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



  1. People Who Served in Congress
  2. Congress Defined
  3. *New* Lesson Plan: Survivor Island
  4. *New* Editorial Cartoons
  5. *New* Three New Finding Aids: Robert H. Michel Collection – Leadership Series
  6. *NEW* FedNet: Black History Month
  7. Abraham Lincoln and the Illinois Congressional District
  8. *ANNOUNCEMENT* Congressional Research Awards Applications
  9. *New*  Senator Everett Dirksen and Government Spending
  10. *New*  The Articles of Confederation: Bug Match & Trivia
  11. Postscript Information




* Deadline: April 15, 2010 * 

Congress in the Classroom is a national, award-winning education program now in its 19th year. Developed and sponsored by The Dirksen Congressional Center, the workshop is dedicated to the exchange of ideas and information on teaching about Congress.

Congress in the Classroom is designed for high school or middle school teachers who teach U.S. history, government, civics, political science, or social studies. Forty teachers will be selected to take part in the program. All online applications must be received by no later than April 15, 2010. We will notify individuals of our decisions by April 30, 2010. 

Although the workshop will feature a variety of sessions, the 2010 program will feature a broad overview of Congress with special attention to the mid-year elections of 2010. Tentative session titles are listed below. Additional sessions will be announced as presenters are confirmed. More information about the content of each session will be posted on our Web site as it becomes available shortly after February 15. 

Throughout the program, you will work with subject matter experts as well as colleagues from across the nation. This combination of firsthand knowledge and peer-to-peer interaction will give you new ideas, materials, and a professionally enriching experience. 

"Until now so much of what I did in my class on Congress was straight theory-this is what the Constitution says, "noted one of our teachers."Now I can use these activities and illustrations to help get my students involved in the class and at the very least their community but hopefully in the federal government. This workshop has given me a way to help them see how relevant my class is and what they can do to help make changes in society." 

In sum, the workshop consists of two types of sessions: those that focus on recent research and scholarship about Congress (and don't always have an immediate application in the classroom) and those geared to specific ways to teach students about the federal legislature.

The 2010 workshop will be held Monday, July 26 - Thursday, July 29, at Embassy Suites, East Peoria, Illinois.

The program is certified by the Illinois State Board of Education for up to 22 Continuing Education Units. The program also is endorsed by the National Council for the Social Studies. 

Participants are responsible for (1) a non-refundable $125 registration fee (required to confirm acceptance after notice of selection) and (2) transportation to and from Peoria, Illinois. Many school districts will pay all or a portion of these costs. 

The Center pays for three nights lodging at the headquarters hotel (providing a single room for each participant), workshop materials, local transportation, all but three meals, and presenter honoraria and expenses. The Center spends between $30,000 and $35,000 to host the program each year.

What follows are the sessions planned for the 2010 edition of Congress in the Classroom. Please re-visit the site for changes as the program develops. 

Session Titles, 2010: 

  • The View from Capitol Hill
    Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL, 18th District) INVITED

  • Congressional Insight
    A team-oriented, highly interactive simulation of a Congress member’s first term CONFIRMED

  • The Congressional Time Line Project
    Frank Mackaman and Cindy Koeppel, The Dirksen Congressional Center CONFIRMED

  • Can Congress Ever Be Poplular?
    Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, University of Nebraska-Lincoln CONFIRMED
  • How Fantasy Football Saved Congress:  Active Learning through a Congressional Drafting Game
    Jennifer J. Hora, Department of Political Science, Valparaiso University CONFIRMED
  • Memo to a New Congress Member: How to Set Up Your Office
    Congressional Management Foundation INVITED

  • Help for Teachers from the Office of History and Preservation
    Kathleen Johnson, Historical Publications Specialist, Office of History and Preservation, Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives CONFIRMED
  • A View of Congress from the White House:  What the Presidential Tapes Reveal
    KC Johnson, Department of History, Brooklyn College CONFIRMED

  • Teaching
    Frank Mackaman, The Dirksen Congressional Center CONFIRMED

  • A Journalist’s Take on Congress
    David Lightman, Congressional Correspondent, McClatchy News Service CONFIRMED

  • Teaching with Primary Sources
    Cindy Rich, Project Director, Teaching with Primary Sources, Eastern Illinois University CONFIRMED

  • The Five Best New Books on Congress
    Teacher Panel CONFIRMED

  • Election 2010: Why Do Voters Vote the Way They Do?
    Andrew Civettini, Department of Political Science, Knox College CONFIRMED

  • The Ten Most Important Things to Know about Congress
    Frank H. Mackaman, The Dirksen Congressional Center CONFIRMED

  • How to Get Your Point Across to Congress Members
    Stephanie Vance, Advocacy Associates, Washington, DC CONFIRMED

Take a look at The Dirksen Center Web site --  -- to see what participants say about the program. 


