The Center for Legislative Archives

Special Collections

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

Refer to Caption 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. 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.

The cartoons comment on Washington politics, congressional issues, presidential elections, and both World Wars. The collection also includes approximately 230 cartoons by Jim Berryman, Clifford's son. This collection of Clifford and Jim Berryman cartoons are in the pubic domain.

Reproductions of all Clifford and Jim Berrymans' cartoons are available in the National Archives Catalog.

Visit the Clifford Berryman Online Exhibit.

Oral History Interviews

Oral history and research interviews compliment information available in the textual records of Congress. Oral histories add to our understanding of patterns and traditions in Congress and to our familiarity with Congressional heroes, triumphs, and failures. They also provide introductions to the decisions and actions taken throughout the legislative process that are rarely documented.

Oral Histories and Research Interviews of the Center for Legislative Archives
(Interviewees are listed alphabetically)

Oral Histories of Senate Staff Members
(Compiled by the Senate Historical Office)

Since 1976, the Senate Historical Office has collected a series of oral history interviews with former senators and retired members of the Senate staff. The Historical Office uses information gained through these oral histories for its own reference work, but also makes them available to researchers by depositing copies in the Center for Legislative Archives, as well as the Senate Library, the Library of Congress, and a microfiche edition distributed by Scholarly Resources, Inc. Oral History Transcripts are available at the Center for Legislative Archives.

Richard F. Fenno, Jr. Research Interview Notes

On December 14, 1993 the National Archives was deeded typed summaries of 76 research interviews conducted by Richard F. Fenno, Jr. The notes cover interviews conducted between May 25, 1959 and May 1968. Most of the interviews were with members of the House Appropriations Committee, but also include individuals in House leadership positions and on the Democratic and Republican committees that made committee assignments. 

Research Interview Notes of Richard F. Fenno, Jr

Refer to Caption 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 a page in the U.S. Senate. Bassett was the second page ever selected. 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.

Refer to Caption 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 National Archives 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. One is a description of the collection with a subject index and the other is a name index:

If you have problems accessing these records, please contact the Center by phone at (202) 357-5350 or by email at for assistance.

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.