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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: Constitutional Convention: The Great Compromise
  4. *New* Editorial Cartoons
  5. *New* The Dirksen Center’s Lesson Plan Contest
  6. *New* Congressional Timeline 1.0
  7. *New* PowerPoint: Can Congress Ever Be Popular?
  8. *New* U.S. House of Representatives Oral Histories
  9. *New* Political Browser-Based Game and Economic Simulation, Election Day & Trivia
  10. Postscript Information

DEADLINE: All proposals must be received no later than March 1, 2011.    
The Dirksen Congressional Center invites applications for grants to fund research on congressional 
leadership and the U.S. Congress. A total of up to $35,000 will be available in 2011. Awards range 
from a few hundred dollars to $3,500. Stipends will be awarded to individuals (not organizations) 
on a competitive basis. Grants will normally extend for one year.  In some circumstances, the
Center will make more than one award to a single individual in consecutive years, but not more than 
three awards to the same person in a five-year period.    
The competition is open to individuals with a serious interest in studying Congress. Political 
scientists, historians, biographers, scholars of public administration or American studies, and 
journalists are among those eligible. The Center encourages graduate students who have 
successfully defended their dissertation prospectus to apply and awards a significant portion 
of the funds for dissertation research. Applicants must be U.S. citizens who reside in the    
United States.    
The awards program does not fund undergraduate or pre-Ph.D. study. Organizations are not eligible. Research teams of two or more individuals are    
eligible. No institutional overhead or indirect costs may be claimed against a Congressional Research Award.    
We accept only proposals submitted via the online application form posted at

The form consists of the following elements and must not exceed nine pages when printed
(excluding the Application Summary) -- Application Summary, Reference Letter, Overhead Waiver 
Letter, Congressional Research  Awards Project Description, Budget, and  Curriculum Vita.    
Applications which exceed the page limit and incomplete applications will NOT be forwarded to the 
screening committee for consideration.    
All application materials must be received on or before March 1, 2011. Awards will be announced 
in April 2011.    
Complete information about what kind of research projects are eligible for consideration, what 
could a Congressional Research Award pay for, application procedures, and how recipients are 
selected may be found at The Center's Website: 
PLEASE READ THOROUGHLY. Frank Mackaman is the program officer -    
The Center, named for the late Senate Minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen, is a private, nonpartisan, 
nonprofit research and educational organization devoted to the study of Congress and its leaders. 
Since 1978, the Congressional Research Awards (formerly the Congressional Research Grants) 

program has paid out $813,071 to support 390 projects.


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

Maas, Melvin Joseph (1898-1964)

Courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives Collection, 1928

Maas, Melvin Joseph (1898-1964), Representative from Minnesota; born in Duluth, Minn., May 14, 1898; moved with his parents to St. Paul, Minn., in 1898; educated in the public schools; was graduated from St. Thomas College at St. Paul in 1919; attended the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis; engaged in the insurance business; during the First World War served in the aviation branch of the Marine Corps in 1918 and 1919; officer in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1925 and retired with rank of major general August 1, 1952; elected as a Republican to the Seventieth, Seventy-first, and Seventy-second Congresses (March 4, 1927-March 3, 1933); unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1932; received the Carnegie Silver Medal for disarming a maniac in the United States House of Representatives in December 1932; elected to the Seventy-fourth and to the four succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1935-January 3, 1945); unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1944 to the Seventy-ninth Congress; served in the South Pacific as a colonel in the United States Marine Corps 1942-1945, while still a Member of Congress; special adviser to the House Naval Affairs Committee in 1946; assistant to the chairman of the board of the Sperry Corporation, New York City, 1947-1951; became a member of the President’s Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped in 1949 and served as chairman 1954-1964; had been stricken with total blindness in August 1951; was a resident of Chevy Chase, Md., until his death in Bethesda, Md., April 13, 1964; interment in Arlington National Cemetery.


Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress  

African-Americans in Congress: 

Mitchell, Arthur Wergs (1883-1968)

Image courtesy of Library of Congress

Mitchell, Arthur Wergs (1883-1968), a Representative from Illinois; born on a farm near Lafayette, Chambers County, Ala., December 22, 1883; attended the public schools, Tuskegee Institute at Tuskegee, Ala., Columbia University, New York City, and Harvard University; taught in the rural schools of Alabama for many years; founder and president of the Armstrong Agricultural School, West Butler, Ala.; studied law; was admitted to the bar in 1927 and commenced practice in Washington, D.C.; moved to Chicago in 1929 and continued the practice of law; also engaged in the real estate business; alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1936 and delegate at large in 1940; elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-fourth and to the three succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1935-January 3, 1943); was not a candidate for renomination in 1942; resumed the practice of law; also engaged in civil rights work, public lecturing, and farming near Petersburg, Va.; died at his home near Petersburg, Dinwiddie County, Va., May 9, 1968; interment on his estate, “Land of a Thousand Roses,” in Dinwiddie County.


