A remarkable new website from the House Clerk's office provides a model of how federal government agencies can use the internet to bring congressional history to the public.
The House History timeline provides an interactive, narrative summary of the history of the House. In addition to covering all of the key dates and events in the House's history, the timeline also features nuggets of less well-known information, such as:
--1822, when"Joseph Marion Hernandez, a Delegate from the Florida Territory, became the first Hispanic American to serve in Congress."
--1857, when"the House convened for the first time in its new chamber in the recently extended South Wing of the Capitol, the site of the present-day chamber."
--1899, when"Speaker David Henderson of Iowa selected Representative Sereno Payne of New York as the first Majority (Republican) Floor Leader. Minority candidate for Speaker James Richardson of Tennessee served as the first Minority (Democratic) Floor Leader. Their new positions signified an increased interest in enforcing party unity on the House Floor."
--1930, when"the Republicans won a narrow majority of House seats in the fall elections, but the deaths of 19 Members-elect before the opening of the 72nd Congress (1931–1933) allowed the Democrats to gain a majority after a series of special elections. Texas Representative John Nance Garner was elected Speaker of the House."
In an era when History Departments are increasingly abandoning positions devoted to the study of the U.S. government, the work of federal government historians becomes critical from both an academic as well as a public perspective. The ClerkWeb site therefore deserves high praise.
Manan Ahmed - 11/15/2007
I agree that it is a good service but too bad it is so unwieldily to use and wrapped up in flash - one cannot even link to a particular year or pull any reference out.
The work of federal historians may be supporting public history but the work of historians in supporting usable web technologies for public history still lags.
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