The Center for Legislative Archives

Special Collections

To supplement the official records of Congress housed at the Center, the Center for Legislative Archives maintains other materials to its holdings.

"Congress Will Come To Order!"
by Clifford K. Berryman
Washington Evening Star, December 2, 1912
From the US Senate Collection, Center for Legislative Archives

The ultimate prize of a congressional election is control over the two houses of Congress: the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. This cartoon shows Congress following the pivotal 1912 elections when the Democrats swept into power and captured majorities both houses.

Clifford K. Berryman Political Cartoon Collection

A collection of 2,400 original pen-and-ink drawings by Clifford K. Berryman from the U.S. Senate Collection is housed at the Center for Legislative Archives. The cartoons comment on Washington politics, congressional issues, presidential elections, and both World Wars. The U.S. Senate Collection also includes approximately 230 cartoons by Jim Berryman, Clifford's son. All of the Center's Clifford and Jim Berryman cartoons are in the pubic domain.

Berryman was Washington's best known and most-admired graphic commentator on politics in the first half of the 20th century. Berryman's career as a political cartoonist began in the late 1880s with the Washington Post and continued in 1907 with the Evening Star. Berryman's career for the Evening Star extended over forty years, until his death in 1949.

Reproductions of all Clifford and Jim Berrymans' cartoons are available for research online in the Online Catalog.

Visit the Clifford Berryman On-line Exhibit Featured Document: Clifford K. Berryman Political Cartoon Collection

Oral History and Research Interviews

Oral history and research interviews add richness in detail and information to the textual records of Congress. Oral histories add to our understanding of Congress's patterns and traditions and our familiarity with Congressional heroes, triumphs, and failures. Interviews also provide entree to the many important but never documented decisions and actions taken throughout the legislative process. Through this combination of records and interviews, the Center's researchers can obtain the fullest and most detailed documentation of how the legislative process actually works.

Isaac Bassett, by Freeman Thorp, 1876 image courtesy of the United States Senate

Isaac Bassett Manuscript Collection

On December 5, 1831 12-year-old Isaac Bassett was selected by Senator Daniel Webster as the second person ever to serve as a page in the United States Senate. In 1838 Bassett was promoted to messenger, and in 1861 he was administered the oath as assistant doorkeeper to the Senate, a post he held until his death in 1895. Having a position on the floor of the Senate allowed Bassett to witness the great debates leading up to the U.S. Civil War, Reconstruction and the Gilded Age.

In preparation for writing a memoir of his experience working for the Senate, Bassett saved notes, anecdotes, newspaper clippings and personal observations. Although he never completed his memoir, his papers were preserved and eventually donated to the U.S. Senate. The Senate has transferred them to the Center for Legislative Archives, where they will be maintained and preserved as part of the U.S. Senate Collection.

Isaac Bassett, turning back the hands of the Senate clock at close of a session of Congress, c. 1892, U.S. Senate Collection.

The records have been scanned and are available in the Online Catalog. They have also been microfilmed and are available in the microfilm reading room in Washington DC.

There are two finding aids for this collection and they are available on-line. One is a description of the collection with a subject index and the other is a name index:

If you have problems accessing these finding aids, please contact us.

Find out more:

The Senate's website has a new multimedia exhibit displaying Bassett's autobiographical manuscript.

Read the Senate's Biography of Isaac Bassett.

For further information, please contact the Center for Legislative Archives at (202) 357-5350.

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