Alee Robins

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Kenneth Fones-Wolf

Committee Co-Chair

Melissa Bingmann

Committee Member

Rhonda Reymond


In the mid-nineteenth century, one of the most popular American magazine illustrators was David Hunter Strother, a native of Martinsburg, Virginia (now West Virginia). Using the pseudonym "Porte Crayon," Strother published semi-fictional accounts of his travels which he often illustrated as well as authored. The West Virginia & Regional History Center offers a digital collection of 730 of the artist's sketches and paintings. Additionally, the Walters Art Museum presents eight of Strother's sketches online. To provide a method for studying Strother's artworks, a database was created to show connections between the artist's works based on date, location, and thematic content. To show the utility of this database, Strother's sketches from his 1852 trip to the Canaan Valley, in West Virginia, along with his published article about the trip were analyzed. Strother's stories were among the earliest and most wide-spread depictions of Appalachia, making him an influential force in informing the nation about the region. Using an interdisciplinary approach, a study of his images of the Canaan Valley revealed how he characterized the region as a beautiful but rugged wilderness whose inhabitants were skilled but simple outdoorsmen.