Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress
(Established under Authority of Public Law 101-509 November 5, 1990)
December 31, 2000
Compiled by Karen D. Paul under the direction of Gary Sisco, Chairman, and Jeff Trandahl, Vice Chairman.
A people who cannot document their rights cannot exercise them.
-John W. Carlin, Archivist of the United States, September 15, 2000
Three recent trends threaten the integrity of the records of Congress. First, the volume and complexity of individual members' records are increasing dramatically, while members typically are finding less time to oversee the preservation of these materials. Second, over the past five years, the nearly revolutionary conversion to electronic records in member and committee offices poses major new challenges for the preservation of this inherently unstable form of information storage. And finally, seemingly random dispersal of members' papers to numerous institutions within each state is seriously impeding efforts to organize strong, state-based public-service resources centers. The following report further identifies these disturbing trends and provides a framework for ensuring that the American people continue to have full and timely access to useful information about the work of the United States Congress.Executive Summary
In its Third Report to Congress, the Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress sharpens discussion of three critical areas: the preservation of members' papers, the development and preservation of electronic records in Congress, and research access to congressional archival information. While the first two reports focused on developing the official records of Congress at the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives, this report turns to issues associated with preserving members' papers-the other major source of information about Congress. The first chapter presents the results of a national survey and a case study that illuminate and define these issues. A second case study provides an example of possible solutions. Recommendations and preservation criteria are derived from these examples.
Technology's impact on congressional documentation during the past five years has been phenomenal and promises to be every bit as important over the next five years. Chapter II describes projects at the National Archives and in the Congress that are designed to ensure the preservation of electronic records for the long term, through changes in hardware and software. A combination of technological breakthroughs and the efficiencies that flow from them have created opportunities to improve access to information about Congress. The results of the National Archives' Electronic Records Archives program promise a scalable technology that will help both larger and smaller congressional archives meet the technical and financial challenges associated with electronic records. This is especially important because records documenting the work of Congress, unlike the records of a presidential administration, do not physically reside in one convenient library. Chapter VI describes improvements in access and underscores the need to continue to explore ways to expand them. The remaining chapters detail progress in areas outlined in the first two reports. Chapter VIII summarizes their status.
Looking back over nearly a decade since it was established, the Advisory Committee notes substantial progress in the following areas:
- establishing a strongly staffed Center for Legislative Archives and initiating the renovation of the Center's facilities
- establishing better archival, administrative and intellectual controls over the records of congressional committees and other entities, including the House Republican Caucus, the Senate Republican Policy Committee, Senate Republican Conference, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, and congressional commissions
- improving committee records management guidance through timely publications and seminars
- improving members' office records management guidance through effective publications and briefings
- initiating cooperative activities between the Center and the membership of the Congressional Papers Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists in order to strengthen preservation of the documentation of Congress
- establishing records schedules for congressional support agencies, including the Congressional Budget Office, General Accounting Office, Government Printing Office, and Office of Technology Assessment
- establishing a strong preservation/conservation program for the Center's archival holdings and the Charters of Freedom
- initiating a program of electronic records management and preservation
- improving access to congressional archives by initiating (1) the publication of on-line finding aids and committee resource guides, (2) textual and on-line publication of significant documents, (3) the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress data base as well as declassifying previously classified records
- establishing educational resources and exhibits using the archival holdings of the Center
While much has been accomplished, there is still much to do to achieve the ideal goal of preserving a complete and useful archival record of Congress.
Members' Papers constitute at least half of the documentation of Congress. They are maintained and preserved by hundreds of different repositories around the country. The process whereby these records are collected and preserved needs to be strengthened. Because of their size and complexity, they have increasingly become a strain on the resources of recipient institutions. This report provides valuable information about such costs so that members can take appropriate steps to help mitigate them and work with their institutions to raise any necessary funds.
Committee records also are increasingly voluminous and complex. While much progress has been made in the form of guidelines and seminars, there is a need on many committees for professional archival expertise on a daily basis. The increasing frequency of committee staff turnover and the proliferation of electronic records pose record-keeping challenges that can best be managed by a full-time staff archivist.
Electronic records preservation remains a top priority. Working with the National Archives, Congress must continue to support the development of national standards that will facilitate the long-term preservation of electronic records regardless of changes in hardware and software. As more information is generated electronically, Congress must continue to ensure that the record copy of its official documents is clearly identified and preserved in such a manner that it can be accessed long into the future. At the same time, it is vital that electronic formats and data bases be preserved not only because of the amount of money invested in their creation, but because they so greatly enhance access to the information.
To improve and strengthen the management and preservation of members' papers and committee records, the Advisory Committee:
- Endorses the use of preservation criteria by members who wish to donate their papers to a research institution, and recommends that these criteria be made available to grant-making agencies to give them a standard for assessing grant applications they may receive for preserving particular congressional papers collections (Section I.D.)
- Recommends that members of Congress, prior to their retirement or after six years of service, begin devoting specific and dedicated resources to strengthen records management and establish preliminary intellectual controls over the records prior to their transfer. Such resources may range from a staff archivist to arranging for sharing an archivist with other offices. (Section I.A.)
- Endorses the development of statewide Public Policy Centers that include a strong archival component with a focus on political and public policy documentation. The purpose is to encourage within each state, research facilities that approximate what a presidential library offers in terms of resources and collections that relate to each other. Centralizing similar collections at dedicated repositories will make it possible to share the extensive resources needed to preserve such materials. The collections will also be more accessible to scholars who will need to visit only one or two places as opposed to ten or twenty. (Section I.C.)
- Recommends that congressional committees hire professional archivists to assist with records management and archiving projects (Section III.B.)
- Endorses the National Archives' Electronic Records Archives (ERA) program to develop long-term preservation of and access to electronic records (Section II.A.)
- Endorses the "Century of Lawmaking Project" of the Law Library of Congress (Section VI.E.)
- Encourages the continued development of document type definitions (DTDs) for legislative documents, and of extensible markup language (XML) for data exchange throughout the Legislative Branch and as a means for preserving Congress' electronic records (Sections II.C., D., E., F.)
- Endorses the development of Congressional Oral History Projects by archival institutions for purposes of documentation and collections development (Section I.C.)
To provide better and easier access to congressional archival sources which reside in Washington D.C. at the Center for Legislative Archives and in hundreds of research institutions around the country, the committee:
- Encourages the on-line publication of finding aids for congressional papers and Center for Legislative Archives holdings (Sections VI.A., C.)
- Recommends that the Center for Legislative Archives and repositories in the states continue to add appropriate links to each other's holdings on their home pages (Section VI.G.)
- Encourages the development and expansion of on-line information about Congress particularly by including archival documents and data bases of high research interest (Sections VI.E., F., G.)
- Encourages the development and expansion of on-line exhibits by the National Archives, the Congressional Visitors Center, the Library of Congress, and other archival repositories and Centers that focus on the history of Congress (Section VII.A.)
- Encourages the development and expansion of on-line teaching aids by the National Archives and other repositories and Centers that focus on the history of Congress (Sections VI. G.; VII.B.)
- Recommends that the Center for Legislative Archives vigorously continue to process records for declassification review in response to congressional directives (Section VI.B.)
- Endorses educational publications that foster a better understanding of Congress and the legislative process (Section VII.B.)
- I. Members' Papers
- A. Records Management
- B. Preservation
- C. Funding Preservation
- D. Preservation Criteria
- E. Center-Repository Cooperative Ventures
- II. Electronic Records Management, Preservation, and Access
- A. National Archives Electronic Records Archives
- B. Technology Task Force
- C. Legislative Branch Standards
- D. Senate Legislative Information System
- E. House Document Management System
- F. SGML/XL Feasibility Study
- III. Congressional Documentation
- A. Modern Records Survey
- B. Committee Guidance
- C. Records of Party Conferences, Caucuses, Commissions, and Congressional Support Agencies
- IV. National Archives Building Renovation
- V. Preservation Plans and Surveys at the Center for Legislative Archives
- VI. Access
- A. Reference at the Center for Legislative Archives
- B. Declassification
- C. Committee Resource Guides
- D. Publications
- E. National Digital Library at the Library of Congress - A Century of Lawmaking
- F. Bioguide Data Base
- G. Home Pages
- VII. Outreach Projects
- A. Exhibits
- B. Educational Publications and Seminars
- C. Partnership Opportunities
- D. Internships
- VIII. Status of Recommendations from the First and Second Advisory Committee
- Reports and Analysis of Resource Requirements
- A. Maximizing Documentation of the Legislative Process
- B. Preservation Priorities
- C. Access and Reference
- D. Outreach
Appendix A: Senators Who Made Provision for Their Papers Prior to Retirement
Appendix B: Preservation Survey
Appendix C: Electronic Records Study
Appendix D: Center-Repository Cooperative Ventures Survey
Appendix E: Congressional Web Sites
Appendix F: Committee Member Biographies
Appendix G: Statute Establishing Advisory Committee.
on the Records of Congress Members' Papers
The Advisory Committee recognizes that the quality of records management in members' offices varies, and has advocated records management improvements since 1992. Accordingly, the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate developed guidance to members' offices in the form of handbooks, consultations, and staff briefings. House and Senate staff routinely work closely with archivists from repositories around the country to facilitate the preservation and transfer of members' collections when they retire from service.
The Legislative Resource Center publishes Closing a Congressional Office: A Guide to the Disposition of Official Papers and Records, which is available on the Clerk's web site and is included with the Clerk's formal personalized offer of archival consultative service to non-returning members. At the December 1999 meeting of the Advisory Committee, the Clerk announced a proposed reorganization of the Legislative Resource Center to include the creation of an historical services division, which would in addition be responsible for administering the Clerk's archival responsibilities. The reorganization, subsequently approved by the Committee on House Administration, culminated in the summer of 2000 with the hiring of an historical services manager and an archival specialist. The division also employs two research assistants.
The Senate Historical Office publishes a Records Management Handbook for United States Senators and Their Archival Repositories and an accompanying pamphlet with checklist for members' staff. The handbook is designed to guide staff as they set up an office, perform records disposition, and ready the collection for donation. In addition, specially tailored assistance with archiving electronic records is provided to Senate offices that are closing. The Senate Historical Office also encourages Senators to hire a professional archivist to prepare the collection for transfer to an archival repository.
Hiring an archivist to close an office, however, cannot compensate for a lack of good records management in the office from the beginning of the member's career. This especially is true for electronic records that must be migrated as systems evolve. It is impossible for an archivist to reconstruct documentation that is missing because it was taken away by departing staff, or because it was deleted from computer systems. Staff frequently comment during the closing of an office that they could have used good archival assistance "all along." Offices can benefit by adding a professional archivist to the staff well before a member retires. Past instances of this practice demonstrate several benefits to the office:
- determining filing protocols (textual and electronic)
- setting up files that contain substantive information
- managing disposition and retrieval of files through appraisal and indexing
- creating useful data bases that facilitate information retrieval
- performing research
- assisting staff with finding "facts"
- improving accessibility of information by building office systems that meet office needs
- providing records management to state offices
- shaping the historical record
- reducing both repository and office costs through records management assistance
The Advisory Committee wishes to encourage members to require good records management practices and to consider the advantages of having archival assistance on an ongoing basis. It is the best way to preserve a complete and meaningful record of contributions to the legislative process. A list of former senators who have made early provision for their collections is included as Appendix A to encourage other members to do likewise.Preservation
In December 1999, the Advisory Committee agreed that a task force of Congressional Papers archivists would supply the necessary background for this section. The task force was assembled and provided information from two recent studies dealing with the nature and extent of preservation issues and the potential for addressing them.1
The Congressional Papers Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists conducted a national congressional papers conservation/preservation survey in 1999. The survey was prepared and administered by Jeffrey S. Suchanek (Director, Wendell H. Ford Research Center and Public Policy Archives, University of Kentucky Libraries) and Mark A. Greene (then Curator of Manuscripts, Minnesota Historical Society). Responses from 54 repositories were received and a statistical report was compiled. (See Appendix B for a summary) The report shows that the ability of many repositories to continue to provide adequate administration of congressional collections in the future may rest on some combination of the following:
- Repositories need to receive increased cooperation from the originating congressional offices. This will require a fundamental change in the way that many congressional office staff manage the documentation generated by their offices. A commitment to basic records management should be viewed as essential. Offices should:
- require good filing practices for textual and electronic files
- either microfilm or photocopy newspaper clippings
- label all permanently valuable sound and visual media
- migrate electronic records to open systems or use standard software
- Repositories increasingly find it necessary to obtain financial assistance, either directly from the member of congress and/or with his or her aid in identifying prospective donors. While the archivist and the repository share a responsibility to assist with fund raising and to identify potential grant sources, the reality is that grant money for congressional collections is far less available now than it was twenty years ago. Some effort to inform members and their staffs about the cost of caring for these collections and to build cooperation (from the beginning of a member's tenure) between the member's fund raising and the repository's development office would clearly benefit both members of Congress and the repositories that care for their collections. Repositories that have undertaken an energetic development effort generally have been pleased by the response. Members who undertake such fund raising while they are still in office usually find the task easier.
The second study was conducted by Emily B. Robison in partial fulfillment for a master's degree in Library and Information Science at Louisiana State University (LSU) in August 1999. Her topic was a case study of electronic records in two senatorial collections donated to LSU. (See Appendix C for a summary.) LSU's experience with electronic records in congressional collections underscores the importance of increased communication with senatorial staff in order to better define the content of the electronic archive. It also reveals the fact that additional costs are associated with the preservation of electronic records. Early commitment on the senator's part is important because it allows the repository to collaborate with Senate office staff regarding a range of appraisal and preservation issues. Repositories that fail to engage in such dialogues with members of their delegation may find themselves accepting electronic records that they cannot preserve and access, or receiving collections where much of the electronic documentation (and therefore much of the historical record) is missing. Members can assist this process by designating a repository early in their careers so that the dialogue can begin.
Preserving congressional papers costs money, and both donors and curators need to take this into consideration when deciding to donate or acquire a congressional collection. While many variables affect total cost, a useful measure for estimating "processing" costs (i.e., the amount of money needed to arrange, describe, and provide basic conservation) is between $80 and $150 per cubic foot of records. This figure was derived from information supplied by the University of Alaska, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the University of Vermont, together with a review of published articles that systematically looked at the amount of time required to process a collection. (The range in cost per cubic foot reflects the fact that different types of series require different levels of processing.) This figure does not include the cost required to store a collection or to do advanced conservation on special media formats. The University of Kentucky's experience with the Senator John Sherman Cooper Papers demonstrates that overall costs can be higher than $150 per cubic foot. This 350-foot collection was processed over a two- year period by one professional archivist, one full-time assistant, and several part-time students at a total personnel cost of $135,000. Basic storage materials (boxes, folders, plastic sleeves) cost $9,002.26.
