January 6, 2012 •
The United States House of Representatives Office of the Clerk offers this fascinating look into this week in history:
January 03, 1930 – The 1930 fire near the dome of the Capitol
January 03, 1936 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first evening Annual Message
Photos courtesy of the Library of Congress and the Office of the Clerk website.
October 7, 2011 •
On this day in 1918, the U.S. House public galleries were closed because of the outbreak of the Spanish flu pandemic.
Each week the U.S. House Office of the Clerk gives “Historical Highlights” and today it remembers how 93 years ago the country was facing a flu pandemic. The House and Senate decided to close the public galleries.
The Office of the Clerk gives us an idea of the scope the problem: “According to some modern estimates, more than 50 million persons perished worldwide in the 1918–1919 outbreak; most sources attribute 500,000 or more deaths in the U.S. alone to the Spanish flu. Washington, D.C., swelled by an influx of government workers during the First World War, was particularly hard hit.”
They reported that there were 400 deaths in D.C. during the second week of October, and 730 deaths the week after that. A number of House members were absent from the session and action had to be taken.
U. S. Rep. Henry Rainey (D-Ill.) said, “Mr. Speaker, it is matter of common knowledge that an epidemic of alarming proportions is prevailing throughout the country. … Out of an abundant precaution the Senate has ordered the galleries closed, which action, I understand, meets with the approval of the medical authorities, and so I ask unanimous consent that the Speaker be instructed to close the galleries of this House until further action shall be taken by the House.”
The motion was approved without objection, and the House and Senate galleries were closed and were not reopened until November 4.
September 17, 2010 •
The Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives is the chief record-keeper of the House and has a Web site that shouldn’t be missed!
For anyone who is interested in government relations, the Web site for the Office of the Clerk is a powerful tool. From this site you can watch live video of the House floor proceedings, get information about any member of Congress, and keep up with the lobbying disclosure requirements though the site’s FAQs, news points, and guidance on the Lobbying Disclosure Act. You can also find the foreign travel reports, gift and travel filings of Members, officers, and staff; as well as financial disclosure reports of Members of Congress, “officers, certain employees of the U.S. House of Representatives and related offices, and candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives.”
But this is only the beginning of the many resources offered on the site. Did you know the Office of the Clerk has a YouTube account with oral histories of the House of Representatives. You will find Benjamin C. West talking about the Nixon Impeachment Hearings, and a Cokie Roberts interview about the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And there are 19 other great videos!
If you have children, the Office of the Clerk Web site has a great feature called “Kids in the House.” Whether your child is preschool, grade school, middle, or high school age – there are inviting presentations for the kids to discover what Congress is all about. They can see how a bill becomes a law, read about the art and history of the Capitol, and even take an interactive tour of the House Chamber. Teachers will love the site’s weekly “Teaching Tips” feature.
Want to impress your friends with timely trivia about our government? The Office of the Clerk offers a “Weekly Historical Highlights” page. Did you know that on September 14, 1837 there was a debate in Congress about whether to the ban hats on the House Floor? On September 18, 1893, the federal government celebrated the centennial of the laying of the Capitol cornerstone. There were parades, decorations, and all government offices were closed that day. I wonder what was going on in Washington on my birthday?
The Web site of the Office of the Clerk offers loads of information, beautiful photos and graphics, and easy site navigation. Anyone can become a polymath in American government by frequenting this treasure.
See you next week!
Screen captures courtesy of the Office of the Clerk Web site.
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