Black Americans in Congress:

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

Women in Congress:  

Sumner, Jessie (1898-1994)

Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Sumner, Jessie (1898-1994), a Representative from Illinois; born in Milford, Iroquois County, Ill., July 17, 1898; attended the public schools; was graduated from Girton School, Winnetka, Ill., in 1916 and Smith College, Northampton, Mass., in 1920; studied law at the University of Chicago, Columbia University, New York City, and Oxford University, England; also studied briefly at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and New York University School of Commerce in New York City; was admitted to the bar in 1923 and practiced in Chicago, Ill.; employed at the Chase National Bank in New York City in 1928; returned to Milford, Ill., in 1932 and resumed the practice of law; served as county judge of Iroquois County, Ill., in 1937; director of Sumner National Bank, Sheldon, Ill.; elected as a Republican to the Seventy-sixth and to the three succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1939-January 3, 1947); was not a candidate for renomination in 1946; resumed position as vice president, 1938-1966, and president, 1966-1994, of Sumner National Bank; was a resident of Milford, Ill., until her death in Watseka, Ill., on August 10, 1994.

Women in Congress:

Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress:

    Words and phrases that describe congressional processes

Jefferson’s Manual. Short title of Jefferson’s Manual of Parliamentary Practice, prepared by Thomas Jefferson for his own guidance when he was president of the Senate from 1797 to 1801. Under a House rule adopted in 1837, the manual’s provisions govern House procedures when applicable and when they are not inconsistent with its standing rules and orders. The Senate never officially acknowledged it as a direct authority for its parliamentary procedure.

Source:  Congressional Quarterly’s American Congressional Dictionary, 3rd edition (2001):127.



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 2010 participant, Justin Roy, presented a lesson entitled, Constitutional Convention: The Great Compromise.

Students will be able to explain and compare the Virginia Plan, the New Jersey Plan, and the Great Compromise.  Students will be able to describe the perspectives of both the smaller and larger states by reflecting on the activity in a journal entry.

Find Constitutional Convention: The Great Compromise 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 163 cartoons posted!



The Dirksen Center introduces a lesson plan contest challenging seventh through twelfth-grade educators to submit lesson plans based on selected content on The Dirksen Center’s web suite.

The contest is open to seventh through twelfth-grade educators who have attended one of The Dirksen Center’s Congress in the Classroom® -- -- workshops.

The objective is to use resources on our web suite to create a new lesson plan to be posted on our website.  The resource links for you to choose the content to create your lesson plan are: 

The entry deadline is January 31, 2011.  Winners will be notified by February 15, 2011.

The lesson plan needs to be submitted online -- The Dirksen Center's Lesson Plan Contest Submission Form -- Please complete the entire form and upload any additional files associated with your lesson plan.

Two teachers will be chosen to present their lesson plan at a panel discussion during the 20th edition of Congress in the Classroom® 2011.  Your registration fee of $125 will be waived.  The Center will pay for your transportation (subject to limitations) and your hotel stay for the duration of the workshop.

Questions? Contact:

Lynn Kasinger
The Dirksen Congressional Center
2815 Broadway
Pekin, IL 61554-4219 USA
(309) 347-7113
(309) 347-6432 FAX



In October 2010 we announced The Dirksen Center’s new Congressional Timeline 1.0.  Now at your fingertips are (1) major laws – more than 200 examples – passed by Congress from 1933 to the present, (2) the partisan composition of each Congress, along with the presidential administration and the congressional leaders, (3) the session dates of each Congress, (4) measures of legislative productivity, such as the number of bills introduced and passed, (5) information about women and African-Americans serving in Congress, (6) examples of documents and audiovisual materials related to legislation, and (7) the ability to add information to the timeline by using the “wiki” feature.

Each month we plan to feature a different Congress and the resources offered.  This month we are featuring the 73rd Congress (1933-35)--

We will use the 73rd Congress to demonstrate how the timeline works:

  • The link above will take you to the 73rd Congress screen. At the bottom you will see five yellow blocks. The first denotes an overview of the 73rd. The other four denote different pieces of legislation and the dates they were signed into law. In the case of the 73rd Congress, there are three screens listing 11 laws passed in 1933 and 1934.

  • Click the “expand” button under 1933 (the first left-hand yellow block on the first screen) to see general information about the 73rd Congress. Then click “Collapse” to return to the timeline.

  • Now move to the next yellow block, March 9, 1933, the Emergency Banking Relief Act, and “Expand” it. Roll your cursor over the icons below the brief description of the bill. When an icon lights up as yellow, that means it is a link to additional resources. If you select “Documents,” you will see the image of the first document. Click on the drop-down dialog box at the top, and you will see that there are three documents posted as resources. If you select “Audio,” you will be taken to one of President Roosevelt’s fireside chats.