Costs for video and film preservation vary widely depending on what needs to be done. A political collection at the University of Kentucky recently required the following: $79.45 to clean and restore a 4-minute video; $238.37 to clean and duplicate a 66-minute video; $223.45 to restore and copy a 34-minute video; and $5,000.00 to clean, restore, make a preservation film copy and a VHS use copy of a 2- hour 16 mm film. (This last item has not been done due to the cost.) There are few figures available to gauge the costs of preserving electronic records in congressional collections. The total amount could include the cost of an archival preservation system (if the archives does not have one or the use of one) , maintenance of the system, a cleaner/evaluation system, preservation copying, annual samples, software, and media refreshment/replacement. As electronic records include more word- processing files and relational data bases, the costs of migrating them to new file formats and data structures are difficult to calculate.2 Emory University, repository of the Senator Sam Nunn collection, reports spending $1,000 as a one-time cost for arrangement and description; $400 per Senate term served for processing the data into usable form; $2,000 for a server; $500 for software for conversion; and $500 for labor for copying the tapes. The total cost would be higher except for the fact the Emory has so much infrastructure in place to deal with similar record types.
Since these studies were completed, NARA's work to develop an Electronic Records Archive indicates that a comprehensive and scalable solution to the problem of preserving electronic records may be in reach. The cost of preserving electronic records may also be comparably reduced.Funding Preservation
Building a Modern Political Collection
As an example of one way to address the larger preservation issue of providing adequate funding, the Advisory Committee includes the following discussion. It was first presented at a Congressional Papers Roundtable meeting in 1999 by Herbert Hartsook, Curator of Modern Political Collections at the University of South Carolina.
In 1991, the University of South Carolina established a Modern Political Collections Division in the South Caroliniana Library. Its purpose is to collect and preserve manuscript collections documenting contemporary South Carolina and, specifically, government at the state and national levels and politics within the state. The Division encourages scholarly research in its collections that include the papers of South Carolina's leaders in the state, the General Assembly, and Congress, as well as of Cabinet members. The division also collects the papers of political parties, organizations impacting on the political scene, and editorial cartoonists. Significant collections are received every year. There is an active oral history program with donors, key associates, and their staff as narrators, many of whom become good supporters of the documentary program.
Recognizing that legislative collections place unique demands upon repositories because of their size, complexity and variety of special media, the university is working to create an endowment to support Modern Political Collections. The current goal is $1,000,000, and they are nearly half-way there. (It requires $700,000 to fund a temporary full-time staff position and $150,000 to fund a graduate assistantship.) Modern Political Collections has been aggressive about seeking funding support both for the endowment and to meet the exceptional costs of processing. About half of their living donors have underwritten the costs of processing their own collections. Endowment proceeds will fund a full-time position devoted expressly to political collections to supplement the current staff of two, as well as a graduate assistantship and research awards to scholars interested in twentieth century politics and government.
In many ways, the USC's Modern Political Collections Division qualifies as a model documentation program. The program's broad collecting focus has allowed it to successfully document contemporary political history in South Carolina. It clearly appeals to donors (who can be assured that their political collection will be well cared for and used), the researchers (who will find numerous subject-related collections in one convenient location), and to university administrators (who benefit from the program's national recognition and donor financial support). Successful fund raising has resulted in the Division achieving a relatively high-profile status within the university, which in turn brings additional support from donors. Donors are happy placing their collections in a well-respected repository that garners support from a variety of sources. Those who are still serving receive excellent records management and preservation assistance from the repository. The repository is able to become acquainted with the members' staffs, is able eventually to conduct oral history interviews with them, and thus furthers their goal of acquiring the best possible documentation and enhanced personal support. At the base of the program is positive and sustained collaborative engagement between the repository and its present and future collection donors.
Other ways to lower the total costs
The Advisory Committee recognizes that while successful fund raising requires careful ground work and may not be possible in every instance, members can contribute in other ways that help to lower the repository's total costs. By hiring a staff archivist or records manager, members can provide for improved records management, pre- processing of the collection, and preliminary preservation. They also may "designate" a repository early in their career so that the repository may begin to work with the office on a range of records management, appraisal, and preservation issues. By regularly communicating with their state congressional delegation, repositories can reinforce better records management and provide guidance on their documentation priorities.
Besides the University of South Carolina, there are other known examples of institutions that focus on public policy collections. They include: the Alan K. Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership at the University of Wyoming; the Albert Gore Research Center at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro; the California State Archives; the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center at the University of Oklahoma; Emory University; the Everett McKinley Dirksen Congressional Leadership Center; Leon and Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy at California State University at Monterey Bay; Louisiana State University; the Minnesota Historical Society; the P. K. Yonge Library at the University of Florida; the Richard Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at the University of Georgia; the Robert J. Dole Institute for Public Service and Public Policy at the University of Kansas; Rutgers University; the Thomas J. Dodd Center at the University of Connecticut; the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University; the University of Alaska; the University of Arkansas; the University of Delaware; the University of Hawaii; the University of Rhode Island; the University of Washington; the University of Vermont; and the Wendell H. Ford Research Center and Public Policy Archives at the University of Kentucky.Preservation Criteria: A Checklist for Members
In December 1992, the Advisory Committee adopted a resolution accepting the recommendations of the report Documentation of Congress (S. Pub. 102-20) as "providing a model framework for discussion and planning of future coordinated actions among the Congress, the Center for Legislative Archives, and the hundreds of archival repositories across the nation that specialize in preserving the historical documentation of Congress." The report outlined a comprehensive, coordinated approach to improving documentation of the legislative branch. Its recommendations were addressed to the three primary authorities responsible for preserving the historical records of Congress:
- the members and officials of Congress who are responsible for the management of information that is collected and maintained in their offices
- the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives that preserves and provides access to the official records of Congress, and
- the hundreds of archival repositories across the country that preserve and provide access to the personal papers that are deposited in them by members
The report stressed that active participation by all three is vital for the successful, cost effective preservation of the historical record. While many of the report's specific goals have been accomplished, including the provision of records management guidance in the form of handbooks, pamphlets, and seminars, the preceding sections of this present report reveal that uneven practices remain.
The preservation survey and the Louisiana State University study point out the continued need for better records management in members' offices. Both studies also highlight the importance of financial support for preserving members' collections that contain electronic records and high concentrations of special media. The success of the University of South Carolina's Modern Political Collections program demonstrates the benefits of sustained collaborative efforts between a repository and its donors and the value of focusing broadly on political collections as a specialty.
The committee notes that good records management thrives in offices where the member expresses a strong interest. To raise consciousness among members of Congress, it recommends that criteria (in the form of a checklist) be devised to highlight:
- the member's responsibility for ensuring preservation
- the importance of requiring good management in the office throughout a member's term of service
- the benefits of selecting a capable repository early in one's career
- the potential need for a member to provide assistance in raising funds to process and preserve the collection
Such guidelines could also be of use to grant-awarding agencies in weighing the relative "worthiness" of grant requests. In cases where all criteria have been met (i.e., the congressional office has done everything it could to provide good management), the grantors would be assured that the award is for the purpose of dealing with legitimate preservation problems and not problems caused by negligence.
A checklist also could prove useful to repositories when they advise potential member donors. Not all archival repositories, especially those within a university, can control the disposition of education-related resources. University administration largely determines spending priorities, with the result that the funds raised by a retiring member frequently are designated for other projects. In addition, the archives staff may be forbidden to approach a member directly. There also are instances when library development funds have been appropriated to an educational institution on behalf of a former member, but they are used for other related needs and do not go toward preserving and providing access to the member's research collection. A member's checklist would communicate such needs directly to departing members without impinging directly on the priorities established by the university as a whole.
The checklist should encourage "best practices" within members' offices. It should underscore the members' responsibility with regard to requiring good record-keeping and information management practices. It should highlight the potential need for members' assistance with fund raising to meet the special preservation and access challenges inherent in their collections. The following points are useful to include in a list of criteria to be distributed to members of Congress:
- Establish an office policy (i.e. requirement) with regard to records ownership and records management
- Create a staff position with responsibility and sufficient authority to direct records management in the office
- Fill the position with an individual who is sufficiently trained
- For members who have served more than six years, or who are going to retire, consider hiring or sharing an archivist to begin processing the accumulated materials
- Select, at the earliest possible time, a qualified repository in the home state as the designated repository. A qualified repository is one that has the physical plant and archival staff expertise to administer a complex collection. Ideally, the repository has other similar public policy collections which will help ensure that the collection is in a research- oriented environment where it will be used.
- If no such repository exists, the member should consider using the gift to encourage the institution to create a public policy research collection
- Plan to assist with fund raising to acquire the resources necessary to preserve and make the collection accessible
In 1994, Advisory Committee member Sheryl Vogt undertook a survey of the Congressional Papers Roundtable to identify possible areas of cooperation between the Center for Legislative Archives and congressional papers repositories. A report was presented to the Advisory Committee in December 1994. (See Appendix D)
As a result of the survey, the Roundtable steering committee formally supported an alliance with the Center for Legislative Archives. A guest column in each Roundtable newsletter was offered to the Center and an ex-officio position for the Center was established on the steering committee. The Roundtable held its annual meeting at the Center in September 1995 and is planning a seminar in Washington in 2001. The Roundtable also sponsored the development and presentation of a two-day workshop on the acquisition, processing, and reference use of legislative papers. Designed to improve repository effectiveness in acquiring and preserving legislative collections, it covers all aspects of collecting: donor relations, negotiating the deed of gift, appraisal, processing, the design and preparation of finding aids and other materials to encourage use of the collection, and reference services. The workshop has been offered several times and is available to archival organizations who wish to sponsor it.
Following up on recommendations in the survey, the Center began to build a paper file of nearly one hundred finding aids to members' personal papers collections in repositories nationwide. The file ranges from published archival finding aids to press releases announcing the receipt of a collection. Arranged by state and cross- referenced by member name, it can be viewed in the Congressional Research Center in the National Archives Main Building. Since 1994, the distribution of electronic finding aids has been coordinated through the Special Collections Page of the Library of the University of Delaware. This site, Congressional Collections at Archival Repositories includes electronic links to the Center's web site, the on-line "Congressional Biographical Directory," other congressional sites, and an extensive list of congressional repositories of personal papers, with an additional level of links to electronic finding aids organized by repository.
Other finding aid materials
on the Internet include the
Center for Legislative Archives'
electronic versions of the
to the Records of the United
House of Representatives at the National Archives and the Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives. The Center has also begun publishing a series of "Committee Resource Guides" that update the House and Senate Guides. They include brief committee histories, a list of past committee chairs, a list of subcommittees and their chairs, and other related information about the committee. The initial entry on the web site, and the prototype for the series, focuses on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Another new Center on-line
collection is, "The
Research Interview Notes
of Richard F. Fenno, Jr.:
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1959-1965." This includes over eighty interviews with members of Congress for Fenno's study on House appropriations politics. Recently, the National Archives and Records Administration web site has added a general search engine that allows users to conduct key word searches through all textual files on the site, including the research interviews. At present, there is nocapability for a researcher to limit the key-word search to the interview notes alone.
The Center has also made available to the public series descriptions and digital images of selected records through the NARA Archival Information Locator (NAIL), the working prototype for an on-line catalog of the agency's nationwide holdings. The final version, the Archival Research Catalog (ARC), has advanced from the design phase to the testing phase and will be operational in 2001.
Collaboration between the Center and congressional archivists has led to information exchanges that enhance the effectiveness of both as they work to build a solid record of congressional documentation. It is recommended that the Congressional Papers Roundtable continue to collaborate with the Center, with staff in the House and Senate, and with individual members' offices in identifying and examining issues of mutual interest. It also is further recommended that the Center explore additional possible vehicles for further publicizing the holdings of members' personal collections. One possibility would be to create links to collection guides within the committee resource guides.Electronic Records Management, Preservation, and Access
The increasing use of electronic records in Congress during the last five years has dominated records management issues. Information technology professionals within Congress, legislative agencies, and the National Archives and Records Administration recognize that long-term preservation and access to electronic records will be critical to the twenty-first century's history of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The National Archives and Records Administration is presently undertaking research and development programs to achieve this long-term preservation and access in partnership with the Department of Defense, the San Diego Supercomputer Center, and other electronic research institutions. The preliminary results indicate that while the volume of today's electronic records is massive, the challenge is not insurmountable. A technological breakthrough promises the development of an Electronic Records Archives at NARA that can preserve any kind of electronic record, free it from the format in which it was created, retain it indefinitely, and enable requesters to read it on computer systems now in use and coming in the future.
Through agreements with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the National Science Foundation, and the Army Research Laboratory, NARA is co-sponsoring research at institutions such as the Georgia Tech Research Institute, the University of Maryland, and the San Diego Supercomputer Center, the leading-edge site of the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure. This research is developing a comprehensive information management architecture for long-term preservation and access to digital information, as well as applying advanced technologies that are seen as core to the next generation national information infrastructure and as key enablers of electronic commerce and electronic government. These technologies include XML, which is being tested as a powerful and flexible means for preserving, managing, and delivering very large and highly diverse collections of electronic records.
The first round of research in these initiatives produced very promising results, articulating both the key components and the core processes of an Electronic Records Archives capable of handling the hundreds of millions of electronic records that NARA will need to preserve. When implemented, the Electronic Records Archives will be capable of handling millions of records, accommodating a variety of electronic record formats, and providing continuing access to authenticated and preserved electronic records into the indefinite future. The concepts advanced in the research projects were demonstrated through empirical tests, including tests on electronic records of the Congress. There are substantial research and development tasks that remain to be addressed in order to translate these promising beginnings into operational capabilities. This initiative, however, is critical to the future of the archives of Congress, Executive branch agencies, and other repositories of electronic records. Section F describes the status of XML within Congress.
In the meantime, both the Senate and the House have revised their records management instructions and manuals to encompass National Archives guidelines and directives on electronic records management. Until electronic records management systems with the capability of long-term preservation and access are developed, congressional offices are making hard copies of their computer-generated records. The Center has accessioned electronic records from the Ervin Committee, the Congressional Budget Office, the Senate Home pages of the 104th and 105th congresses, the Joint Inaugural Committee Home Page, and the home page of the House Committee on Small Business. Other computer records, indexes to records systems, and word processing files have come to the Center with accessions of paper records. The Center, with other Archives offices, is studying how to preserve these disks, CDs, and tapes containing proprietary software and other encumbrances to their preservation and access.
The Center for Legislative Archives and the Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division at the National Archives have followed the work of the Legislative Branch SGML Technical Committee. The Technical Committee began in 1997 to coordinate the development of major systems in the Senate and House for the creation, transfer, publication, and preservation of all bills, resolutions and amendments. The membership includes staff members from the information technology offices in the Senate, House, Government Printing Office, Library of Congress, other legislative agencies, and in 1998, the National Archives as observers. During the monthly meetings of the Technical Committee, questions of long-term preservation are directed to the Archives, and in September, 1999, a presentation on the National Archives/San Diego Supercomputer study was given by the National Archives project director.
