Note: This post was previously listed under our "News from the Grey Box" blog series
Senator Byrd was an avid student of history, particularly of the U.S. Senate (and even the Roman Senate). He believed so much in keeping that history alive that he spoke on the Senate floor 47 times about the chamber’s “chronological development” in six years. These speeches would later be edited and compiled into the first and second of four volumes entitled “The Senate: 1789-1989,” printed by the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO).
Senator Byrd regularly gave copies to his colleagues as they were printed: Addresses on the History of the United States Senate (Vols. I and II), Classic Speeches 1830-1993 (Vol. III), and Historical Statistics 1789-1992 (Vol. IV). In turn, his colleagues thanked him through correspondence for his generous gifts (these letters are held here at the Byrd CLS). Some went further, and expressed a deeper gratitude as they used the volumes to enhance their own research and work, like this letter from Senator Daniel Moynihan (D-NY):
Despite the value of this monumental work, the GPO had quite a stockpile of these four volumes as the years wore on. They began to destroy this surplus which was met with calls to desist not only by Senator Byrd (who would later transfer all remaining copies to the Byrd CLS), but also by other senators:
Although many of the first volume were destroyed before the GPO halted its processes, dozens of complete sets were saved and archived. These volumes are still useful references, and their journey to the archives highlights the importance not only of repositories in general, but specifically the value of Congressional records to our cultural heritage.
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