BYRD, Robert Carlyle (1917-2010)
Senate Years of Service: 1959-2010

BYRD, ROBERT CARLYLE, a Representative and a Senator from West Virginia; born in North Wilkesboro, Wilkes County, N.C., November 20, 1917; attended West Virginia public schools; student at Beckley College, Concord College, Morris Harvey College, and Marshall College, all in West Virginia, and George Washington University Law School, Washington, D.C.; graduated, American University Law School 1963; received Bachelor's degree in political science from Marshall University 1994; member of the West Virginia house of delegates 1947-1950; member of the West Virginia senate 1951-1952, resigning when elected to Congress; elected as a Democrat to the Eighty-third, Eighty-fourth, and Eighty-fifth Congresses (January 3, 1953-January 3, 1959); elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1958 for the term commencing January 3, 1959, and served from January 3, 1959, until his death; reelected in 1964, 1970, 1976, 1982, 1988, 1994, 2000, and again in 2006 for the term ending January 3, 2013; Secretary, Senate Democratic Conference 1967-1971; Democratic whip 1971-1977; Majority Leader and Democratic caucus chairman 1977-1980, 1987-1988; Minority Leader and Democratic caucus chairman 1981-1986; chair, Democratic Policy Committee 1977-1989; President pro tempore (1989-1995, June 6, 2001-January 3, 2003, 2007-June 28, 2010); chair, Committee on Appropriations (One Hundred First through One Hundred Third Congresses; One Hundred Seventh Congress [January 3-20, 2001; June 6, 2001-January 3, 2003]; One Hundred Tenth Congress); died June 28, 2010; lay in repose in the Senate Chamber July 1, 2010; interment in Columbia Gardens Cemetery, Arlington, Va.

Broadcast Pioneers Library
University of Maryland
College Park, MD
Papers: 43 audiotapes (1968-1975) in Westinghouse Broadcasting Company collection, 1945-1981.

Gerald R. Ford Library
Ann Arbor, MI
Papers: 1974-1977. Correspondence and birefing papers.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division
Washington, DC
Oral History: In the U.S. Capitol Historical Society collection.

National Archives and Records Administration
Washington, DC
Papers: Over 80 collections listed in the National Archives on-line catalog ( including textual and photographs in the National Archives in Washington and Presidential libraries.

Shepherd University
Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies
Shepherdstown, WV
Papers: Ca. 1953-2010. Ca. 1700 feet. Congress Series (1953-2010) (860 Linear Feet) The bulk of the Robert C. Byrd Congressional Papers collection consists of the senator’s personal papers that have been filed by congress (as archived by his staff over the years). There are several sub-series within each congress including: Legislative Papers, casework Correspondence, Personal Papers, and Travel. The Legislative sub-series is further divided into Appropriations (non-committee records documenting Senator Byrd’s time on the Senate Appropriations Committee); Bills (legislation that Senator Byrd introduced); and Legislative Files (a variety of records including background material on legislative issues and constituent correspondence on those issues). Casework Correspondence is composed of Constituent casework (dealing with Federal Agencies) and West Virginia files (casework at the state level). (Note that due to the personal information contained within this sub-series, there are certain restrictions on researchers accessing these records detailed in the center's Conditions of Use form). Senator Byrd’s Personal Papers sub-series contains at variety of records that were kept mainly in his capitol office; these include appointments, thank you notes, tour and flag request, memos, correspondence with presidents and other members of Congress, and other similar records. Finally, the Travel sub-series details the senator’s trips and is comprised mostly of itineraries, some expense reports and receipts, and occasionally photographs of the trip itself. Projects Series(early 1960's-2010): The series includes correspondence, memorandums, clippings, photographs, and other media items relating to West Virginian projects supported by Senator Byrd. The correspondence includes official letters, constituent mailings, surveys and reports, brochures, and proclamations. There are requests for projects and funding, evaluations of disasters and needs within the state, progress reports, community responses (petitions), and summaries. Included are photographs and other media items, such as CDs, DVDs, and VHS tapes, sent by constituents to Byrd related to various specific projects. The series is further divided into three sub-series, the first being Individual Counties, organized chronological and followed by specific projects ordered alphabetically, most of which were completed with appropriations secured by Senator Byrd. The second sub-series contains the Multiple-County Projects, organized in the same manner as the individual counties listed above. The third sub-series contains Administrative Files; this sub-series describes the process of securing funds, identifying needs, designing and planning, and the dedicating of projects ranging from community centers and schools to dams, power plants, and flood control projects. Friends of Robert C. Byrd PAC Series (1970-2010) (22 Linear Feet) The Friends of Robert C. Byrd Political Action Committee was involved primarily in raising campaign funds for Senator Byrd. This involved the planning events and adherence to the FEC’s financial guidelines. The PAC was also involved with setting up various groups and foundations to support the Senator’s vision and evolving mission. The Friends of Robert C. Byrd PAC subseries consists of Financial files, Organizational Files, Memorabilia, and Audio/Visual material . Finding aid available on-line.