There have also been periodic one-on-one meetings between the information technology staffs of the House and Senate and National Archives staff. These meetings have included updates on research projects, exchanges on the Legislative Information Systems, and discussions about requirements and capabilities at the National Archives for long-term preservation and access to electronic records. As the current period of planning and prototyping evolves into one of significant transfers of electronic records systems, the communication between congressional offices and the National Archives will increase in frequency and intensity.Technology Task Force
Established at the December 9, 1996 meeting of the Advisory Committee, the task force was charged with six goals: 1) Locate and identify major electronic information systems planned or currently in use in the House and Senate, including all systems that maintain official records; 2) Identify the permanently valuable information in these systems; 3) Develop a list of National Archives and Records Administration transfer options for electronic records; 4) Discuss and make recommendations for verification, security, and authenticity; 5) Offer recommendations on electronic record-keeping systems and data migration and preservation; and 6) Present a report in the fall of 1997.
At the September 1997 meeting, the Task Force reported that the House and Senate had made progress on inventorying existing systems. As a result, the House discovered that data from its old mainframes needed to be converted to transfer media specified by the National Archives. This was completed with assistance from the Library of Congress. The Senate archivist reported that the inventory of Senate systems was completed and that permanently valuable records in these systems were identified. The National Archives provided guidance on transfer procedures and options.
Recommendations on electronic record-keeping and security were compiled and distributed through three Senate publications: the Records Disposition Procedures for the Office of the Secretary of the Senate; Records Management Handbook for United States Senators and Their Archival Repositories; and Records Management Handbook for United States Senate Committees. Recommendations on electronic record-keeping for the House are presented in the section on electronic records in the Committee Resource Guide. Through these publications and office briefings, staff were alerted to the need to manage and preserve substantive e-mail.
With assistance from the National Archives, Senate committee offices transferred a variety of electronic records to the Archives. These included indexes, home pages, and word processing tapes. Retiring senators sent mail management systems data to their designated repositories. It is apparent with the passing of each year that greater and greater amounts of information reside in electronic form. The Senate Sergeant at Arms estimates that at this time about forty percent of mail received by the Senate is electronic.
The Clerk of the House pointed out difficulties in working with changing technology and emphasized the need to continue to work with the National Archives as technology evolves. Consequently, it was agreed not to present a task force "final" report, but to continue to monitor progress to ensure that Congress' needs are met. Regular updates have been featured as the new legislative systems are developed.Legislative Branch Standards
In 1996, the chairman of the Committee on House Oversight and the chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration directed the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate, respectively, to work together to establish common data standards for the exchange of legislative information. This directive was also included in the Conference Committee report for the FY97 legislative branch appropriations bill.
The Secretary and the Clerk created a working group on data standards and contracted with outside experts3 to assist in this process. The working group also surveyed the offices and support agencies in the legislative branch who were engaged in the creation, exchange, and publication of legislative data.4 Based upon the work of the consultants and the results of the survey, the Clerk and the Secretary submitted a joint report to the committees recommending the establishment of a data standards program for legislative information.5 In April 1997, the report was approved in a joint letter from the chairman of the Committee on House Oversight and the chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.
The report confirmed the need for data standards to: 1) ensure continued effective management and control of legislative information; 2) more easily exchange data on a timely basis; 3) enable the officers of the House and Senate to certify the accuracy of legislative data; 4) help to reduce costs in preparing, managing, retrieving, and printing information; and 5) improve the functionality and flexibility of the systems used for preparing and managing legislative data. It was especially important to agree upon standards at that time because the primary systems for creating legislative data are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain and are being made obsolete by modern technology. As offices and agencies began to make plans to replace their current systems, there was, and continues to be, a clear need to agree upon standards for the creation and exchange of legislative data.
The management of data standards is a dynamic process and requires an ongoing management and policy structure. The report of the Secretary and the Clerk therefore included recommendations for the establishment of a data standards program, the appointment of data standards managers for each house to manage the program, and the establishment of a coordinating policy committee and a technical committee to provide ongoing oversight and support.
The report also recommended that several standards be approved and authorized for use as warranted by the requirements of specific documents and the capabilities of the various offices that create them. The report recommended Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) as the primary data standard because it is an international standard that is not controlled by any single vendor; it can be implemented independently of any specific hardware or software; it allows data to be tagged for content rather than format; and it can support a variety of output formats for printing, for creating CD ROMs, and for publishing on the Web. The report also recognized the need for other standards, and therefore recommended the use of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), a subset of SGML especially designed for rapid display and linking of data on the Web; and Portable Document Format (PDF), widely used as a format for displaying data on-line as an image of the printed document.
The technologies that affect data standards will continue to develop. The report noted that "...standards will evolve over time as technology and the capacity of offices and agencies to adopt these technologies evolves."6 The report anticipated that the data standards managers and the coordinating and technical committees would have to assess new standards as they emerge and make recommendations for their use by the legislative branch as appropriate.Senate Legislative Information System (LIS)
The LIS is a mandated system (Section 8 of the 1997 Legislative Appropriations Act, 2 U.S.C. 123e) to provide a "comprehensive Senate Legislative Information System" to capture, store, manage, and distribute Senate documents. A Year 2000 compliant LIS Document Management System (LIS/DMS) was successfully deployed in December 1999. The Advisory Committee closely monitors this project to ensure that the information is in formats that can be transferred to the National Archives for preservation and that the record copies (i.e. authoritative version) of legislative documents are identified and maintained permanently.
In 1998, the Secretary of the Senate created a task force to address two issues in relation to the initial development of LIS: archival preservation of the electronic documents in the LIS system and designation of the official "record copy" of legislative documents. The task force included staff of the Historical Office, the LIS project team, and staff from the National Archives. The task force concluded that:
- textual documents identified as "record copy" in the Records Disposition Procedures for Offices of the Secretary of the Senate constitute the official copy for purposes of documentation;
- LIS system data should be preserved in the National Archives because of its research usefulness in the electronic format;
- LIS System Requirements did meet current National Archives' standards as specified in 36 CFR 1228.188 for preservation of electronic files. It was noted that bills and other legislative information in LIS will be created in SGML, as specified in 36 CFR 1228.188.
The task force recommended that:
- the National Archives participate in a data standards project led by the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House;
- if regulations defining acceptable formats for archiving digital audio and video are established, additional coordination with the National Archives should be sought;
- as LIS is developed, any documents that are unique to LIS should be identified and designated as "record copy";
- because the Senate, House, and other legislative agencies are the de facto active repositories for research on historical information until electronic storage requirements exceed the capacity of LIS to maintain this data, the timing and content of transfers of LIS data to the National Archives needs to be determined.
In 1998, the LIS project staff analyzed and reviewed systems requirements, related projects (e.g., LOC LIS Retrieval System), and initiatives at the Senate and other agencies, and gathered information integral to the implementation of the LIS. The Committee Scheduling application, developed and deployed during the year, replaced the older system. This system enables the Daily Digest Office to schedule committee and subcommittee meetings and allows all Senate users to retrieve information about committee meetings and hearings via a convenient web-browser. The Amendment Tracking System (ATS), also deployed in 1998, enables staff to scan floor amendments as they are received at the Bill Clerk's desk. Within 20 minutes, Senators and staff can view the text of the amendment from their computers.
During 1999, staff focused on the development of LIS/DMS and its interfaces to other legislative systems. The system was successfully deployed in December 1999.
For 2001, the LIS staff will develop enhancements to the LIS/DMS. The staff also will study the LIS Senate Recording Studio transcription and closed captioning project, LIS retrieval enhancements, and the retention, distribution, and archival policies and procedures project. The Recording Studio transcription and closed captioning project involves establishing the mechanism that must be put into place to make Senate Recording Studio data available within the LIS system. The retention, distribution, and archive policy project implements the capture and archiving of historical information collected and made available through the LIS.House Document Management System
In 1996 the Clerk of the House presented to the Committee on House Oversight a plan to create a House Document Management System. This information management initiative proposed an enterprise-wide approach to the creation, distribution and maintenance of legislative information that endeavored to make enormous improvements in the cost, accuracy, timeliness and efficiency of the process. Paramount to this effort is the establishment of common data standards for the exchange of legislative information. To that end, the Clerk invested heavily in and led the development of the document type definitions (DTDs) which are necessary to provide the framework for a document using common data standards. This project is proceeding on a cooperative basis between the House, Senate, Government Printing Office (GPO), Library of Congress and the Congressional Research Service. DTDs have been developed for a number of legislative documents including Bills, Resolutions, Amendments and Conference Reports. Additionally, Document Analysis workshops for the U.S. Code, Committee Reports, and Compilations have been completed.
With the progress made in DTD development and following the House Systems Development Life-Cycle Policy, the Clerk determined that a feasibility study was needed to provide an analysis of specific objectives, requirements, and system concepts as an evaluation of alternative approaches. In 1999, the Clerk was directed by the Committee on House Administration to initiate an SGML/XML feasibility study including staff from the House, Senate, Government Printing Office, Library of Congress, and Congressional Research Service.
This feasibility study was designed to provide specific information on:
- Customization and evaluation of several SGML/XML editors using a subset of bills and/or resolutions (without tables or graphics).
- Creation of XML style sheets for delivery to customers using XML-aware browsers in addition to Portable Document Format (PDF) delivery.
- Evaluation of SGML/XML capabilities of the Government Printing Office supported Microcomp formatting system to produce hard copy documents.
- Use of digital signature or other appropriate technology to allow users to determine if the subject documents have been inappropriately altered or tampered with.
The Secretary of the Senate, with concurrence from the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, joined the Clerk of the House in establishing the Bills, Resolutions, and Amendments Feasibility Study.
The primary purpose of the XML Feasibility Study was to determine whether or not XML and available XML tools provide a viable option for drafting legislation. In addition, the Study was designed to provide a collaborative development environment for the House and Senate to explore XML encoding as a data standard for exchange of data within the legislative branch. The Feasibility Study also enabled a more thorough validation of the Bills DTD. In both regards, the Feasibility Study provided some clear successes, although it also demonstrated some potential challenges and opportunities.
One main challenge is that legislative drafters have been working in a DOS-based application for many years with keyboard shortcuts that could be viewed as akin to a combination of stenography and typesetting functions. Both the migration to a Windows environment and application, and the migration to a rules-based editing environment (DTD) offer challenges that also provide an opportunity to enable legislative drafters to concentrate more on legislative drafting than on format and display of the end product. The House Office of the Legislative Counsel and the Office of the Clerk are encouraged by the progress to date and are enthusiastic about the possibilities these new tools will provide. Additionally, the GPO and the LOC have expressed their support for this approach and their study participants are additionally encouraged by the accomplishments of the Feasibility Study.
Although the Feasibility Study did not produce a product that currently enables legislative drafters to produce legislation, it provided insights about the state of the technology and technology's applicability to the legislative drafting process. Additionally, it confirmed that while there are fundamental business process differences between the House and Senate, XML could be relied upon as a common data standard although possibly implemented differently by the two chambers. While the Senate Office of the Legislative Counsel recognizes the potential for XML to enhance the drafting process in certain ways, the office was reluctant to fully endorse the use of the new technology until more progress is achieved for certain drafting and editing functions. On the other hand, although currently available tools are still somewhat immature and still emerging, the Clerk, the Secretary, and HOLC concluded that we should continue to expand efforts to use XML along with associated tools for the creation, editing, and exchange of legislative documents.
In November 2000, the Committee on House Administration, acting on the Clerk's recommendations to the committee following completion of the feasibility study, authorized the adoption of XML as a data standard for the exchange of House legislative documents and authorized the Clerk to develop a program plan for the House document management system initiative using XML as the data standard. The Committee further stipulated that the House deploy resources to proceed with appropriate XML conversions and software customization, together with other projects to foster development and customization of editing environments and expand development of document type definitions for additional legislative products.
Concurrently, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration together with the Committee on House Administration agreed with the joint recommendation of the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House that XML should be the primary data standard employed for the exchange of legislative documents and information among the House, Senate and other legislative branch agencies. The committees recognized that the implementation and transition to XML will take several years and will require coordination among all legislative agencies, with the House and Senate continuing their efforts to refine the technical editing tools appropriate to their specific needs. Furthermore, the committees called for joint piloting of programs for the actual exchange of legislative information as each institution completes its own XML evaluations. Development of XML within Congress will facilitate preservation of Congress' electronic records. (See section A for discussion of the National Archives' ERA program.).Congressional Documentation
The Second Report of the Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress recommended that the Center for Legislative Archives conduct a systematic survey of modern House and Senate records to determine if the legislative process is adequately documented. The Center undertook the survey and reported its findings to the Advisory Committee in 1996. The survey covered the records of seven Senate and eight House committees, encompassing more than 50,000 boxes of records extending from the Ninetieth Congress (1967) to the 104th Congress (1996).
The Modern Records Survey confirmed that House and Senate committees are preserving and archiving recent records that, with some minor exceptions, document the work of Congress. The survey also revealed the extraordinary growth in the volume of records preserved, a trend which parallels the growing workload of Congress since World War II. For one Senate committee, for example, the average volume of records transferred per Congress has more than doubled in the last decade. While the House records from the first eighty congresses (1789-1948) comprise only about 15,000 cubic feet, the average transfer for each Congress during the past fifteen years has been 2,000 cubic feet per Congress. It is clear that House and Senate committees are preserving their records in larger quantities than ever before, documenting their greater activity in lawmaking and executive oversight as well as the growth in staff support in committees, subcommittees, and support agencies.
The survey also revealed trends in the management of legislative records that have archival implications. The increasing volume of staff files, often spanning multiple congresses, has resulted in greater quantities of substantive documentation being filed in a variety of subject files rather than in traditional series of committee records. The proliferation of subcommittees has also resulted in diminished reliance on a unified central filing system.
The Modern Records Survey also produced a series of recommendations to ensure proper records management practices. The Senate Historical Office incorporated these recommendations as part of its 1999 publication, Records Management Handbook for United States Senate Committees. To ensure the widest possible distribution to the target audience, the Senate Historical Office augmented that volume with a brochure for all committee staff members, "U.S. Senate Records: Guidelines for Committee Staff." The latter includes a checklist of procedures for filing committee records and transferring them to the National Archives.
Similarly, the Legislative Resource Center incorporated the Center for Legislative Archives' suggestions in Committee Records Guidelines (formerly Archiving Committee Records for Committees of the U.S. House of Representatives: A Handbook of Archival Practices and Procedures). Today this publication is available to both House staff members and the public at large through the Clerk's web page (http://clerkweb.house.gov). Through this publication as well as workshops and briefings, the Legislative Resource Center has worked to maintain and raise the archival consciousness of committee clerks and associated staff members.
