The University of Wyoming has announced that its archival collection of documents and photographs from its Harriet Elizabeth Byrd Collection is now available online. Liz Byrd was the first African American to serve in the Wyoming state legislature. Byrd was elected to the state’s House of Representatives in 1980 and served for eight years. She was then elected to the Wyoming State Senate and served there for four years.
The university’s America Heritage Center has digitized nearly 800 documents and photographs from the collection. The items include family photographs, awards, certificates, files, and other documents.
Liz Byrd was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1926. She earned a bachelor’s degree in education from what is now West Virginia State University in 1949. She returned to Wyoming and, unable to secure a teaching position in the public schools because of her race, taught at a U.S. Air Force base school for 10 years. She finally got a job in the Cheyenne school system and taught there for 27 years. Byrd earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Wyoming. She died in 2015.