The Dirksen Center Special Projects
Dirksen Center Special Projects - Web-based resources on more than a dozen focused topics from congressional leadership, civil rights, editorial cartooning to a congressional timeline and milestones in Dirksen's life.
Over the years, The Center has developed a series of multi-media projects rich in Web-based resources on a variety of topics from civil rights to editorial cartoons. We have posted them where it makes sense within our Web suite. But as the suite has grown, we suspect it has become more difficult to find these special projects.To make them stand out, we have created this Dirksen Center Project web page to host links to all our special projects listed below.
As part of the Bicentennial Celebration of Abraham Lincoln, the Dirksen Congressional Center is pleased to present a version of the Lincoln legacy through the eyes of two members of Congress, Everett McKinley Dirksen and Robert H. Michel, who later represented the central Illinois congressional district that once sent Lincoln to the House of Representatives.
In December 1980, Republicans in the House of Representatives chose Robert H. Michel of Illinois as their leader, the Minority Leader of the House, a position he held until retiring in 1995. Anatomy of a Congressional Leadership Race uses historical materials contained in the Robert H. Michel Papers housed at The Dirksen Congressional Center in Pekin, Illinois, to describe the contest.
The race featured two contenders: Michel, a strategic expert skilled at the give and take of guiding legislation through the House, and Guy Vander Jagt of Michigan, an accomplished orator. The difference between the two was not
ideological. Both were staunch conservatives with similar voting records. But the contest reflected a contrast in styles and approach to the leadership post and in the direction in which the two would be likely to lead the House Republicans.
Here's what a Minority Leader, at that time a Republican, did:
1. Oversaw the development and implementation of all Republican policy and strategy in the House
2. Served as liaison for Republican members with the administration and the Senate
3. Served to a great extent as a spokesman for Republican positions
4. Had overall responsibility for the coordination of Republican activities in the subcommittees and committees of the House as well as activities on the floor of the House
5. Was responsible for appointments to various committees and commissions.
The landmark civil rights legislation of the mid-1960s has attracted considerable scholarly attention, deservedly so. Much of the analysis has centered on the social and cultural conditions that gave birth to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
As valuable as the emphasis on the civil rights movement has been, an equally vital chapter has been neglected—the story of the legislative process itself. The Civil Rights Documentation Project provides a fuller accounting of law-making based on published sources and the unique archival resources housed at The Dirksen Congressional Center, including the collection of then-Senate Minority Leader Everett McKinley Dirksen (R-IL), widely credited with securing the passage of the bills.
Intended to serve the needs of teachers and students, the Civil Rights Documentation Project demonstrates that Congress is capable of converting big ideas into powerful law, that citizen engagement is essential to that process, and that the public policies produced fifty years ago continue to influence our lives.
When completed in early 2014, the project will consist of the following elements: (1) a brief chronological overview of the legislative history of the 1964 act, emphasizing the highlights; (2) a detailed legislative history of the act with links to additional resources; and (3) a note on sources.
The Congressional Timeline, developed and maintained by The Dirksen Congressional Center, arrays more than 900 of the nation's laws on a timeline beginning with the first Congress in 1789 and continuing to the present. A second timeline "band" depicts major political events as context for Congress's law-making.
Editorial cartoonists loved Everett Dirksen (1896-1969)—his position of influence as Minority Leader in the Senate (1959-69), his way with words, and, of course, his distinctive appearance. Over the years, Senator Dirksen’s staff compiled a scrapbook containing more than 300 editorial cartoons. Topics covered include Vietnam, civil rights, Republican Party politics, the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, reapportionment, Taft-Hartley 14(b), school prayer, Dirksen’s recording career, Senate procedures, congressional pay, presidential appointments, and Dirksen’s legacy. Naturally, cartoonists also used these topics to depict Dirksen’s relationship with President Lyndon Johnson, with his Democratic colleagues in the Senate, and with the Supreme Court. In addition, cartoonists sent Dirksen between 50 and 60 original sketches on equally diverse topics.
Among the scores of cartoonists represented in the collection are Herblock, Gib Crockett, Hugo, Bill Mauldin, Gene Basset, Pat Oliphant, Al Capp, Wayne Stayskal, Jim Berry, Guernsey LePelley, Tom Engelhardt, Paul Conrad, and Jim Berryman.
The editorial cartoons and related lesson plans from The Dirksen Center 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.
On February 21, 1945, then Congressman Dirksen set out on a world trip that would take him to twenty-one countries, logging 32,000 miles. This was not an ordinary junket. Dirksen traveled on behalf of the House Committee on Appropriations to inspect American embassies, reconstruction agencies, intelligence services, and the armed forces. He had a bird’s-eye view of Europe and the Middle East as World War II neared its end.