The Center plans to continue to update the Modern Records Survey in order to maintain intellectual control of recent accessions and to gauge trends in the records management practices of congressional committees.Committee Guidance
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate encourage committees to improve records management through the issuance of management handbooks and pamphlets. In 1998, the House Legislative Resource Center first issued a Committee Records Guide, which is now also posted on the Clerk's web page and revised regularly. Together with this publication and ongoing briefings and workshops for committee staffs, the Legislative Resource Center has continued to promote better understanding of archival requirements. In 1999 the Senate Historical Office revised and reissued the Records Management Handbook for United States Senate Committees and sent copies to each committee chief clerk and subcommittee assistant clerks. A pamphlet highlighting Senate Rules and relevant statutes governing committee records was also prepared and distributed to all committee staff. Individual committee staff briefings are held regularly to review Senate record-keeping requirements. Archival processing assistance is provided to committees that are unable to process older noncurrent materials. In an effort to encourage appreciation of the historical collections at the Center for Legislative Archives, chief clerks are periodically invited to tour the Center and view some of the "documentary treasures" first hand. All of these efforts have helped to raise the "recordkeeping consciousness level" among committee staff. Because staff turnover is so rapid, such efforts must be undertaken on a regular basis. During 2000, two Senate committees hired professional archivists with immediate improvements in records management and preservation. Because the positive results were so evident, other committees should consider adding staff with archival training. In fact, the addition of such staff probably would be the single most effective action that committees could take to improve the quality of committee documentation.Records of Party Conferences, Caucuses, Commissions, and Congressional Support Agencies
The Center has begun to acquire the records of party conferences and caucuses that have been sought for years. With the help of the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate, the Center now holds publications of the House Republican Caucus, 93rd-102nd Congress; records of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, 78th-104th Congress; Senate Republican Conference and Caucus, 62nd-89th Congress; Democratic Policy Committee, 84th-103rd Congress; and Senate Democratic Conference minutes, 1903-1964. The Senate Historical Office's publication of the Senate Republican Conference minutes, 1911-1964, and the Senate Democratic Conference minutes, 1903-1964, and their availability online through GPO Access have sparked an interest in these records among scholars and provide a vital entry point to research in the unpublished materials.
A complete set of party conference position papers, ballots, correspondence files, and committee assignment requests does not exist in any single repository because such materials have often been treated as members' personal papers or have remained in the custody of the conference or committee. The dispersal of these resources created a significant gap in the documentation of the legislative process. While the Center's holdings include House of Representatives' committee assignment requests for the period from 1911 to 1920, they contain few subsequent materials of this nature. In an effort to fill this documentary void, the Center provides what assistance it can to ensure the preservation of these records as well as those of congressional campaign committee records.
The Center works with the National Archives and Records Administration's Life Cycle Management Division to ensure that records of congressional commissions are preserved at the Center. The latest commission to transfer its records to the Center is the Commission on Military Training and Gender-Related Issues. Like legislative support agencies, congressional commissions are subject to the Federal Records Act, which requires that records be inventoried to determine which series are historically valuable and merit permanent retention at the Center. The National Archives is scheduling the records of congressional commissions while they are still operational to ensure the proper disposition of the records before the commissions close their doors. Schedules have been written for the Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce and the Commission on the Advancement of Federal Law Enforcement, both of which are scheduled to conclude their business during fiscal year 2000.
With the assistance of the Advisory Committee, the legislative support agencies have established records schedules to ensure the preservation of their permanently valuable records. The Center has received records from the Congressional Budget Office and the now defunct Office of Technology Assessment.National Archives Building Renovation
For years it has been recognized that the National Archives Building downtown needs major renovation work to modernize the building's environmental, electrical and mechanical systems, to provide improved access to the public areas of the building, and to eliminate fire and life safety deficiencies. Such renovation will greatly improve the environment, safety, and access to the records of Congress which are housed in the downtown building. An ambitious renovation study was prepared in 1985, but that plan was placed on hold because of the more urgent need for a new facility to consolidate archival holdings and staff in a number of buildings in the Washington area. Once the construction and move into the new National Archives building in College Park, Maryland, was completed, Heery International was commissioned to update the previous study and document the renovation needs of the downtown building.
While the first renovation proposal, which recommended demolishing and rebuilding all of the records holding areas, was deemed prohibitively expensive by the Office of Management and Budget and key members of Congress, they have supported an alternative that would address the most significant building problems. The goals of the modified renovation plan included replacing deteriorated building systems, meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements, reencasing the Charters of Freedom, resolving fire-safety deficiencies, providing improved public outreach spaces, and providing appropriate storage conditions for paper records. In 1999, Hartman-Cox Architects were selected to design the renovation. Construction of new office swing space in the moat surrounding the National Archives Building and demolition of the lower tiers of stacks began in March 2000. Pending the final appropriation, renovation of the public areas of the building will be completed by July 2003 and the remaining parts of the building will be finished by the fall of 2004.
The building will undergo its most extensive renovation since it was completed in 1935. The electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems throughout the building will be replaced. New entrances will be constructed on the Constitution Avenue side of the building under the existing Grand Staircase to provide easy visitor access to public areas in the building and comply with laws on access for the disabled. Working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Archives will reencase the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights to better protect these Charters of Freedom. The reencased Charters will be displayed in a renovated Rotunda that will ensure access by disabled visitors and will allow all pages of the Charters to be placed on display. The microfilm reading room, which serves genealogical researchers primarily, will be greatly expanded and relocated on the ground floor. The textual research room will remain in its present historic room, but the research facilities will be modernized to include access to electrical power and data hookups at new research tables. The expanded public areas will include new exhibit galleries, more classroom and training rooms, and a new theater. Funding for the theater, the permanent exhibit, restoration of the murals on the walls of the Rotunda, and a variety of educational programs focusing on the charters of Freedom will come from private donations.
To facilitate the planned renovation, the Center for Legislative Archives has temporarily moved the records of various legislative support agencies, such as the Government Printing Office, General Accounting Office, and others, to the National Archives building in College Park, Maryland. The Center's core holdings have been consolidated above the 6th tier in the Washington building. This process has facilitated a more efficient arrangement and retrieval of the congressional records, as well as the creation of new inventories and location registers.
Congress, researchers, and the public will all benefit greatly from the renovated National Archives Building. The records of Congress will be kept in an environmentally controlled records storage area with greatly improved fire and security systems. The modern technical infrastructure will mean much better elevator service at the most basic level and vastly improved electronic access to the world beyond the National Archives. The research and consultation rooms will be modernized, to enable researchers to utilize all the newest research resources available on the Internet. Opportunities for exhibits, workshops, and other outreach initiatives will be greatly expanded for members of Congress and their staffs, researchers, teachers, and other members of the American public who want to learn about the records and history of Congress in the heart of the nation's capital.Preservation Plans and Surveys at the Center for Legislative Archives
The physical preservation of records is central to the mission of the National Archives and Records Administration. Since 1997 the Center has been involved in a NARA-wide effort to focus on preservation of records by establishing preservation performance goals and completing a series of Risk Assessment Surveys. Goals established by the Center include:
- flattening documents and copying thermofax records to archival bond
- transferring records from metal trays to acid-free boxes
- updating housing of high-use records
- continuing conservation treatment on the "treasures" of Congress
Each year the Center reports on progress in each at-risk group and reevaluates priorities. These ongoing efforts help the Center better allocate its preservation resources and identify potential problems that must be addressed to preserve Congress' records.
Historic and Intrinsically Valuable Records
While the archival records of Congress are valuable in the aggregate, with more than 150,000 cubic feet currently stored at the Center, the preservation of records of the highest historic and intrinsic value has been one of the Center's major activities during the past five years. This effort resulted in the creation of a special vault area to house hundreds of House and Senate records that dramatically highlight the history of the Congress and the nation. Many of these records have received special conservation treatment before being placed in the vault. The Center plans to expand this collection of significant documents. Ongoing reference and outreach work continually identifies new documents of extraordinary significance, which are then transferred to the vault and logged in a special data base. For example, the multi-year effort to produce "Congress and the Shaping of American History," an educational resource for high schools, both draws upon the current collection in the vault and adds to it when significant documents are located in the course of research for the project. Staff is also building a collection of state-related documents in the vault to highlight the intersection of important milestones in state histories and congressional activity.
The Center's effort to identify, preserve, and house these valuable records in the vault has supported other high-profile projects. The National Archives exhibit staff, for example, mined this special collection for its current Rotunda exhibit, "Treasures of Congress." Many of the records from the vault were also photographed, digitized, and placed on-line as part of the National Archives' Electronic Access Project. To support this agency-wide endeavor, the Center created a data base to list and describe the documents selected from House and Senate records. The vault has also provided a suitable unified space to show some of the most significant documents to members of Congress and other special visitors. The renovation of the National Archives building includes plans for the construction of a new, larger, and permanent vault to store the documentary treasures of Congress in the years ahead.
The Center plans to continue its work on five additional long-term preservation projects. First, Center staff survey the records of the first fourteen congresses to determine which records need additional laboratory conservation treatment, such as mending, cleaning, or encapsulation. The microfilming of these records will be completed as an intermediate step that will allow the eventual conversion of the microfilm to digital images. Second, oversized and rolled records are thoroughly evaluated by Center staff and conservators to determine the optimal method of housing these records. Third, Center staff survey members' credentials to identify those that require flattening or include gold or wax seals, colored ribbons, or other ornamentation that may necessitate a special housing or conservator treatment. Fourth, the Center identifies appropriate bound volumes suitable for treatment or disbinding to facilitate access. Finally, Center staff consult with conservators to determine the most effective method of preserving the hand-colored maps and illustrated records that date from the earliest years of the federal government. While the documents have fared well over time, the Center takes the necessary steps to ensure that these unique records are flattened, stabilized, and properly housed. When the present NARA-wide move preparations and building renovation are completed, the document conservation staff will have more time to assist with these ambitious initiatives.
In addition to particularly fragile textual records, special media records pose unique and urgent preservation challenges. As these records, such as videotapes and audiocassette, are transferred to the Center from the Capitol, they are forwarded to the National Archives at College Park's Special Media Archives Services Division. The state-of-the-art lab and stringent temperature and humidity controls at the College Park building offer the optimal environment for the proper preservation of these fragile records. The videotapes of the House and Senate floor proceedings, for example, are stored in a controlled climate of 65 degrees/30% relative humidity. Many of the floor proceedings videotapes were recorded on ¾" umatic tape, which is currently obsolete. The division's current five-year audiovisual preservation plan proposes to begin reformatting obsolete video formats, including the early floor proceedings. The requisite equipment and staff technical expertise will ensure efficient access to the special media materials generated by congressional committees.Access
Since the first meeting of the Advisory Committee in 1991, research access to the records of Congress has increased significantly. The revolution in electronic communication has expanded opportunities for making more information about Congress available to members of Congress, congressional staff, researchers, students, and other interested citizens. The public's positive response, in turn, has encouraged the Center to explore new ways of making the historical records of Congress even more accessible.A. Reference at the Center for Legislative Archives
The Center's reference program features a professional staff that has a close working knowledge of the records of Congress and a deep understanding of the legislative process, which they share with a wide-ranging community of researchers. The Center fields more than 5,400 requests annually, with more than half arriving over the Internet today, from congressional scholars and other academics, journalists, lawyers, documentary filmmakers, genealogists, graduate students, amateur historians, high school students, and Federal agencies. The Center also provides a full range of reference services to congressional committees, including expeditious loans of records as needed.
The Center's researchers pursue a wide variety of topics and interests. They include family history, legislative histories, biographies of former members, federal policy toward Native Americans, Japanese internment policy, federal agency history, regulations of commerce and industry, Watergate and Whitewater, endangered species legislation, prisoners of war from the Vietnam War era, political campaign finance and lobbying, and preservation of local landmarks.
The reference program rests on a solid underpinning of published guides, on-line finding aids, on-site and more detailed indexes to significant segments of the records, and a reference outreach program that promotes use of the records in formal workshops, in essays about the records for scholarly journals, and through associations with professional organizations. The award-winning Guide to the Records of the House of Representatives at the National Archives and Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives, published in 1989, provide a comprehensive description of committee records for the House and Senate. Their on-line editions were made available on the Center's website in 1996 and have significantly increased the number of requests the Center receives for research assistance and reproductions of documents. The new on-line "Committee Resource Guide" series, which is under development and updates the information in the Guides, promises to further expand interest in and access to the records. Similarly, a digital version of the Preliminary Inventory to House records will provide enhanced access to researchers by providing chronological entry points and the view of an entire Congress' records.
To disseminate records of high public interest, the Center produces microfilm publications that are distributed throughout NARA's nationwide facilities and are available for purchase. The Center also has a long-term working relationship with the Congressional Information Service, a private publisher based in Bethesda, Maryland, to produce microfiche of congressional publications and unpublished hearings for sale to libraries and research institutions nationwide.
Legislative finding aids, microfilm catalogs, and other publications will become part of the larger NARA Archival Research Catalog (ARC), which will be a national electronic on-line catalog of NARA holdings. The prototype of ARC is the National Archives Information Locator (NAIL), which is now on the NARA web site. The development of ARC will be a significant part of the total NARA effort to provide information to citizens on all the holdings of NARA and will include a core collection of digital copies of selected high interest documents.
Despite the range of activities and products outlined above, the use of the records of Congress has not been fully maximized, and a potential, untapped audience of researchers can still be attracted through a continuation of the Center's efforts to promote the use of the records.Declassification
The Center continues to process declassification requests from researchers seeking access to classified House and Senate records. The declassification of the records of the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs is progressing. Declassification review has been completed by all originating agencies except the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the Air Force.
As a result of the increased volume of security-classified records, the Center has reviewed its procedure for declassification to ensure that the interests of the House and Senate are adequately protected. Once a request is made to declassify a record created by the House or Senate, Center staff review that record for congressional equities, i.e., information the committee may have obtained in confidence. If such information is found, that record is then forwarded to the Secretary of the Senate or Clerk of the House for review. Upon consent from the Secretary or Clerk, the record is subsequently forwarded to the National Archives' Declassification Division for coordination with the appropriate executive branch agency's declassification review staff. Once the record is returned from that agency and redactions are made, if necessary, the record is returned to the Center, where it is made available for researcher use.
The Center is examining the impact that recent declassification legislation, especially the Kyl Amendment, will have on the declassification of the records of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy (JCAE), one of the Center's most heavily used collections. The Center receives more declassification requests for JCAE records than any other collection. With backlogs growing as a result of required re-review of previously declassified executive branch records by the Department of Energy, response time to researchers requesting access to the classified portions of these congressional records will continue to increase.
Pursuant to House Resolution 172 (106th Congress), which authorized the release of the records of the House Select Committee on Missing Persons in Southeast Asia (94th Congress), the National Archives is coordinating the declassification of those records.Committee Resource Guides
The Center for Legislative Archives' descriptive program will focus on the Committee Resource Guide (CRG) series, an updated, expanded, and electronic version of the information about committee records contained in the Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989 and the Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives, 1789-1989. The CRG series will feature concise histories of the modern standing committees of Congress based on the committees' records. The CRG will provide congressional offices, committees, scholarly researchers, and the general public greater access to the most recently opened archival records. The CRG will provide narratives of the institutional development of modern committees, highlight their substantive decisions, activities, and accomplishments, and describe their extant records. The records descriptions included in the CRG series will be integrated into the ARC descriptive catalog.
