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Everything we did was designed to meet that goal. Over
sight and guidance for our programs and projects has been the re
sponsibility of the bipartisan Commission on the U.S. House of Rep
resentatives Bicentenary, which has benefited immensely from the su
perb leadership of our Chairman, Congresswoman Lindy Boggs. In addi
tion to planning for the bicentennial, we had another goal, which had the support of our Commission: to lay a foundation for a
permanent history office.
Our work on the Biographical Directory of
the United States Congress and our national survey to locate the re
search collections of former Members of the House, are examples of
bicentennial projects that have long-range value to a permanent his
Now we are ready to move ahead.
I know how difficult long
range planning can be.
But if we expect to add to the historical
understanding of an institution as complex as the House of Represen
tatives, we must think of where we would like to be ten or fifteen
years down the road.
There is no project better able to give us new
levels of historical understanding than a systematic investigation
of the development of the House as revealed in the records them
selves. A documentary history of the House, by drawing together key records from the vast and scattered sources of congressional his
tory, would offer Members, staff, and researchers the essential
record necessary for understanding the structure and operation of
the House during its two-hundred year history. The Senate Historical
Office is planning a similar project for the Senate, so if both
projects go forward we will have an opportunity to create the most
comprehensive history of Congress ever assembled in one source.
Let me conclude by saying we eagerly look forward to an even
closer institutional tie with the Office of the Clerk. The Clerk
and his staff have helped and supported us in so many ways that we
already feel like part of the family. The House is fortunate to
have a clerk who is himself a keen student of the history and tradi
tions of the House. We could not be more pleased to see our rela
tionship with the Office of the Clerk strengthened by the resolution
we are discussing today.
We will do all we can to be of assistance
to the Clerk, especially in the area where we think professional
historians can do the most good work, in those matters that bear on
the preservation and use of the historical records of the House.
Finally, I would like to thank you, Mr. Chairman, the Members of
this subcommittee, and the subcommittee staff, for your fostering
interest in the Office of the Historian.
We appreciate your many
courtesies since the office was established, and, of course, we will
never forget that the Rules Committee was responsible for our crea
tion in the first place.
Report on the
Activities of the Office for the Bicentennial of the House
of Representatives, 1983-1989
The Office for the Bicentennial of the U.S. House of Repre
sentatives was established in the 97th Congress, on December 17,
1982, when the House agreed to H. Res. 621, which amended Rule I
of the Rules of the House by providing for the establishment of an
office to coordinate the planning for the bicentennial of the
House in 1989.
The Office, under the direction of the Speaker,
was staffed by a professional historian selected without regard to
political affiliation and solely on the basis of fitness to per
form the duties of the position following a nationwide search con
ducted by a bipartisan panel of Members of the House under the ad
ministration of the Committee on Rules.
This action came after
the House had rejected H. Res. 581 on September 24, 1982, which
had called for the creation of a permanent Office of Historian of
The Office for the Bicentennial, according to the pro
visions of H. Res. 621, was to cease to exist not later than Sep
tember 30, 1989, unless otherwise provided by law or resolution.
On January 3, 1989, at the beginning of the 101st Congress,
the House amended Rule I of the Rules of the House and established
a permanent Office of the Historian of the House of Representa
Earlier, during the 99th Congress, the House established a
Commission on the United States House of Representatives Bicenten
ary (H. Res. 249) to provide oversight and development of the
House bicentennial program.
The bipartisan Commission is composed
of six Members and two former Members appointed by the Speaker in
consultation with the Minority Leader.
The Majority and Minority
Leaders serve as ex officio Members of the Commission.
gresswoman Lindy Boggs has served as Chairman since the inception
of the Commission.
The Office for the Bicentennial serves as
staff for the Commission.
From their inceptions, the Office for the Bicentennial and
the Commission on the U.S. House of Representatives Bicentenary
have been charged with the development of an appropriate program
of publications, exhibits, symposia, and related activities which
have the purpose of commemorating the history and development of
the House over the past two centuries. The Office for the Bicentennial also planned from the very beginning to lay a solid
foundation for a permanent history office, if and when the House
decided to establish such an office.
The Historian began his
duties on October 1, 1983.
In the first annual report of the Of
fice, the Historian described the plan of work that has been followed for the past six years. The account of activities which
follows is listed in the same categories as those mentioned in H.
Res. 249, which established the bicentenary commission.
categories are: publications, , exhibits, symposia, and related ac
serve in the House and Senate as well as in the Continental Con
gress before 1789, was the most ambitious and time-consuming pro
ject of the Office for the Bicentennial.
Work began as soon as
the Office was established in 1983, and the volume was completed
and published on schedule at the opening of the 101st Congress in