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Congress Creates the Bill of Rights: Completing the Constitution

The eBook focuses on James Madison’s leadership role in creating the Bill of Rights, effectively completing the U.S. Constitution. Starting with the crises facing the nation in the 1780s, the narrative traces the call for constitutional amendments from the state ratification conventions. Through close examination of the featured document, Senate Revisions to the House Proposed Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the reader goes inside the First Congress, as Madison and the leaders of rival political factions worked in the House and Senate to formulate amendments to change the recently ratified Constitution. It was created as part of the Congress Created the Bill of Rights http://www.archives.gov/legislative/resources/bill-of-rights.html project. The eBook is available for download on our website and on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch with iBooks.

Senate Oral History Interviews Open for Research

Since 1976 the Senate Historical Office has interviewed Senate officers, parliamentarians, clerks, police officers, chiefs of staff, reporters, photographers, Senate pages, and senators. These interviews cover the breadth of the 20th century and now the 21st century, and include a diverse group of personalities who witnessed events first-hand. Darrell St. Claire, Assistant Secretary of the Senate, offered reminiscences of senators from Huey Long to Lyndon Johnson. Ruth Young Watt, Chief Clerk to the Subcommittee on Investigations under Joseph McCarthy and “Scoop” Jackson, candidly described fellow staffers Roy Cohn and Robert Kennedy, and reminisced about witnesses such as Howard Hughes and Jimmy Hoffa. Jesse Nichols, clerk and librarian for the Finance Committee from 1937 to 1971, was the first African-American hired on the Senate’s clerical staff. He spoke of the long, slow transition from a segregated city to an integrated workplace.

Senate historians interview those individuals who can offer a unique perspective on Senate history but may otherwise be missed by biographers, historians, and other scholars. Steeped in the literature and folkways of the Senate, the Senate historians also have ready access to Senate records. See a list of interviewees and links to interviews at  http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/history/e_one_section_no_teasers/OralHistoryList.htm

“Due to the Circumstances of Today”: The U.S. House of Representatives Remembers September 11, 2001

http://oralhistory.clerk.house.gov/historic-events/september-11/

As part of its ongoing oral history program, the Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, unveiled a new project commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. This event-based oral history compilation features eyewitness accounts from former Representatives, House officials, and employees about 9/11 and the day’s subsequent effects on the institution. “Due to the Circumstances of Today”—the quotation used in the title of this project—was the language inserted into the Congressional Record to explain the emergency recess on the morning of September 11th.

Divided into four broad themes—September 11, 2001, Reaction and Response, Security and Safety, and In Retrospect—the web site includes video and audio clips of interviewees reflecting on their personal experiences of that tragic day and the weeks and months that followed.

Also included on the web site is a compilation video, “September 11, 2001: A Narrative,” of unique perspectives from the House on 9/11, a series of images and artifacts relat

ed to the history of the House and the attacks, a timeline of the day’s events, and a contribution form for those who worked at the House on 9/11 and would like to share their experiences.

For questions or more information, please contact:

Office of the Historian
U.S. House of Representatives
B-56 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Tel:  202-226-5525
Fax:  202-226-2931
E-mail:  history@mail.house.gov

New Oral History Web site

In 2004, the Office of the Clerk authorized the first oral history program for the U.S. House of Representatives. Created to make the rich heritage of the U.S. House of Representatives more accessible to Members, staff, scholars, and the general public, the program includes interviews with a wide variety of previous House employees: Member aides, committee staff, support staff, technical assistants, family of Members, and select former Representatives. The interviews are conducted by the Office of History and Preservation (OHP), and they highlight the inner workings of the U.S. Congress, which in turn may inform those currently planning policies and making decisions. Included are detailed descriptions of the legislative process, the meanings and implications of legislative procedures, ruminations on personal experiences and political anecdotes, and unique reflections on the evolution of the institution. With these resources, the Clerk’s Office seeks to promote further interest in and a more nuanced study of the history of the U.S. House of Representatives. OHP produces transcripts of the audio and video interviews, interview summaries, and electronic copies of the recordings which will be archived and made available publicly through the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and the Library of Congress. Additionally, interviews with long-serving officers and those with employees who defied racial and gender barriers are included on the oral history program’s accompanying Web site, (http://oralhistory.clerk.house.gov/). In designing the oral history Web site, OHP strove to create a place where the diverse memories of each interviewee would merge with the historical and institutional significance of their experiences. The personalized, scrapbook approach has received acclaim from the Web-design community. (Image courtesy of Donnald K. Anderson, provided by Office of History and Preservation, Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives)

The U.S. Senate Historical Office Presents a New Online Feature: States in the Senate

Each state has its own unique place in Senate history. Reminders that we are a union of states surround us as we walk the halls of the Senate office buildings and the U.S. Capitol, where state flags, seals, and cherished objects of art from the individual states are proudly displayed. As senators perform their constitutionally appointed duties, they bring to the Senate a part of their state’s culture and contribute to their state’s history. Visit “States in the Senate” at  www.senate.gov/states to learn about the men and women who have represented each state in the United States Senate, and scroll through an annotated and illustrated timeline of each state’s milestones and significant events. Learn how each state helped shape the Senate, and how the Senate influenced each state.  www.senate.gov/states

 

Preserving Records of Members of Congress

The official records of congressional committees and of select officers of Congress must be preserved and transferred to the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives and Records Administration. However, while the papers of Members of Congress can be valuable historical resources, Members are not are not legally required to preserve and maintain them, as they are considered personal property. Many Members have sought to preserve their legacies by donating their records to colleges or archives in their home districts, but many have not.

Robin Reeder, Archivist of the House in the Office of History & preservation, Office of the Clerk, was recently involved in drafting a joint resolution that would encourage Members to “secure their papers for Archival preservation.” The draft of the resolution was presented in 2008 to the Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress. The committee is composed of the Clerk of the House, the Secretary of the Senate, the Archivist of the United States, historians for the House and Senate, and six members appointed by the House and Senate. Committee Chairman Robert Brady introduced the resolution in the House in 2008, and after review in the Senate, it passed in June 2008. Reeder wrote in The Federalist (Fall 2008) that the “Senate and House archivists are hopeful that House Concurrent Resolution 307 will remind Members of the availability of records management resources and personnel. Ultimately, the archival preservation of the records of Members of Congress will become a long-lasting form of service to constituents in their districts and throughout the nation. Members’ papers are listed and catalogued through the online Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress: http://bioguide.congress.gov. The Center for Legislative Archives also tracks the location of Members’ papers at http://www.archives.gov/legislative/repostitory-collections/

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