If you are interested in registering for the Congress in the Classroom 2010 workshop, you can complete an online registration form found at:


    Sketches of famous and not-so-famous Senators and Representatives

Image courtesy of Library of Congress

Daddario, Emilio Quincy (1918- ), Representative from Connecticut; born in Newton Center, Suffolk County, Mass., September 24, 1918; attended the public schools in Boston, Mass., Tilton (N.H.) Academy, and Newton (Mass.) Country Day School; graduated from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., in 1939; attended Boston University Law School 1939-1941; transferred to University of Connecticut and graduated in 1942; was admitted to the bar in Connecticut and Massachusetts in 1942 and commenced the practice of law in Middletown, Conn.; in February 1943 enlisted as a private in the United States Army; assigned to the Office of Strategic Services at Fort Meade, Md.; served overseas in the Mediterranean Theater; was separated from the service as a captain in September 1945; awarded the United States Legion of Merit and Italian Medaglia d’Argento medals; member of the Connecticut National Guard; mayor of Middletown, Conn., 1946-1948; appointed judge of the Middletown Municipal Court and served from 1948 to 1950 when he was called into active service with the Forty-third Division of the Connecticut National Guard during the Korean conflict; served as a major with the Far East Liaison Group in Korea and Japan until separated from the service as a major in 1952; resumed the practice of law in Hartford, Conn.; elected as a Democrat to the Eighty-sixth and to the five succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1959-January 3, 1971); was not a candidate for reelection to the Ninety-second Congress in 1970; unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Connecticut in 1970; Director, Office of Technology Assessment, 1973-1977; president, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1977-1978; co-chair, American Bar Association, Association for the Advancement of Sciences, Conference of Lawyers and Scientists, 1979-1989; is a resident of Washington, D.C.


Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

African-Americans in Congress: 

Image courtesy of  the Library of Congress

Nash, Charles Edmund (1844-1913), a Representative from Louisiana; born in Opelousas, St. Landry Parish, La., May 23, 1844; attended the common schools; was a bricklayer by trade; during the Civil War enlisted in 1863 as a private in the Eighty-second Regiment, United States Volunteers, and was promoted to the rank of sergeant major; appointed night inspector of customs in 1865; elected as a Republican to the Forty-fourth Congress (March 4, 1875-March 3, 1877); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1876 to the Forty-fifth Congress; postmaster at Washington, St. Landry Parish, La., from February 15, 1882, until May 1, 1882; died in New Orleans, La., June 21, 1913; interment in St. Louis Cemetery No. 3.


Black Americans in Congress: 

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress:

Women in Congress:  

Copyright Washington Post; reprinted by permission of the DC public library.

Jenckes, Virginia Ellis (1877-1975),  Representative from Indiana; born in Terre Haute, Vigo County, Ind., November 6, 1877; attended the public and high schools; engaged in agricultural pursuits in 1912; secretary of Wabash Maumee Valley Improvement Association, 1926-1932; elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-third and to the two succeeding Congresses (March 4, 1933-January 3, 1939); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1938 to the Seventy-sixth Congress; United States delegate to the Interparliamentary Union in Paris, France, in 1937; after leaving Congress, remained in Washington, D.C., for many years and worked for the American Red Cross; returned to her native Terre Haute, Ind., in the early 1970s; died in Terre Haute, Ind., January 9, 1975; interment in Highland Lawn Cemetery.

Women in Congress:

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress:

    Words and phrases that describe congressional processes

Advise and Consent. The Senate’s constitutional role in consenting to or rejecting a president’s nominations to executive branch and judicial offices and to ratification of the treaties the president submits. Confirmation of nominees requires a simple majority vote of the senators present and voting. Ratification of treaties must be approved by a two-thirds majority.

