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The James D. Francis Art Library is the only professionally staffed art library in the state of West Virginia. Named after James Draper Francis, a Huntington resident who served as president of the Island Creek Coal Company, it contains over twenty thousand volumes along with a large collection of artists’ files and periodicals. The library’s holdings emphasize American and European art, glass, Islamic art, firearms, silver, contemporary prints, and folk art. With such an extensive collection of books and other materials, the library plays a valuable role in assisting researchers as well as local collectors and museum visitors. The library is open by appointment only, and the materials that it houses are restricted for use in the library. Alongside workshops, competitions, and its outreach program, the James D. Francis Art Library supports the Museum’s mission to provide excellence in art education.


  • The James D. Francis Art Library
  • TSAA Scrapbook, 1950s
  • Some of the 20,000+ books in the library collection
  • An early art auction catalog from the HMA collection
  • MacBeth Gallery Catalog, 1952
  • Daywood Collection Letter, 1953

The James D. Francis Art Library is named in honor of James Draper Francis. Born in Pikeville, Kentucky on February 25, 1884, Francis was a prominent coal operator in Huntington who served as president of the Island Creek Coal Company. The company was founded by Huntington lawyer Z. T. Vinson and other investors before it was sold to the U.S. Coal & Oil Company, which was managed by William H. Coolidge and Albert F. Holden. After the company shipped its first trainload of coal in 1904, the firm, which was renamed Island Creek Coal Company, grew quickly into a leader in the industry. The first company president was Holden, who was followed by Thomas B. Davis, James Draper Francis, Raymond Salvati, and Stonie Barker. Francis passed away in Huntington on January 8, 1958. 

The library is a unique resource in the Tri-State, providing a wide range of books and other resources on the fine and decorative arts. The library is West Virginia's only professionally staffed art library, with nearly 27,000 volumes in its collection. Its holdings, which consist of art reference books in addition to an extensive collection of artists' files and periodicals, offer a wealth of information to the community. Subject areas that are emphasized include American and European art, glass, Islamic art, firearms, silver, contemporary prints, and folk art. The collection of materials on glass is particularly notable, with approximately one thousand volumes on the subject, as well as a number of historic trade journals and company catalogs. Library materials are non-circulating and restricted to use in the library, which is open by appointment only and also accepts reference queries by telephone (304) 529-2701 or e-mail chatten@hmoa.org. 

The library supports the Huntington Museum of Art’s commitment to providing excellence in education and arts experience. The library’s primary mission is to support research on the Museum’s permanent collection and assist with exhibition planning, but it also serves as an information center for local collectors and art lovers. Along with the library’s valuable resources, the Museum furthers its educational mission through a variety of programs and opportunities, such as classes and camps for a wide range of ages and experience levels, and Museum Making Connections, the Museum’s educational outreach program, which serves more than 28,000 children a year.

Gillispie, John. Huntington Museum of Art , The West Virginia Encyclopedia. October 11th 2010. Accessed April 11th 2020. https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/758.

James D. Francis Art Library, Huntington Museum of Art. Accessed April 11th 2020. https://www.hmoa.org/art/james-d.-francis-art-library/.

Spence, Robert Y. Island Creek Coal Company, The West Virginia Encyclopedia. May 30th 2019. Accessed April 11th 2020. https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/914.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

https://www.hmoa.org/art/james-d.-francis-art-library/

https://www.hmoa.org/art/james-d.-francis-art-library/

https://www.hmoa.org/art/james-d.-francis-art-library/

https://www.hmoa.org/art/james-d.-francis-art-library/

https://www.hmoa.org/art/james-d.-francis-art-library/

https://www.hmoa.org/art/james-d.-francis-art-library/