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Journalist Bruce Crawford (December 5, 1893-August 15, 1993) was born in Norton, Virginia. He spent his boyhood in Fayette County, before his family moved back to Norton for his high school years. After a brief stay at West Virginia University and service in the army during World War I, he became owner and editor of a Norton newspaper, Crawford’s Weekly.

In 1931, Crawford traveled to Harlan County, Kentucky, with a committee of celebrities including authors Theodore Dreiser and John Dos Passos, to investigate the bloody miners’ strike there. He received a gunshot wound and returned home to write editorials sympathetic to the striking miners. This earned him a reputation as a radical among the business leaders in Norton upon whose advertising his newspaper depended. Forced to sell his weekly because of declining revenues, he returned to West Virginia to edit the Bluefield Sunset News for several years.

From 1938 to 1941, Crawford directed the West Virginia Writers Project, a Works Progress Administration program that provided work for unemployed writers. The project’s most enduring work was the classic book, West Virginia: A Guide to the Mountain State, initially blocked as too radical by Governor Homer Holt and published only after Holt left office in 1941.

Crawford later served as secretary of the West Virginia Publicity Commission, directed the Highway Safety Bureau of the West Virginia State Police, and in about 1946 founded the West Virginia Advertising Company, which, until his retirement in 1961 handled campaign publicity for many state Democratic candidates.

Crawford died in St. Petersburg, Florida.

This Article was written by Jerry Bruce Thomas

Last Revised on November 21, 2023

Related Articles


Prichard, Arthur C. 'In West Virginia I Had More Freedom': Bruce Crawford's Story. Goldenseal, (Spring 1984).

Thomas, Jerry Bruce. 'The Nearly Perfect State': Governor Homer Adams Holt, the WPA Writers' Project and the Making of West Virginia: A Guide to the Mountain State. West Virginia History, (1993).

Papers of the West Virginia Writers' Program. West Virginia & Regional History Collection, West Virginia University Libraries.

Cite This Article

Thomas, Jerry Bruce "Bruce Crawford." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 21 November 2023. Web. 20 February 2024.


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