  • We use this same approach throughout the timeline. Since this a multi-year work in progress, we don’t have resources of all types for all legislation—we’ll add them as we discover them.

We know this first version of the Congressional Timeline will have some bugs to work out. If you have suggestions, please contact me at We’ll do our best to respond and improve the timeline.

Come back often. We will add information to the timeline continuously. Look for updates by becoming a Facebook fan or subscribing to our e-newsletter, Communicator. For Facebook, go to and click the LIKE button. For Communicator, go to, enter your email address in the text field below “Subscribe to the Communicator!” and click SEND.



Elizabeth Theiss-Morse, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department, presented during our Congress in the Classroom 2010 workshop.  Her presentation was entitled, Can Congress Ever Be Popular? 

Theiss-Morse focuses her research on understanding American public opinion and how it relates to various aspects of democracy, including support for Congress. She co-authored with John Hibbing the award-winning Congress as Public Enemy:  Public Attitudes Toward American Political Institutions. This timely book describes and explains the American people's alleged hatred of their own branch of government, the U.S. Congress. Focus group sessions held across the country and a specially designed national survey indicate that much of the negativity is generated by popular perceptions of the processes of governing visible in Congress. But Hibbing and Theiss-Morse conclude that the public's unwitting desire to reform democracy out of a democratic legislature is a cure more dangerous than the disease.

Find Elizabeth’s PowerPoint presentation – Can Congress Ever Be Popular? -- at:



Beginning in 2004, the Office of the Clerk authorized the first oral history program for the U.S. House of Representatives. Created to make the rich heritage of the U.S. House of Representatives more accessible to Members, staff, scholars, and the general public, the program seeks to include interviews with a wide variety of House employees such as Member aides, committee staff, support staff, technical assistants, and family of Members. Select former Representatives also are interviewed. Interviews are conducted by the Office of History and Preservation (OHP).

The collection and preservation of the stories and experiences of people who have worked on Capitol Hill greatly contributes to the historical record of the U.S. House of Representatives. Detailed descriptions of legislative processes and procedures, personal and political anecdotes, and recollections about the evolving nature of the institution, represent a vital source of information about the inner workings of Congress. Recording the memories of people who have worked in various capacities at the Capitol allows current congressional staff the opportunity to familiarize themselves with past House practices, which in turn may inform those making decisions and planning policies in the present. By providing such a resource, the Clerk’s Office also seeks to promote further interest in and study of the history of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Interviewees include a wide variety of House employees: House Officers, Member aides, committee staff, support staff, family of Members, and select former Representatives.

As an example, listen to an audio clip of Arva Marie Johnson’s reflection on what it meant to be the first African-American woman on the Capitol Police Force.  This interview was recorded on March 1, 2007.

Arva Marie Johnson joined the Capitol Police Force in 1974, becoming the first African-American female officer, the first uniformed female officer, and one of only four women on the force at the time. Her unprecedented 32-year career as an officer spanned the most comprehensive security changes in the history of the Capitol. In her interview, Johnson recalled her strategies to combat daily gender inequity; documented the reforms to overturn racial discrimination in the force’s promotion process; detailed the changes to Capitol security following the Senate bombing in 1983 and the terrorist attacks in 2001; and discussed her warm relationships with colleagues and Members of Congress. More than a history of the Capitol Police Force, Johnson’s interview offered candid reflections on both her sense of duty and her steadfast optimism.

Find the audio clip -- On Being the First African-American Woman on the Force --  at:

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:




This browser-based political game lets you take the reigns of your own, realistically simulated state.  You will be asked to weigh in on various matters of state, and you will face a number of choices.  Any decision you make will have ramifications for the well-being of your virtual populace! In addition, you will be able to form alliances with other countries, initiate reforms, and adjust the budget. 

This is a highly realistic and complex economic simulation that squares you off against other state leaders and puts your political and financial abilities to the test.  Beware, running a country is not as easy as you might think. If you don’t measure up, you could find yourself out-of-office pretty soon!

In this multiplayer online game you will experience politics and economics in an informative, thrilling, and entertaining way! Lead your people to fortune and prosperity or secure your power with an iron fist!  You only need Internet access for this browser-based online game.  It is completely free in the basic version.  For registration only a valid email address is necessary.

Find Political Browser-Based Game and Economic Simulation at:



Fill in the blanks and answers the multiple choice questions. Find Election Day at:



The House, like the Senate, has the power to filibuster to keep a bill or amendment from coming to a vote.

  1. True
  2. False

*Find the answer in next month's issue.

Answer to November 2010’s Fun, Facts, and Trivia:



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