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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: Meet Your Representatives
    4. *New* Editorial Cartoons
    5. *New* Congressional Research Grants
    6. *New* U.S. House of Representatives Oral Histories
    7. *New* Congressional Timeline 1.0: 75th Congress
    8. *New* Guide to Online Schools
    9. *New* Checks And Balance Game, USA Out Of Debt & Trivia
    10. Postscript Information


    * Deadline: April 15, 2011 * 

    Congress in the Classroom is a national, award-winning education program now in its 20th 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, 2011. We will notify individuals of our decisions by April 30, 2011. 

    Although the workshop will feature a variety of sessions, the 2011 program will feature a broad overview of Congress and blends two kinds of sessions. Some emphasize ideas and resources that teachers can use almost immediately in their classrooms—sessions about primary sources and Best Practices are good examples.  Other sessions deal with more abstract topics. Think of them as resembling graduate-level courses, stronger on content than on classroom applications. If you are looking for a program that features one or the other exclusively, Congress in the Classroom® is probably not right for you.

    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." 

    The 2011 workshop will be held Monday, July 25-28, 2011, 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 $40,000 and $45,000 to host the program each year.

    What follows are the sessions planned for the 2011 edition of Congress in the Classroom. Please re-visit the site for changes as the program develops. 

    Session Titles, 2011: 

    • Jumping Right In
      Frank Mackaman, The Dirksen Congressional Center CONFIRMED

    • Congressional Insight:  A Simulation
      Colleen Vivori, National Association of Manufacturers  CONFIRMED

    • Using Fantasy Congress to Engage My Students
      Scott Corner, Government and Politics Teacher, Palma High School, Salinas CA CONFIRMED

    • Congress at Work
      Christine Blackerby, Center for Legislative Archives, National Archives and Records Administration CONFIRMED

    • Help for Teachers from the Office of The Historian
      Kathleen Johnson, Oral Historian, Office of the Historian, 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

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

    • Congress for Kids 
      Cindy Koeppel, 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

    • Leadership in the House During the 112th Congress
      Bryan Marshall, Department of Political Science, Miami University of Ohio CONFIRMED

    • New Approaches to Teaching about Congress
      Paul C. Milazzo, Department of History, Ohio University CONFIRMED

    • Listen Up Legislators:  How to Get Your Point Across
      Stephanie Vance, Advocacy Associates, Washington DC CONFIRMED

    • Best Practices CONFIRMED

    • The Impact of Congressional Redistricting on the 2012 Elections TENTATIVE

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


    If you are interested in learning more about the sessions and registering for the Congress in the Classroom 2011 workshop, you can complete an online registration form found at:


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

    Image, Congressional Pictorial Directory, 95th Congress

    Oakar, Mary Rose (1940 - ), a Representative from Ohio; born in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, March 5, 1940; graduated from Lourdes Academy, Cleveland, Ohio, 1958; B.A., Ursuline College, Cleveland, Ohio, 1962; attended Columbia University, New York, N.Y., 1963; M.A., John Carroll University, Cleveland, Ohio, 1966; attended Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London, England, 1964; attended Westham Adult College, Warwickshire, England, 1968; faculty member, Cuyahoga Community College, Cuyahoga, Ohio, 1968-1975; member, Cleveland, Ohio, city council, 1973-1976; Democratic State central committee, 1973-1975; alternate delegate, Democratic National Convention, 1976; elected as a Democrat to the Ninety-fifth and to the seven succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1977-January 3, 1993); unsuccessful candidate for reelection to the One Hundred Third Congress in 1992; business executive; consultant; member of the Ohio state house of representatives, 2000-2002.


    Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

    African-Americans in Congress: 

    Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

    Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

    Powell, Adam Clayton, Jr., (1908-1972), a Representative from New York; born in New Haven, Conn., November 29, 1908; attended the public schools of New York City; graduated from Colgate University, Hamilton, N.Y., 1930; graduated from Columbia University, New York, N.Y., 1932; graduated from Shaw University, Raleigh, N.C., 1934; ordained minister; member of the New York, N.Y., city council, 1941; newspaper publisher and editor; journalist; instructor, Columbia University Extension School, 1932-1940; cofounder of the National Negro Congress; member of the New York state, Consumer Division, Office of Price Administration, 1942-1944; member of the Manhattan Civilian Defense 1942-1945; elected as a Democrat to the Seventy-ninth and to the eleven succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1945-February 28, 1967); excluded from membership in the Ninetieth Congress pursuant to H.Res. 278, on February 28, 1967; chairman, Committee on Education and Labor (Eighty-seventh through Eighty-ninth Congresses); elected as a Democrat to the Ninetieth Congress, by special election, to fill the vacancy caused by his exclusion but did not appear to be sworn in; reelected to the succeeding Congress (April 11, 1967-January 3, 1971); unsuccessful candidate for renomination to the Ninety-second Congress in 1970; died on April 4, 1972, in Miami, Fla.; cremated and ashes scattered over South Bimini in the Bahamas.


