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Started in 1975, the state magazine Goldenseal documents traditional ways and the lives of West Virginians through feature articles, oral histories, and old and new photographs.

Goldenseal was founded by Tom Screven, an Alabama native who moved to West Virginia in 1971 to work in the state Department of Commerce’s Arts and Crafts Division. A folk arts authority, Screven feared that West Virginia’s folklore was in danger of being lost as the state’s older generations died. In 1973, he helped launch Hearth and Fair, a magazine about West Virginia crafts, lore, and life. In 1975, the Arts and Humanities Council, headed by Norman Fagan, committed funds to expand the magazine into an independent publication about West Virginia’s traditional life. The new publication was named for goldenseal, a plant used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans and early settlers and commonly known as yellowroot.

In 1977, Goldenseal was placed under the new Division of Culture and History. In 1979, Ken Sullivan became editor, a position he held for nearly 18 years. During his tenure, Sullivan established a regular quarterly publication schedule, and the magazine’s circulation grew from 8,000 to 33,000. Sullivan began the transition from free to paid circulation and put the magazine on a self-supporting basis.

The Goldenseal Book of the West Virginia Mine Wars, a collection of popular labor history articles was published in 1991 and later reprinted. Mountains and Music, a collection of Goldenseal music articles, was published by the University of Illinois Press in 1999.

In 1997, John Lilly succeeded Ken Sullivan as editor. Lilly served until his 2015 retirement, and in that year Stan Bumgardner became editor of Goldenseal.

Goldenseal website

Written by Nancy Ray Adams


  1. Sullivan, Ken. A Fond Farewell. Goldenseal, (Spring 1997).

  2. Sullivan, Ken. Our Founder. Goldenseal, (Winter 1994).