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Welcome to The Dirksen Congressional Center's “reformatted” Communicator–a web-based e-newsletter providing educators with news and ideas to improve the understanding of Congress:


  1. Highlights from The Center’s Web Suite
  2. New at Congress for Kids
  3. Highlights from The Dirksen Congressional Center
  4. More Information About Congress
  5. Congressional Humor
  6. Postscript Information



Special Interest Groups: How Do They Influence Congress in Establishing Policy?

During our annual Congress in the Classroom® workshop –– –– participants are asked to introduce the lesson plans, resources, and techniques that have proven successful in teaching about Congress in their classrooms. A 2011 participant, Gary Barnette, Ashley Ridge High School, Summerville SC, presented a lesson entitled, Special Interest Groups: How Do They Influence Congress in Establishing Policy?

This assignment involves doing basic research on special interest groups.

Find the adaptation of Special Interest Groups: How Do They Influence Congress in Establishing Policy? at:

* NEW * Editorial Cartoons

The Dirksen Congressional Center recently announced additions to the Editorial Cartoon Collection project:

The editorial cartoons and related lesson plans will teach students to identify issues, analyze symbols, acknowledge the need for background knowledge, recognize stereotypes and caricatures, think critically, and appreciate the role of irony and humor.

This month we have posted six new cartoons:

We now have a total of 184 cartoons posted!


* NEW * America’s Political Heritage Review

Play a game of Jeopardy with your host, Ms. Pleau, and review America’s political heritage at:

This PowerPoint game was authored by C. Harr-MAIT.



* NEW * Congresslink Review: Teachinghistory.Org is designed to help K–12 history teachers access resources and materials to improve U.S. history education in the classroom. With funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) has created with the goal of making history content, teaching strategies, resources, and research accessible. reviewed CongressLink – – earlier this month. The review highlighted features of our Web suite and concluded that it is “A useful, if select, aid to understanding the functioning of Congress.”

Find’s review at:



* NEW * U.S. House Of Representatives Oral Histories: September 11, 2001: A Narrative

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the Office of the House Historian conducted a series of interviews with former Representatives, House officials, and employees. This ongoing, event-based oral history project focuses on eyewitness accounts of 9/11, as well as the subsequent effect of the attacks on the institution. Divided thematically, this Web site features video and audio clips of interviewees reflecting on their personal experiences of that tragic day and the weeks and months that followed. “Due to the Circumstances of Today”—the quotation used in the title of this project—was the language drafted by House officials for the Congressional Record to explain the emergency recess on the morning of September 11, 2001.

Watch September 11, 2001: A Narrative, a video compilation featuring eyewitness accounts and unique perspectives from the U.S. House of Representatives on 9/11 -- The narrative includes memories of the abbreviated proceedings on the House Floor, the evacuation of the U.S. Capitol, the secure location provided for House and Senate leaders, and the press conference and impromptu singing of “God Bless America” by Members of Congress on the Capitol steps that evening. Additional interviews and more detail on the events covered in this video can be found in the four event topics: September 11, 2001, Reaction and Response, Security and Safety, and In Retrospect.

Interviews are conducted by the Office of History and Preservation (OHP). New interviews will be added regularly.

For more information about OHP’s oral history program contact the Office of History and Preservation at (202) 226-1300, or via email at:

* NEW * American Factfinder 2

American FactFinder 2 is a search engine that provides access to the population, housing and economic data collected by the Census Bureau. American FactFinder 2 can be used to retrieve data from the 2000 and 2010 Census, American Community Surveys (ACS), Population Estimates and the Economic Census and Surveys. Some of the data from these programs may not be available for rural communities.

Find American FactFinder 2 at:

Linda Zellmer, Government Information & Data Services Librarian, Macomb, IL, helps GIS users to retrieve data for use with GIS. She wrote a guide that covers the basics and more advanced techniques, such as how to download data for use with GIS. She was also able to get the mapping system to work as well, so she added information on mapping data with FactFinder 2 to the guide.

You can find Linda’s guide at:



Will Rogers on Congress:“The American people have come to feel the same way when Congress is in session as we do when the baby gets hold of a hammer. It’s just a question of how much damage he can do before we take it away from him.”


6. Postscript Information

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