CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Close to 900 boxes of now fully cataloged materials from the archives of former U.S. Senator Jennings Randolph (D-W.Va.) will officially be made available to researchers in the Mountain State and worldwide on West Virginia Day.
“It’s really a rich collection,” said Joe Geiger, director of archives and history with the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.
Acquired more than a decade ago, Geiger said a renewed push to process all of the documents, photos and other materials in the collection was undertaken last summer to make it easier for researchers to locate specific items in the collection through an extensive listing.
A link to the listing is available HERE.
“Going to that level of detail will help find materials in this collection that will benefit them,” Geiger said. “It was lengthy process in terms of getting this in a condition that it will be kept now permanently.”
On Wednesday, West Virginia’s 155th birthday, an online exhibit will be unveiled and the new collection finding aid reviewed during a 1 p.m. ceremony at the West Virginia Culture Center’s Archives and History Library located at the State Capitol Complex.
Scheduled speakers include state Supreme Court Chief Justice Margaret Workman, Secretary of State Mac Warner, House Speaker Tim Armstead (R-Kanawha, 40) and former 3rd District Congressman Nick Rahall among others.
Frank Randolph, Randolph’s younger son, and Brian Randolph, Randolph’s grandson, were also expected to attend.
“It’s a wonderful collection for West Virginians particularly,” Geiger said.
Randolph was born in Salem in 1902 and rose to the national political stage when he was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1932. He served seven terms in the U.S. House before losing in the 1946 election.
In 1958, Randolph won a special election to the U.S. Senate and continued to serve in the U.S. Senate until 1985.
By that time, he had cast more than 10,750 votes.
During his U.S. Senate career, Randolph was involved in the development of the interstate highway system in West Virginia, helped create the Appalachian Regional Commission and sponsored legislation to aid people with disabilities and those with black lung.
He was the driving force for the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution lowering the voting age from 21 to 18.
A Democrat, Randolph was the last member of Congress to have served during the initial days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration.
Randolph died in St. Louis, Mo. in 1998 at the age of 96 and was later buried in Salem.
Documents from his decades on Capitol Hill make up the Jennings Randolph Collection.
“It does no good to collect all this material and set it up on the shelf and no one knows about it,” Geiger told MetroNews.
“It’s our job to collect and preserve the history of West Virginia, but a big part of that is also letting the people that actually own these materials, the people of West Virginia, know that they exist and help them, facilitate their access to the materials in the collections.”