It has been a hardworking two and a half years of arranging, processing and database entry as the Byrd Center gets late Senator Robert Byrd’s papers ready for research, but the Robert C. Byrd Congressional Papers Collection is now open to researchers.
The Byrd Center sits on the side of the Scarborough Library and is a central part of the academic life of the campus and the local community.
Ben Sade, a senior biology major, said, “I think the whole building is very nice, and we are extremely fortunate to have something so historically meaningful here at Shepherd.”
Marc Levitt, director of archives, states that he loves being a part of the Shepherdstown community
Levitt said, “Our forums and events are often lively with well-informed discussions and participation.”
The center’s mission is to help foster a better understanding of the United States Congress, the Constitution and representative democracy both historically and in a contemporary setting. Those who have been working on this project have compiled a 522-page index, which is available in hard-copy format in the Byrd Center’s Reading Room and online.
The center is planning to conduct seminars, workshops, teacher’s institutes, public lectures and conferences on a wide range of topics designed to improve public understanding of the legislative process.
Levitt said, “We regularly host programs put on by campus and community groups. Our main annual event is the celebration of Constitution Day, which was established by an amendment introduced by Senator Byrd.”
They have recently had helpful responses with the IdentiFriday campaign on their Facebook page. They post old pictures of historical places and try to identify the people.
Levitt said, “We plan on doing IdentiFriday for the foreseeable future. We’ve had great feedback from the community, who have helped us identify the people in the photographs. It has increased traffic to both our Facebook page and our website.”
The Byrd Center is also known to provide students and volunteers with the opportunity to work with the center’s collections, where they gain treasured pro-active experiences in the archives field. Most interns are from Shepherd, but they recently expanded their program to offer the same opportunity to students from all across the country.
Levitt said, “I hope that students will avail themselves of the archive they have here on campus. Senator Byrd’s papers are one of the most important Congressional collections and are a rich resource for studying the procedures and changes of Congress (over 50 years), and to see how Senator Byrd interacted with his constituents and helped develop West Virginia through his role on the Appropriations Committee.”
You can find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ByrdCLS or through their Web site at www.byrdcenter.org.