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Jul 7, 2006 1:12 pm

The United States Senate Historical Office

Office of the Secretary of the United States Senate

The Senate has played an important role in shaping the course of U.S. history. This attractive, easily navigated site offers a range of material on individual senators, the development of the Senate, its practices, and its role in U.S. history.

More than 140 “historical minutes” discuss interesting events in the Senate from 1789 to 1980. Events include the caning of Charles Sumner in 1856, the 1914 ban on smoking in the Senate chamber, and a 1935 Huey Long filibuster. The complete texts of 20 oral histories of retired senators and Senate staff members are available, covering the period 1910 to 1985 and dealing with a wide range of issues, including desegregation of staff, the McCarthy hearings, preparations to impeach Nixon, rhetorical rules of debate, and the impact of computers on the work of the Senate. A collection of 16 essays discusses such topics as the development of the Senate, Senate procedures, the oath of office, direct election of senators, and Senate investigations. A section on the people of the Senate offers data on senators, Senate officers and staff, and party leadership, as well as essays on the Senate’s “famous seven” and the office of president pro tempore. A chronology of the Senate from 1787 to the present is available, as well as statistics on such topics as Senate committees, elections, and political parties. Visitors may read the full text of nine lectures given by statesmen, such as George Bush and Senator Robert C. Byrd, as part of the Leaders Lectures series. The site also offers short biographies of 12 majority leaders from 1919 to 1977, eight exhibits that include photographs on women senators and African-American senators, images of the more than 70 paintings and 80 sculptures maintained by the Senate, an institutional bibliography, and a link to the biographical directory of the U.S. Congress.

Read a more in-depth review written by Northern Illinois University history professor Drew E. VandeCreek at http:// or explore other website reviews at History Matters.

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