We note with sadness the passing of Robert C. Byrd, who received the AHA’s first Theodore Roosevelt-Woodrow Wilson Award in 2003 for his sponsorship of the Teaching American History grants. Over the past ten years, the Teaching American History grants have devoted more than a billion dollars to programs designed to support professional development for U.S. history teachers. The citation for the award and an interview with Senator Byrd that appeared in Perspectives are available online. Here is a brief background on Byrd, who had a “lifetime commitment to and interest in the discipline of history.”
Senator Robert C. Byrd is the classic self-made and self-educated man, who has made his life a continuing quest for knowledge, particularly the study of history. Born in North Carolina in 1917, he was raised in the coal mining regions of West Virginia. He won election to the state house of delegates in 1946, to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1952, and to the United States Senate in 1958. Although he never had the opportunity to attend college he attended law school at night at American University as a United States Senator. President Kennedy presented his law degree at graduation in 1963. Byrd attended several colleges as an undergraduate and ultimately received his BA from Marshall University in 1994.
See also the 2004 Perspectives article, “Robert C. Byrd: Senator Extraordinary.”