The staff of the Byrd Center and its Board of Directors note with sadness the recent passing of Lex Miller, a generous donor to the Center and an active participant, with his wife Pam, in the programs and activities of the Center. We send our heartfelt condolences to Pam and the entire Miller family and to their many friends.
Lex was a model citizen, fully engaged in the life of the Shepherdstown community and the broad cultural and social aspects of this university town. His quiet manner could not hide the strong intellect, wisdom, and dedication to public service that he brought to his volunteer work with many organizations. The Millers moved to Shepherdstown in 2004, just two years after the Byrd Center opened its doors, and we were so fortunate to have Lex and Pam among our friends and supporters.
Ray Smock, Interim Director
Byrd Center Director Dr. Jay Wyatt to take position at National Archives and Records Administration. Dr. Ray Smock, Byrd Center Director Emeritus, to return as Interim Director.
The Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education announced today that Dr. Jay Wyatt will resign as Director effective February 1, 2021. Wyatt will join the staff of the National Archives and Records Administration's Center for Legislative Archives in Washington, D.C.
Wyatt joined the Byrd Center staff as Director of Programs and Research in 2013 and led the development of numerous popular public program series, exhibits, and educational initiatives. In 2018, he was named Director following the retirement of the Byrd Center’s Inaugural Director, Dr. Ray Smock.
Joe Stewart the Chairman of the Byrd Center’s governing board said “while we are sorry to lose the outstanding service of Jay Wyatt at the Byrd Center, the Board is thrilled with the national recognition of his unique talents. We extend our heartiest congratulations to Jay.”
The Byrd Center’s board of directors unanimously passed a resolution of distinguished service at its meeting on January 27, citing Dr. Wyatt’s many contributions to civic education and public outreach through the Center’s programs and research. The board earlier promoted Mr. Jody Brumage, the Center’s Archivist and Office Manager to the position of Director of Education and Outreach in recognition of his leadership role in the Center’s educational programs.
Dr. Ray Smock, the Byrd Center’s Director Emeritus, will return as Interim Director. Smock served as the Center’s director from 2002 until his retirement in 2018. Smock was the Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983-95. Chairman Stewart extended special appreciation to Smock for “generously agreeing to resume the directorship of the Byrd Center.”
The Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education is a private, nonpartisan, and nonprofit educational organization located on the campus of Shepherd University. Its mission is to advance representative democracy by promoting a better understanding of the United States Congress and the Constitution through programs and research that engage citizens.
In his capacity as Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office to the People’s Republic of China in 1975, Bush traveled with Senator Byrd and West Virginia Congressman John Slack on a delegation to China as America worked to open diplomatic relations with the nation. As Vice President on January 6, 1989, Bush administered the oath of office to Senator Byrd as he assumed the role of President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate. During his term in office, President Bush and Senator Byrd worked together to reauthorize the Appalachian Regional Development Act, providing funding for critical infrastructure, education, and healthcare projects in the state.
By Ray Smock
As I retire as Director of the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education after sixteen years, I want to thank all the people who have made these years so satisfying, both professionally and personally. I cannot begin to name everyone. But it includes four presidents of Shepherd University, many fine administrators, and the outstanding faculty of this gem of a liberal arts university. And it includes the students of Shepherd too, those who have been in the classes I have taught over the years, but especially to those who have served as interns at the Byrd Center. I am proud of all of them. Many of our interns have said that their experiences working with the Byrd Center, helping us process Senator Byrd’s vast archive, learning how an archive really works, and being given important tasks to do, was one of their most rewarding experiences during their college years.
By Ray Smock
I was honored to attend a wonderful reception on April 28 at the historic Anderson House in DC, in celebration of the completion of a great landmark in documentary editing and congressional scholarship, the 22-volume series on the First Federal Congress. This project, housed at George Washington University and published by The Johns Hopkins University Press, has been the life-long work of the chief editor, my dear friend of many years, Charlene Bickford. Along with her fabulous colleagues Ken Bowling, Helen Veit, and Chuck diGiacomantonio , all top professional editors and historians, this magnificent project collected, researched, edited, and annotated the full record of the First Federal Congress that met from 1789 to 1791. It was the Congress that launched our government and turned the words of the U.S. Constitution into the reality of a working government.
Ms. Welch is a board member of the West Virginia Humanities Council, the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation, and the Scarborough Society, which helps support the Shepherd University Library. She is also the co-founder and coordinator of the Shepherdstown Film Society. She and her husband Paul were recipients of the President’s Award in 2015 for their outstanding support of Shepherd University and the community.
By Ray Smock
This article first appeared on the History News Network on Sunday, March 5, 2017.
By Ray Smock
Inauguration Day in the United States of America is always a remarkable event, but it is even more so when the incoming president is of the opposite political party from the incumbent president. What makes the day so remarkable is that we make a celebratory occasion about the peaceful and orderly way we accept the will of the people in electing each new president. In so many countries in the world power changes hands in coups or with troops in the streets and clashing armies. It is not that our inaugurations have not been free of anxiety and high drama, or that there haven’t been protestors as part of the day’s events. Protest too is an essential part of democratic societies and the fact that we tolerate and even encourage dissent, sets us apart.
Welcome to the Byrd Center Blog! We share content here including research from our archival collections, articles from our director, and information on upcoming events.
The Byrd Center advances representative democracy by promoting a better understanding of the United States Congress and the Constitution through programs and research that engage citizens.
© 2021 Robert C. Byrd Center for
Congressional History and Education