His stops included London, Algiers, Tunis, Cairo, Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Karachi, Teheran, Baghdad, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Palestine, Beirut, Damascus, Ankara, Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Florence, Paris, Rheims, Augsburg, Dachau, Wiesbaden, and Leipzig, among many others.
The Dirksen Center has created a Web-based feature that will give you an idea of what Dirksen’s trip was like and how it affected his thinking about the state of the world in 1945. This Web presentation consists of the introduction, a timeline of Dirksen’s trip with links to selective, digitized trip log entries and letters home, and a set of seven “anchor” documents with accompanying study questions. The historical documents are drawn from The Dirksen Congressional Center’s archival holdings.
On April 16, 2013, Dirksen Center staff member Frank Mackaman delivered remarks entitled "Civility in the Golden Age, 1959-1969" to a conference, "Returning Civility to Our Public Discourse," funded by The Center and sponsored by the Institute for Principled Leadership at Bradley University.
Mackaman used documents from Everett Dirksen's papers to illustrate the nature of civil discourse among the political leaders in the 1960s.
The minutes of the Republican leadership during the presidential administrations of John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. In their original state, each session’s minutes generally include attendance, brief summaries of topics discussed, and background “fact sheets” for statements at press conferences following the meetings. The digitized document presented here include only the formal minutes. The press conferences following the leadership meetings achieved fame as the “Ev and Charlie” and “Ev and Jerry” shows. For audio samples and curricular materials associated with a small sample of these minutes, please visit “The 1960s: A Multi-Media View from Capitol Hill” at http://www.dirksencenter.org/emd_audio/index.htm.
The Gerald R. Ford Library has digitized nearly 2,000 pages of documents related to Republican congressional leadership meetings with President Richard Nixon, 1969-73 at: http://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/document/hartmannp/rleaders.asp
[Double-click each page for zooming or click the magnifying glass located in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen]
This online book authored by John F. Gilligan, Ph.D., President Emeritus, Fayette Companies, and Ray LaHood, Member of Congress, 18th District, Illinois, demonstrates how the American identity is embodied in the Library's architecture, sculptures, paintings, and mosaics. By focusing on the symbols, allegories, and decorations that first dazzle the eye upon visiting the Library, a deeper understanding of who we are or ought to be as Americans emerges. This special edition on the art and architecture of the Library of Congress highlights the building's magnificence.
The 1960s: A Multi-Media View from Capitol Hill is a rich online environment that supports the learning and teaching of the public policy challenges resulting from those tumultuous times using a unique body of records housed in The Center’s historical collections—the minutes and press conferences (both print and audio) of the Joint Senate-House Republican Leadership, 1961-69.
Following the election of John F. Kennedy to the White House in 1960, congressional Republicans sought a new venue to communicate their principles and positions to the public. At the suggestion of out-going President Dwight Eisenhower, they created a new policy-making group called the Joint Senate-House Republican Leadership. This group held weekly meetings when Congress was in session to discuss important legislative matters and to formulate party policy. Following most meetings, Senate Minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen and House Minority Leader Charles Halleck (and later Gerald R. Ford) appeared together in a press conference designed to provide Republicans with an effective opposition voice.
Over the course of the decade, these press conferences became popular news events, widely covered by the print and nonprint media and achieving a cult status comparable to C-SPAN today. They became known as the “Ev and Charlie Show” and the “Ev and Jerry Show” when Jerry Ford replaced Halleck as House Republican leader in 1965.
The 1960s: A Multi-Media View from Capitol Hill:
Identifies and digitizes the minutes, press conference transcripts, still photographs, and audio recordings of the Joint Senate-House Republican leadership. These multi-media materials are located in four separate series of the Everett McKinley Dirksen Papers housed at The Center.
Creates curricular aids (e.g., contextual information, study questions, links to related Web sites) to facilitate the use of these materials in classrooms and for scholarship.
Illustrates the role of the political party out-of-power in shaping legislative action and in contesting or supporting the president.
Depicts the symbiotic relationship between the opposition leadership in Congress and the national press.
Demonstrates the staying power of the major issues of war and peace, economic prosperity, social justice, and the proper role of government in American life.
