The Congressional Institute: Great Online Resource (April 2014)
Founded in 1987, the Congressional Institute is a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to helping Members of Congress better serve their constituents and helping their constituents better understand the operations of the national legislature. The Institute sponsors major conferences for the benefit of Members of the U.S. Congress as well as a number of smaller gatherings, all devoted to an examination of important policy issues and strategic planning. The Institute also conducts important research projects consistent with its mission, develops resources such as a House Floor Procedures Manual and sponsors Oxford-style bipartisan Congressional debates.
Fifth Report of the Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress Available (May 2013)
The Fifth Report of the Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress, dated December 31, 2012, is now available in paper and online. The report highlights the new greater emphasis on the Center for Legislative Archives within the National Archives and Records Administration, development of the Congressional Instance of the Electronic Records Archive at NARA, innovations in outreach to both members and committees to encourage preservation of their records, and enhanced collaborations among the Advisory Committee, the ACSC, and the Congressional Papers Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists. The report provides an essential summary of the preservation status and current issues affecting the records of Congress.
THOMAS to be replaced by Congress.gov (May 2013)
From the Library of Congress Magazine, March/April 2013 issue, courtesy of Dana Gabbard, Gov Docs Dept, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles:
The Law Library and CRS, working with the Library's web services experts, maintain THOMAS, the Internet-accessible database that makes legislative information-bills, resolutions, treaties and the Congressional Record-available to Congress and the public. Congress.gov, a beta website operated jointly by the Library of Congress, the House, the Senate and the other legislative branch sources, provides the same information through mobile devices and eventually will replace THOMAS. The Law Library responds to all queries related to THOMAS and the Congress.gov beta site. "Since the launch of the public legislative information system known as THOMAS in 1995, Congress has relied on the Library to make the work of Congress available to the public in a coherent, comprehensive way," said Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) at the September 2012 launch of the Congress.gov beta site. "The Library staff has a strong working relationship with the House, Senate and the Government Printing Office, which will enable the Library to successfully develop the next generation legislative information website."
Link to the beta site is at http://beta.congress.gov.
Important New Report on Congress (Nov. 2012)
Ray Smock, Director of the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies, calls attention to an important new report, “Getting Back to Legislating,” written by Don Wolfensberger for the Democracy Project, the Bipartisan Policy Center, and the Woodrow Wilson Center. Ray has posted his thoughts on the report and provided links to the full report and the executive summary at: http://www.byrdcenter.org/index.php/2012/11/28/a-new-report-on-congress-tells-it-like-it-is/
Congressional Records Research at the National Archives Made Easier (Nov. 2012)
The National Archives’ Center for Legislative Archives is the repository for the official records of the U.S. Congress -- a collection of valuable records dating from 1789 and totaling over one-half billion pages. To promote access to its holdings, the Center, in conjunction with the Senate and House archivists, has embarked upon an ambitious project to more fully describe the historically valuable records of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in its custody. Enhanced description of records from the 95th and 75th Congresses is now available to researchers in the National Archives’ Archives Research Catalog (ARC), the agency’s online catalog of record descriptions.
Scholars and students of U.S. government and politics will be especially interested in the detailed description of records of the 95th Congress (1977-1978). This improved description of more than 10,000 feet (the equivalent of 25 million pages) of records gives researchers the keys to unlock the rich documentation of the 95th Congress, one that historians regard as pivotal in twentieth century political and policy history.
<<span class="acscfont">In ARC, researchers will find descriptions of committee records of the 95th Congress that document such significant developments as the implementation of the new congressional budget process, the beginning of legislation de-regulating key sectors of the economy, the liberalization of bank lending to reach low-income communities, and the passage of important energy legislation and conservation measures. In the wake of the Watergate scandal, the 95th Congress also held high-profile hearings on such lively topics as public financing of campaigns, popular election of the president, and financial disclosure.
<<span class="acscfont">This enhanced description of the records of the 95th Congress is the first step in making available more fully described House and Senate records for the 1970s and ultimately providing researchers in-depth descriptions of the currently minimally described post-World War II records of Congress.
