Congressional Timeline 2.0
- Take a look at The Dirksen Center's Congressional Timeline 2.0!
In October 2010, we announced the first version of The Dirksen Center's new
Congressional Timeline. At that time we introduced more than 200 examples of
major laws passed by Congress from 1933 to the present. As with any new
website, our first version had some bugs to work out. So considering our users'
feedback and taking a hard look at our first version, we have done our best to
improve the timeline by creating the Congressional Timeline 2.0.
Today the Congressional Timeline arrays more than 550 of the nation's laws on a
double-banded timeline beginning in 1933 to the present. In addition to the
major laws passed by Congress, now at your fingertips are the partisan
composition of each Congress, along with the presidential administration and
the congressional leaders; the session dates of each Congress; measures of
legislative productivity, such as the number of bills introduced and passed;
information about women and African-Americans serving in Congress; and examples
of documents, photos, audio clips, transcripts, videos, and lesson plans all
related to legislation.
The following Everett Dirksen quote was taken from "A Congressman Looks at
Congress" in the Appendix to the Congressional Record, July 8, 1943.
"In recent days, this Congress has also been assailed. I suppose it's part of
the American tradition and becomes a favorite indoor sport. In recent days it
has been described as hectic and hysterical. It has been charged with spite and
partisanship. It has been charged with intent to destroy unity and spite with
the President. It has been charged with madness and hate. That's all very
interesting but it happens to be a parcel of nonsense and balderdash. To be
exact, it is a lot of piddling twaddle and scarcely deserves an answer."
The Congressional Timeline has been developed to help people better understand
Congress, and to provide a "snapshot" of important dates and resources in an
easy-to-use, chronological format.
We are also creating lesson plans based on the timeline. Below is the complete
listing of lesson plans currently posted:
* Economy Act of 1933 [The Dirksen Center] - This lesson will introduce
students to the process by which a Congress member evaluates a bill; it will
provide an historical example of how a Congress member decides to vote on a
bill; and it will illustrate by way of historical example how a Congress member
justifies a vote.
* The Social Security Act of 1935 [Edsitement] - Upon completion of this
lesson, students should be able to describe the reasoning of the Roosevelt
Administration in creating this act, assess the arguments that were made to
support or oppose the act, understand and analyze the ways in which the Social
Security Act changed the role of the federal government in relation to the
nation's workforce, and examine the way the Social Security Act reflected
divisions in American society.
* The Neutrality Acts of 1935-1939 [Edsitement] - Students will be able to
explain the "Merchants of Death" thesis and how it shaped the U.S. approach to
neutrality, list the main terms of the neutrality laws passed during the 1930s,
discuss how these laws were implemented and revised in response to developments
in Europe, identify on a blank map the locations of the major events in Europe
from 1935 to 1939, and assess the overall effectiveness of U.S. neutrality
policy during this period.
* Minority Representation in Congress, 1937-1938 [The Dirksen Center] - This
lesson will introduce students to selected demographic features of one of the
early New Deal Congresses. It will ask them to identify the characteristics of
women members of the House and Senate-what qualities and experiences they
shared, how they differed. Students may also compare and contrast the female
membership in 1937-38 with female membership today.
* The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 [The Dirksen Center] - This
lesson will introduce students to efforts by Congress to establish military
conscription, otherwise known as the "draft," in preparation for possible war.
The source documents raise questions about citizenship, military personnel
needs, and events leading up to the United States' entry into World War II.
* The Lend-Lease Act of 1941 [Edsitement] - After completing this lesson,
students should be able to explain what the Lend-Lease program did, analyze the
way President Roosevelt presented the program to the public, discuss the scope
of the program in terms of countries served and materials provided, and
evaluate the domestic and international implications of America's new role as
"the arsenal of democracy."
* The Japanese Americans Reparations Act of 1988 [The Dirksen Center] - This
lesson will introduce students to efforts by Congress to redress injustices to
Japanese Americans and Aleut civilian residents committed during World War II.
Students will learn about the circumstances surrounding the relocation of
Japanese Americans in 1942. Students will compare the reasons for relocation
with the justification for reparations in 1988.
We have also posted Roll Call's "Casualty List" which keeps track of
Representatives and Senators who leave office. The list encompasses the 93rd
(1973-74) through the current Congress. The list is organized into several
sections, as the following categories indicate:
* Appointed to the Senate (for House members only)
* Running for Senate (for House members only)
* Running for Other Office * Retiring
* Defeated in Primary
* Defeated in General Election
* Defeated for Other Office
As an example, find this list at - January 6, 1987: 100th Congress, First
Session, convenes - click on Members Who Left Congress.
Using the "Events" banner on the timeline, you will also be able to view
information about 15 key Supreme Court cases. Two examples: July 24, 1974,
United States v. Richard Nixon and December 12, 2000, Bush v. Gore.
Take a look at the Congressional Timeline 2.0 and let us know what you think!
Cindy Koeppel, The Dirksen Congressional Center