Source:  Congressional Quarterly’s American Congressional Dictionary, 3rd edition (2001):5.



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 2006 participant,  Amanda McKeever, McCluer North High School, St. Louis, MO, presented a lesson entitled, Survivor Island.

After completing the lesson, students will gain a working knowledge of what it means to be part of a group that is responsible for establishing a government.

Find Survivor Island at:



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 five new cartoons:

We now have a total of 118 cartoons posted!



As part of his leadership responsibilities, Bob Michel sent letters to his colleagues on a variety of subjects. The Leadership series includes three types of letters. His staff called them “Dear Colleague” letters, “Dear Republican Colleague” letters, and “Joint Letters.” Although filed separately, there is considerable overlap among the three.

  • Dear Colleague Letters, 1981-94

The “Dear Colleague” letters are the most numerous at 625 letters amounting to 3,817 pages. The topics include housekeeping details for House Republicans, notices of meetings and events, briefing materials for pending legislation, complaints about treatment by Democrats, and requests for votes. In most cases, the file consists simply of a copy of the letter. In other cases, however, the file includes drafts and reference materials. The best-documented subjects include the budget, federal spending and the economy; House rules; health care reform; the Republican Conference; and Republican proposals for House reform.

Find Dear Colleague Letters, 1981-94 at:

  • Dear Republican Colleague Letters, 1989-94

This file consists of letters written on behalf of the Republican leadership to Republicans in the House of Representatives. There are occasional letters signed by both Democratic and Republican leaders—a mark in the “Rep. Only” column signifies letters signed only by Republicans. Topics range from invitations to Republican organizational matters to legislation to legislative procedures.

The series consists of 394 letters totaling 1,007 pages. Find Dear Republican Colleague Letters, 1989-94 at:

  • Joint Letters, 1983-94

The “”Joint Letters” series consists of letters signed by members of the House of Representatives—sometimes just Republicans, other times members of both parties. Most of the letters are directed to members of the executive branch, including the president. Others were sent to colleagues in the House and Senate. A few of the files contain responses. The subjects run from procedural matters in the chamber to issues of the day.

The letters number 461, totaling 1,669 pages.  Find Joint Letters, 1983-94 at:



The Dirksen Center is pleased to join with FedNet to produce a special feature for February, Black History Month. Drawing upon its vast collection of video clips from House and Senate floor proceedings, FedNet’s TeachingCongress website offers immediate access to more than a dozen clips on these topics: the Little Rock Nine, Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights movement, West Texas State University’s NCAA tournament basketball team, the Tuskegee Airmen, and Abraham Lincoln. Visit the site at



As part of the Bicentennial Celebration of Abraham Lincoln, the Dirksen Congressional Center is pleased to present a version of the Lincoln legacy through the eyes of two members of Congress, Everett McKinley Dirksen and Robert H. Michel, who later represented the central Illinois congressional district that once sent Lincoln to the House of Representatives.

Find Abraham Lincoln and the Illinois Congressional District included in the list of The Center’s other special projects at:



The Center received 87 applications for research grants this year--more than the record number 84 received in 2009. We will announce our selections in late March 2010.

Of the 87 proposals for research grants in 2010, 26 came from PhD candidates. In terms of academic discipline, 44 applicants are political scientists, 20 historians, 8 journalism or communications, and the rest range from African-American Studies to Law. The Center will award $35,000 this year.

The Dirksen Congressional Center has awarded 378 grants totaling over $776,188 since 1978.  View a table listing grant recipients by year, their project titles, and the institutions with which the recipients were affiliated at the time of the grant award at:



Senator Everett Dirksen used to tell this story to illustrate his concern about government spending:



* The Articles of Confederation: Bug Match *

A fun activity including a question and four possible answers about the Articles of Confederation that are displayed in the area to the right of your screen.  Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to move your bug, back and forth or up and down, to eat the ant that corresponds to the correct.

Find The Articles of Confederation: Bug Match at:

* Trivia *

In his first inaugural address, Lincoln said he would support a proposed thirteenth amendment to the Constitution that Congress had passed. What was the amendment?

  1. Abolishing slavery
  2. A stronger fugitive slave law
  3. Making secession illegal
  4. Make abolishing slavery illegal

*Find the answer in next month's issue.

Answer to January 2010's Fun, Facts, and Trivia:



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