The first in the CRG series to go online describes the Senate Armed Services Committee, and it supplements the description of the Committee's records by covering records opened since the printed Senate Guide was published. It also includes a brief history of the Committee and a list of the Committee's chairmen and their tenure as well as a list of the Committee's subcommittees and chairmen by individual congresses. After suggestions from the Advisory Committee and the Armed Services Committee staff, a final version of the Committee Resource Guide was published on the Center's home page. The Center has begun work on further additions to the Committee Resource Guide for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the House Agriculture Committee.Publications
Minutes of the U.S. Senate Democratic Conference, Fifty-eighth Congress through Eighty-eighth Congress, 1903-1964. Edited by Donald A. Ritchie, U.S. Senate Historical Office.
Minutes of the U.S. Senate Republican Conference, Sixty-second Congress through Eighty-eighth Congress, 1911-1964. Edited by Wendy Wolff and Donald A. Ritchie, U.S. Senate Historical Office.
These minutes of meetings held by the two Senate party conferences represent a valuable resource on the history of the Senate's institutional development. Unanimously recommended by the Advisory Committee and supported by the chairmen of both party conferences, these volumes make publicly available for the first time extensive information on the internal operations of the party conferences. Covering a span of more than half a century, from the time the conferences first required formal minutes until the mid-1960s, the minutes will serve as an essential research tool for those seeking to learn more about party organization in the Senate.
The Senate Historical Office has added brief head notes to establish the political context for each Congress, as well as explanatory notes, index, and appendices listing the members of the conferences during the periods covered. The on-line version of these minutes is available at the Government Printing Office web site (http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/senate/index.html).National Digital Library at the Library of Congress A Century of Lawmaking
The National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress was established in 1993 to identify unique American historical collections and to make selected documents available through the Internet. A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation, 1774-1873, comprises a significant part of this program. (http://memory.loc.gov) In 1996, an advisory board made up of staff from the Clerk of the House, the Secretary of the Senate, the National Archives, the Congressional Research Service, and the Law Library of the Library of Congress focused on selecting the contents of the lawmaking section. Approximately two million digital images were projected.
In 1998, the Advisory Committee favorably reviewed the newly released system and encouraged its continued development. The Center for Legislative Archives quickly noted that having the Journals as searchable text would speed their subject searches and enable them to locate information in their archival holdings more efficiently.
The Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation includes the following:
(available as digital facsimile images and as searchable texts)
- Journals of the Continental Congress, vols. I-XXXIV, 1774-1789
- Records of the Federal Convention of 1787
- Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution
- House and Senate Journals (1789-1873)
- Senate Executive Journal (1789-1873)
- Journal of William Maclay (1789-1791)
(available as digital facsimile images accompanied by searchable indexes and page headings)
- Annals of Congress (1789-1824)
- Register of Debates (1824-1837)
- Congressional Globe (1833-1873)
- Statutes at Large, vols. I-XVII, 1789-1873
- Selected volumes of the U.S. Serial Set-mainly relating to major issues
Several additions are planned through 2002. They include (in order of release)
- Senate and House bills to 1873
- 110 key documents from the U.S. Serial Set
- Law Library pamphlet collections on "slavery in the courtroom" from the American Courtroom Collection and Indian Tribal Charters
- American State Papers (pre-1816 documents similar to those found in the Serial Set from 1816)
- Letters from the Delegates of the Continental Congresses, 1774-1789
The Bioguide data base (http://bioguide.congress.gov) is a joint project of the Senate Historical Office and the Legislative Resource Center of the U.S. House of Representatives, working under the direction of the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House.
This searchable data base went on-line in 1998, containing information on over 13,000 individuals who have served in the national legislature, including the Continental Congress, the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, as well as delegates, resident commissioners and vice presidents. The electronic format allows the data base to be continually updated. Initial data was drawn from four publications: the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (S. Doc. 100-34), the Guide to Research Collections of Former United States Senators (S. Doc. 103-35), Senators of the United States: A Historical Bibliography (S. Doc. 103-34); and Guide to Research Collections of Former Members of the House of Representatives (H. Doc. 100- 25).
The new on-line version goes well beyond the scope of the 1989 printed edition of the Biographical Directory. It includes images from the photographic collection of the Senate Historical Office and limited images from the Legislative Resource Center, links to other sources of congressional information, and charts and tables that provide biographical information in clear and easy-to-read formats. The information is continuously updated to reflect recent research on former members and up-to-date information about each current Congress.
The data base is searchable by name, position and state. The ability to search text by subject of the biographies, research collections, and bibliographies is being tested. A great advantage to researchers will be the ability to generate lists of members by Congress, by state, by party or combinations thereof.Home Pages
The development of home pages accessible via the Internet has greatly enhanced public access to congressional information. The following discussion details the status of home pages that promote access to congressional sources.
Center for Legislative Archives
As recommended by the second report of the Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress, the Center's web site went on-line in May 1996. Its main features are links to a web version of the Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives and, at the time, the gopher version of the Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives. The site also provides information about access rules and citation guidelines. Links are made to general NARA information about conducting research at the National Archives and to a set of web sites concerning Congress and Congressional studies.
Subsequent additions to the Center's home page have provided further assistance to researchers. Since the summer of 1996, links exist to the Federal Depository Library Program of the Government Printing Office for those researchers interested in publications of the U.S. Government (RG 287). A new section on "Special Collections of the Center" provides access to the research interviews of Professor Richard F. Fenno of the University of Rochester, one of the major scholars of the legislative process. The Senate Historical Office's oral history with George Tames, photographer for the New York Times, was added to the Center's "Special Collections" page in fall 1996. Since then, the Senate Historical Office has been publishing their interviews on-line, and they have a direct link to the Tames interview. The Committee Resource Guide series, the latest addition to the Center's web site, will also be offered from the Center's home page.
Early in 1999 conversion of the on-line Senate Guide from the gopher to the web began. To date, ten chapters in fifty files have been converted. At the same time, conversion of the on-line House Guide to a new NARA web template has also begun. This latest conversion has allowed the Center to take advantage of NARA's Electronic Access Project, which digitized more than 500 pages from the records of Congress for the National Archives Information Locator (NAIL). Updated files from the two Guides now feature these digitized images of records to enhance the appearance and usefulness of the descriptions found there.
The Center has begun publishing on-line the Preliminary Inventory of the Records of the United States House of Representatives, 1789-1946 (Number 113) that was originally published in 1959. This comprehensive description of the House records is organized by Congress, allowing researchers interested in particular time periods to gain an overall view of existing records for each Congress. The Preliminary Inventory serves as an important complement to the Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives at the National Archives, 1789-1989, which is organized by committees. Conversion of the Preliminary Inventory from paper to electronic text was made possible through the generous assistance of the Office of the Clerk whose staff digitized, proofread, and initially designed the on-line format.
The Center has also participated in publishing on-line materials from the records of Congress for other congressional web sites. Senator Byron Dorgan's web site, "Lewis and Clark in North Dakota," features several digital images provided by the Center, including Thomas Jefferson's message to Congress of January 18, 1803, requesting funding for what became the Lewis and Clark expedition. The House Agriculture Committee's web site now features a digital image of the 1820 resolution creating the committee that was provided by the Center. The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee's web site also features a digital image of the resolution which established the Senate standing committee system in December 1816.
The Senate web page has been on-line for several years now, but over the last two years it has been redesigned and expanded. The current site has three major components:
- Access to senators' home pages and links to all committee pages.
- A "Legislative Activities" section provides explanatory essays about the legislative process, bill-tracking options, a daily calendar of business, announcement of hearings, and roll-call votes for the last decade.
- The "Learning about the Senate" section offers general information about the institution of the Senate, its current rules and procedures, a glossary of terms, and information on each state's role in the Senate. Components of the "Learning" section include Senate Art and Senate History, the latter providing in-depth information about the Senate's institutional history.
Regularly updated, the Senate History site includes Briefings on institutional development, unique powers and procedures of the Senate, Senate leadership, officers and key staff positions, and a set of frequently asked questions. The Historical Minutes, by Richard A. Baker, are brief essays covering all eras and aspects of Senate history. The oral history component provides descriptions of the interviews completed by the Senate Historical Office. To date, the complete texts of five interviews are available on-line, with new transcripts being added regularly. The ongoing Leader's Lecture Series is available on-line, with accompanying RealPlayer video coverage of each of these events in the old Senate chamber. Other Senate History features include statistical tables, a chronology, "This Week in Senate History," a Senate quiz, information on the historical photo collection, and a "Senate News" box that keeps visitors up to date on recent events and publications. In the planning stage are site maps, new statistical tables, and a special section for teachers and students.
Clerk Web Site
The Office of the Clerk inaugurated its first web site in 1997. In the summer of 2000, that site was replaced by a significantly expanded, redesigned and ADA compliant site. The Clerk's site provides the public with Internet access to a wide array of congressional information resources, including official lists, roll-call votes, and election statistics. The site also offers instructions and forms for a variety of statutory filings, including the Lobbying Disclosure Act and the Ethics in Government Act. In addition to the currently offered Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress, the Clerk's reconstructed site will offer a broader variety of institutional historical information and data, virtual tours of the Capitol building, and educational resources for teachers and children.Outreach Projects Exhibits
Public exhibitions showcase the richness of congressional holdings and make these historical records accessible to communities around the country. Original congressional documents are frequently featured in exhibits in the National Archives Building, at NARA's presidential libraries, and at various archival institutions and museums nationwide. The Center for Legislative Archives uses facsimile document displays to reach beyond the traditional museum environment to bring congressional treasures to sites as varied as Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol Building and the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
The historical value and modern relevance of congressional documents make them well suited for exhibits mounted in the National Archives' Rotunda. Congressional records have been displayed recently in "American Originals," a large, multi-year exhibit that showcased a changing selection of landmark documents from all of NARA's holdings and drew more than a million visitors each year. Congressional records have also been featured individually in short-term, Rotunda exhibits linked to significant anniversaries. Among these exhibits are the 1998 display of the Monroe Doctrine to commemorate the 175th anniversary of President James Monroe's annual message to Congress and the 1999 display of the page of the original House Journal that recorded the death of George Washington.
The current Rotunda exhibit, "Treasures of Congress," which opened on January 21, 2000, commemorates the 200th anniversary of the move of Congress to Washington, DC. "Treasures of Congress" is the first National Archives exhibit to draw almost exclusively from the records of Congress, and it will remain on exhibit at the National Archives Building through February 2001. In April 2000, the on-line version of "Treasures of Congress" was made available to the world on the NARA website in its "Online Exhibit Hall."
"Treasures of Congress" showcases the central role the House of Representatives and the Senate have played in U.S. history during some of the country's crucial turning points. Some of the central themes of the country's story are illustrated through the records of Congress: the struggle over slavery is documented in Rep. John Quincy Adams' opposition to the House "gag" rule against antislavery petitions and in the original resolution introduced in the Senate that became the Thirteenth Amendment and abolished slavery in the United States. The steady expansion of civil rights and liberties comes to life with the documents that led to the direct election of senators, woman suffrage, and the addition of gender as one of the prohibited discriminatory categories in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The exhibit catalog for "Treasures of Congress" reproduces all of the featured documents, many of them in color, with several illustrations that help to place these records in context. Associated public programs are being held throughout the life of the exhibit at the National Archives, including guest speakers and films relating to the history of Congress. Members of Congress have been introduced to "Treasures of Congress" through the catalog as well as through several events that were held at the National Archives Building.
The National Archives exhibit staff created "Treasures of Congress," with assistance from the Center. In addition, "Treasures of Congress" received important guidance from the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, and particularly the Senate Historical Office and the Senate Curator, from the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, and from the Office of the Architect of the Capitol.
The National Archives, with the permission of the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate, occasionally loans congressional documents for exhibition in NARA facilities across the country, including presidential libraries, and at other archival institutions and museums. One such loan and exhibition occurred from August 1998 through January 1999 when an 1897 petition from the Hawaiian Patriotic League of the Hawaiian Islands was loaned to the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum: The State Museum of Natural and Cultural History in Honolulu, Hawaii. The 556-page petition protesting the annexation of Hawaii represented 21,169 individuals from all seven of the major islands and records the names of half the native Hawaiian population at the time. Photocopies of the complete petition were on display at the Bishop Museum and at the State Capitol Building. The arrival of the petition in Hawaii was marked by a ceremony held at the State Capitol Building with the Governor of Hawaii, and both the petition and NARA were featured in a recent documentary film and book about the annexation. The National Archives also prepared a microfilm version of the petition for distribution and sale. Document loans such as these demonstrate the extraordinary relevance of historic congressional documents to modern communities.
The Center's two traveling exhibitions of facsimile documents, "A Splendid Misery": Challenges of Thomas Jefferson's Presidency and Our Mothers Before Us: Women and Democracy, 1789-1920, have continued to be displayed at sites around the country. The Jefferson exhibition, created in 1993 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Jefferson's birth, and Our Mothers Before Us, completed in 1995 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of woman suffrage, feature high-quality color facsimiles of original documents, photomurals, charts, reproductions of period art, and accompanying historical text. Both exhibits showcase the records of Congress and provide a visually stimulating setting and rich historical background for Congress's role in the great events and issues of our history.
Local media coverage, opening programs and receptions, and lecture and film series organized by institutions hosting Jefferson and Our Mothers Before Us have publicized the exhibits and have increased public awareness of NARA and the records of Congress. Recent displays of the Jefferson and Our Mothers Before Us exhibits have included the Harry S. Truman Library and Dwight D. Eisenhower Library in Independence, Missouri, and Abilene, Kansas, respectively, and state universities such as the University of Georgia in Athens and the University of Mississippi in Oxford. A number of regional and state museums such as the Museum of the New South in Charlotte, North Carolina; the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans; the Florida State Archives in Tallahassee; and the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton have also hosted the exhibits. Additional venues have included the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, in Baltimore, Maryland, and the White House Visitors Center and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
The Center has also worked closely with Members of Congress and congressional officials to bring relevant document displays to Capitol Hill. In July 1998, the "Lincoln in Congress" exhibit commemorated the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's service in the House. The exhibit included a special one-day viewing of original documents in Statuary Hall followed by a one-month display of facsimiles. A facsimile exhibit highlighting the extraordinary career of John Quincy Adams, president and a member of the House for seventeen years, was displayed throughout February and March 2000. The Center has also assisted Members and committee offices that have expressed interest in featuring congressional documents on their web sites.
The creation of a Capitol Visitors Center may ultimately be the most important venue for making the records of Congress more accessible to the American people. With continued collaboration between the Center and the officers of the Senate and House, the proposed Capitol Visitors Center may provide extraordinary public access to some of the most important documents in the records of Congress.Educational Publications and Seminars
The Center's series of educational document publications makes the records of Congress available to the nation's middle school and high school teachers and students. The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, first published in 1994, features realistic facsimiles of Thomas Jefferson's handwritten messages to Congress, together with innovative student-centered classroom activities, in order to explore the great issues and events of Jefferson's presidency. Jefferson's graceful prose and powerful use of language reach across two centuries to challenge students to explore important events in American history and give them the unique opportunity to study and interpret unpublished documents from the historical records of the House and Senate. With private-sector funding obtained by the Foundation for the National Archives, two print- runs of The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson have been distributed to every high school in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Tennessee, Arizona, Oregon, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia and to every middle school in the state of Texas. The Center is currently working with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, the caretaker of Monticello, to adapt the unit on the Lewis and Clark expedition into a poster display for schools, libraries, and other public venues.
