.By Dylan Rosenlieb
Senator Byrd’s appreciation for literature and history was well-known. His colleagues in the Senate often heard quotes from Shakespeare, Biblical passages, and bits of history from the Roman Senate mingled in his floor statements. Many of the books Senator Byrd consulted for his research are found in his library, most of which are first editions. Almost all of them contain annotations with his infamous red pencil marking and underlining important passages. Senator Byrd was an avid scholar and a dedicated student, reading and researching throughout his life. His personal library collection, now held at the Byrd Center, contains over 500 titles.
Each book from the library collection is being cataloged in our PastPerfect database, recording the titles, dates of publication, and authors as well as dimensions and signatures/annotations. When the cataloging is completed, this collection will be accessible for research.
By Jody Brumage
Beginning in the mid-1970s, Senator Byrd was actively involved with aiding the West Virginia State Rail Authority in saving a short-line railroad located in the eastern part of the state.
The South Branch Valley Railroad begins in the City of Petersburg in Grant County, West Virginia, and runs fifty-two miles north through Hardy and Hampshire Counties to Green Spring, where it crosses the Potomac River and connects to the old Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) main line (now owned and operated by CSX).
Originally built by the South Branch Railroad Company in 1884, the line was purchased in the early 20th century by the B&O. In 1976, after decades of deterioration due to neglect, the B&O sought Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) approval to abandon the line. Within two years, owing to the work of Senator Robert C. Byrd and Congressman Harley O. Staggers, Sr. in arranging a transfer of the line, the State of West Virginia took ownership of the South Branch Valley Line. West Virginia became the first state in the country to own and operate a commercial railroad.
By Jody Brumage
“This is a matter of the greatest importance to the American people as it involves the use of the public property – the Nation’s airwaves, to deliberately deceive the public.” – Congressman Harley O. Staggers, Sr., 1971.
In the spring of 1971, Congressman Harley O. Staggers, Sr., burst into headlines and newscasts across the country when he initiated an investigation and levied subpoenas against CBS for footage used in the production of their 1971 documentary The Selling of the Pentagon. Controversial from its first airing in February 1971, The Selling of the Pentagon sought to illuminate the massive spending of tax dollars to support pro-military propaganda during the Vietnam era, an issue that had been debated in Congress and in the press for over two years by the time CBS aired the documentary. The production of the program, especially the alleged manipulation of taped interviews featured in the documentary, raised serious questions about media bias from Congress.
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