<<span class="acscfont">Detailed inventories of House and Senate records from the 75th Congress (1937-1938) have been made available online for the first time. Researchers can now find near folder-level descriptions for approximately 280 feet (the equivalent of 700,000 pages) of House and Senate records in ARC from the 75th Congress that was responsible for passage of such landmark legislation as the Civil Aeronautics Act of 1938, the Housing Act of 1937, the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938, and the Fair Labor Standards Act.
<<span class="acscfont">You can explore the more detailed description of House and Senate records from the 75th and 95th Congresses by searching the National Archives’ Archives Research Catalog: http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/. To limit your search to Congressional records, click on the search options link, then advanced search, and limit the location of archival materials to the Center for Legislative Archives.
The Center’s Next Generation Finding Aid Project will ultimately make it much easier for researchers to identify records of possible value in advance of their research visits to the Center and to more effectively plan their research strategies, thus saving valuable time and resources.
<<span class="acscfont">As detailed description for additional Congresses become available, the Center will make periodic announcements on this listserv and on various websites.
<<span class="acscfont">For more information about the Next Generation Finding Aid Project or for research consultation, contact the Center for Legislative Archives at 202-357-5350 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
U.S. House of Representative Office of the Clerk Updates (Oct. 2012)The Office of the Clerk has updated its House History page with resources for researching collections of congressional papers and images:
The Art & History section of the Clerk’s Web site is also a great resource for information about House of Representatives history, art, artifacts, and architecture:
House Historian's Office announces new website of oral history interviews their staff conducted relating to 9/11:http://oralhistory.clerk.
Announcing Availability of the Browder Collection and Online Analytic Guidebook (Oct. 2012)
THE BROWDER COLLECTION
Jacksonville State University Eminent Scholar Glen Browder undefined who previously served as a U.S. Congressman, Alabama Secretary of State, and Alabama State Legislator has donated his public and private records to the JSU library. In this project, Jacksonville State University is attempting to inventory, organize, analyze, and make publicly available the Browder Collection, which consists of information, documents, manuscripts, and scrapbooks pertaining to the life and career of Glen Browder.
Glen Browder’s experience and expertise as a participant/observer in Alabama politics and American democracy have spanned the latter third of the Twentieth Century and the early years of the Twenty-First Century. A long-time political scientist and Eminent Scholar in American Democracy at JSU, Dr. Browder also has served as an Alabama State Legislator, Alabama Secretary of State, and U.S. Congressman. While his service in each elective office was relatively brief, he exercised leadership and compiled useful notes and records regarding important issues and developments at each level. Throughout his public career, Browder tried to merge positive aspects of theory, politics, and reform; and he has been recognized as a practical, progressive leader in dealing with the challenges of a changing world.
The Browder Collection is being prepared as a resource for interested citizens, news journalists, and academic researchers. Over 300 boxes (450 linear feet) of material are being processed for housing at JSU’s Houston Cole Library and the JSU McClellan Center in Anniston. This task is an ambitious undertaking, and it promises a uniquely valuable collection for several reasons: (a) Browder’s broad combination of academic, political, and governmental activism at local, state, and national levels, (b) his realistic yet positive and effective style of civic service and democratic leadership, and (c) his assistance in compiling and structuring the material for open, objective analysis as well as his own approach to government, politics, and political science.
AN ANALYTIC GUIDEBOOK
To maintain the historical reality of the material as much as possible, the actual boxed files will remain for the most part in their original physical condition and order; however, the primary objective is to provide an analytic guidebook that enhances, in printed and electronic manner, the collection’s value as an historiographic record of Browder’s career and as useful insight into important aspects of Alabama politics and American democracy. Initially, we simply inventoried boxes of documents; now we are organizing a more comprehensive, coherent guidebook within a political and philosophical framework reflecting the nature of Browder’s public service. Most of the material has already been reconfigured in thematic format; and various aspects of Browder’s work are being analyzed and incorporated for easy access and usage.
This analytic guidebook is available online at: www.jsu.edu/depart/library/browdercollection/.
Grants Available for Digitizing Historical Records for FY 2013 (Aug. 2012)
The National Historic Publications and Records Commission has announced a new category for grants to create pilot projects for placing historic records collections online.
The materials must be of national significance. The NHPRC plans to fund from one to three projects at up to 50% of the total project cost, (up to $150,000 each) with the other half of the total project budget coming from cost sharing.
The full description of this grant program and its requirements and deadlines for applications can be found on the NHPRC website at: