is not required, but is encouraged. To register in advance, contact Bob Taylor, archives library manager, at (304) 558-0230, ext. 163, or by e-mail at Participants interested in registering by e-mail should send their name, telephone number and the name and date of the session. For additional information about the workshop, contact the Archives and History Library at (304) 558-0230.

The Archives and History Library is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday. The library is closed on Sunday.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History is an agency within the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts with Kay Goodwin, Cabinet Secretary. The Division, led by Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith, brings together the past, present and future through programs and services focusing on archives and history, arts, historic preservation and museums. For more information about the Division’s programs, events and sites, visit The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.