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Exhibition Highlights Service of Senator John D. Rockefeller IV

Posted by Jessica Tapia.
April 6th, 2016

“A Legacy of Leadership” Exhibition Highlights Service of Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV

By Danielle Emerling, Assistant Curator

Left: Senator Rockefeller speaking at the Pepper Commission press event, 1990; Center: Rockefeller being sworn into the Senate by Vice President George H.W. Bush, 1985; Right: Rockefeller speaking at the Democratic National Convention, 2008.

The West Virginia & Regional History Center announces the opening of the exhibition, “Jay Rockefeller: A Legacy of Leadership,” in the Rockefeller Gallery located in the Downtown Campus Library.

Jay Rockefeller arrived in West Virginia in 1964 as a young VISTA volunteer in the small mining community of Emmons. With the people of Emmons, Rockefeller worked to affect change, from lobbying the school board for a bus stop to building a community center.

The experience was transformative. The young man from one of the wealthiest families in the country found an unlikely home in the hills and hollows of the state and a purpose that drove his fifty-year career in public service.

Characterized as compassionate, conscientious, and tenacious in pursuit of making a difference on issues he cared most about, he spent 30 years in the United States Senate working on some of the most challenging matters of the day.

The exhibition, “A Legacy of Leadership” documents Senator Rockefeller’s early years in West Virginia, his election to the United States Senate, and some of his many accomplishments during his long and distinguished career as a U.S. senator. It draws on staff Legacy Memos, written for Senator Rockefeller’s retirement, to highlight his work in the areas of health care reform; West Virginia’s jobs, economy, and industry; children, families, and education; and veterans’ affairs.

Items on display come from the Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV papers, a treasure among the congressional collections held by the West Virginia & Regional History Center. To learn more about Senator Rockefeller, the archival collection, and the Legacy Memos, please visit

The exhibit was curated by Danielle Emerling, Assistant Curator, Congressional and Political Papers Archivist. Installation support was provided by Francisco Tovar, Laura Bell, and Casey DeHaven.

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