The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a nearly $60,000 grant to West Virginia University Libraries to create the first-ever online portal bringing together congressional archives from repositories throughout the United States.
Unlike presidential papers, which are centralized in one location with dedicated staff and funding, congressional collections are geographically dispersed among institutions large and small with varying degrees of resources. For researchers, collections may be difficult to use, both because of a lack of travel funding and the breadth and varying levels of description in congressional archives. The pandemic has made these problems more acute due to archives closures and travel restrictions.
The American Congress Digital Archives Portal project will address these challenges and provide easier access to archives for scholars, educators and the public. The project will give open access to congressional archives by bringing together sources from multiple institutions into a single online platform, illuminating the value of each collection and the relationships among them. The portal will include correspondence, memoranda, audiovisual materials, and more.
The collaborative initiative will partner with institutions that hold congressional archives. In this foundational stage of the project, WVU is partnering with the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at The University of Kansas and the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education. The project also includes an advisory board composed of leading individuals in the areas of congressional archives and scholarship.