    Black Americans in Congress:

    Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress:

    Women in Congress:  

    Image courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration

    Bolton, Frances Payne (1885-1977), (wife of Chester C. Bolton, granddaughter of Henry B. Payne, and mother of Oliver P. Bolton), a Representative from Ohio; born Francis Payne Bingham, March 29, 1885, in Cleveland, Ohio; attended private schools in United States and France; active in public health, nursing education and other social service, education, and philanthropic work; vice regent for Ohio of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association; member of the Republican State central committee, 1937-1940; delegate to Republican National Conventions and member of Resolutions Committee, 1956, 1960, 1964, and 1968; first woman appointed as congressional delegate to United Nations General Assembly, 1953; elected as a Republican by special election, February 27, 1940, to the Seventy-sixth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of her husband, Chester C. Bolton; reelected to the fourteen succeeding Congresses and served from February 27, 1940, to January 3, 1969; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1968 to the Ninety-first Congress; resided in Lyndhurst, Ohio, where she died March 9, 1977; interment in Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, Ohio.


    Women in Congress:

    Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

      Words and phrases that describe congressional processes

    Lame Duck. A member of Congress who has not been reelected, or who did not seek reelection, and is serving the balance of his or her term.

    Source:  Congressional Quarterly’s American Congressional Dictionary, 3rd edition (2001):132.



    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, Matt Mingle, Montgomery High School, Skillman, NJ, presented a lesson entitled, Meet Your Representatives.

    Who represents you at the federal level? How about in state government? County? Local? How well do these people represent you and the people of your state and district? These important questions will become even more vital when your students become qualified to vote, for casting an informed ballot is a key responsibility for all citizens. Fortunately, there is no shortage of information about your representatives. Your students will develop a profile of the men and women highlighted in this lesson. They will put together their research and that of their classmates to develop a portrait of who stands up for them at all levels of government.

    Find Meet Your Representatives 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 173 cartoons posted!


    1. Congressional Research Awards

    The Center had a banner year for the number of Congressional Research Grants proposals received. A total of 110 projects were submitted for 2011. Now the evaluation begins!



    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 the audio and read the transcript of Frank Mitchell’s memories of the press attention received for the honor of being named the first African-American Page for the U.S. House.

    Amid much fanfare, including a formal introduction by then-House Minority Leader and future President Gerald Ford, Frank Mitchell became the first African-American Page in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Mitchell recalled the warm welcome from House Leaders, Members, and Pages in an era rife with discrimination, and experienced no racial prejudice during his tenure in the House.  Mitchell’s recollections – many of which focus on his service as a phone Page in the Republican Cloakroom – range from learning relaxation techniques from Congresswoman Frances Bolton of Ohio to attending heated floor debates before the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Like many former Pages, Mitchell believe the opportunity to serve as a Page was a powerful determinant of his success in adulthood.

    Find the audio and transcript – Press Attention -- 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:



    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 75th Congress (1937-38) --

    We will use the 75th Congress to demonstrate how the timeline works:

    • The link above will take you to the 75th Congress screen. At the bottom you will see five yellow blocks. The first denotes an overview of the 75th. The other four denote different pieces of legislation and the dates they were signed into law. In the case of the 75th Congress, there are two screens listing 8 laws passed in 1937 and 1938.

    • Click the “expand” button under 1937 (the first left-hand yellow block on the first screen) to see general information about the 75th Congress. Then click “Collapse” to return to the timeline.

    • Now move to the yellow block, September 2, 1937, Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, 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 “Photos,” you will see the image of the first photo. Click on the drop-down dialog box at the top, and you will see that there are two photos posted as resources.

    • Click on the arrow next to “75th Congress: Page 2” at the bottom to advance to page 2. Click the “expand” button under June 25, 1938, Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Select “Documents” to see the image of the first document. Click on the drop-down dialog box at the top and you will see there are three documents posted as resources.  To return to the timeline, click the arrow next to “Return to Timeline” at the top.

    • 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.



    Scholarly information about the humanities can be found all over the Internet, but Guide to Online Schools is bringing the best to you in an easy directory. From traditional layouts to more experimental sites, they have collected the top 36 resources and guides.  From fine arts to political science, follow these excellent resources and their links to a fantastic array of information.

    Guide to Online Schools is part of the SR Education Group network. Because the path to and through higher education isn’t clearly marked, they strive to offer a place where students can find the resources they need to make informed decisions.  A place for them to hear advice from students who have been in their shoes.  A place to find tools that will enhance their careers and educational endeavors. Most importantly, a place where they can connect with schools to begin their future and attain success. 

    Find Guide to Online Schools at:




    The U.S. Government is made of three equally powerful parts: the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches. Each branch has some authority over the other two, ensuring that no single branch becomes too powerful.
    Play the Checks and Balances game and drag the words to the spaces where they best fit.

    Find Checks and Balances at:  



    See if you can get the USA out of debt, or at least make it until the year 2031. The game starts in 2010 with current economic conditions and broadly models the overall economy. Do you have what it takes to navigate your way out of Debt?

    This is a fictional simulation that very roughly models the US Economy. You are free to use both liberal and conservative ideas to try and reduce the debt. Good Luck!

    Find USA Out of Debt at:


    * TRIVIA *

    Which first lady interviewed her future husband for a newspaper before he became president?

    *Find the answer in next month's issue.

    Answer to February 2011’s Fun, Facts, and Trivia:



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