CU Library Receives American History Documents

For Immediate Release: 
Feb 09 2006

CU Library Receives American History Documents

Athens, W.Va. - Concord University Director of the Beckley Center and Project Director for “The Southern West Virginia Teaching American History Project,” Dr. William A. “Bill” O’Brien, and Dr. John Kaminski, history professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and co-editor of the “The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, 1787-1791” project at the University of Wisconsin, presented Director of the University’s J. Frank Marsh Library, Dr. Stephen Rowe with copies of the four–volume “First Federal Elections” project, published by the Wisconsin Historical Society, and the first 18 volumes of the projected 28-volume Ratification series.

Dr. Kaminski, in his explanation of the research, noted that it took the authors of our constitution four months to frame the concepts and the people nine months to ratify the document. “Collectively, more than 70 years have gone into documenting this historic process. In 1950, the first publication of the Jefferson papers was published. Then President Harry Truman asked the national archives to archive the collection. In 1958, private funding from the Ford Foundation supported additional research by Robert Cushman from Cornell. I became involved in 1970. We searched thousands of libraries for materials. We had to search very broadly for documents … we were interested in what the “farmer Jones” [of the time] had to say as well as the framers of the constitution. Cushman focused on ‘ratification’ documents. We were interested in newspaper commentaries and the history and story of the ratification process.”

The presentation of these invaluable research sources, available to American history teachers throughout the region, was part of a three-year $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, which Dr. O’Brien directed. The purpose of the grant was to restore traditional American history to the core curriculum of K-12 schools throughout the nation. The program, launched principally by West Virginia’s own Senator Robert C. Byrd, has awarded more that a half billion dollars since 2001 for the improvement of American History instruction throughout the nation. Dr. O’Brien is currently completing application for a second such grant in 2006.

According to Dr. O’Brien, “Concord’s status as a university comes with a number of new responsibilities. Among these is the improvement and expansion of its library holdings, coupled with greater access to these resources by our teachers and citizens. These volumes will enhance tremendously the library’s ability to respond to the research interests that drive the nation’s renewed interest in the nation’s founding.”

Dr. Stephen Rowe, director of Concord’s Marsh Library, said that the gift further enhanced the library’s ability to provide primary research materials to scholars of American history. “Online access to our catalog will alert remote users that Concord now has these volumes, so on-campus and off-campus researchers will be able to use this new resource,” Rowe said.

The presentation was held at the Country Inn in Beckley on Monday, January 30 as part of the wrap-up meeting of the Teaching American History Project. Around 30 public school teachers were in attendance.

For more information about the American History Project, contact Dr. O’Brien, or 1-304-255-0793.


PHOTO: Director of the Marsh Library, Concord University, Dr. Stephen Rowe; History Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. John Kaminski; Director of the Concord University Beckley Center and Director of the Teaching American History Project, Dr. Bill O’Brien

PHOTO: Books authored by Dr. Kaminski