Meet the Byrd Center Staff:
Ray Smock has been director since 2002, when the Byrd Center was dedicated. He is the former Historian of the U. S. House of Representatives (1983-95). He is a graduate of Roosevelt University in Chicago and holds the Ph.D. in history from the University of Maryland at College Park. He was co-editor of the 14-volume documentary series The Booker T. Washington Papers. His is author of a biography: Booker T. Washington: Black Leadership in the Age of Jim Crow (2009). Smock is co-editor of Congress Investigates: A Critical and Documentary History (2011), a two-volume compilation of scholarly articles and government documents covering the history of Congressional Investigations from 1792 to 2006. His most recent book is, Trump Tsunami: A Historian’s Diary of the Trump Campaign and His First Year in Office (2018).
In his capacity as House Historian he was a key planner of the national commemorations of the bicentennial of the U. S. Constitution and the bicentennial of Congress. His office was responsible for numerous publications on the history of Congress, including the standard reference The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-1989. Other publications of the Office of the Historian were Blacks in Congress, 1877-1989; Women in Congress, 1917-1990; A Guide to Research Collections of Former Members of the United States House of Representatives, 1789-1987; and The Origins of the U. S. House of Representatives: A Documentary Record.
He served on the editorial board and was a contributor to the 4-volume Encyclopedia of the United States Congress, (1995). He was senior historical consultant to WGBH public television in Boston on their 26-part telecourse, A Biography of America, (2000). Other publications include Masters of the House: Congressional Leadership over Two Centuries, (1998) and Landmark Documents on the U. S. Congress (1999). Smock also served as a historical consultant to the National Constitution Center, the first museum dedicated to the U. S. Constitution located on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. He was a consultant, editor and writer for a DVD called “Foundations of Freedom” designed to teach high school students about the Constitution. It was produced by Wheeling Jesuit University and distributed to 25,000 high schools in 2005. For his work on this project Wheeling Jesuit University presented him with the “Foundations of Freedom” award for educating Americans about the U.S. Constitution.
Smock is a member of the adjunct history faculty at Shepherd University and teaches U. S. History and Public History. He is past president of the Association for Documentary Editing, the Society for History in the Federal Government, and the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress. In 2006 West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin III appointed Smock to the board of the West Virginia Humanities Council and he was reappointed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in 2012. He served on the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, an independent agency affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration, from 2009 to 2016.
Director of Programs and Research
Jay develops and oversees the Byrd Center’s research projects, coordinates its oral history program, and leads its programming initiatives. He also serves as an adjunct professor in Shepherd University's History Department teaching courses on contemporary American history and public history. He is the current president of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress, a national alliance of organizations and institutions that promote the study of the United States Congress.
Jay is curator of the retrospective traveling exhibit, Robert C. Byrd: Senator, Statesman, West Virginian and co-curator of the collaborative digital exhibit, The Great Society Congress, an ACSC project. He has contributed essays for the online Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia and is currently revising his doctoral dissertation, Covering Suburbia: Newspapers, Suburbanization, and Social Change in the Postwar Philadelphia Region, 1945-1982 for publication. Jay earned a Ph.D. in History at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Archivist and Office Manager
Jody oversees the processing and reference services in the Byrd Center's archives, working with scholars who visit the center to conduct research. As the office manager, he conducts the daily activities at the center, coordinating campus and community events. He started working at the center as a student intern in 2011 and joined the staff in the summer of 2013 after graduating from Shepherd University with a B.A. in Public History. Jody received his M.A.R.A. (Masters of Archives and Records Administration) from San Jose State University in 2017. You can follow Jody's research in our Posts from the Archives blog series which shares stories discovered in our archives.
Jody is a member of the steering committee of the Congressional Papers Section of the Society of American Archivists and the communications committee for the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress. Since 2011, he has served as the Historian and Curator for the South Mountain Heritage Society in Burkittsville, Maryland.
Our Student Interns:
Delaney Conner is currently approaching her senior year at Shepherd University and is pursuing her B.A. in Historic Preservation and Public History. As president of Phi Alpha Theta (History Honor Society), Delaney enjoys connecting undergraduate historians with Washington D.C. and opportunities with other campus groups. She also completed a study abroad in Havana, Cuba with the Shepherd University Department of Social Work and the University of Havana History Department. With interests in West Virginia history, industrialization and the social implications, and environmental history, Delaney intends to use her experience at the Byrd Center to jumpstart research of the legislative history of the state and create podcasts. She also enjoys hiking, reading, and drinking coffee.
Jacob Vanorsdale is an intern at the Byrd Center. He is beginning his senior year as a student in Shepherd University's Historic Preservation and Public History Department. Jacob's research interests include West Virginia's economic development and oral history. Through this internship he plans to prepare for his senior capstone project and learn skills in curating exhibits. In addition to his work at the Byrd Center, Jacob is a part time employee with Best Buy. Prior to his studies at Shepherd University, Jacob received his associates degree in Computer Applications from Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in 2015.