The Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies has joined the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress(ACSC) to announce the opening of “The Great Society Congress,” an online permanent exhibition that draws on primary resources to highlight legislation passed during the 89th United States Congress (1965-66).
The 89th Congress, considered one of the most productive in American history, passed an extensive legislative program as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s ambitious “Great Society” agenda.
The exhibition is a collaborative project of the ACSC, an independent alliance of organizations and institutions that supports a wide range of programs designed to inform and educate students, scholars, policy-makers and the general public on the history of Congress, the legislative process, and current issues facing Congress.
The University of Delaware library is hosting this multi-institutional digital exhibition, which was created using the web publishing system Omeka.
Omeka, a project of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, in Fairfax Virginia, provided the platform for this groundbreaking collaboration.
The 89th Congress enacted the most extensive legislative program since the New Deal between January 1965 and December 1966. The Voting Rights Act, Immigration and Nationality Act, Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and the Social Security Act of 1965 each were transformative pieces of legislation and cornerstones of the Great Society. They are also but a few of the many significant laws passed during the two sessions of the 89th Congress that are still felt and debated in America today.
The online exhibition uses images, government documents, press releases, personal correspondence and other materials contributed by more than 10 ACSC member collections.
“The Great Society Congress” explores the central role that the 89th Congress played in the construction of the Great Society and how some of the most impactful pieces of legislation in American history were shaped. The exhibition will be released in phases with content corresponding with legislative anniversaries and is available at this site.
ACSC institutions that contributed to the project are the:
Co-curators for this exhibition are Danielle Emerling, assistant librarian, University of Delaware Library, and Jay Wyatt, director of programs and research, Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies.
The exhibition project team members are Hope Grebner, political papers archivist and assistant professor of librarianship, Drake University, and Evan Hocker, registrar, The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. Audrey Hamelers, assistant librarian and digital humanities and web services librarian, University of Delaware Library, implemented the Omeka site’s design.
The Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies has been a member of the ACSC since its founding in 2003 and supports the preservation of material that documents the work of Congress. Two of the center’s collections, the papers of Robert C. Byrd (U.S. House of Representatives, 1953-1959; U.S. Senate, 1959-2010) and Harley O. Staggers, Sr. (U.S. House of Representatives, 1949-1981), are featured in the exhibit. Senator Byrd, a member of the Appropriations Committee, supported a number of the Great Society programs that provided assistance to his home state of West Virginia. Congressman Staggers, Sr. was elected chairman of the powerful House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce in the middle of the 89th Congress (1966) and helped bring a number of Great Society bills to the floor.
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