Oral History: 1980-ongoing. Senator Robert C. Byrd-United States Capitol Historical Society (1980) Senator Robert C. Byrd-Senate Historical Office (1989-1990); Jim Huggins (Updated 1/21/2013) Staff to Senator Byrd (1973-1992); Jim Nobles Neighbor and friend of Senator Byrd.
Papers: 1961-2010. Ca. 2,500 items. Byrd’s Eye View newspaper column sent to newspapers throughout West Virginia on a regular basis for almost 50 years. This archival file contains more than 2,500 essays beginning with the first in 1961, during his first term in the United States Senate. The final issue, dated June 23, 2010, appeared in West Virginia newspapers on June 23, 2010, just five days before his death. The range of topics includes major national issues, a wide swath of articles on West Virginia, from folklore to jobs creation, the role of the coal industry in the state, and Senator Byrd’s efforts to improve economic diversity in West Virginia. This archive contains all issues, listed by year and title. All of the columns now have full-text search capability to facilitate your research.
Papers: Thousands of photographs documenting Senator Byrd’s political career and family life. A small fraction have been digitized and are available on the web site. They include Byrd with 11 Presidents, with U.S. Political Figures,17 Photos; Byrd with Notable American Figures, 23 Photos; Byrd with Foreign Dignitaries,15 Photos; Byrd with "We the People",10 Photos.

University of Oklahoma
Political Commercial Archive
Norman, OK
Papers: 4 recordings. 1970-2006. Topical index on-line.

Vanderbilt University
Television News Archive
Nashville, TN
Papers: Over 1000 recordings. 1968-2013. Searchable data base index on-line.

West Virginia University
West Virginia and Regional History Collection
Morgantown, WV
Papers: Correspondence in Ernest Glenwood Otey papers, 1935-1965, and West Virginia Chamber of Commerce records, 1938-1968.

  • Byrd, Robert C. Child of the Appalachian Coalfields. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 2005.
  • ___. "The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990: An Innovative, But Uncertain Approach to Acid Rain Control.'' West Virginia Law Review 93 (1990-1991): 477-95.
  • ___. Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency. New York: W.W. Norton, 2004.
  • ___. The Senate, 1789-1989. 4 vols. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1989-1994. Vols. 1 and 2, Addresses on the History of the United States Senate; Vol. 3, Classic Speeches, 1830-1993; Vol. 4, Historical Statistics, 1789-1992.
  • ___. The Senate of the Roman Republic: Addresses on the History of Roman Constitutionalism. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1995.
  • ___. We Stand Passively Mute: Senator Robert C. Byrd's Iraq Speeches. Tualatin, Oreg.: Papyngay Press, 2004.
  • Corbin, David A. The Last Great Senator: Robert C. Byrd's Encounters with Eleven U.S. Presidents. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2012.
  • U.S. Congress. Memorial Addresses and Other Tributes. 111th Cong., 2nd sess., 2012. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2012.