University of Pittsburgh
November 28, 2001

New K. Leroy Irvis Reading Room to be Dedicated at University of Pittsburgh's Hillman Library

Contact: 

Sharon Blake

412-624-4364

Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH—A room that will house the personal papers of former Pennsylvania Speaker of the House K. Leroy Irvis will be officially dedicated at

1:30 p.m. Dec. 6, on the first floor of the University of Pittsburgh's Hillman Library, at the corner of Forbes Avenue and Bigelow Boulevard in Oakland.

Expected to participate in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the K. Leroy Irvis Reading Room are Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy, U.S. Representative

William Coyne (D-14), State Speaker of the House Matthew Ryan (R-168),

State Representatives Joe Preston (D-24) and William Robinson (D-19), and

Brent D. Glass, executive director of the Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission. Elsie Hillman will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies.

Irvis broke new ground in 1977, when he became the first African American to serve as Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. At that time, he was the only African American House Speaker in any of the 50 states. Irvis is an emeritus trustee of the University and an alumnus of the Pitt School of Law, as well as an accomplished poet, artist, and sculptor.

The new room at Hillman, funded through a $250,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, will house the K. Leroy Irvis Archives, which the former State House Speaker donated to Pitt several years ago. Included in the Archives are Irvis' personal correspondence, legislative materials, campaign literature, photographs, and newspaper clippings—accessible as an important resource for students, faculty, and the general public. Irvis will have an office in the room and is expected to be accessible to assist with his papers and to provide expertise on special projects undertaken to document the African American experience in Southwestern Pennsylvania.