Author, editor, and publisher Philip Mallory ‘‘Phil’’ Conley (November 30, 1887-August 1, 1979) was born in Charleston. After graduating from West Virginia University in 1914, he taught one term at Glenville State Normal School. From 1914 to 1918, he served as superintendent of schools in Lincoln District in Marion County. He was superintendent of schools in Jenkins, Kentucky, from 1919 to 1921. During World War I, Conley served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and was decorated with the Chevalier Legion of Honor of France.
From 1921 to 1923, Conley was managing director of the American Constitutional Association, a conservative organization formed by concerned businessmen in the wake of the West Virginia Mine Wars. He was publisher of the West Virginia Review, a popular magazine, from 1923 to 1946. In 1923, Conley founded the West Virginia Publishing Company and served as president until 1950. He was founder of the Charleston Printing Company, serving as president from 1936 to 1948 and chairman of its board of directors from 1948 to 1979. Meanwhile, in 1950 he established the West Virginia Education Foundation, which he served as president. This nonprofit organization later became the West Virginia Historical Education Foundation.
Conley was editor-in-chief of the West Virginia Encyclopedia, published in 1929. West Virginia: Yesterday and Today, one of his best-known books, was for many years a popular public school textbook and with various co-authors has passed through several editions. He presented numerous radio programs on West Virginia (one of which ran for 10 years) and originated the Golden Horseshoe Contest.
Conley married Pearl Scott on August 5, 1914. They had one adopted daughter, Phyllis C. Warren.
Written by Marshall Buckalew