Friday, 10 December 2010

Rule VII House of Representatives

Provision is made for archiving records of the House - and making them available to the public.

A presentation prepared by Robin Reeder - the House Archivist is available below

Slides One to Seven give an introduction to the House and legislative procedure.

Slide 7 - "Since the beginning of the House, 1789, the Clerk of the House is responsible for the official records of the House. The Rules of the House specify this duty. The official records are considered the records of the committees and select officers of the House."

Slide 8 - "Here are some examples of legislative files that are permanently retained as part of the House’s records: 1. Hre is a markup of a bill, which means the language is changed and added to or deleted: Wade-Davis bill: If the Wade-Davis bill had become law, the South would have been run by a military governor appointed by the President. Fifty percent of the state’s voters would need to swear allegiance to the Union as well as swearing that they had never assisted the Confederacy. . 2. Joint Resolution – 1941 – establishing Thanksgiving as a national holiday. 3. "Petition of Amos A. Phelps and 31 others, citizens of Boston, Mass. for the rescinding of Res. of December 21," February 14, 1838- also known as the gag rule – which prevented anti-slavery petitions from being submitted to Congress. 4. Discharge petition – when a piece of legislation is bottled up in a committee for more than 30 days. A It requires 218 signatures in order to place it on the Discharge Calendar – where it remains for 7 days before being considered by the House. Discharge petition for the Equal Rights Amendment – 1970. 5. Hearing on the Economic Security Act – 1935. 6. Memorial from the Seventh Day Adventists against Sunday legislation – which consisted of several bills banning businesses be open on Sunday."

Slide 9 shows some oversight files, and slide 10 a copy of the Records Management Manual. Slide 11 shows boxed up committee records.

Slide 12 describes the role of NARA "The records are preserved, maintained, and made accessible through the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives and Records Administration. Their staff is responsible for the records of the House and the Senate. The National Archives is responsible for the permanent records of the executive branch, and once these records are transferred to the Archives, they are owned by the Archives. This is different for the records of Congress – which although reside there and are made accessible by the NARA staff, the records always belong to the House and to the Senate."

Slide 14 points out that the papers of Members are the personal property of the relevant Member - this is the ADVICE which is given to members - who are encouraged to deposit them at "a respository, such as a college, university or historical society".

The final slides deal with resources for finding Congressional collections - I will deal with that in a forthcoming post.