Biographical Directory of the United States Congress

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The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress is a biographical dictionary of all present and former members of the United States Congress and its predecessor, the Continental Congress. Also included are Delegates from territories and the District of Columbia and Resident Commissioners from the Philippines and Puerto Rico.

A biographical dictionary is a type of encyclopedic dictionary limited to biographical information. Many attempt to cover the major personalities of a country. Others are specialized, in that they cover important names in a subject field, such as architecture or engineering.

United States Congress Legislature of the United States

The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the Federal Government of the United States. The legislature consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Continental Congress convention of delegates that became the governing body of the United States

The Continental Congress was initially a convention of delegates from several British American colonies at the height of the American Revolution era, who spoke and acted collectively for the people of the Thirteen colonies that ultimately became the United States of America. The term most specifically refers to the First Continental Congress of 1774 and the Second Continental Congress of 1775–81. More broadly, it also refers to the Congress of the Confederation of 1781–89, thus covering the entire period the Continental Congress served as the chief legislative and executive body of the U.S. government.

Contents

The online edition also includes a guide to research collections (a list of institutions where member's papers, letters, correspondence, and other items are archived) as well as an extended bibliography of published works concerning the member (a shorter bibliography is included with the member's biography). [1] These additional resources when available can be accessed via links on the left side of the member's page on the website.

Letter (message) written message containing information from one party to another

A letter is one person's written message to another pertaining to some matter of common concern. Letters have several different types: Formal letters and informal letters. Letters contribute to the protection and conservation of literacy. Letters have been sent since antiquity and are mentioned in the Iliad. Both Herodotus and Thucydides mention letters in their histories.

Bibliography academic study of books as physical, cultural objects

Bibliography, as a discipline, is traditionally the academic study of books as physical, cultural objects; in this sense, it is also known as bibliology. Carter and Barker (2010) describe bibliography as a twofold scholarly discipline—the organized listing of books and the systematic description of books as objects.

History

Charles Lanman, author, journalist, and former secretary to Daniel Webster, gathered the first collection of biographies of former and sitting members of Congress for his Dictionary of Congress, published by J. B. Lippincott & Co. in 1859. Lanman intended his Dictionary of the United States Congress to serve primarily as a guide for sitting Members of Congress, much as the Congressional Directory functions today.

Charles Lanman American librarian

Charles Lanman was an American author, government official, artist, librarian, and explorer.

Daniel Webster Leading American senator and statesman, Secretary of State for three US presidents

Daniel Webster was an American statesman who represented New Hampshire and Massachusetts in the United States Congress and served as the United States Secretary of State under Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, and Millard Fillmore. He was also a prominent attorney, especially during the period of the Marshall Court. Throughout his career, he was a member of the Federalist Party, the National Republican Party, and the Whig Party.

J. B. Lippincott & Co. American publishing house founded in 1836

J. B. Lippincott & Co. was an American publishing house founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1836 by Joshua Ballinger Lippincott. It was incorporated in 1885 as J. B. Lippincott Company.

In 1864, the House of Representatives and the Senate approved the publication of an updated version of Lanman's Dictionary of Congress by the recently established Government Printing Office. In the late 1860s Congress offered Benjamin Perley Poore, a journalist and clerk of the Senate Committee on Printing and Records, the job of preparing a Congressional Directory with biographical sketches and the kind of reference information found in the Dictionary of Congress. [2]

Benjamin Perley Poore American newspaper editor

Benjamin Perley Poore was a prominent American newspaper correspondent, editor, and author in the mid-19th century. One of the most popular and prolific journalists of his era, he was an active partisan for the Whig and Republican parties.

In anticipation of the centenary of American independence and in search of a market not served by Poore's Congressional Directory, Lanman prepared the Biographical Annals of the Civil Government of the United States, published by James Anglim of Washington, D.C. in 1876. This volume combined the biographies of the Dictionary of Congress with entries for other governmental officials since 1776 and expanded reference tables. Poore offered a competing historical volume in 1878 with his Political Register and Congressional Directory, published by Houghton, Osgood and Company, Boston.

Joseph M. Morrison's revision of Lanman's Biographical Annals (New York, 1887) was the final directory of congressional biography to be prepared and published privately. In 1903 Congress authorized the publication of A Biographical Congressional Directory, 1774 to 1903. Compiled under the direction of O. M. Enyart, this was the first volume prepared by congressional staff who drew on the Lanman and Poore editions as well as biographical information printed in the Congressional Directory since the 40th United States Congress (1867). The most thorough and systematic revision of biographical entries attempted prior to the Bicentennial Edition was conducted in preparation for the Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774–1927. Ansel Wold, chief clerk of the Joint Committee on Printing, directed the compilation of this volume published in 1928. [3]

40th United States Congress

The Fortieth United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from March 4, 1867, to March 4, 1869, during the third and fourth years of Andrew Johnson's presidency. The apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives was based on the Eighth Census of the United States in 1860. Both chambers had a Republican majority.

This survey of the 1920s yielded more detailed and consistent biographies than had been found in the nineteenth-century editions or in the earlier volumes compiled by congressional staff. The frequent reliance on family legends and personal recollections, however, introduced dubious information into the volume. Although Congress authorized updates that were published in 1950, 1961, and 1971, the entries from the 1928 edition remained virtually intact in the three subsequent editions. The creation of the Senate Historical Office in 1975 and the Office for the Bicentennial in the United States House of Representatives in 1983 provided the first opportunity for professional historians to revise and update the Biographical Directory. Earlier editions of the Biographical Directory and their nineteenth century predecessors offered little information on congressional careers other than terms of service. The bicentennial edition provided a more complete record of the individual Members' years in office. A 1996 edition was published by Congressional Quarterly, but did not achieve wide circulation due to the much higher cover price. [4]

The development and growing use of the Internet in the 1990s led to the creation of websites for the House of Representatives and the Senate. Ray Strong, Assistant to the Clerk of the House, advocated the idea of publishing the entries from the Biographical Directory on the Internet. Through the efforts of Joe Carmel, Cindy S. Leach, and Gary Hahn of Legislative Computer Systems under the Clerk of the House, and Cheri Allen of the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, the entries of the Biographical Directory became available online during the week of November 9, 1998, at http://bioguide.congress.gov/ under the auspices of the House Legislative Resource Center and the Historian of the Senate. Internet technology has allowed the editors to update entries of the Biographical Directory on a daily basis. Besides the biographies, the online database includes extensive bibliographies and a guide to all available research collections for Senate and House entries. The project was the first SGML/XML project for the House and Senate and paved the way for the drafting of legislation in XML in both chambers.

The online version, accessible to the public, also has benefited from updated information provided to the House Office of History and Preservation and the Senate Historical Office from scholars, librarians, genealogists, and family members. Senate entries are accompanied by an image of the Senator, when available. Online House entries include images for women Members and Speakers with official oil portraits and members since the 109th United States Congress (2005). The data is maintained by staff in the House Office of History and Preservation and the Senate Office of the Historian.

Technical detail

The index value in the URL is a unique value for each member of Congress. There are some duplicates for name changes: and refer to the same person. The ID is also re-used in XML versions of House legislation (see http://congress.gov and http://xml.house.gov).

Notes

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References

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