OVERVIEW: West Virginia Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Activities

Presented by:
West Virginia Humanities Council
Current Initiative: Centennial Campfires National Partner: The Pulitzer Prizes Local Partner: Colleges and Universities, Nonprofits Subject: Cross-Cultural Understanding, History, Journalism, Other, Varies Audience: All

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes, the West Virginia Humanities Council partnered with West Virginia University, the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation, and West Virginia Wesleyan College to host the Pearl S. Buck Living Gateway Conference in September 2016.  Born in Hillsboro, Pearl S. Buck was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938, and her book The Good Earth won the 1932 Pulitzer Prize.  The conference name refers to Buck’s Pocahontas County birthplace and her hope for it to serve as a “living gateway to new thoughts and dreams and ways of life.”

The conference welcomed keynote Dr. Kang Liao, author of Pearl S. Buck: A Cultural Bridge across the Pacific and professor at Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California and also included a presentation by Keven Ann Willey, vice president and editorial page editor of the Dallas Morning News and co-chair of the Pulitzer Prize board. Karen Vuranch, a Pearl Buck re-enactor, gave a presentation following the conference at a dinner in the university president’s house. A total of 28 sessions were presented with a wide range of topics, including a bus trip to the Pearl S. Buck birthplace in Hillsboro, West Virginia. More than 100 attended the conference. To view a full list of session recordings, visit the Living Gateway Conference website.

The opening session, a presentation on the Buck manuscript collection, was also presented at the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston on October 28th.


  • West Virginia University
  • West Virginia Wesleyan College
  • Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation


  • Morgantown, WV
  • Hillsboro, WV
  • Charleston, WV