MacNeil’s reports, filed with his senior editors, comprise the heart of his collection. They are typed and detailed and cover a vast array of topics. These reports document the interplay between MacNeil, the reporter, and his editors. Further, they include off-the-record information as context for published stories. Together, the reports portray the time period in a personal, colorful, and informed way. The reporting is particularly strong for the start and end of individual Congresses, the various State of the Union addresses, the relationship between presidents and Congress, lobbying, the Watergate scandal, Senate consideration of the Panama Canal treaties and the SALT II treaty, the President Jimmy Carter’s proposal to sell military aircraft to three Middle East nations, the Iranian hostage crisis, Senator Ted Kennedy’s career and presidential hopes (see October 1979), various proposals for congressional reform, President Ronald Reagan’s budget and tax reduction proposals (Reagonomics) and the Democratic response (1981-82), Social Security reform efforts (1982), the congressional response to the attack on U.S. Marines in Lebanon (1983), and the state of ethics in America and in government (1987).
Organized chronologically, a list of the subjects his reporting covered is part of this guide and follows. Although this series is substantial, there are apparent gaps, suggesting that not all of MacNeil’s reports survived in his collection. There is no reporting related to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example.
Everett Dirksen’s well known fondness for the marigold took root in 1959 as a result of David Burpee’s persistent efforts to persuade the senator to sponsor legislation naming it the national floral emblem. As CEO of the W. Atlee Burpee Co., seed growers extraordinaire, Burpee used the full range of lobbying techniques in his ultimately unsuccessful campaign.
The 1950 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Illinois pitted Republican challenger Everett M. Dirksen against incumbent Democrat Scott Lucas, Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate. The Illinois Democratic State Central Committee produced a 16-page, professionally illustrated, full-color, cartoon-style brochure on Lucas's behalf. Even today, it is an amazing piece of campaign literature complete with headings set apart from cartoon frames filled with action scenes and dialogue presented in bubbles. The span of subjects is equally impressive. They include depictions of Lucas's ancestors; his early years of a hard-scrabble existence; his education, law practice, and public service; his election first to House, then to Senate, and finally to his leadership position; and his stance on issues.
Lucas, not Dirksen, could afford the extravagance of such a brochure. In selecting this option, the campaign reviewed several examples of comic books, including one devoted to Harry Truman's life and career. They even consulted research on the effectiveness of comic books. For example, a study entitled, "Adult America's Interest in Comics," reported these findings: four out of every five urban adults read comics; the reading of comics was widespread among all levels of society; people who read comics generally spent more time listening to the radio, read more magazines, and attended more movies than people who did not; a much higher percentage of adults with a college education read comics than those limited to a grade school education; one out of four adults was a present reader of comic books.
Lucas's campaign selected Commercial Comics, Inc. to produce the piece. The contract called for a press run of one million at a cost of $13,250. The shipment weighed 50,000 pounds and occupied 1,600 cubic feet.
In 2011, Stephen Frantzich, U.S. Naval Academy, received a Michel Special Grant for a project entitled "The Serious Consequences of Congress as a Target of Humorists." This exploratory research is designed to analyze humorous representations correlated with public knowledge and evaluation of Congress. Congressional representations seem like fertile ground for testing a number of important hypotheses relevant both to Congress and a broader understanding of the sources of public opinion toward other political institutions. The research resulted in a teaching module now posted on The Center's Web site.
How do Members of Congress make decisions about the votes they cast? Analogies offer a systematic and insightful way to identify and make subtle inferences about factors involved in congressional decision making. In this interactive exercise, Steve Frantzich, Professor of Political Science at the U.S. Naval Academy, uses vectors to illustrate how competing influences, such as personal preference or constituency interests, affect decisions.
Note: This presentation was created in PowerPoint. If you do not have PowerPoint installed, open the PowerPoint Viewer installer file from the "Download Now" link and follow the instructions. Download Now!
The legislative process is a fascinating, important, and complex set of actions whose excitement and variability are not fully captured in the standard "a bill becomes a law" chart. While the formal stages in the legislative process are a good place to start, it is important to recognize alternative routes. Legislation passes or fails both on the quality of its content and the strategies of its opponents and proponents. This module uses text, graphics and video to enliven students' understanding of the legislative process and to allow them to explore in-depth its various facets.
As a member of the House of Representatives, Bob Michel served with nine presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to Bill Clinton. In what he called his "Presidential Scrapbooks," Michel kept selected photographs and correspondence from each. His relationship with Richard Nixon arguably spanned the longest period. The selection posted here begins in 1956 and concludes the year Nixon died, 1994.
As a member of the House of Representatives, Robert H. Michel served with nine presidents, from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Bill Clinton. In what he called his "Presidential Scrapbooks," Michel kept selected photographs and correspondence with each of the nine.Michel's contact with Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson was limited and perfunctory. In the case of Kennedy, for example, no unique documents appear in the scrapbooks. The selection reproduces what does exist for Eisenhower.