The Center published its second educational document resource, Our Mothers Before Us: Women and Democracy, 1789 1920, in March 1998. Our Mothers Before Us features a unique collection of facsimile petitions to illustrate the important role women played in the civic life of the nation long before they won the right to vote. Teacher feedback has been very positive, with comments ranging from "excellent resource materials" to "exactly the type of educational resource teachers need to engage history students as active learners." As with The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, Our Mothers Before Us was distributed using private-sector contributions to the Foundation for the National Archives. The first printing was distributed to more than 2,500 high schools in Texas, Tennessee, the Philadelphia metropolitan area, and Washington, DC. The Foundation for the National Archives is continuing its efforts to raise money for a second printing of Our Mothers Before Us. To date, funding has been received for high schools and community colleges in Mississippi and for high schools in Louisiana and the Cleveland, Ohio, metropolitan area.
Special events were held in Texas, Tennessee, and Mississippi to publicize the Jefferson and Our Mothers Before Us projects, express appreciation for the donors, and alert teachers to the availability of the Center's publications. The three events featured the participation of significant local, state, and national officials, including First Lady of Texas Laura Bush and Tipper Gore, wife of Vice President Gore, as well as officials from the state departments of education.
The Center has begun work on its third educational publication, tentatively entitled "Congress and the Shaping of American History," a two-volume resource for history and civics teachers on the role of Congress in American history. Through strikingly realistic color reproductions of original documents, this resource promises to dramatize pivotal events and eras in American history and enliven the study of history while fostering a greater understanding of Congress as the central institution in our representative democracy. The resource will combine facsimile documents with maps, charts, and graphs; contemporary accounts of events from newspapers, memoirs, diaries, and oral histories; photographs and reproductions of period art; narrative histories of events and legislative processes; and a range of instructional materials for teachers. A prototype unit has been produced and reviewed by high school teachers and congressional scholars. The remaining five units in volume one are currently in production and will also undergo review before publication. Volume one of Congress is slated for publication and distribution to schools beginning in August 2001.
Staff also contributed to the Organization of American Historians' Summer 1998 issue of its Magazine of History. Edited by Richard Allan Baker, the Senate Historian, "Congressional History" provided information and teaching resources for teachers interested in the study of Congress.
The Center has also explored opportunities to provide on-line access to many of the resources contained in its print publications. All of the petitions from the Our Mothers Before Us publication and some of the documents from The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, for example, are included as digitized images in NARA's on-line finding aid and data base, the National Archives Information Locator (NAIL). A State University of New York at Binghamton web site on "Women and Social Movements" features some of the petitions identified in the research that supported Our Mothers Before Us. Senator Byron Dorgan's web site, "Lewis and Clark in North Dakota," includes digitized images of documents from The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson.
For efficient use of the different media behind web-based publications, the Center is also exploring the redesign and reformatting of its print publications as web-products. A private educational firm began this process and incorporated components from The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson in a CD-ROM and web-based multi-media educational software product. This prototype is currently undergoing testing in Department of Defense schools around the world, supported by a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Computer Assisted Education and Training Initiative (DARPA-CAETI). Our current educational publication, "Congress and the Shaping of American History," is being designed as a print publication but features a format that should easily translate to the web.
Center staff conducted a series of workshops to familiarize teachers with the use of congressional records in the classroom. Workshops in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, Texas, attended by more than 250 middle school and high school teachers and social studies supervisors explored the teaching strategies and materials included in the Center's two educational publications, The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson and Our Mothers Before Us. Staff also provided an overview of Our Mothers Before Us for teachers at the Texas Council for the Social Studies' annual meeting in Dallas, Texas, for teachers at the Tennessee Council for the Social Studies' annual meeting in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and for local social studies supervisors at their monthly meeting in Washington, DC. In honor of the anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's birthday in 1999 and to announce the distribution of The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson to Mississippi high schools, staff conducted an assembly on Jefferson at Meridian High School in Meridian, Mississippi. Staff also conducted a workshop on the educational uses of the records of Congress for the Dirksen Center's annual "Congress in the Classroom" gathering of history and civics teachers in Illinois.
Center staff also provide outreach to teachers and students through tours of the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Staff provide behind-the-scenes tours of the legislative records and discuss how to conduct research in congressional records.Partnership Opportunities
The Center for Legislative Archives has attempted to leverage its resources by forming partnerships with organizations and individuals outside the National Archives that share our interest in preserving and making available the records of Congress.
The Center's closest partners are the official record keepers of the House and Senate: the House Clerk's Office and the Legislative Resource Center and the Secretary of the Senate, Senate Historical Office, and the Senate Curator's Office. The Center works closely with these groups to collaborate on the entire range of records issues, including records management, access, reference and outreach. The Center's professional partnerships extend to the congressional papers community. The Center is represented in the Congressional Papers Roundtable, an organization within the Society of American Archivists composed of congressional record keepers. The group communicates, shares concerns, collaborates, and advances the cause of preservation and access to a wide range of congressional papers, both public and private. The Center works closely with the Dirksen Congressional Center in Illinois. Staff has participated in the Dirksen Center's annual "Congress in the Classroom" teacher- training program focused on teaching congressional history in the classroom. The Dirksen Center's program provides an opportunity for the Center to publicize its educational program, gain feedback on its publications, and extend its network of teachers.
The Center has established important ties with the congressional scholarly community. Leading congressional scholars serve as informal advisers who provide the Center with valuable guidance on archival and public educational outreach endeavors.
The Center has established partnerships with state education departments and individual teachers. The Texas Education Agency, for example, played a central role in the distribution of the Center's educational document resources, The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809 and Our Mothers Before Us: Women and Democracy, to Texas middle schools and high schools. The Texas Education Agency evaluated the products and supported the foundations' grant applications to state funders, identified master teachers to field test the material, participated in a public program in Austin to announce the publications' distribution, wrote a letter to all social studies chairs in Texas schools to inform them of the availability of the publications, and arranged for teacher workshops. The State Departments of Education in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oregon and the Philadelphia Office of Curriculum Support played similar roles in their states. Teachers in a number of states, from as far away as Alaska, have volunteered to review the Center's educational resources and field test materials considered for educational products. They also provide valuable feedback about the Center's products currently in schools. The Center has also participated in several teacher workshops to demonstrate how its educational document resources may be effectively used.
For activities beyond core archival functions, the Center has secured funding for its public and educational outreach initiatives through partnerships with foundations, corporations and individual donors. Special relationships have been formed with some of these funders so that they have become long-term friends and supporters of the Center and the National Archives. These close allies include the Phil Hardin Foundation, Thomas Jefferson University, Southwest Airlines, and Jeanette Rudy. Both the Center's exhibitions and its educational document resources received funds from these sources. Additional funds were received for state-by-state distribution of the educational document resources. These partnerships heightened both the Center's and the donor's visibility. Sustained partnerships and additional ventures will assist the Center in its quest to make congressional documents more widely available.Internships
The Center for Legislative Archives has developed an active internship program to supplement its small outreach staff. By assisting Center staff in significant educational and research projects, interns expand staff's knowledge of the records and advance the Center's efforts to provide educational resources to the nation's classrooms. At the same time, the experience enables the interns to develop their research and writing abilities while gaining other valuable professional skills for future employment. The program helps interns identify their career goals and opportunities in today's job market.
The Center has developed partnerships with a number of universities and internship programs. These academic institutions attempt to locate qualified interns that will be well suited to the Center. Beginning in 1998, the Washington Center for Academic Internships began to regularly send the Center qualified candidates. The Washington programs at the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University have become the Center's partners as well.
Participating universities and the National Archives receive significant rewards from the program. The interns' professors and academic departments gain a greater understanding of the records of Congress and their potential for scholarly research. Not only can the Archives benefit generally from stronger ties to colleges and universities, but specific educational programs and activities are also advanced.
The Center regularly hosts interns throughout the academic year and during the summer. Internships typically last for three months, although both shorter and longer periods have been explored. Interns have come to the Center from schools throughout the country, including Harvard University, Stanford University, Furman University, Eureka College, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, Pitzer College, Grove City College, Brigham Young University, Wesleyan University, Catholic University, Case Western Reserve University, University of Virginia, University of Alabama, St. Lawrence University, Barnard College, Marymount College, American University and Emory University. Other interns have come to the Center following graduation, including graduates of Wellesley College, the College of William and Mary, and George Mason University. The Center has also hosted interns from high schools in Maryland, Virginia, Washington, DC, and Tennessee.
Interns' work assignments depend on their skill level and knowledge. Interns have assisted in the development of exhibit scripts and teaching guides. Nearly 70 interns and volunteers worked on the Center's women's petition project, Our Mothers Before Us: Women in Democracy. These interns and volunteers searched through the records of Congress for petitions signed by women, and entered them into a data base. Approximately five interns and volunteers per year work on the Center's Clifford Berryman political cartoon project. They research individual cartoons to determine the date they were published in the Washington Post or Evening Star and provide descriptions. Interns have worked with the Center's historian to prepare histories and finding aids for the standing committees of Congress. They have also provided valuable research to support the development of the Center's current document resource, "Congress and the Shaping of American History."Status of Recommendations from the First and Second Advisory Committee Reports and Analysis of Resource Requirements Maximizing Documentation of the Legislative Process
- Assess the informational and evidential values of congressional committee records (i.e. modern records survey).
Status: Ongoing. Records of House Committees and Senate Committees have been surveyed to determine if the committees' activities have been adequately documented. Surveys continue as description for modern records is done for the Committee Resource Guides for Senate and House committees.
- Evaluate the archival impact of technology on congressional documentation.
Status: Ongoing. The National Archives and Records Administration and the Center for Legislative Archives will continue to examine all aspects of electronic records management. The Archives has several research and development partnerships with the San Diego Super Computer Center and federal agencies to find long-term preservation and access solutions for electronic records. The Center is represented in the meetings of the Legislative Branch SGML Technical Committee and follows the development of the Senate and House computer systems offices.
- Identify and survey congressional electronic records systems.
Status: Ongoing. Offices in the Senate and House inventory the congressional electronic records systems; a survey of Senate web site records content was recently completed.
- Develop electronic records guidelines and standards.
Status: Ongoing. The National Archives and Records Administration and other agencies have developed electronic records guidelines and standards which have been communicated to congressional staffs in the Senate and House records management manuals.
- Assess value of e-mail.
Status: Ongoing. Appraisal standards and retention schedules for e-mail federal records are being developed by the National Archives and Records Administration and other agencies.
- Work closely with the Electronic and Special Media Records Services Division to preserve and copy electronic records to stable media.
Status: Ongoing. Electronic records received by the Center have been inventoried and analyzed for conversion to stable media. Senate and House records have been used in San Diego Super Computer studies to develop long-term preservation and access to archival electronic records.
- Develop on-site capability for electronic access and reference.
Status: Ongoing. Capability for on-site reference access to Internet is planned as a part of the National Archives Building renovation. Ultimately, there will be access to selected legislative records as well as to finding aids.
- Survey, schedule, and accession records from Legislative Support Agencies.
Status: Ongoing. The Center surveyed, scheduled, and received records from the Government Printing Office, General Accounting Office, Congressional Budget Office, and Office of Technology Assessment.
- Provide records management assistance and obtain records from political party policy committees, congressional campaign committees, Legislative Support Organizations, and key caucuses.
Status: Ongoing. The Center accessioned records from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Congressional Arts Caucus, Congressional Caucus on Women's Issues, Environmental and Energy Study Conference, Arms Control and Foreign Policy Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Northeast-Midwest Congressional Coalition. The Center continues to pursue other accessions.
- Solicit records from prominent congressional committee staff members.
Status: Ongoing. No papers from prominent committee staff members have been accessioned, but the Center consults with the Senate Historical Office and congressional committee offices to identify and possibly accession papers at risk.
- Collect oral history interviews and research interviews, and make them available on the World Wide Web.
Status: Ongoing. The Center continues to collect oral histories and research interviews conducted by scholars and other congressional experts. Interview transcripts are posted on the Center's web site.
- Get interviews from U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress at the Library of Congress.
Status: Ongoing. The Center has received permission from the Association to obtain the interviews. The Center has also advised the Congressional Legacies Project in its initiatives to conduct additional interviews.
- Ensure preservation of records in all formats. Status: Ongoing. The Center works with the preservation, special media, and electronic offices in the National Archives and Records Administration to assure that congressional records are preserved in all formats.
- Systematically locate, segregate, and do conservation work on valuable congressional records.
Status: Ongoing. Records of significant historic and/or intrinsic value are placed in the Center's vault, and if necessary sent to the preservation laboratory for conservation work. More than a hundred valuable congressional documents have been conserved in the preservation laboratory in the last five years.
- Have preservation work done on oversized records.
Status: Ongoing. Conservation continues on oversized congressional records, focusing on maps found among textual holdings that require flattening and placement in appropriate housings.
- Have preservation work done on bound volumes.
Status: Postponed. Because of the demands on the conservation laboratories during the renovation of the National Archives Building, preservation work on bound volumes has been postponed until the completion of the renovation.
- Have a GS-12 conservator and conservator aid hired and dedicated solely to congressional records preservation work
Status: Postponed. This request will be resubmitted after completion of National Archives Building renovation.
- Monitor digitizing project at Carter Library as an alternative to completing filming of the records of the first 14 congresses.
Status: Ongoing. Microfilming the records of the first 14 congresses was deferred to explore the alternative of digitizing those records. The microfilming project has been resumed and the records of the Ninth Congress will be filmed in FY 2001.
- Holdings maintenance work should focus on records of the 84th to 91st congresses (1955-1971) and the thermofax records in those series.
Status: Ongoing. The Center did holdings maintenance on 3,713 cubic feet of Senate and House records from 1996 to 2000 on records of the 84th to 91st congresses.
- Monitor technical issues related to videotapes of floor proceedings.
Status: Ongoing. The Center and other units in the National Archives and Records Administration are involved in the planning for digital transmissions of the floor proceedings and committee hearings being developed by the Senate's Office of the Sergeant at Arms.
- Work to preserve and transfer to the Special Media Archives Services Division special media records found in textual records, and create a special media data base for those records.
Status: Ongoing. Special media records are transferred regularly to the Special Media Archives Services Division, but at this date, transfer records are generated in hard copy.
- Develop a Congressional Research Center with Internet hookups to Hill systems, other repositories, data bases, and other sources of congressional information.
Status: Ongoing. The Congressional Research Center was established in the East Research Room on the second floor of the National Archives Building in 1997 and includes congressional finding aids, and books on Congress. As a part of the renovation of the building, the West Research Room will become the Congressional Library and Conference Room. The renovation will provide additional cabling that will allow researchers to have access to finding aids and resources outside the National Archives.
- Declassify records.
