Note: This post was previously listed under our "News from the Grey Box" blog series
An essential part of any archive’s mission is to field research queries from patrons. Most of the requests about the Byrd Center’s collections have come via email. In turn, I’ve been able to field many of these requests with some degree of success relatively quickly (usually the patron is asking about a particular document rather than a larger topic that would require many documents and more research time). I’m then able to send the researcher an electronic file which not only saves them a trip (especially if they’re from say, California), but it also drives our digitization efforts (as we now have that paper file as a PDF).
Sometimes we don’t have what the researcher is seeking, so we try and point them to other resources that may bear more fruit for their search.
Other times, we strike gold–the “magic bullet” of documents that are rumored to exist, but rarely seen.
Last week, a patron emailed us about an article he had read in the New York Times that referenced how Senator Byrd quoted all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in 1994. A brief search online through Thomas.gov and the newerFederal Digital System did not reveal enough useful search results, so I took a quick look in the Byrd Collection. I thought perhaps the senator had marked which quotes he used for the speeches in any of the several volumes of Shakespeare’s works that he owned. I also looked at his research binders that contained typed pages of quotations he particularly liked.
There I found a binder labeled “Quotes of Shakespeare, Congressional Record.” Even more specifically, the title page read: “RCB–Quotes of Shakespeare appearing in the Congressional Record from all 37 plays, 1994.”
Needless to say, the researcher was as ecstatic as I was delighted to find such a perfect document to fulfill his needs.
This is just one illustrative example of the mission of any archive to bring their researchers exactly what they’re looking for, and the staff of the Byrd Center will always endeavor to do just that.
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.
Copyright © Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education