The Dirksen Congressional Center just launched Congressional Timeline 1.0, making easily available in an attractive, visual format:
- Major laws — more than 200 examples — passed by Congress from 1933 to the present
- 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
- Examples of documents and audiovisual materials related to legislation
- The ability to add information to the timeline by using the wiki feature
Select any Congress from a drop-down menu on the right side of the page. (The Timeline begins with the 73rd Congress–1933-35.) Toggle information using the “collapse” and “expand” buttons. A rotating cube presents videos, photos, audio, documents, and access to the site wiki. If content is available for a particular area, a cube section is yellow.
At this moment in time, the cubes seem to be just a bit more white than yellow. The 1963 88th Congress seems especially rich with documents, photos, and a video of President Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
I asked my own former student and current MLIS student Chrissy Sirianni to preview the site while she was observing today. She found it found a potentially valuable resource.
I wish that something like this was around when I took US History classes. It presents the legislation in such an easy-to-follow way. It might not be ready to use yet, but when it’s complete, it will be full of primary sources and will be a great help to history students.
Even though Timeline might not be all there yet, the site will likely be of great interest to students and teachers of government and history. My APUSH students are likely to love this one as it emerges out of beta.