Status: Ongoing. The Center has declassified thousands of pages of congressional documents and many more thousands of documents have been referred to executive agencies for their review and declassification. The major collections of records that have been declassified include records on the Kennedy assassination, POWs and MIAs, and from the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy. Under Executive Order No. 12958, classified Senate records were comprehensively surveyed for systematic declassification.
- Digitize selected parts of the holdings and put on the World Wide Web.
Status: Ongoing. Congressional records were digitized and posted on the National Archives web site as a part of the Electronic Access Project. Similarly, document images are a feature of the Committee Resource Guide for the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Center web site, and more documents will be digitized and posted as more guides are created.
- Experiment with congressional offices for World Wide Web presence.
Status: The Center has provided images to congressional offices for their web sites and links to other sources of congressional information. Specifically, the Center assisted Senator Byron Dorgan's office with images of documents from the Lewis and Clark expedition, and the series of Committee Resource Guides will provide opportunities for web partnerships with other congressional offices.
- Create an information clearinghouse for the history of Congress.
Status: Ongoing. The Center continues to collect finding aids of other repositories and provide links to other repositories on the Center's web site.
- Acquire book collections on congressional history.
Status: Ongoing. The Center received the book collections of John Elleff and Roger Davidson, which will be placed in the new Congressional Library and Conference Room after the completion of the National Archives Building renovation. The Center continues to seek other collections.
- Continue the Standing Committees History Project
Status: Ongoing. The Center has completed the history of the Senate Armed Services Committee and will continue the standing committee histories as a feature of the online Committee Resource Guide series.
- Prepare documentary publications
Status: Ongoing. The Senate Historical Office has an active program to produce documentary publications, including the recently issued Minutes of the U.S. Senate Democratic Conference, Fifty-eighth Congress through Eighty-eighth Congress, 1903- 1964 and Minutes of the U.S. Senate Republican Conference, Sixty-second Congress through Eighty-eighth Congress, 1911-1964.
- Educational resource project on the history of Congress should include a documentary packet, CD-ROM publication, and an exhibit.
Status: Ongoing. Volume one of the Congress educational resource is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2001. NARA's "Treasures of Congress" exhibit was displayed in the Rotunda of the National Archives Building from January 21, 2000 through February 2001.
- Include legislative records in NARA's "Electronic Pilot Project on the American West."
Status: Completed. The pilot project was succeeded by NARA's "National Archives Information Locator" (NAIL), which includes digitized versions of more than 500 pages from the records of Congress in the online data base.
- Create Center web page
Status: Completed. The Center's web site went on-line in May 1996 and features on- line versions of published guides and finding aids, the Committee Resource Guide series, special collections, and information for researchers.
- Continue to mine the records of Congress for state and local history
Status: Ongoing. Reference and outreach activities continue to identify significant documents in the history of states and localities, which have been described in a data base. Selected documents have been loaned for exhibition, featured on special tours of the Center, or reproduced as facsimiles for Members of Congress and other guests.
- Develop within the next three years a traveling or on-line exhibit on the history and operation of Congress.
Status: Completed. The on-line version of the "Treasures of Congress" exhibit was made available in April 2000 on the NARA web site.
SENATORS WHO MADE PROVISION FOR THEIR PAPERS PRIOR TO RETIREMENT
Adams, Brockman (WA, 1987-1993) - University of Washington
Bentsen, Loyd Millard (TX, 1971-1993) - University of Texas
Boren, David Lyle (OK, 1979-1994) - University of Oklahoma
Boschwitz, Rudolph Eli (Rudy) (MN, 1978-1991) - Minnesota Historical Society
Bradley, William Warren (NJ, 1979-1997) - Princeton University
Bryan, Richard H. (NV, 1989-2001) - University of Nevada, Reno
Bumpers, Dale (AR, 1975-1999) - University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Chafee, John (RI, 1976-1999) - University of Rhode Island
Chiles, Lawton (FL, 1971-1989) - University of Florida, Gainesville
Cohen, William (ME, 1979-1997) - University of Maine
Coverdell, Paul (GA, 1993-2000) - Georgia College and State University
Cranston, Alan (CA, 1969-1993) - University of California, Berkeley
Danforth, John Claggett (MO, 1976-1995) - University of Missouri
DeConcini, Dennis Webster (AZ, 1977-1995) - University of Arizona
Dole, Robert Joseph (KS, 1968-1996) - University of Kansas
Durenberger, David Ferdinand (MN, 1978-1995) - Minnesota Historical Society
Eagleton, Thomas Francis (MO, 1968-1987) - University of Missouri
Exon, John James (NE, 1979-1997) - Nebraska State Historical Society (paper records) and Exon Library, State Democratic Headquarters (CD-ROMS)
Ford, Wendell Hampton (KY, 1974-1999) - University of Kentucky
Garn, Edwin Jacob (Jake) (UT, 1974-1993) - University of Utah
Glenn, John Herschel (OH, 1974-1999) - Ohio State University
Goldwater, Barry Morris (AZ, 1953-1965; 1969-1987) - Arizona Historical Foundation, Arizona State University
Hatfield, Mark Odum (OR, 1967-1997) - Willamette University
Heflin, Howell Thomas (AL, 1979-1997) - University of Alabama Law School
Johnston, John Bennett (LA, 1972-1997) - Louisiana State University
Kassebaum, Nancy Landon (KS, 1978-1997) - Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka
Kerrey, Joseph Robert (NE, 1989-2001) - University of Nebraska
Lautenberg, Frank Raleigh (NJ, 1982-2001) - Rutgers University
Laxalt, Paul Dominique (NV, 1974-1987) - University of Nevada, Reno
Long, Russell Billiu (LA, 1948-1987) - Louisiana State University
Mack, Connie (FL, 1989-2001) - University of Florida, Gainesville
Mansfield, Michael Joseph (MT, 1953-1977) - University of Montana
McClure, James Albertus (ID, 1973-1991) - University of Idaho
Mitchell, George John (ME, 1980-1995) - Bowdoin College
Moynihan, Daniel Patrick (NY, 1977-2001) - Library of Congress
Nunn, Samuel Augustus (GA, 1972-1997) - Emory University
Pell, Claiborne deBorda (RI, 1961-1997) - University of Rhode Island
Pepper, Claude Denson (FL, 1936-1951) - Florida State University
Pryor, David Hampton (AR, 1979-1997) - University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Simon, Paul Martin (IL, 1985-1997) - Illinois State Historical Library, Springfield, Illinois and Senate papers to Southern Illinois University
Simpson, Alan Kooi (WY, 1979-1997) - University of Wyoming, American Heritage Center
Stafford, Robert Theodore (VT, 1971-1989) - University of Vermont
Tsongas, Paul Efthemios (MA, 1979-1985) - University of Lowell
Congressional collections are among the largest and most complex collections acquired by most repositories and preserving them raises clear areas of concern. Fifty-four percent of the survey respondents indicated that there are special conservation challenges in political collections, especially congressional collections, that are significantly different from other collections. Identified as "major problems" by at least twenty percent of the respondents were the presence of obsolete media (video and computer, primarily) and deteriorating newspaper clippings. Furthermore, the quantity of such materials in congressional collections is proportionately greater than in other types of collections. Because of this, repositories find it more difficult to address the problem.
In their comments, survey respondents indicated that congressional collections pose special challenges in two other areas. First, they contain a larger than average quantity of unidentified photos, audio tapes, and videos which makes both appraisal and cataloging difficult, if not impossible. Second, many collections reflect a general failure of the most basic records management practices in the congressional office. Neither the original filing order or consistent filing systems have been maintained through staff changes, and the orderly retirement and/or transfer of inactive files to courtesy storage or an archival repository of the congressional member's choosing has not been practiced.
Equally important in understanding the challenges that congressional collections represent for repositories is the fact that the majority of repositories have neither specific funding or staff for congressional collections, yet these collections require expert care due to their complex subject matter and unique content. In fact, congressional collections rank among the most demanding in terms of processing and archival expertise. While only 6 percent of respondents did not have a single full-time professional archivist on staff, 35 percent had no one whose full-time responsibility was congressional/political collections, even though congressional collections typically make up a large volume of a repository's holdings. Eighty-three percent of respondents do not have a specific line item in the budget for collecting, processing, and preserving political collections. And although 43 percent of respondents have received outside funding for processing or preserving political collections, several of the funding sources listed (such as NHPRC) no longer fund such work. The high visibility and prestige associated with the acquisition of congressional collections has not necessarily drawn the funds needed to properly process and care for these collections not from the donors, not from outside grant awarding sources, and not from repository resource allocators.
ELECTRONIC RECORDS STUDY
The transfer of two senatorial collections to Louisiana State University within a relatively short time span afforded an excellent opportunity to identify and propose solutions to problems concerning preservation and access of electronic records in members' collections. Senator Russell B. Long retired in 1986 after thirty-eight years of service. His collection contains electronic records from the early evolution of constituent correspondence systems based on the Senate mainframe computer. Senator J. Bennett Johnston retired in 1996 after twenty-four years of service. His collection not only contains electronic records from the early mainframe-based years, it also includes formats from the system as it existed in 1996: a networked system with a server residing in the senator's office. In terms of records management, the most notable difference between the early and later systems was the shift in responsibilities for these electronic records from the Senate Computer Center to the office systems' manager.
The records from the early systems were transferred to the repository on nine-track tapes in ASCII format with documentation of the record layout and the record item library. Statistical reports from the early system were generated on paper. The data on the tapes includes: a document number (which is the key to locating the incoming letter preserved in hard copy) and the library item numbers (which indicate what response was sent). Thus the electronic files serve as an index to the constituent mail which is also filed by a system generated number. Use of the electronic records by patrons would allow searches by individual, topic, geographical location (zip code), or combinations thereof. Electronic files transferred to repositories from both the older and newer systems include only the data generated by the correspondence management system and not the software used to create that data. To access and use these materials, LSU will have to transfer the files to a current software program.
The data from the distributed network correspondence systems was transferred to LSU on CD-ROMs. These files contained the constituent records and the text of the response items. The record layout is included on the disk. LSU initially was unable to access these files because of their size and because there was a large quantity of unintelligible coding on the CD-ROM. Fortunately, the Senate is able to provide critical assistance with removal of the extraneous matter and reformatting but is only able to do so because the system is not yet obsolete.
LSU's study included an evaluation of current Louisiana senators' electronic record- keeping practices which is fairly typical of most offices. Interviews with staff revealed movement toward storing more information on computers. Correspondence systems are the most carefully managed with both offices retaining critical documentation: lists of codes, the item library, guidelines for document naming, and statistical reports. Both offices do not systematically retain word processing electronic files; instead, they rely on staff to print out information they wish to retain. Neither are e-mail messages systematically retained. Both senators and staff are expected to print out copies of permanently valuable messages. Preservation of web site information was not covered during the interviews but now figures largely in office operations. (It poses its own set of appraisal and retention questions that must be addressed by office staff in consultation with the repository archivist.)
There are three powerful lessons to learn from this study:
- Repositories must specify the file format (e.g. ASCII) and file sizes that they can handle.
- They must acquire appropriate software and transfer the flat files (i.e. non- software dependent) to a current data base or word processing/spreadsheet system; or, they must purchase the same software used in the offices in order to make the files accessible to researchers.
- Repositories must budget for the ongoing expense of migrating data to new storage media and operating systems.
If repositories delay dealing with these files, they risk not being able to access them at all. In the long term, repositories large and small will benefit from the ongoing research that is being done to create the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) at NARA. Although the research to date has involved the manipulation of millions of files and records, the technological breakthrough achieved by the San Diego Supercomputer Center that promises to free files and data from hardware and software restrictions can be applied to smaller collections as well. Until this project is completed, however, archival repositories must continue their efforts to preserve data integrity and migrate data to new storage media and operating systems.
Electronic records raise another question for repositories, that of deciding which electronic files have permanent research value. The answer may in fact be different for each congressional member and staff based on an analysis of what information resides on individual systems. The answer can become more elusive when archivists must determine and project future researcher demand for these files. Without ready access, researchers cannot evaluate the research value of the electronic records. Without research demand, repositories can have difficulty making appraisal and preservation decisions. Truly, there exists a Catch-22 situation.
At the May 1994 meeting of the Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress, committee members discussed a number of ways the Center for Legislative Archives could interact with the institutions holding congressional papers. The discussion focused on enhancing the access and outreach activities of the Center. Because The Documentation of Congress, published in 1992, had recommended a close working relationship between the Congressional Papers Roundtable of the Society of American Archivists and the Center, the Roundtable readily came to mind as the natural conduit for such interaction.
In the Roundtable newsletter of November 1994, Advisory Committee member and Roundtable chair Sheryl Vogt (Director, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, The University of Georgia Libraries) and Michael Gillette (Director, Center for Legislative Archives) encouraged the membership to participate in a survey to help determine opportunities for the congressional papers community to provide for the preservation of and access to the official records and personal papers of Congress. Members representing approximately one-third of the institutions on the Congressional Papers Roundtable roster responded to the Roundtable-Center for Legislative Archives Survey.
Divided into four sections, the survey addressed a finding aid exchange, implementation of The Documentation of Congress recommendations for the Center, establishing an oral history data base on-line that would include interviews from the Center and from congressional repositories, and future possibilities. The following presentation of the survey results is a compilation of responses and selected comments.
- The finding aid exchange was a popular idea. All respondents would welcome finding aids from the Center and were willing to share such aids from their repositories. The mechanics of the exchange were as varied as the repositories and their resources-- print vs. disk, unequal electronic access, all vs. selected committees, summary vs. complete guide. Respondents noted that the actual cost of providing guides from their repositories would be a major factor. Two suggestions were for the Center to provide a gopher or web site for congressional and related finding aids and to offer subject groupings of various collections, that is, those collections having materials related to the Warren Commission, Watergate, etc.
- The section regarding The Documentation of Congress report recommendations elicited many ideas. Respondents called on the Center to take the lead in collecting the records of legislative support agencies, special interest caucuses, and party conferences, especially those slated to be abolished. Lobbying for increased legal responsibility and budget for these types of records was also important. Regarding assistance needed from the Center, respondents set a substantial agenda: maintain and publicize lists of complete holdings of official records and the availability of sources; provide notice of current activities and of success with collecting from national bodies in order to advise repositories in collecting from local affiliates; communicate through the Roundtable newsletter; assist repositories in seeking funding sources; publish technical leaflets; and set standards for documentation and description.
- While respondents were generally positive to the proposal to contribute oral histories from their collections to a central data base at the Center, they expressed the most varied answers and greatest concerns in this section. Concerns centered around costs and the repositories' loss of control over the interview in terms of copyright and donor restrictions, record of users, crediting the holding institution, inadequate or improper citation of interviews. One suggestion was to enhance use of the interviews with a controlled vocabulary index to provide access beyond that gained through free-text searching. To encourage additional congressional interview projects, respondents indicated that the Center should assist with identifying funding sources for repositories' projects and providing expertise (expert interviewers, a certain number of model questions/topics, workshops to conduct a project, recommended transcription services).
