April 1st, 2016
By Danielle Emerling, Assistant Curator, WVRHC
Congress Week takes place each year during the first week of April to commemorate the month in which Congress achieved its first quorums in 1789. It is a perfect time to highlight the extensive collection of congressional papers held by the West Virginia & Regional History Center.
The Center collects and preserves the most significant body of deposited personal papers of West Virginia governors, legislators, and members of the U.S. Congress within the state’s borders. In excess of two dozen congressional and political papers collections document more than 150 years of state and national history.
The collections include those of the state’s earliest congressional representatives, such as Waitman T. Willey, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1863 upon West Virginia’s admission as a state of the Union. Also included are the papers of modern political figures, such as Arch Moore, who served five terms in the United States House of Representatives, as well as three total terms as governor of West Virginia.
Photograph of Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV) pose with a group of young children in the Capitol Rotunda. Senate Photographic Studio, March 20, 1987. From the Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV papers.
Most recently, the Center received the Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV papers, which document Rockefeller’s 30-year career in the U.S. Senate, 1985-2015; and the Congressman Nick Joe Rahall II papers, which document his service representing West Virginia’s Third District in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1977- 2015.
These collections are valuable resources for a number of education and research projects. Congressional collections contain resources documenting federal, state, and local government activities. They reflect relationships and interactions between representatives and their constituents, and they provide an account of legal, economic, and social issues at the state, regional, and national levels.
More detailed descriptions of congressional collections held by the Center are available at https://wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu/collections/physical/congressional
Congress Week is an event supported by the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC), an independent alliance of organizations that promote the study of the U.S. Congress and the preservation of congressional papers. The West Virginia University Libraries became a member of the ACSC in 2015.