Byrd Family Donates Collection of Historical Documents to Smithsonian

Charlene Hodges Byrd was a respected educator in Kanahwa County who passed away in 2009. She stipulated in her will that her collection of historical documents connected to the plight of African-Americans be donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

A dedication ceremony with Byrd’s family and friends was held at the museum. The collection features historic letters, photos, poetry, newspaper articles and autograph books. Jaretta Engleman — Byrd’s goddaughter, said she took great pride in her family’s collection and wanted to share its history with others.

Byrd, a former associate superintendent for Kanawha County, was dedicated to instilling the importance of education among children in the district. Engleman met Byrd through a mentoring program when she was a first-grader at Glenwood Elementary School.