- Looking to the future, respondents indicated that the Center definitely should set up a national electronic data base. It could serve as a web site with hypertext links to finding aids, oral history, etc.; as a Gopher data base citing locations of full finding aids available via the Internet; as a possible repository for electronic records; or as a utility similar to RLIN. Researchers and archivists should have access for searches. The vision was that in five years (1999), the Center and congressional repositories would be collaborators in collecting and making available the documentation of Congress. In this partnership, the Center should protect the interests of the contributing repositories, recognize them in some way to garner institutional support for activities, and assist repositories in writing or by reviewing grant proposals. Respondents encouraged the Center to cooperate with the Roundtable to foster communication and coordinate programs. They also asked for an open house at the Center during the SAA meeting in 1995.
- Most interestingly, the survey validated the main issues raised at the September 1994 Portland, Maine, Congressional Papers Conference: funding for archival management of congressional collections and exploring new technology. Subsequent publication of the Conference proceedings was a significant contribution to the literature for congressional documentation.
CONGRESSIONAL WEB SITES
- Architect of the Capitol,
- CapWeb : The Internet Guide to the United States Congress,
- Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records Administration,
Provides information about Congress' official records at the National Archives
- A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation, 1774-1873, Library of Congress,
An on-line archive of early congressional documents, including House and Senate Journals and congressional debates
- "Committee Resource
Guide: Committees of the
Guides to committee holdings at the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives
Everett McKinley Dirksen
Contains resources for teachers and students exploring Congress and the legislative process
- Congressional Biographical
Includes bibliography and information on locations of research collections of former members
- Congressional Budget
Office studies and reports,
- "Congressional Collections
at Archival Repositories,"
Provides a list of collections with on-line finding aids
- C-SPAN Web,
Includes links: "Congress Today," "Write to Congress," "Congressional Directory," "issues and Legislation," and "National Election Guide"
Live RealPlayer broadcasts of House and Senate floor debates, selected committee hearings, press conferences in the House and Senate Press Galleries and Capitol grounds, joint sessions of Congress
- Federal Election Commission,
Includes financial disclosure reports filed electronically by House and presidential campaigns, parties, PACS and campaign finance data for House, Senate, and Presidential campaigns, parties, PACS in the 1997-98 and 1999-2000 election cycles
- General Accounting Office reports,
- Government Printing Office,
Primary source for full text of congressional documents, public laws, committee reports, history of bills, U.S. Code, and information about depository libraries
- Guide to the Records of the U. S. House of Representatives (Record Group 233),
- Guide to the Records of the U.S. Senate (Record Group 46),
- Library of Congress legislative information,
Primary source of congressional documents, bill text, summaries and legislative status, public laws, vetoed bills, Congressional Record and index roll call votes, historical documents, searchable
- Office of the Clerk, House of Representatives,
- Political news and in-depth analysis,
- http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS Contributors include Time, CNN, and Congressional Quarterly
- "Research Interview Notes of Richard F. Fenno, Jr.: Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 1959-1965,"
- U. S. Senate,
BIOGRAPHIES OF COMMITTEE MEMBERS
GARY SISCO of Nashville, Tennessee, was elected and sworn in as the 29th Secretary of the Senate on October 1, 1996. Mr. Sisco was born and raised in Bolivar, Tennessee. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Mississippi in 1967, and a Masters of Science Degree in Administration from George Washington University in 1970. Mr. Sisco served in the United States Army from 1968 to 1970. In 1970, he rejoined IBM's Memphis, Tennessee, Data Processing Division, where he had been employed prior to entering military service. In 1971, Mr. Sisco joined the staff of U.S. Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr. (TN), where he served in Memphis and in the Washington office. Mr. Sisco left Washington to manage Lamar Alexander's 1974 campaign for governor of Tennessee. He then returned to Washington to serve as Administrative Assistant to U.S. Congressman Robin Beard (TN), a post he held for two years. Mr. Sisco was in the real estate investment business in Nashville from 1977 until 1996, where he was active in many civic, religious, and professional organizations.
JEFF TRANDAHL has served as Clerk of the House of Representatives since January 1, 1999, appointed in the 105th Congress and elected Clerk by the House of Representatives for the 106th Congress. A native of Spearfish, South Dakota, he began his professional career in 1983 as an aide to U.S. Senator James Abdnor (R-SD). In 1987 he served Representative Virginia Smith (R-NE) and the House Committee on Appropriations. He served on the staffs of Representative Pat Roberts (R-KS) and the Committee on House Administration from 1990 to 1995, when he was appointed Assistant to the Clerk of the House. In 1996 he was appointed Acting Chief Administrative Officer of the House until his appointment in 1997 as Deputy Clerk of the House. Mr. Trandahl is a graduate of Spearfish (SD) High School and received a B.A. from the University of Maryland.
JOHN W. CARLIN was appointed Archivist of the United States in 1995. He first entered public service in 1971 by winning election to the legislature of the state of Kansas. He became speaker of the state's House of Representatives and in 1978 won election to the Kansas governorship, serving two terms, through January 1987. He served as Chairman of the National Governors Association in 1984-1985. Following his political career, he joined the faculty of Wichita State University, teaching courses in public administration. He also served as Chief Executive Officer of Midwest Superconductivity, a business organization in Lawrence, Kansas, and as a partner in Clark Publishing Company in Topeka, Kansas. In 1987, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Kansas State University. As Archivist, Mr. Carlin has overseen the development of a strategic plan for the Archives and has led the Archives through a reorganization in keeping with the plan and its implementation. Major achievements include development of NARA's Electronic Access Project, through which thousands of records are accessible through the Internet.
RICHARD A. BAKER has been director of the U.S. Senate Historical Office since 1975, when the office was created. He holds a doctorate in history from the University of Maryland and masters degrees from Columbia University and Michigan State University. He has taught courses in congressional history for Cornell University's Washington semester program and the University of Maryland. Before joining the Senate's staff, he served first as a specialist in American history for the Library of Congress' Legislative Reference Service and later as director of research for National Journal. Baker is the author of several books, including Conservation Politics: The Senate Career of Clinton P. Anderson and The Senate of the United States: A Bicentennial History. He has also co-edited Congressional Quarterly's First Among Equals: Outstanding Senate Leaders of the Twentieth Century, Senator Bob Dole's Historical Almanac of the United States Senate, and Senator Mark O. Hatfield's Vice Presidents of the United States, 1789-1903. He is a former president of the Society for History in the Federal Government and a former board member of the National Council on Public History. He currently serves on the boards of the Carl Albert and the Everett Dirksen congressional studies centers.
JOSEPH COOPER is Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. He has served as Autrey Professor of Social Sciences and Dean of Social Sciences at Rice University, Staff Director of the U.S. House Commission on Administrative Review (Obey Commission), and Provost at Johns Hopkins University. His publications include several books and numerous articles on the development of congressional structures and processes, congressional elections, party voting in Congress, legislative-executive relations, changing patterns of congressional leadership, and the decline of trust in Congress. He has also served as an Associate Editor of the Encyclopedia of the American Legislative System and an Advisory Editor of The Congress of the United States, 1789-1989.
TIMOTHY JOHNSON is Curator of Special Collections and Rare Books at the University of Minnesota. Prior to this position he directed archives and college libraries in Chicago and Lake Forest, Illinois. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Government Records Section of the Society of American Archivists and is the editor of the Government Records Section newsletter. In addition, he is a member of the American Library Association and its Rare Books and Manuscripts Section. He holds a masters in theological studies from North Park Theological Seminary and a masters in library science from the University of Minnesota. His research interests are varied and he has published works in library, immigration history, and church history fields and produced a number of exhibits in the areas of art, literature, religion, and politics.
JAMES B. LLOYD is the Special Collections Librarian at the University of Tennessee, which houses various modern political collections. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Mississippi and an MLS from George Peabody. He is a full professor in the library and the editor of its yearly publication, has taught courses in archival administration, and is the editor of several books on Southern culture. He has received various grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services concerning access to historical information and is a member of the Society of American Archivists, the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association, and the past president of the Appalachian Studies Association.
SUSAN PALMER is Professor of History at Aurora University. She began teaching there in 1973 as an Instructor, achieved Assistant Professor in 1976, Associate Professor in 1982, and Professor in 1990. She received her PhD from Northern Illinois University in 1986. Her dissertation was "Building Ethnic Communities in a Small City: Romanians and Mexicans in Aurora, Illinois, 1900-1940." She has participated in numerous conferences, exhibits, and oral history projects. Current research is on the Cheney Brothers and the Silk Industry in Manchester, Connecticut. She is a member of the American Historical Association, the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, the American Association for State and Local History, the Organization of American Historians, and the Society for History Education.
ELIZABETH SCOTT is an assistant professor at South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD, where she is the Archivist/Special Collections Librarian. As the first to hold this position, Scott has developed both a university archives and a "Rural Life Archives," which documents 20th century agricultural life in South Dakota. Prior to assuming this position, she was a Serials Librarian with the United States Newspaper Project: Oregon, and a Technical Services Librarian at University of Kentucky. A graduate of the College of Wooster, Scott holds an M.A.R. from Yale University and M.S.L.S. from the University of Kentucky. She is a member of the Midwest Archives Conference and is a founding member of the Dakota Archivists. She is also a member of the Society of American Archivists, where she serves as newsletter editor for the Congressional Papers Roundtable.
JOHN SOBOTKA is Law Archivist and Assistant to the Dean at the School of Law at the University of Mississippi. From 1976 to 1979 he was detailed from the University to the staff of the late Senator James O. Eastland to prepare the Senator's papers for shipment to Oxford, Mississippi. He performed similar duties while assigned to the staff of the late Congressman Jamie L. Whitten of Mississippi's First Congressional District. He holds a M.A. and M.L.S. from the University of Mississippi. His interests include modern congressional history and the acquisition and preservation of members' papers. He is retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
STATUTE ESTABLISHING ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Public Law 101-509 November 5, 1990
"CHAPTER 27 ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON THE RECORDS OF CONGRESS
"2701. Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress.
"2702. Membership; chairman; meetings.
"2703. Functions of the committee.
"2704. Powers of the Committee.
"2705. Compensation and travel expenses.
"2706. Administrative provisions.
"§2701. Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress
"(a) There is established the Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress (hereafter in this chapter referred to as the Committee). "(b) The Committee shall be subject to the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.), except that the Committee shall be of permanent duration, notwithstanding any provision of section 14 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
§" 2702. Membership; chairman; meetings
"(a)(1) The Committee shall consist of the eleven members including "(A)(i) the Secretary of the Senate; "(ii) the Clerk of the House of Representatives; "(iii) the Archivist of the United States; "(iv) the Historian of the Senate; and "(v) the Historian of the House of Representatives; and "(B) six members of whom one shall be appointed by each of the following: "(i) the Speaker of the House of Representatives; "(ii) the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives; "(iii) the Majority Leader of the Senate; "(iv) the Minority Leader of the Senate; "(v) the Secretary of the Senate; and "(vi) the Clerk of the House of Representatives. "(2) Each member appointed under paragraph (1)(B) shall have knowledge or expertise in United States history, archival management, publishing, library science, or use of legislative records. "(b) The Secretary of the Senate shall serve as Chairman during the two-year period beginning on January 1, 1991, and the Clerk of the House of Representatives shall serve as Chairman during the two-year period beginning January 1, 1993. Thereafter, such members shall alternate serving as Chairman for a term of two years. "(c)(1) Members of the Committee referred to in subsection (a)(1)(A) shall serve only while holding such offices. Members appointed to the Committee under subsection (a)(1)(B) shall serve for a term of two years, and may be reappointed without limitation. The initial appointments for such terms shall begin on January 1, 1991. "(2) Any vacancy on the Committee shall not affect the powers of the Committee. Any vacancy in an appointed position on the Committee shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made. "(d)(1) No later than thirty days after the date on which the first session of the 102d Congress begins, the Committee shall hold its first meeting. Thereafter, the Committee shall meet semiannually or at the call of a majority of its members. "(2) Seven members of the Committee shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number may hold hearings.
"§2703. Functions of the Committee "The Committee shall "(1) review the management and preservation of the records of Congress; "(2) report to and advise the Congress and the Archivist of the United States on such management and preservation; and "(3)(A) no later than December 31, 1991, conduct a study and submit a report to the Congress on "(i) the effect any transfer of records of the National Archives and Records Administration from facilities located in Washington, DC, to any location outside of Washington, DC, shall have on the management and preservation of the records of Congress; and "(ii) the five year plan for the management and preservation of the records of Congress; and "(B) no later than December 31, 1995, conduct a study to update the report submitted under subparagraph (A)(ii), and submit a report to Congress.
"§2704. Powers of the Committee "(a) For purposes of carrying out the duties referred to under section 2703, the Committee or, on the authorization of the Committee, any subcommittee or member thereof, may hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, and receive such evidence as is appropriate. "(b) The Committee may secure directly from any department or agency of the United States such information as the Committee may require to carry out the duties referred to under section 2703. Upon request of the Chairman of the Committee, the head of such department or agency shall furnish such information to the Committee.
"§2705. Compensation and travel expenses "A member of the Committee may not be paid compensation for service performed as a member of the Committee. However, members of the Committee shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized for employees of agencies under subchapter 1 of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, while away from their homes or regular places of business in the performance of service for the Committee.
"§2706. Administrative provisions "(a) Upon request of the Committee, the head of any Federal agency is authorized to detail to the Committee, on a nonreimbursable basis, any of the personnel of such agency to assist the Committee in carrying out the duties referred to under section 2703 and such detail shall be without interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege. "(b) For purposes of supporting the Committee, the Archivist may obtain the services of experts and consultants in accordance with the provisions of section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, but at rates for individuals not to exceed the daily equivalent of the minimum annual rate of basic pay payable for GS-16 of the General Schedule under section 5332 of such title."
1Task force members include: Karen D. Paul, Chair., Senate Historical Office; Bryan Culp, Robert Dole Archives, University of KS; Connell Gallgher, University of VT; Edward Galloway, University of Pittsburgh; Mark Greene, Henry Ford Museum; Herbert Hartsook, University of OK; Cynthia Miller, Offe of Senator Moynihan; Naomi Nelson, Emory University; Emily Robison, Louisiana State University; Carla Summers, University of FL; Sheryl Voght, Richard Russell Library for Political Research and Studies; Thomas Wilstead, Thomas Dodd Research Center, University of CT. 2One of the by-products of the National Archives study described in section II.A. is to empirically measure such costs. 3 Mulberry Technologies, Inc. Their report to the Clerk and Secretary is entitled: SGML for the Legislative Branch agencies; An Overview of Existing Applications and Recommendations for Development Approaches, January 1997. 4 The agencies surveyed were: House Information Resources, Senate Sergeant at Arms, Government Printing Office, Congressional Budget Office, General Accounting Office, Congressional Research Service, and Library of Congress. 5 Recommendations for a Data Standards Program for Legistrative Information, A Report prepared by the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House for the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and theHouse Committee on House Oversight, April 1997. 6 Ibid, p.7.